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Q & A WITH CLOAK

MUSIC & MENTAL HEALTH

WE SAT DOWN AND CHATTED ABOUT MUSIC AND MENTAL HEALTH WITH ONE OF OUR FAVOURITE GUEST DJ'S CLOAK DAGGER...

AS A DJ AND PRODUCER HOW HAVE YOU COPED THROUGH THE CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC?

"MUSIC HAS ALWAYS BEEN CATHARTIC FOR ME. IT’S TRULY BEEN A LIFELINE WHEN DEALING WITH BOUTS OF DEPRESSION. PRE-PANDEMIC I WAS LOCKING DOWN THREE DJ RESIDENCY’S A WEEK PLUS THE MONEY I EARNED FROM MY OWN AGENCY BOOKINGS, ESSENTIALLY MY MAIN SOURCE OF INCOME, STRIPPED AWAY IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE. IT’S 18 MONTHS LATER AND MANY OF THE VENUES IN AND AROUND NYC STILL HAVEN’T RETURNED TO REGULAR PROGRAMMING. I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO LAND A VIRTUAL ARTIST IN RESIDENCY SLOT WITH THE HARD ROCK HOTEL IN DUBLIN PRETTY EARLY INTO THE PANDEMIC, PERFORMING LIVE STREAMS ON THEIR YOUTUBE PAGE AS WELL AS SIMULCASTING INTO THEIR LOBBY AND SUITES. THAT’S BEEN A GREAT OUTLET FOR ME AND OF COURSE MY STUDIO WORK. I SIGNED ON WITH THE HOREAZON LABEL OUT OF SWEDEN FOR MY LAST TWO SINGLES AND I’M CURRENTLY TRACKING TWO MORE SONGS FOR A FULL EP RELEASE BEFORE THE NEW YEAR."

MUSICALLY WHO ARE YOU INSPIRATIONS?

"I KNOW IT SOUNDS CLICHÉ TO SAY I DRAW INSPIRATION FROM EVERYWHERE, BUT I TRY NOT TO LIMIT MYSELF AS A PRODUCER OR A DJ. EARLY ON I WAS REALLY INFLUENCED BY GROUPS LIKE THIEVERY CORPORATION, MIGUEL MIGS, BUSCEMI, DZIHAN & KAMIEN, ATJAZZ, MOS DEF, DIALATED PEOPLES, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST. MORE RECENTLY OLIVER, FRED FALKE, THE MAGICIAN, WILLIE GRAFF, PELLEGRINO AND LOUIS LA ROCHE ARE ALWAYS ON REPEAT."

DESCRIBE YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS WHEN MAKING A NEW TRACK?

"EVERYTHING STARTS WITH THE GROOVE FOR ME. I TYPICALLY SPEND HOURS ON GETTING THE DRUMS RIGHT. FROM THERE I USUALLY FIND A WARM SYNTH SOUND, THEN BUILD FROM THERE. LAYING MORE AND MORE SOUNDS AND ADDING IN A VOCAL STEM IF THE TRACK CALLS FOR IT. GROOVE AND MELODY ARE PARAMOUNT TO ME. AND I TRY NOT TO OVERCOMPLICATE THE PROCESS." 

ARE THERE ANY ARTISTS YOU'D LIKE TO COLLAB WITH?

"INTERESTINGLY WITH THE POPULARITY OF SPLICE AND OTHER PRODUCER PACK SOURCES, IT FEELS LIKE WE AS PRODUCERS ARE ALREADY COLLABORATING WITH EACH OTHER, ALBEIT VIRTUALLY. I’M A HUGE FAN OF UTILIZING EVERYTHING WE HAVE AT OUR DISPOSAL TO CREATE NEW MUSIC. WHETHER IT’S SPLICE, APPLE LIVE LOOPS, ACAPELLA SITES OR EVEN CHOPPING SAMPLES IN SERATO DJ. THERE’S SO MUCH SOURCE MATERIAL AVAILABLE. IT’S QUITE LITERALLY THE 2021 DEFINITION OF ARTIST COLLABORATING AND THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS."


DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR HELPING TO HELP IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL WELL-BEING?

"MAINTAINING A HEALTHY BALANCE OF DIET AND EXERCISE HELPS ME A LOT. IF MUSIC FEEDS MY SOUL, THEN EXERCISE CLEARS MY HEAD. BACK IN MARCH, ONE YEAR INTO THE PANDEMIC, I STARTED JOGGING AGAIN AFTER TAKING A FEW YEARS OFF. I TYPICALLY RUN 3 MILES, FIVE DAYS A WEEK OR SO AND IT HAS TREMENDOUS BENEFITS ON MY MENTAL WELL BEING. IT’S LIKE MY OWN PERSONAL THERAPY SESSION, IT’S WHERE I UNRAVEL A LOT OF TURMOIL AND SOMETIMES EVEN THINK OF NEW SONG OR BUSINESS IDEAS."

WHAT TRACK GETS YOU ON THE DANCEFLOOR?

"AT THE MOMENT, TOMMY GLASSES REMIX OF BEBE REXHA’S “SACRIFICE” IS AN ABSOLUTE DANCE FLOOR INSTIGATOR FOR SURE."

OUTSIDE OF MUSIC DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER HOBBIES?

"I LOVE SPENDING AS MUCH TIME AS POSSIBLE WITH MY WIFE AND TWO CHILDREN  IN AND AROUND NEW YORK. I ROLLERBLADE A LOT, LOVE TO COOK AND I’M A HUGE AMERICAN FOOTBALL FAN."

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO BE DJS OR PRODUCERS?

"ABSOLUTELY! DJING IS A MULTIFACETED CRAFT, THERE’S MANY WAYS TO EARN A SOLID LIVING FROM IT, WHILE STILL MAINTAINING YOUR ARTISTIC INTEGRITY. IF YOU’RE JUST STARTING OUT PLAY EVERYWHERE AND ANYWHERE. YOU’LL LEARN SO MUCH ABOUT READING A ROOM, NO MATTER WHAT THAT ROOM LOOKS LIKE. THAT EXPERIENCE IS INVALUABLE, SOMETHING YOU’LL TAKE WITH YOU AS YOU GROW IN YOUR CAREER. LASTLY, DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL ON YOUR OWN, ONCE YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR READY FOR THE NEXT LEVEL PITCH YOURSELF TO A SOLID AGENCY GROUP. MANY VENUES, PARTICULARLY THOSE IN MAJOR CITIES, MAY OVERLOOK YOUR TALENT WITHOUT PROPER AGENCY REPRESENTATION.

ON A PRODUCTION LEVEL, FIND YOUR SOUND AND BRING SOME ELEMENT OF UNIQUENESS TO IT. IT’S THE EAR, NOT THE GEAR THAT MATTERS MOST. GREAT MUSIC IS TIMELESS AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A LOT AT YOUR DISPOSAL TO CREATE IT. SO FOLLOW YOUR PASSION, LIFE IS SHORT, TRUST IN YOURSELF AND THE REST WILL FALL INTO PLACE."