Words and photo by W. H. Ferrell, Jr.
DJ Amaze has been deejaying for 15 years, as well as being a classically trained pianist. His unique credentials have landed him appearances on several commercial radio stations as well as a gig as the MTV Spring Break official DJ. He has performed on stage with A-listers such as Common, Kanye West, and Ludacris. After hosting a string of local mix tapes Amaze has dropped his debut album “Hood Elegance” as he continues to spotlight Delaware talent on a national level.
How did you first get into playing music?
I got into deejaying while hosting a radio show on Super 91.7 WMPH (a non profit station run by Brandywine School District) in High School. Local DJ's would come in and spin live on-air for me and the curiosity grew into a career.
What does your record collection look like?
Almost every hip hop album from 1989-2003. Mad amounts of R&B, Funk/Soul from garage sales and the goodwill. A pinch of some live jazz albums like Grover Washington "Live at the Bijou" heavy Reggae and Dancehall, little bit of dance music, touch of 80's, and lots of rare remixes, imports, and party breaks
What is your opinion of Delaware’s current music scene?
I can only speak on the urban side of Delaware music because that is the side I am most familiar with. I am happy to see local guys working together. A few years ago the hip hop scene was very different. Guys put themselves on islands and looked at other artist as competition. Nowadays with events like Wednesday Night Live at Pale Dog Tavern and East End Cafe artists are collaborating more and helping each other. I think it's a beautiful thing, and to answer your question the Delaware music scene has proven itself relevant enough to receive national attention
Do you think there are enough venues for independent artists?
Never. There will never be enough venues to nurture homegrown local music. But some venues like Union Tavern are opening their doors to local flavor because they see the benefit of it and the crowds that these local artists are able to bring out.
Tell me about your experiences in Cancun?
Cancun is fun, crazy, exhausting and rewarding at the same time. A typical day for me in Cancun is like this:
9a.m wake up quick work out and shower
10am-4pm American Eagle Outfitters and Studentcity.com beach party. My duties are to perform my songs, DJ and host for the daily beach party. We have crazy contest and tons of free giveaways. At anytime literally anyone can show up. Past people who have stepped on the stage during my beach party are Paris Hilton, Fat Joe, Jaime Kennedy, MTV Personalities, and anyone else who may be in town to perform that night.
4pm-4:30pm-Pack up my gear and Meet and Greet folks, sign autographs, kiss babies.
4:30-7:30- Dinner, chill, another shower
8:00pm- Sound check for the night event. This event could be at one of several clubs. Regardless of the club, the event will have no less than 5,000 Spring Breakers ready to party!!
1am- DJ at the club during prime time for a few hours
4am-In bed ready to repeat this 28 more times in a row
So what’s up with this new album?
Well the album is called Hood Elegance. Over the past year or two I really started working more in the studio with recording my voice. The album, while it is classified as hip-hop, is very diverse in scope. I used my experience as a DJ to make something complete and something that best represents my taste in music. So you get some conscious songs like "Philly Heatwave" (produced by G.I.Z. producer for R&B/Rap group City High), dealing with the high murder rate and the apathetic response to a big problem. But u also get party tracks like "Lean", and "The Big Butt Song" and "Rapstar Remix" ft Swish Maddi that DJ’s and radio stations are playing right now. And to smooth it out I also have R&B with singer/songwriter D. Goode (writer for Bad Boy Entertainment and MTV's Making the Band 4 group DAY 26) with the song "Twisted". And I even have some Baltimore club/party music. And that's just the first 7 tracks!
The album is available on my website www.djamaze.com as a digital download. Or you can pick up a hard copy at cdbaby.com and Sam's Music Connection in Newark or Scooters Records in Wilmington
How did you manage to link up with these a-list gigs in your career?
I am blessed man, but I really believe if you are good at what you do and have a way of displaying and promoting your talent, it gets easier to knock down doors. I am very persistent, I hold people to their words and I keep mine. Those factors have allowed me to succeed to this point in my career. I don't intend to change now
What turntable needles do you use?
Well nowadays outside of the studio I've actually gone digital. So I'm rocking a laptop and some digital turntables. But, I use the Shure MM-47
What local artists inspired you when you were starting out?
I dunno if it was when I was first starting out but I do like what Marchitect has done. I remember doing some scratches on his first album and thinking how great it was that somebody from Delaware was coming out with an actual album!
Do you listen to the radio?
Yeah sometimes. I've been listening more lately to see if my songs are on! But being a radio DJ myself, I try to get away from work in my downtime and I consider listening to the radio or anything having to do with music as work.
How do you find new records to play? Label email them. I check a few industry websites, blogs, but the real fun is making new records or remixes to play out because they are ultra exclusive! I'm the only one who has those ones!
What is most important in song creation: the hook, beat, or the lyrics?
I think how much heart and feeling and meaning you put into a song is more important than any hook beat or lyric I could ever make. Music should be real and it should also be personal to the artist that created it.
How did the Jae Dollaz front page coverage affect you in our local area?
I never thought of it before but I guess it actually helped me. I put together a town hall meeting right after that article went to press. The meeting was a success for a number of reasons:
For one, Jae Dollaz himself had an opportunity to clear the air and offer his original words instead of the chopped and edited version that the media presented.
Secondly, the turnout showed that the hip hop community can come together for a cause and purpose. We even had district representative Hanifa Shabazz in the meeting to share some thoughts. And since that Jae Dollaz article was published exposing some of the negative dimension of hip-hop, I’ve also seen some positive articles published to show the balance that exists.
What does Delaware need to do to make more of a national buzz?
The Delaware consumer needs to support Delaware artist more. Support comes in the form of coming out to more events and buying a CD or two. And I'm not just saying that because my album is out. It doesn't have to be me that you support. But we should support someone or several Delaware bred artist. Also, I'd like to see local radio take a more hands on approach in nurturing talent out of Delaware. Especially those who are creating a buzz on their own.