I did a DJ mix and interview for Ari Frank’s Sordid Culture. You can read the interview and listen/download to the mix from Soundcloud below. Thanks to Ari for including me in the stellar roster of artists he’s featured.
From Sordid Culture…
“It’s been too long since we brought you a podcast from Chicago’s underground scene. This time we go big with local icon Mazi otherwise known as Audio Soul Project. A prolific producer, remixer, and DJ, Mazi has appeared on over 200 records in 15 years. A feat paralleled only by a select few. Mazi is also the co-owner of the reputable label, Fresh Meat Records started out of Chicago in 2006. For Episode 29, Mazi delivers an exclusive mix highlighting the other side of Chicago house music and gives the listener a good idea of what it feels like to hear Mazi perform at one of Chicago’s local venues like Smart Bar. We caught up with Mazi and had a chance to ask him a few questions:
SC: How long have you been in this business?
Mazi: I started DJing in 1991 as a hobby first. I began making music a year or two after that. I kept on doing both things for several more years aspiring to make a living at it and I would say around 1996-97 is when I was doing music full time.
SC: What is the best and worst thing about being a DJ and Producer in Chicago?
Mazi: The best thing about being involved with music in Chicago is that it’s home. I feel very comfortable in my skin playing out at gigs here or working on new things in my studio. Most of what I know about music I learned here, most of my friends and family are here, so I feel like I’m coming from a position of comfort and strength producing and DJing here.
The challenge for me, if anything, is to not get too comfortable and retread ground creatively that I have walked on too often in the past. Specially now that I’ve been doing the music thing for almost 20 years, I have to consciously push myself to try new sounds, new techniques and to be open to new ways of doing things. This is not a Chicago specific issue, or even a unique challenge for me. I think anytime an artist or DJ has been doing their thing for many years and in a place like Chicago with an established ethos, the challenge becomes to not just keep doing the same thing over and over.
SC: As the owner of Fresh Meat Records, what do you look for in a track in order to release it?
Mazi: We don’t look for anything specific when it comes to Fresh Meat. Of course there has to be continuity sonically with what we’ve released but we’re more interested in hearing songs that can take us places we haven’t yet been. If the emotion of the music is right and we can’t stop listening to it, than that’s probably a demo we’re going to pick up for the label. Frankly, the releases we’re looking for are the ones that we didn’t even know we wanted until we heard them – the music has to surprise us.
SC: What is your favorite place to eat in Chicago?
Mazi:vI’ve been on a pho kicks lately. I can’t stop going to Pho Xe Lua on Argyle. It’s almost become a weekly ritual stopping by there with my girlfriend.
SC: Who do you see as an up and coming talent out of Chicago?
Mazi: I was a Gramophone two days ago and I picked up two records by Garrett David. Garrett works at Gramophone and he’s a resident at Queen Sunday nights at Smart bar. I think he’s smart, humble, talented, and has a seriously bright future ahead of him. The Queen! Tracks release he just put out on Stripped & Chewed is ridiculously good! Although I haven’t heard him mix yet, friends tell me he’s a meticulous DJ with great taste.
SC: Any big upcoming news (releases, tours, gigs, projects…)?
Mazi: We have quite a few new things planned on Fresh Meat for the remainder of this year. We just released a new Fish Go Deep EP. An EP by a brand new Tunisian producer named Hausick is almost ready to roll. Other projects involve artists like Lomez, Brodanse, DJ Jes and possibly a new Audio Soul Project EP. I’m beginning to put together a new Audio Soul Project live show that I hope to perform here in the city next Fall.”