DJ Wheez-ie on Moving to Detroit, Digging for Vinyl, Advice for Music Students, and What’s Next for Southern Belle Records
Interviewed by Dev/Null
DEV/NULL: The first I heard about you making tunes was when you were living in Boston going to school at Berklee College of Music. When did you actually start making tunes / what was the impetus for that? Any advice for current Berklee students?
WHEEZ-IE: I started toying with the Fruity Loops 2.5 Demo back around 2000 when I was 12 or so, but I didn’t start taking production seriously until around 2010. I didn’t think about what I was doing as much as I just wanted to continue writing. I think that Berklee students really need to participate in the local scene. Boston has amazing DJs and producers, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not a part of it. You are more than just your school work.
DEV/NULL: Since graduating in Boston, you’ve lived in Texas and now in Detroit. How are you liking Detroit? Has moving around these past few years affected your music, in quantity or quality? How would you compare Boston to Detroit to Houston?
WHEEZ-IE: Detroit is a wonderful place to live. It gets a little cold for me in the winter, but somehow I manage. Moving around has affected my music a lot. I’ve gone through creative lulls and creative highs everywhere I’ve lived, but I still wake up every day to write. Treating writing like a 9-5 “real” job is really important to me. If you’re waiting for some inspiration you may just miss it, and I find that if I’m sitting in front of the computer and working; then there is a higher chance of that happening. From my perspective, Detroit, Boston, and Houston are very similar cities. I really loved the history and the community in Boston, but really liked the summer weather and general attitude of Houston. Detroit really feels like a mixture of all of those things. There is a ton of history here and the people are really nice. You can’t beat nice people.
DEV/NULL: Despite being a relatively young producer, you are someone who is heavily into digging for vinyl, even from way before the vinyl resurgence a year or two ago. What is it about record digging/collecting that appeals to you? Do you still bring records to most parties or are you strictly digital now?
WHEEZ-IE: Record digging, for me, has been a reaction to dubplate culture, and playing to the people in the club who just randomly showed up to have a good time. Most producers receive the same tracks every week from the same promo companies, and EVERYONE wants to play “big tunes” so you’ll hear the same stuff out for months. I use old music to get around that. If you know the old track then it brings you back to that time you first heard it, and if you don’t know it then you get to discover something new! It’s a win win for everyone. I’ve started playing more vinyl recently. After a while you realize there are people in the crowd, and staring at your computer for a few hours just isn’t cool.
DEV/NULL: Anything new going on with your label Southern Belle Records? Despite an awesome first release, It seems you’ve been in no rush to put out more records, most likely due to an extremely tragic event which occurred around the time of that first release. Is anything planned for 2015 or 2016? An album maybe?
WHEEZ-IE: DJ Rashad’s death took a huge toll on me, and honestly, I haven’t felt like doing much with music over the past year. I’m beginning to feel excited about the label again. Right now we’re working on the artwork for 002, and I am putting together 003. I’m gonna stay tight lipped about everything though. We’ll see what happens!
DEV/NULL: You’re pretty notorious around here for your crazy DJ sets which blend a ton of disparate styles together smoothly: house, techno, footwork, dubstep, eurodance, breakcore, new and old tracks, and lots of “oh-my-god-is-he-really-playing-that” type stuff. Is this something you do everywhere, like a signature style for you now, or sort of a “Boston special”? Anything in particular we can expect to hear?
WHEEZ-IE: Playing everything as fast as possible has been my schtick for some time now. I started DJing that way while living in Boston. I realized that I didn’t want to alienate the people that just want to dance and have a good time. Having fun is the most important thing. At home I mostly play house and techno records. I don’t open Serato much at home. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to teach myself to mix slowly, and a bit of that has seeped into my repertoire.