Remember those years when DJ Hazard didn’t go in his studio?
Post-Bricks Don’t Roll, pre-lockdown, mid-Brexit there was an extensive period of time when the Brummie artist couldn’t face his machines due to an acute fatigue at the state of the scene and the direction of the music.
We documented it quite a few times over the years, perhaps most tellingly in the article called ‘why DJ Hazard hasn’t released any music in the last three years.’ The clue was in the title.
It ended up being more like five years by the time Far Fetched came out in 2019, followed by When The Dreams Are Over last year. The flood gates for more music would have opened if lockdowns hadn’t got in the way. But those gates have now been completely blown off; the Playaz artist dropped the massive Dub Machine 3000 EP, joined Instagram and started posting pictures that didn’t seem real.
A famously collab-avoiding producer, happiest when operating alone, suddenly he was inviting people into his incredible-looking, hardware-heaved spaceship-like studio and showing these events off to the world on social media. At one point in the summer, it seemed like every producer and their dog was rocking up at Casa Hazard for a link-up from Audio to Emperor to Annix to Marky to the one and only Dillinja. And these are only the people he’s posted about.
This month he’s now revealed the bigger picture with a brand new label – Hazardous Material. A vehicle for his own solo releases and these collaborations, it launches on October 22 with his track Butter and marking a new and hopefully more prolific chapter for the artist who, we can confirm, will remain on Playaz too.
As far as moves go, Hazard is in the thick of the biggest switch of his career. Considering the approach and the level of acts he’s working with, it could be the most game-changing one, too. And if that’s not enough, he’s even considering doing remixes (something he’s only ever done about three times in his career) and, it transpires, fully welcomes the idea of collaborating with non producers!
We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, we’ll probably say it in the future, too. No one does things like Hazard. Get up to speed:
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You famously don’t share your studio with anyone… Until now. And you never gave a monkeys about social media either and suddenly you’re on Instagram. Are these things linked? Fill us all in please.
I didn’t share my studio with anybody, as you know, and it was the fact I wasn’t on Instagram that was the push that brought me here. Dillinja rang me and said, ‘Is this you?’ And it was some account called DJ Hazard that was well dodgy, so I asked my wife, ‘How do I join Instagram?’ I didn’t plan on joining it, it happened. From that, things have snowballed and now I’m starting this new label… Oh, and I’m not leaving Playaz by the way. A lot of people think I am.
Just more platforms for Hazard music to hopefully come out?
Yeah basically. I’m lazy. I don’t release many tunes. I’ve told you lots of times I have tunes 10 years old that haven’t been released, but could be. So I’ll be releasing some of them on the label and then, when these collaborations are ready, I’ll release them and hopefully it’ll be a tune a month. I’ll see how long I can keep that up for anyway.
And it all starts on the 22nd…
Yeah with Butter. It’s five years old, but everyone’s getting excited about it which is great. The label was Pascal’s idea. I know I got Radius but I don’t release on there, I release on Playaz. It’s like a loyalty thing. Pascal and Hype have been telling me to launch a label for years. So it’s gone from starting a new label to doing all these collabs.
Prior to this, you didn’t collab often…
I didn’t at all. I don’t like being in the studio with people. But I’ve had so much fun. I learn something from them, they learn something from me. I’m happy to be on my own. Lockdown was great for that. I got my family, like being on my own. But having all these people around has made me think we can make something special. There’s a strong chance one of these combinations is going to make something really fucking mad. So I tried a few collaborations and then started ringing some more people and now people are ringing me like, ‘Can I come? Can I come?’ I went crazy. There was a week when I had people over single day. I was knackered. Then I got covid!
Classic 2021 situation.
I didn’t have it that bad so rested up for a bit and had one person come over every week after that. There’s a lot of people I haven’t posted.
But Dillinja though…
We talk all the time, we talk about equipment and all that. We both know we don’t want to do a collab. But I started doing this and I messaged him telling him. Just to see, like. No answer. Then one day he phoned me and came round just to hang out. I showed him some bits of equipment and he said, ‘We gotta make a tune’. I wasn’t ready for that! Everyone thinks we’re making a tune already, but we haven’t yet. It is on the cards, though. But there’s no time limit.
How do all these collabs work then?
