Today we’ve interviewed a very talented musician, producer, DJ, promoter, and rock n’ roller Hazambe. Hazambe hails from the high desert of Boise, Idaho. He live’s by one policy and that’s keeping you on the edge with his high energy performances and free-flowing open format track selection. Within the more recent years, Hazambe has co-managed Boise’s biggest EDM monthly known as THUMP (The Heaviest Unified Music Project) He’s booked, promoted, and performed with industry professionals including: Subtronics, Infected Mushroom, Kai Wachi, Jayceeoh, Sullivan King and Chris Lake amongst a myriad of others. Having spun alongside local heavy-hitters and national acts alike, Hazambe has carved out his own unique sound while interweaving various forms of bass music that keeps you moving. No matter if you’re raging on the rail or vibing at the back of the club, Hazambe will keep you entertained.
Lisa: Hi Hazambe! How did it all start for you?
Hazambe: Man, that’s a long chapter among many for sure haha! It’s almost difficult to imagine a time when I wasn’t engulfed in music. Reflecting back to my younger years I can remember the one person who influenced it all. One day, my sister was walking home from school with the sketchiest guy I’ve ever seen. He had black clothes, chains, and blue hair. I vividly remember the way he introduced himself to me. He reached out his hand to slap a dap and confidently stated, “Hi, I’m Josh Payne and if you ever buy a guitar without humbuckers, I’ll kick your ass!” At that point, I instantly knew I wanted to be as cool as that guy. Shortly after, by age twelve I received my first guitar and have been strumming awat ever since. However one event almost a decade later changed my life to take on a different path. Around when I was 21, I was going for a bike ride with some friends. I had gotten into an accident and broke my wrist. Going stir crazy in a cast I was going into withdrawals without being able to play guitar. I had to find a new outlet to make music. I purchased a $40 program from office max and started my journey into writing electronic music.It was 2012. EDM was at its all time prime and UKF’s “Dubstep Tutorial” song was fresh in the rounds. Back then, there wasn’t really any easy access to production material to learn from. If you wanted to find out how to do something, you really had to dig for it. As far as me getting into djing. I moved up to Boise later that year and that’s when I was introduced to the club scene. It took a few years to fall into the curve but on a random night I was encouraged to learn how to spin from a local veteran named Greg Frisch. Greg and the late Jeff Jensen.were running the EDM circuit with the weekly FML event inside the old Fatty’s club. Those nights solidified some of the best memories and really kick started my journey to where I am today.
Lisa: What single night out has been the most memorable for you? As a DJ? As an attendee?
Hazambe: I think one of the coolest nights I can remember as an attendee was seeing Excision.I happened to catch wind that Bear Grillz and Figure were hanging out in Freak Alley, which for those who don’t know is an awesome graffiti exhibit here in Boise. I rushed downtown to meet up, and hang out with the gang. They were wrapping up and Figure said, “Ok see you all at the show,” and I felt embarrassed because I wasn’t going to be able to go. I explained to him the girl that was going to take me bailed on me last minute and I couldn’t afford a ticket. Almost humored, Figure said, “That’s no reason to miss this show!”, asked me for my name and threw me on the list. I remember being so stoked because this was going to be my first Dubstep show. It was that night that I gained new respect for the open arms of the rave community. As a dj however hahaha. I can think about one of the worst gigs I ever had. This is right around the time when I first started out. I had a last minute offer to take a gig at the Ice Bouquet. In the middle of the night some randos picked up a mic and started harassing me. Little did I know that the formerly infamous and now business partner Auz0matik was running DJ battles out of that spot. I guess they were prepared for me to do something cool but I didn’t get the memo.
Lisa: You’ve booked, promoted, and performed with industry professionals including: Subtronigs, Infected Mushroom, Kai Wachi, Jayceeoh, Sullivan King and more.. Who is your biggest inspiration?
Hazambe: This is also a tough question because I have so many eclectic tastes! Personally, out of this genre, the biggest musical influences to me are actually guitarists. Slash and Randy Rhoads are the top tier influencers in my style. Both have an incredible sense of melody and every note that they strike has conviction. However, each of them are very different. One is raw and aggressive and the other is powerful and sincere. I try to find my balance in my writing based on those nuances. That kind of segways into my thoughts on electronic musicians. As cliche as it sounds, Skrillex is an inspiration as well. Not so much as trying to emulate his sound. That’s been done and overplayed. More like his ability to effectively write raw, aggressive, powerful and sincere music. You can tell it comes from a reflection of who he is. Knowing your own identity, speaking the conversation from inside-out, and then connecting that message to an audience. That’s what I find to be inspirational.
