When you first see MAKJ in person, he looks more like a male supermodel than a DJ. Yet, he is so much more than just another pretty face. Growing up as a race car driver, he fell in love with dance music while partying in Asian clubs. DJ AM taught him how to scratch and he dove into production. While his tracks with Thomas Newson, Hardwell, Henry Fong, and Bassjackers have been massive, his clubland anthem with Lil Jon “Let’s Get Fked Up” is probably what he is best known for. You never know what you might hear when MAKJ spins as he is known for mixing in rock and other sounds in his eclectic sets.
RS: Was the name of your track “Generic” a joke or what was the reason behind naming it that?
MAKJ: All of the DJs that sent feedback were like “this sounds really generic” and I was like hey that’s a great name. I didn’t want to change the record, it was there and I had been playing it for about a year before I released it. Since all of the DJs said that it was generic I figured I might as well call it that so no one else calls me out for it!
RS: How did you go from being a racecar driver to being a DJ?
MAKJ: It was just kind of a weird, long journey. I started racing when I was eight and it turned into more of a professional hobby around 12 and after that I was doing it fulltime. I lived over in Asia and once I was over there I went to a lot of clubs because I was able to do that at 16 and fell in love with the art of DJing. Over there it was a lot of turntable guys and there a lot of DMC World champions that live over there so I was trying to hit up all the club scene nights. One thing led to another and I just bought myself some 1200’s and the rest was history.
RS: Your remix of “Coco” was massive. Have you gotten any blow back for the subject matter of the song?
MAKJ: If the song didn’t go as viral as it did I feel like there would have been a lot of blowback. Rap is rap and if you are going to rap about something rap about something that a lot of people do.
RS: I hear that you are working on a new record with DVBBS.
MAKJ: It is an edit. So they did the original and they sent me the record and told me to play it at Ultra or whatever. I told them that I was going to do an edit of it and they were like cool and sent me the stems and I worked with Alex and Chris who are great kids. We want to put it out as an official edit so it will be DVBBS, their song title and the MAKJ edit.
RS: Who else are you collaborating with right now?
MAKJ: Thomas Newson who is a great up and coming kid, Timmy Trumpet who is a baller from Australia, and I have a couple collabs with Placebo the rock band.
RS: I haven’t heard from them in years.
MAKJ: Yeah it’s crazy; the thing with me is that I listen to a lot of music besides dance music. That’s what you see in my sets, it’s eclectic and versatile. I am trying to work with a couple of other big rock guys but as of right now those are the collabs I have coming out.
RS: Right now EDM is peaking and deep house is the thing, where do you see music going next?
MAKJ: I don’t want to say that Deep House is a fad but the problem is that it has been around the longest and people think it’s a trendy thing to like because everyone is playing it and grooving to it. It goes in waves, last year was electro house and progressive house and the year before that it was trap and dubstep and this year it deep house. You just have to be on that next grind and find out what is going to be that next hot thing.
RS: You have an insane touring schedule but you are in amazing shape, how do you keep up your health and your sanity with the schedule you do?
MAKJ: Eat healthy, don’t drink a lot and try to get in the gym at least one hour a day.
RS: After a gig which hurts more- your ears from the sound or your eyes from all the flashes?
MAKJ: Well my ears don’t hurt because I got those ACS ear plugs! It just depends on the venue, at festivals it is different because they have a lot of spot lights and sometimes my pupils hurt really badly at the end of a festival set because I’m blinded by a strobe the whole time. My eye sight has never been a problem but sometimes I forget my ASC ear plugs at a club and my ears hurt like shit for the next two days and it kind of screws me up so I would have to say my ears for sure.
RS: If you could go back and talk to yourself at age 18 what advice would you give yourself?
MAKJ: I would probably say don’t be so frugal and enjoy your happiness and smell the roses. My age got the best of me, I was a lot older and I didn’t really party that much. I was in college but I never did the college thing so I would say go have more fun being 18, you only have your youth once.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
MAKJ: I love you all.
Interview conducted during WMC 2015.