We make everything from scratch here. We use all my kit. It’s the randomness we’re looking for. All those moments when they’re learning the kit, they’re making noises I’d never make. I’m engineering sitting there thinking, ‘Wow that’s a wicked noise’. So I’ve gone from doing nothing for years to being in the studio with random producers, some I don’t even know, pretty much round the clock. And this is round one. It’s gone so well I’ve had a round two and a round three.
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Brilliant. I like this approach. It takes out the forced nature of a collab. Very natural. Not contrived.
That’s it. Then when the session is done they go up, edit up the sounds, take out the bits they want and that’s what we’ll make the tune out of. We’ll might make sample packs, too. There are so many options coming up. It’s like can we do this? Can we do that?
Wow man, I’ve never heard you talk in such an inspired way!
Totally. I’m trying to take myself out of my comfort zone. I’m socially awkward. I don’t like small chat and bullshit that DJs make up. I’m too honest for that, I don’t want to get into conflict with people. I like everything to be straight. There’s a fine line between bullshit and marketing so I’m doing it my way. I got the branding and everything ready.
We spoke in May briefly and you gave me the heads up on this and the label was going to be Planet Hazard wasn’t it?
Yeah it’s changed now to Hazardous Material, which is much better. So check this out… The H and the M in the logo looks like a bat, which I thought was cool for animating and doing cool shit with. Then the other night, sitting there watching telly, I got up to make a cuppa and there’s a thing by my foot, I thought, ‘This wasn’t here before’. So I kicked it and it was soft. I had a closer look and it was a bat!
I was bit freaked out for a minute. I know bats have rabies and all that, so I got a pair of motorbike gloves, put it in a box and went to let it go. I don’t know how it got in, but I think kicking it wasn’t a good idea. I kept in a box for a day then went to let it go but it wouldn’t move so I left it for another day and it was ready to go. Thank fuck. Having a bat in your house is strange mate.
Even the bat wanted collaborate with you!
It was really weird man. So yeah, we’re doing the label and we’re doing label nights in the pipeline. The amount of nights I could have if I wanted is mad. I want to do them for fun, though, not for money. Wicked line-ups, great DJs and just fun like. I keep seeing the same line-ups everywhere. It’s the same artists who aren’t even that good. I want line-ups with people who’ve earned their stripes.
Proper line-ups! So with these collabs, who else can you confirm and what have you learnt?
I’m not confirming anyone, but I can tell you who came to my studio. Hang on let me get my diary, I got my first ever diary because of all this! So Emperor, Annix, Taxman, Heist, Limited, Audio, Dillinja, Fatman D, Profile, MC Fun, Total Science, Hype, Nicky Blackmarket, Marky, there’s more… But what I’ve done with the MCs is put them in front the machines and we make random noises. If it’s a good random noise then we’re laughing. But the list of people who are coming down in the next round is a whole other level. It doesn’t matter if they don’t come but I think it’s funny – some names are hilarious. Some don’t produce or haven’t got the means to.
Love how you’re doing it with MCs but not just as vocalists!
Yeah man, they came down thinking they’re doing vocals then I throw that on them. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got musical experience – we can do that, I can chop up the samples. Let’s just have some fun. It’s funny watching people’s reactions when they come in and see the machines. Annix for example. They’re wicked on soft synths, but were a bit cagey on hardware for about five minutes, then they were well away. That’s the beauty of the randomness.
And making your own samples!
This is it. A lot of people make stuff with sample CDs. That’s fine, but you’re not making anything, you’re just putting pre-made things together. I want to show people how to make their own samples. It’s been so inspiring I’m behind on everything else I’m meant to be doing but it’s motivating me. When it’s for people I’m on it a lot more. I’m good at putting things off when it’s just me but if I got someone coming down then it’s different. I can’t let them down.
I hear you. So it’s one tune per collabo?
Yeah, no one gets overshadowed and it’s one tune per release so we promote it really well. I will put that artist right in the spotlight and give them all the credit they deserve. But it’s not just any old collab – it’s got to be the best thing they’ve ever fucking done. And if it’s not, I’ll tell them. That’s why there’s no time limit. It’s got to have substance and shelflife. I don’t want to add to the throwaway shit that’s out there. So many tunes are here today and gone tomorrow.
Just DJ tools
Some tunes are meant to be DJ tools, I’ve made loads myself but I don’t release them, I just play them. I let everything breathe before I release it.
