10 QUESTIONS WITH DJ JAY-J
by Carl Noone, Jr.
What was your biggest influence
musically when growing up? Was there an
event or particular moment in your life
when you can remember first deciding to
make DJing your career?
I got started in music really early with my first instrument being the sax
and then I switched to guitar. I would rewire speakers and make them work
with my guitar amp. My friend and I would make songs and do performances for
my parents dinner parties. Soon I started gathering music recording gear and
dabbling in DJing. I never really thought DJing was going to be my career as
I was more into producing music. But about 3 years ago I remember thinking
that I could actually do this music thing for the rest of my life or at
least a good portion of it.
With so much negativity and criticism
in the dance community with regards to
drug use, money-hungry promoters, and
the advent of superstar, jet-setting DJ
culture, how do you remain positive and
focused?? What's the secret to longevity
in this guess-who's-hot-today society??
I try and remember that I am lucky to have created this opportunity to travel
the world and DJ as well as sit in the
studio and make music. I try and keep
a positive head about myself and be grateful
being able to make music my living. I
sometimes have to say to myself that "there
are worse ways to make a living" and that
helps me stay positive through the trials
of traveling, cancelled gigs, or crazy
hours in the studio. If I remember that
I am Living the dream nothing seems to
bother me as much. I know there are thousands
of young people who dream about doing
what I do. This mind set help keep me
grounded. In terms of competing with the
guess who's hot society i try and remember
that this industry is cyclical and therefore
if your on top now you'll be on the bottom
at sometime. It doesn't mean that the
cycle can't continue and with reinventing
yourself you can complete another cycle
but I have to remember this is not going
to last. I try and take all the work I
can right now because I am not fooled
into thinking it is gonna last forever.
Hopefully I will get to continue this
way of making a living for a while but
What do you look for in an artist
you want to produce? What qualities do
you look for in that "next big single"
that makes into your crate??
As far as artist go I look for talented vocalist. I take working with
Singers really seriously so its not a simple answer. I look for ones that
treat the voice as an instrument and practice and get trained and take it
seriously. If you ask any serious and good musician they all still practice.
Most vocalists (or shall I say people who think they can sing) don't do
this. They just sing along to the radio and think they got it. They never
strive to break the bad habits and push themselves. So I am looking for ones
that are not afraid to learn about their bad habits and will allow me to
challenge them to break those.
Usually once this is met I don't have to worry about pitch cause most
serious singers have gotten to the point of being well trained enough to
know when they are are sharp of flat at least most of the time. Its the ones
that have no idea that scare me.
If they are serious and trained vocal musicians, have good sense of pitch.
Then I listen for the tonal qualities of their voice and how they sound
singing soft and loud, high and low. But if a signer is talented I can help
bring out the tonal qualities by coaching the performance. I can't change
the tone of some ones voice but usually there is a range that sound great
with a singer and I'll try and work with in that as much as possible.
The key for me is that once the Pitch control is there and tone is right then
I get o focus on the performance. This
is how it is for me working with Latrice
Barnett cause she is the most trained
and talented singer I have worked with.
With her I know the notes are going to
be cool so I can work on getting a good
performance for the song. I usually end
up with too much good stuff and have to
What makes it into my crate??? Well the song has to have energy and soul.
that is what makes a record work for me. If I can feel it and it works on
the dance floor as well then I consider it a good record. A hit has to have
a great song and vocal performance!!
Do you consider yourself a musician
as well as a DJ and producer? Do you play
any instruments? Have you received any
formal instruction (musically or in the
I always say "I play computers" That is my instrument. I am a producer first
musician second. On many of my productions
I play all the musical parts but on the
ones with very full instrumentation I
bring in Musicians. I have had musical
training in the form of, Guitar lessons,
vocal lessons, voice training lessons,
and music theory. I have a little bit
of background in all those so I know just
enough to be dangerous : )
What makes San Francisco so special
to House music and to yourself?
Soulful House is very much a San Francisco thing at the moment. There are
several of us here in town who have been supporting this style for many
years and the scene is stronger because of it. The scene in San Francisco is
very strong at the moment and the crowds are really energetic and very into
the music. Probably like NY was a few years ago or at least like I used to
hear people describe it in the mid 90's. It seems the strong house nights
are in clubs that hold about 700-1000 (packed). The two main places I play
regularly (The End Up and DNA Lounge) have fairly good sound systems and the
vibe of those who attend is great.
If you could give an aspiring DJ
one single best piece of advice, what
would it be ?? What advice could you give
to bedroom-studio "whiz" that can't find
the BIG break yet??
Produce good records cause its really hard to get DJ gigs without the
exposure that your productions will bring you. Most importantly keep at it.
Please explain your stance on the
issue of internet downloading.
Providing musical entertainment for people is how many of us make a living.
When you steal music you are hurting the
very people who's music you like and therefore
who know how long they will still be able
to make it. No one can work and give away
their time to those that want it. Isn't
this the same concept.
Will CDs and MP3 player technology
cause the eventual extinction of true
vinyl as predicted by Sharam of Deep Dish??
Of course I agree with Sharam. What I am wondering is if he can predict a
few things for me as well.
What are some of the goodies planned
for 2004 from both yourself as an artist
Well I can only speak for myself and
this year plans on being a huge year for
me as 2004 marks 10 years of producing
house music and over 100 record out. I
am putting together a CD compilation and
DVD and will be touring extensively for
the 10/100 project. Not to mention the
CD release parties for the Loveslapped
CD which have me booked through April.
How is the tour going? Any memorable
stories to tell??
The first CD release party was in LA
last weekend and if I was to tell the
stories there would be evidence... we
don't want that, do we??
Who do you like in the Presidential
race (please say Kerry!)?
I try and keep my professional life
and my political religious view separate.
Congratulations on the new CD, loved
it. Best of luck on tour.