An interview with FREE! Best DJ 2012 Nominee: DJ Random

Here’s an interview that I had with FREE! Magazine from couple days ago. Te one below is its the English translation. You can read the original interview in Indonesia HERE.

As one of the nominee for FREE! Best Of 2012 in Best DJ 2012 category, DJ Random of Javabass took his time to share with us his story on how he ended up with career in music. Random is known as one of Indonesia’s best drum’n’bass DJ and has succesfuly guarded and guided its scene together with Javabass Crew. Random is also known as Lawrence and one half of electronic duo EGRV with Ade Habibie. His career has been interesting and you can read it in the interview below. If you think Random deserve to be awarded as Best DJ 2012, vote for him HERE.

    Can you tell us how and when you decided to become DJ and music producer? And what you have to go through to be where you are right now?

I initially got interested in Dj-ing when I was in college in the States back in ’96. A classmate of mine was saving up to buy a DJ setup and he also introduced me to drum’n’bass. 3 months later I bought 1 turntable and my friend bought 1 and we put them together and started practicing. After 2 years DJ-ing at house parties, a friend that works at our college radio station invited me to be guest DJ on his show. Apparently a promoter heard my set and booked me for one of the regular drum’n’bass night in Long Beach. Eventually he made me semi resident DJ at his night. Internet networking hooked me with Jungle Voodoo Collective. We started our own nights in LA area. After Jungle Voodoo Collective disbanded, I started my own crew Nu Phunk Operation and we specialized in soulfull/liquid drum’n’bass.This is around ’99 and at the same time I started to dabbled in production. In 2000 I got my first release and it was one of my proudest moment.

Unfortunately I finished college in 2001 and I have to return to Indonesia. I got introduced to Jerome from Javabass and I joined them. Around that time I also got introduced to Ade Habibibie and DJ Riri (This was the original EGRV). 3 months after I met Ade we released Electronic Groove’s first album. We knew nothing about running record label. We just printed 1000 copy of our album and started selling them door to door. It tooks us 3 years to finished those CDs, it was not efficient at all. After we sell all those CD we released our 2nd album. Unfortunately just right after its release, Ade left for Netherland to continue his study. We didn’t get to promote our album at all. In 2006 I started to play other genres and got this idea of entering Heineken Thirst to introduced my new name DJ Lawrence to the public. My style is what people in Indonesia called Mash up, where I dropped hiphop, electroclash, house, electro, breaks and techno. I didn’t win and only managed to reach the final 2. The judges told me the reason I didn’t win because what I played was not as mainstream as the winner who plays Trance (ironically Mash up is everywhere now while Trance is all but dissapeared from Indonesian scene… I was way too ahead for the time). In 2010 Electronic Groove was rebranded as EGRV and we released our 3rd album. During the making of this album we started to collaborate with pop band RAN. Even though our 3rd album could be considered as failure sales wise, what I got is this new found access to the pop music industry. I started to get opportunities to work with some of Indonesian biggest pop star such as Aura Kasih, Vicky Shu, Marcell and many more. Even though I now make pop music, Dance music is still my top priority.

Until today I still play drum’n’bass because it’s my passion. I will fight for this scene together with Javabass crew just like what we’ve done in the past 12 year.

    In new music production, which one takes more time? The idea or actual production process?

Time is relative. Finding inspiration can be tough or it just flows. Working on pop music is a whole different story since there are much more limitation on what you can do. The inspiration part is relative but the production side is pretty methodical. Actual production usually takes about 2 day. But nothing is set in stone though. Mood play major role on this matter.

    Where and how do you find inspiration when writing/producing tracks?

For dance music I find inspiration by listening to other tracks. My trick is to listen to genre other than the one I wanted to make. I like to throw the unexpected. Occasionally I’ll steal melody from a trance tune and stack ’em up with drum’n’bass or I’ll take a dubstep lead and cross them with house beat. Basically the idea is to keep things interesting. Pop music is different, especially when I have to write music and lyrics. Usually I’ll try to come up with outline of lyrics then starts writing the music.

    Do you think its important to send message to listener of your music or you just try to make sure that its fun?

A track must be FUN especially when you worked on it. When you’re having fun making it, it will be fun for the listener too. There was a point where I produced track to impress other producer. It was so satisfying when other producer asked me how and What I did to achieve that particular sound. The drawback, my track become over produced and to complicated and I forgot that dance music is made for dancing (I think dubstep is perfect example of music created to impress other producer). Gotta remember that we make dance music to let people have FUN!

    Any figures (DJ or a person) who is influential to your music career? Can you tell us how this person influence you?

When I just started I had the opportunity to talk with !UFO from San Francisco. Hw told me that his inspiration is music regardless of its genre. He just love any music. In ’99 !UFO tunes were mind blowing. You could hear elements of hiphop, jazz and rock in all his tunes. From that point on I stopped being a genre snob and started opening my ears to other music. That was a life altering experince.

    You’re known as DJ with 2 different character, which one is you stronger side, Lawrence or Random?

Actually those 2 names are my vehicles. Random is my idealist side. I love bass music, drum’n’bass, dubstep, UK Garage, hiphop. Random is my vehicle for that music and that’s the real me. Lawrence is my commercial side. When I play under this name I play electro, progressive, techno, Dutch house, basically the whole EDM thing. They are both equally important and they defined me as a DJ.

    What do you think is your short coming in your music production?

Just like anything in life, you should never stop learning. Everything that I’ve released, I always felt that I can do better. Why the mix was not good enough, why its too repetitive, why I edited them that way, basically I almost never happy with my tracks. That’s what motivates me to stay hungry and continue to learn. You can learn from anyone, let it be pop producer or other musician, basically always ask question.

    From your perspective, what do you think about EDM industry in 2012?

I love how EDM is taking over globally. The more mainstream pop artists incorporate dance music the bigger EDM gets. The bigger they gets, the bigger our market. The bigger the market, the more works are available. Specific to Indonesian scene, there are worrying thing though. I don’t know much about Jakarta scene since 95% of the time I play drum’n’bass there. As Lawrence, I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over Indonesia. I’ve played from the west side of Indonesia in Medan to the farthest east of Indonesia at Jayapura. There’s one sour point that basically happens in all those cities. Club used to book DJs because of their style/sound. Now they treat DJ like a jukebox. All the resident DJs have similar playlist and If you dare to stray from this playlist they will either asked you to leave the deck or at the least complained about the music. That’s not good. I was booked to play at this super club in Jakarta. The club has multi room and I was booked at this room with more edgy music style. The booked me as Lawrence a.k.a. Random which basically means I can play whatever the hell I want. I was sloted as the 4th DJ to play that night. During the 2nd DJ set, I was informed by the promoter that They are shutting down the room and will replace the DJ with their resident. Supposedly some of their patron complained about the music. This 2nd DJ was dropping some groovy but not commercial house. The 3rd DJ was suppose to play dubstep, that would have been ugly. It’s difficult when club owner is not a dance music lover first and businessman second. Their main objective is all about making money. Making money is definitely important but they forget that they together with DJs have a duty to educate the crowd, Educated crowd are loyal. They need to start looking at how legendary club like Zouk Singapore being run. They have 4 area. Phuture is where kids get introduced to clubbing and dance music. Once they are immerse into it they will move to Zouk where they put world class DJs.
Once they get older and have better income they move to Velvet and when they are older and had enough of clubbing they hang out at Wine Bar. Basically there’s regeneration of patrons and they still spend money at their club. That’s a smart way to run a club.

    Can you choose 3 words to describe DJ Random?

Genre is overrated

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