That’s how you’ve ended up with loads of tunes ready for release. Let it settle for a month, a year, a decade…
That’s it. And with Butter, I actually think it’s quite a basic track. But it works and I’ve even had liquid DJs asking for it, which is mad. But I reckon they’ll hate the next release. You can’t win everyone all the time can you?
You don’t want to!
That’s it. And we can’t make great tunes all the time. Take your time. Don’t think you need 20 tunes out – 1 tune will do better than 20 if that tune is good. I get it – people want to get to the top. And you should want to get to the top if this is the game you’re in, but concentrate on that one tune instead of loads of half-baked ones. I’m proof of that. People still play my tunes from years ago now. Annoyingly! I never plan for them to be like that, I just put everything into them and letting them settle before I release them.
Take your time innit! So Dub Machine 3000 was your last release… And you said at the start, you’re not leaving Playaz
Definitely not. They’ve been banging on at me to do my own label for years. Who knows? I might even do a collaboration on Playaz. I’ve hidden myself away for so long, I want to change things and exchange some skills with people. You asked about learning earlier well one thing I’ve learnt is that Audio is speedy. He’s mad quick and so talented. He puts me to shame. We made the sounds, he went home, he sent me a tune the next day like fucking hell! But everyone who’s come along I’ve learnt stuff from. Everyone. Just in the way people approach things. I love the happy accidents and the natural randomness. But now we’ve got to put those ideas into a tune. People might take some time. People might do it next year, people might not do it and can’t be arsed and that’s fine too.
I very much doubt that, you know man…
Maybe. It’s the nights I’m looking forward to, anyway. I’ve been offered a label and nights for years, I wasn’t interested but now I’m thinking, ‘Okay cool, let’s do it’. I’m doing that Yes Man thing.
I love the Yes Man thing! You really have flipped things…
I’ve been bored for the last 10 years to be honest. Make tunes, DJ, nothing is happening that inspires me so I’ve got to inspire myself and do things I’ve not done before. Pascal runs the label, my agent is running the nights. I’m sitting here having fun. How mad is that? I should have done this years ago.
Timing though. You’ve got to want to do it. So single tunes are being released every month?
For as long as I can. I need to get on the second part of the collabs, but I’ve got tunes I’ve been sat on for years and years. Timing is everything isn’t it? I can make a tune now and everyone thinks it’s shit. 10 years later, it’s amazing. That’s why I go against the grain. I might even do some remixes.
Is this even Hazard talking to me any more? Wow!
Yeah, I’ll do some now. I’ve turned down so many over the years. Just not interested. But I’ve decided I’ll do a couple. The problem is people ask me to do one and the deadline is a week or something stupid like that. I spend a lot of time on a remix. Don’t come to me and say you need a remix in two weeks. I’ll take months. Labels want the big names for the promo and hype, I won’t do that. I’ll go in on that remix like I go in on everything. And trust me I’ll go in, I’m on fire in the studio, you can’t get me out of there.
Sick. You always said this was gonna happen. It felt like you were inspired before, but now it’s like you’re 20 all over again…
That’s the energy I’ve got now. And I was on fire when we last did an interview, but now I’m even more inspired. The Logic update is great and the sampler is really nice and quick. I’ve got a nice new mixing desk. I could go in there tomorrow and knock up an idea and finish it tomorrow. If I wanted to. I don’t work like that. I work off feelings. But I could if I wanted to. That’s how inspired I am.
Wow. So if you run out of big people to collab with and you’re still inspired then is it safe to come over for a collab haha?
When are you free? Let’s arrange a date now.
Why not? You’ll be surprised at the sounds you can make when you’re just playing around and getting your head around it all. You’ll make all the sounds, you’ll chop up the samples and we’ll do the tune together. You put your work in and we’ll make it together. A lot of people don’t make their own music and tell an engineer what to do. What’s the difference? It’ll be fun and good promo…
I can’t believe the way this is going, are you having a laugh?
Not at all. Who does this in an interview? Let’s do something different. It doesn’t matter what we make, as long as we make something cool. You do all the work – you make the noises, you chop up the samples. This will be hilarious. Make sure you put this in the interview mate. We’ll make it good, mind. There’s no shit coming on the label. That’s the only rule.
One week later….
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To Be Continued….