INTERVIEW: AJ Hazel
LA-based talent AJ Hazel is a blossoming DJ and producer with an impressive lo-fi background of hip-hop, house, tech-house and dance releases. His unique production techniques have helped the rising star accumulate an impressive discography of releases this year.
August saw the arrival of 'Don't Wanna Lose', a nostalgic house affair and forward-thinking groove from AJ whilst his latest release 'I'm So Fly' showcases a different side to this producer's eclectic sound bed of releases.
We caught up with AJ Hazel to discuss the production process behind his releases, DJ highlights, favourite artists in the scene and upcoming projects.
Hi Austin, thanks for joining us here at FLEX. Let’s start by talking about how you started your career in the music scene - what influenced you to become an artist?
College had a big influence on me getting into producing. Back at my old apartment, my roommates and I would be listening to artists like Flume or Odesza, and we used to think to ourselves, how do these guys make these sounds? Thankfully, I ended up having a friend who had a midi controller so I was able to pull up plug-ins in Ableton and really create my own sounds. It took me awhile to move away from emulating my favorite artists at the time to making house but college is where it began! You’ve recently dropped your latest track ‘Don't Wanna Lose’ - what does this track mean to you?
This song means a lot. When I think about the other tracks I released before this, it felt like I was on to something big. By the time I got to Don't Wanna Lose, I had taken everything I learned from before and poured it all into this. The most important thing about this track though is the title. When I think about where I'm at and where I want to go, I know that if I just keep working hard everything will work out.
Can you walk us through the production processes behind ‘Don't Wanna Lose’ - how did you create it?
When I first started making house, I wanted to ease my way into it by making chill four to the floor beats. When I began this song, I actually started with a slower bpm because it felt like groovy R&B. But after making Run with Fools which I think was 126 bpm, I was like wait what would happen if I sped up Don't Wanna Lose. That instantly added all of the energy into the bass line so I just started going from there and adding cool samples.
You're also a DJ - what are your most memorable performance highlights and do you have any exciting gigs in the pipeline?
I'm still pretty new when it comes to DJing. I started in March and landed my first show in Los Angeles in July. This was probably one of the Top 5 moments of my life forsure. I think everyone said I was smiling non-stop. But it was just great to be in the atmosphere and preview Don't Wanna Lose before it released. I'm working on landing some more gigs in the future. Hopefully, my next one will be in October! We’re really enjoying the nostalgic house vibe on this track and the energy across your releases. Can you tell us a little bit about your musical background?
My parents got me a piano when I was in elementary school. My piano was one of those portable ones that came with cool sounds that you could play on the keyboard. I used to love all of those sounds they came with. I think this time was a special development for me into loving music. In 5th grade, I decided to take piano lessons, but unfortunately, I didn't really want to commit to it so music kind of fell flat for awhile. At some point, I felt like I was better off youtubing different songs I could learn on the piano than really learn music theory and I was so wrong. Can you tell us about any artists that are exciting you right now or records that are on repeat?
I think everyone is excited about John Summit right now. Well at least I am haha. Dude is killing it. His new song What is Life is pretty dope. Other than being artists, what other passions or hobbies do you both have in life?
I love video games. I think if I didn't pursue music I would love to get paid to play games or even just test new releases. What can we expect to see next from AJ Hazel? Are there any exciting upcoming releases or collaborations you’d like to mention?
Yes, my new song I'm So Fly is out now. I'm very excited about this. I've been hearing that the vibe for this song is similar to Moon Boots, so check it out!
'I'm So Fly' by AJ Hazel is out now.
Check out his previous single 'Don't Wanna Lose'
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