Saturday, July 16, 2016

Who is DJ Sultan? Lets Find Out [Interview]

Dj Sultan is a DJ / Songwriter / Producer that has been playing for crowds all over the world, with a border-smashing style, blending hard beats, world rhythms, and great melodies to keep the world dancing.
He currently has 2 projects in production – one a collection of dance/electro pop songs, and the other a Caribbean/Electro Pop / Latin Crossover project, featuring some of the biggest names is caribbean/reggae/reggaeton.

The first single from this Project features Jamaican Superstar ELEPHANT MAN – titled “HIPS SING”, which is available now at all digital retailers.

Hey thanks for doing our interview! Lets get to it:

What name do you go by? 
Hello - I am Dj Sultan - I am a Dj / Songwriter / Producer. After years or working the scene and improving my craft, I recently launched the latest project which is a Pop/EDM/Reggae crossover
project, fusing the different Genre's together, and the first single just released, titled "HIPS SING" features Jamaican Superstar Elephant Man.

Where are you from?
Born and Raised in Chicago - Spent about 10 years in Dallas, where I still have a place,
but back in Chicago as my home base.

How old were you when you first got into the music scene? What got you started in music?
I have been dancing my entire life - I would have to say it was middle school where
I first felt compelled to dance in front of people, or "jump in the middle of the circle".
this went through high school - and my first year of college, I was all about the House parties.
I just want to dance, perform and Battle. And, during finals week - When I saw people were studying and I was unable to get my party fix - I decided that I need to start doing them myself. That week
I got my first pair of turntables and my first 2 records.

What were your ambitions when you first started? What are your goals now.?
When I first started - I just didn't want to suck - I practiced a lot. I hung out with the other college
DJ's - trying to learn what I can. My initial goal was just to be the party guy - where all the different social groups would think to call me if they wanted to throw an event. The income was minuscule - but that wasn't the reason I was doing it.
I hit this goal by my senior year - and although I did graduate, I can barely remember going to class, but I can sure remember being in Demand on campus for everyone's parties.

My goals now? I want to compete. What I mean by this is I would like my skills as a Dj, songwriter, and producerto be on the same playing field with the biggest names in the business, all competing for the audience's attention.I have had and continue to have a good career, but It's time to graduate to the next level.

Where was your first gig? 
The first gig I did was toward the end of my first year of college - an Apartment party for some people graduating. I had collected about 30-40 records by then, and I never let anyone hear me spin. but I had been practicing a lot. I connected my turntables and mixer to an Aiwa shelf stereo system - and managed to surprise everyone who were expecting something basic and got a performance. Someone said "Whoa - you sound like a REAL DJ!"

Where was your last gig?
I play constantly - all over the place. But now I am putting a show/performance together with
all of my original music, tight choreography, costumes that I helped design, just trying to create a new experience for the crowd as a performer and DJ. This should be starting this fall, as dates are being worked out.

What are your some of your good and bad traits as an artist?
I'm super dedicated - to my clients, and to my creative productions - I work on them until I am
satisfied - and I've learned not be be afraid to scrap something that inst working, no matter how much time I put into it. A bad trait is over-extending myself - committing to 4 gigs in one weekend when I may have a production deadline coming.
I need to manage time and tasks better :/

What genre do you feel you are?
The whole point of my project is to Cross Genres. So I would say my favorites are
Pop / EDM / Caribbean / world music. Crossing all 4 of these together into one fresh sounding package will be the aim of the current project.

Why did you pick that particular style? 
As i mentioned above - All of this started from dancing - the High you get from creative movement
and people watching - so all 4 of these genres work excellently to make people dance.

Have you released any albums? 

Do you have any clips on YouTube?

How old were you when you first stood on a stage? How did it feel?
First time on a stage was in high school - dance competitions. What I lacked in skill
I made up for in Energy. I loved it and wanted more. It felt almost like a super power
that I could do something and make people want to watch or look in my direction.