Lisa: Where do you think the scene is headed? One year from now? Five years from now?
Hazambe: That’s the million dollar question. The music industry is facing a time of uncertainty. Millions of musicians around the world are sitting at home waiting for things to pick back up again. It almost reminds me of the revolution of music coming to the digital age. The industry needs to adjust course and follow the tide. I think the most important advice I can give to anyone right now is to be innovative during this downtime. Twitch and live streaming have been the saving grace for most of us. At least we can still play to an audience. Though, over the past few months it’s become entirely saturated and audience views are slipping. Auz0matik and I with our THUMP events are entirely grateful that we’ve been able to take refuge with The Lounge at the End of the Universe venue taking us in. With their help, we’ve been able to throw low capacity shows while adhering to the social distancing guidelines. I can say this, the rave community is going through major withdrawals. I have positive faith that within the next year the industry will get back on its feet. It will be slow growth and adhering to the same things we are doing with our shows. The one thing I can say is the industry itself won’t be able to do it on it’s own. Right now we all need to unify, share resources, and in the next five years, the community will be stronger than it ever was before!
Lisa: What is something that bugs you about the DJ scene?
Hazambe: Entitlement. Hands down. Everyone wants you to do all the work and reap the benefits of your labor. I’d advise to anyone that Rome wasn’t built in a day.and it takes years to build a solid foundation. For me specifically, I wasn’t getting booked because of the music I played, so I created the environment for that to happen. Get out there and build your own hustle. Hang flyers, go out in public, shake hands and be genuine. Effort gets rewarded.
Lisa: Are you able to share any of your secret tricks with me?
Hazambe: Easy first tip, TURN OFF THE SYNC BUTTON. You’ll instantly become a better DJ because you’ll start thinking outside of the box when you mix. A tip for producers, do all your mixing in mono. When mono sounds good, your stereo mix sounds amazing. Some gear tips for performances. Always bring spare 1⁄4 inch headphone jacks, a spare usb flash and put it on a lanyard because it will get stolen or left behind. Also drink water when it is presented to you. Hydrate or die-drate.
Lisa: I love your new single “DIMES”. Where did you get inspiration for it?
Hazambe: I’m glad you vibe with that track! To be honest there is a story to go with it. Earlier this year I was going through a heart-break. In short I was ghosted on Valentine’s Day. Shortly after that, the quarantine hit and I lost all of my sources of income. Lingering in loneliness and depression, I lost all inspiration to do anything, including music. Like the rest of the world, I was sitting home and surfing the web. I do this thing where I just comment on people’s posts to try and make people laugh. Well, I got a DM from this knockout dj from Russia that goes by the name Gretta. After casual back and forth discourse, we started alleviating our life frustrations to each other. It became apparent we were both going through some sort of broken hearts at that time. It confused me how someone so successful, talented and beautiful could be taken advantage of. At the same time, I took a moment to reflect that thought towards myself. Gretta helped motivate me to start writing again. It was like the muses inspired me and all this raw attitude started coming out but the real magic is when I auditioned some vocals. The “I ain’t got time for nothing but dimes” line hit against my melody and everything clicked. In its essence it means, if you are not a top quality person and here to improve my life, get out of my way. So to me, that song is kind of about her because to me she’s a dime worth the time.
Lisa: What is one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you hear it?
Hazambe: Oh man, I have to pick one? Ok! The one song that better be played at my funeral is Poison’s “Nothing but a Good Time”. Ever since I heard that song in the movie “Grind” it takes me back to my angsty youth of making the best of times with friends.
Lisa: What are you working on right now?
Hazambe: Right now, I’m finishing up my next release which is a remix of a song my friends made called “Hands in da Err”, Shout out to Trillenomics and Numero. It’s originally an old-school dubstep style song but I gave it a completely different body and soul to it. I’ll be stoked to release it because I’ve been sitting on it for a while and I know it bumps!
Lisa: What’s next for you?
Hazambe: Personally, I have a bunch of things on the plate as far as music writing goes. I have an additional remix to make for Jason Cha Os out there in New York. I want to do a collab with my friend’s sister Akazi who is out there killing it in LA. I have an EP in the works for the band I’m in called A Buried Life. During all this, I plan on putting together an EP for Hazambe. All I know is I have my head on the grinder and I’m looking to press out more originals before the end of the year. I’m going into 2021 with momentum to play on some bigger stages.