When Zuli first featured Daju, I will admit - I wasn't prepared for the wave of obsession which was about to hit me. I had no idea who Daniel Caesar was (besides his popularity), but the remix of the Hawaiian producer was seriously one of the most grooviest, upbeat and positive things I had heard in months. To this day, every time I feel down, I bump this up and life immediately feels better.
Also, I have to say - I love the mask he performs with (see full picture below), so I was really intrigued about the person behind those beats. Daju recently collaborated with our friend Alexander Lewis on a Teyana Taylor's "Issues/Hold On" remix. Then I knew I should try to catch up with him, so... yeah - he was nice enough to chat with us and drop us a groovy mix to heat up the summer.
Hey daju! Before we start, how would you describe the mix you created for us in one sentence?
Hey hey!! As I like to call it, “Dat Feel Good” music! :)
I have to ask about the mask. What's the story behind it?
Growing up, I watched a lot of anime, specifically Naruto! One of the first “villains” in the show was named Haku. He wore the same mask when he’s first introduced to the series. I also have another mask from the same show. The character that mask is based off is named Itachi. Basically, those two characters were serving a purpose bigger than them and I felt that related to my own life. Also, I listened to a lot of MF DOOM and loved the whole concept of anonymity. There’s a lot of other meanings, but that would be a whole essay haha.
Many people started off by wearing a mask (like... GoldLink), but not all managed to continue this for a long time especially after live performances become a routine. What do you think is going to happen in the next few years?
Oh wow! I didn’t know that about GoldLink! I went to look that up and came across the article of the night he took the mask off. So tight! Honestly, we’ll see! From a performance standpoint, it gets really hot under the mask. I just did a no mask set the other night because it was incredibly hot in the venue. Good thing I was just an opener and not a lot of people were in there. Who knows what will become of the mask, but for now, I'm enjoying the aesthetic.
Where does the name daju come from?
I’m glad you asked this. I got the name from my nephew! The cutest little troublemaker you’d ever meet. When he was learning how to talk, “Uncle” came out as “daju.” It stuck with my family and I, so I ran with it. To this day, everybody at home still calls me daju! So big ups to my nephew, haha.
Tell us the most random fact about yourself.
I can fly an airplane :)
You're living in Hawaii - pretty awesome, exotic and beautiful place. Do you think this has any effect on your production work and music inspirations?
It definitely does. I have the opportunity to go outside and enjoy the beauty the island has to offer. Sometimes I’ll go to a park or somewhere beautiful and just work on music or just sit and enjoy myself.
What's the beat scene like over there?
There’s a bunch of dope talent out here for sure, but I feel theres not enough events or outlets to showcase that. Also, the market out here is dominated by the reggae and “Jahwaiian” music. Because of that, it’s harder for people to accept the different sounds and styles. It’s a little easier to make it big out here as a reggae artist.
I first heard about you because of your mind-blowing remix of Daniel Caesar's "Best Part". That track is hitting close to 1M plays soon. Did you expect this to blow up so much?
Thanks for the love!!! And honestly I didn’t!! It’s still really crazy to me. At the time, I was going through some really rough times and wanted to cheer myself up by making an upbeat feeling remix. I was listening to “Freudian” and really loved that song. So I thought, why not? The timing couldn’t have been better.
That guy is a beast!!! Crazy story, I woke up and went to check Soundcloud and saw that he started following me. I thought to myself “NO WAY?!?!” Couple of hours later, I saw people mentioning me on twitter(which I barely use.) He shared my Daniel Caesar Remix in a tweet and wanted to get some work in. I was flipping out haha. Fast forward, we formed a side house project (94 Moreland Ct.) and dropped the Teyana Taylor remix! So much fun!
Is music a full time thing for you right now and how did you get into producing in general?
As of right now, yes! I really want to see how far I can take this! In the end, I want to say I gave this 1000%. As to how I got into making music, I had just moved back to Hawaii from attending college in Florida and a couple of friends wanted to start a rap group. I told myself I couldn’t rap and since I knew how to play some instruments, I’d make beats. The group didn’t really pan out and so I decided to continue making beats because it was so much fun and a great way to express myself.
How do you choose the tracks to flip/remix?
It all depends on the situation and what kind of mindset I’m in. As I previously mentioned, I made the Daniel Caesar remix when I was in a bad place mentally. With the Jhene Aiko flip, I was listening to the original and the second half of the song really captured me. I loved the way the song was structured. I also take into consideration how much I can really make a song completely different than what it is without overdoing it. If the original sample has a lot going on, I won’t really touch it.
What's next for DAJU this year?
Im getting ready to fly out to California in a couple of days to work on some music with homies. I plan on dropping original content sometime soon! Its been awhile since I dropped something on my page, so I’ll probably post another remix very soon! 94 Moreland Ct. is also dropping a bootleg EP for the summertime feel goods!
Who are your favourite producers? People who inspired you.
I have a lot of favorites. Some of my favorite producers that I can think of at the top of my head are Quincy Jones, Flying Lotus, J Dilla, Kaytranada (as you can probably tell). My dad inspired me to make music because he’s a musician!
Do you play any music instruments and do you think that's a must for producers nowaday in order to stand out?
I learned the drums and ukulele at an early age. I took piano lessons back in the day. Oh and also played the trombone throughout High School. I don’t think its a “must” in production, but it is a nice way to open up and develop your ears. I know people who can absolutely make a banger, but never had any classical training. Its more of being creative and knowing what you want to do. I’ll mention that it’s more important to understand yourself and the music and continue to learn.
Thanks mate! Any famous last words?
Thank you very much to everyone who has supported my music! And big thanks to Stereofox for the continued support! It means a lot!