What was you Best/worst gig you've played?
Worst gig: This has stuck with me for many years. My Senior year of college, at the University of Illinois, when I reached the goal of being the Go-to party guy for so many of the social groups in school, I was asked by a couple guys on the Football team to DJ a party for them. They did not have ther own fraternity house or venue, so they made a deal with one of the fraternities near the end of campus to use their house. It was pretty big, and could easily hold 300 people. It was a popular weekend on campus, and just the invitees and other students and guests were already filling that place up. The party was hype - people were dancing on tables, clothes started coming off... I was keeping the energy going to with my favorite Chicago House records, and then was switching over to some hip hop mashups. The place was nuts, and completely packed. So, right at this time, the organizers decided that anyone who wants to come in needs to have a College student ID - since this whole thing was for the students. Well, the 2 young guys at the door, aged 15 and 17,
were not having it, and when they were told they couldn't come in without a college ID, they pulled out a gun and started shooting into the crowd. I had just transitioned into my next track and I saw people scattering, trying to exit and hitting the floor. I was standing straight up - trying to understand what was happening. I did't react yet. Another shot was fired and hit this poor patron - Who had just graduated, in the head, just 2 feet from me. My friend screamed at me to get down, and I finally did. The very ineffective security guys came up to me to announce that the shooters had fled, and police were on the way. I saw that poor guy shot in head, on the ground in a pool of blood,
right next to my Dj booth. It was so surreal how quickly things could change from a High I had, in front of a packed house with everyone dancing, to having to witness a recent college grad get taken to the morgue. One other girl was also shot, but she recovered. From that point forward I never took for granted the comfort of my audience. I was always conscious to make sure they were safe and secure  - so coming to an event to dance, mingle, and hear great music should would not be a source of worry.

Best Gig - One I haven't played yet....

What places will you be playing in in the near future? Where would like to perform in the future?
I'm hoping to get on the music festival circuit - What I have noticed is that the audience at such festivals are most receptive and open to new music, so that is high on the priority list.
As for club gigs - Vegas is always a great place since there are new people each week.

Which band is the best that you've seen live? What made their show so good?
The top answer to this question is an easy one - because I got to see Michael Jackson live - the 30th anniversary concerts in new york. I had always been the biggest fan, and that was a dream come true. The entire audience could not take their eyes off this electric performer..
Singing, Dancing, stage show - Unreal....

the 2nd Spot is a tougher call -I have seen many of the greats. I specifically recall seeing
Journey play - and their live performance showed how many incredible songs they had, which were hard to perform. Hearing those big high notes in an arena is a unique experience on its own.
Same with U2 and Depeche Mode - All awesome shows.

More recenly - Bruno Mars did a fantastic job - Singing, Dancing, Playing

What has been your most promising gig so far?
Going to Jamaica to record with Superstar Elephant man was a very uniqie experience, since
we were in the world renowned recording studios in Kingston - and was there as we heard the first
mix of the song - with 12 people in the studio, bouncing. That was something I wont forget,
(and I documented it!) and has led to possible collaborations with other big Jamaican stars.

Any plans of touring?
I will be doing a promotional tour this fall with a lot of surprise gigs.
Let's stay connected and you never know - I may show up in your neighborhood.

How big was the biggest crowed you preformed for?
I would say the nightclubs in Vegas -there were crowds of 2000+

What are the plans for the rest of the year music wise?
The promo for the first single, "HIPS SING" is under way - already a few radio stations have added it to their rotation. We will be shooting a proper music video for this and releasing a remix.
The follow up song will be released at the beginning of Fall, titled "EXIT SIGN", and also features
a pretty big name singer :)

How do you typically get psyched up for a gig?
For a Dj Gig - it's second nature. I'm always ready - and I just read the crowd, make a connection
and keep the energy going. For a performance - I make sure we rehearse in front of Mirrors to get the dancing and Choreo tight. plus since my performance outfits gets a little crazy, I need to make sure what contraptions I may have on me don't fall off mid-performance. I also like to record the rehearsals to nit pick what I can and make sure everything is on point.

Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern?
Def. from older bands - People who were trailblazers in their sound and managed to connect on a huge level. I don't want to follow the sounds that are out now - I want to make something unique so that the Sound of pop music catches up to me.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Primarily my own experiences - I've played all over the country and traveled all over the world.
I have a lot of experience to draw from. So if something is interesting and relateable, then I might start writing.

