DJ EZ hails from Tottenham, North London, where for the past twenty years he's been crucial in developing "UK garage," an uptempo, sample-heavy form of house music. His Pure Garage compilations, first released in 2000, have sold over two million copies, helping the genre gain a wider audience. At fifteen, DJ EZ also started his career as a radio DJ, which has also helped popularize UK garage.
Regularly staging marathon dance parties — including one coming up this Saturday, April 16, at Denver's Club Vinyl — DJ EZ recently played a 24-hour set, a feat of dance-music endurance. The performance was meant to raise funds and awareness for Cancer Research UK. Below, DJ EZ talks more about the stunt and his career as one of England's most popular DJs.
Westword: How did you stay awake during your 24-hour live set benefiting cancer research? Was it the music, the crowd, the mission?
DJ EZ: To be honest, it was the amazing reactions I received from the crowds via social media, as well as friends and family members who stayed with me through to the end. So many people sent me very encouraging shout-outs, which continuously motivated me and kept me focused on why this event was so important — not just to me, but to thousands of people who have been affected by cancer in some way. Seeing the donations and total figure increasing also kept me motivated throughout and certainly made the unique challenge I’d set for myself seem so much more worthwhile. More than £60,000 was raised in total!
Why did you finish that set with a remix of "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley?
Reggae music has always remained a huge influence on my family, many of whom supported me, on-site at the 24-hour set. I couldn’t think of a better way to bring the set to an end then with the biggest reggae artist of all time, Bob Marley. The words ‘every little thing, is gonna be alright’ within the song just seemed so fitting to the cause and my desire to raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research UK.
Tell me a little bit about your radio career. How does a fifteen-year-old land a gig at a pirate radio station?
When you’re determined enough to achieve something in life, age doesn’t come into it. Even as a young boy growing up in London, I was passionate about having a career in music and spent most of my free time listening to radio shows and admiring DJs that could mix two records together. After successfully teaching myself the art of locking two songs together and sending demo tapes to various London pirate radio stations, I eventually got offered a regular Sunday morning show, and the rest of my radio DJ career is history.
After twenty years on radio, what prompted you to quit your KISS 100 program in 2014? Is there anything you miss about radio?
Radio still continues to influence me and is something I still hold close to my heart, but after twenty years, I decided it was time for a new challenge in my career. Of course, I miss the interaction from my radio listeners and fellow DJs and still look back with very fond memories on my time at KISS 100. However, my radio career is far from over, as I plan to get back to shows in the not-too-distant future.
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Tell me about your shows and your deejaying. Who have you drawn inspiration from in your career, and are there any new up-and-coming DJs you think have a lot of promise?
There’s no better way to find out about my shows than to come and check one out for yourself [laughs]. I’m mainly influenced and driven by great tracks from both underground and mainstream DJs, artists and producers, and am confident that I always will be. I see a lot of potential in many up-and-coming male and female DJs in England and across the world.
So what do you find most rewarding about deejaying?
The most rewarding thing about being a DJ is the energy I get from the audiences I perform for, which continually gives me a buzz that can only be felt rather than described.
See DJ EZ at Club Vinyl this Saturday, April 16, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be bought here.