What's the first step when writing a new song?
Every song needs to tell a story. You need a protagonist, a journey, an obstacle, and an ending.
So once there is a concept for the song - I write out the story in an outline format, almost like
a script, and then work that story into verses.

As a producer - the other way can also happen -where I have a simple melody in mind - and then sit at the
piano, work out the lead melody, and then write the lyrics to it - Meaning let the melody inspire the Story.
This single, "Hips Sing" was written that way - It started as a melody...

How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums in today's digital world?
I have no control over how people consume music. The digital and Free music marketplace means that music consumption is at an all time high - but revenues are way down. Now this also means the cost of production has come down, allowing for someone like myself to put out professional quality product without a record label. So it becomes a difficult task to navigate this changing landscape -
but regardless of the changes - it's essential to make good product that you are proud of.

Is your music available for free download anywhere?
The song is on all digital platforms including youtube, Spotify, etc.

What would be your dreams performance/venue?
Outdoor music festivals - Ballrooms with no seats, where people can dance.

Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to?
I listen to a variety of Pop/Rock/Caribbean/EDM and world music.
In my mind I try to enjoy something while deconstructing it.

Has stage fright ever been a problem for you? What advice can you give to aspiring musicians with this problem?
I have never had a problem with Stage fright -

Are you a part of any other musical projects?
Stay Tuned....some collabo opportunities are on the horizon

Have you been in any other bands before this one?
I was in a band with my buddies after college - Playing keyboard. We did have a few gigs here and there, but I was the only one taking it serious enough as a career - So I made sure to keep chugging as a solo creator.

Do you have a job other than your music career?
Dj ing is my job :) It has been for many years. Im proud of my engineering degree, but even more happy about my crowd prowess. Now I want to add to that role  - Songwriter, Producer, and Performer.

Do you have any webpages?

Describe your show, visually and musically? How do you interact with the crowd?
There are 3 factors that make a good Dj -
1. Skill -Make sure you know what you are doing. Beat matching and smooth mixing are the very basics -
2. Song Selection -  play stuff that will get a reaction - stuff you would want to hear if you were in the crowd.
3. Crowd Reading - This is more innate - hard or impossible to teach. Feel your audience - connect with them, and you should
be able to figure out what will work to get this crowd moving. Communication on the Mic is important but should not
be annoying.

I also put effort into costume - I have event created my own characters that I can perform as, which may
make me 8 feet tall on stils with programmable LED lights changing color...

How would you describe your sound in one sentence?
Border Crossing, Genre-Smashing happy music.

What is your favorite instrument?
the Keyboard - Versatility.
but in a strictly acoustic environment - I love strings - Violin/Chello...(I can't play, but love to listen)

Considering the major changes in today music industry in the digital world and the rise in home studios/DIY independent artists.What do you think is the future of the music industry?  Is this good or bad in your view?
The Bad is that there are more players involved - meaning you have to sift through SOOOO much more bad stuff before you find the good stuff. The other difficult thing is that you, as a musician, are now competing for the attention of people against, movies/netflix/video games/chatrooms/online dates....... So that means your offering has to be more enticing so people would choose to come see you perform rather than do those other things.

Once good thing, considering the above, the people that do these things successfully are really
the most passionate about their art - and will likely give you a better performance.

Any pearls of wisdom for all other bands out there with less experience than you?
It takes time - Keep working. If you ever think you can't play any better or write a better song, you
should immediately start to practice/write more.

What advice would you give less experienced band, that you wish someone had given you?
Having a "product" is not enough - You need a Good Product.

LEt's stay in touch! I have several creative ideas that I will be employing to get the new project heard
that I might literally have a free show/party right in your neighborhood :)

In today's world - the one way for all of us to keep our sanity is to
Keep on dancing!

Dj Sultan

Thanks, we will definetly keep in touch with you! I hope to see you in NYC some days soon, I will be there to support! And to my readers, if you want to support DK Sultan then head over and like/follow his pages below. GO!

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