Jay Haze energy is infectious and sincere. In his message in music and the deeper meaning of life, he explores political, economical, cultural and emotional issues with such individuality and enthusiasm that as an artist he is in a niche all of his own.
With nearly 20 years behind the DJ wheel and with half of those committed to his respected labels, TuningSpork and Contexterrior, he’s also known worldwide as Fuckpony and has collaborated with Ricardo Villalobos, Robag Wruhme and Samim Winiger to name a few. His contribution to our compilation series, Fabric47 back in 2009 launched his new campaign, DJ’s for DRC, to help victims in the war-torn Congo. Donating all of his money from the CD sales toward the charity Merlin, Jay's been a key player encouraging a number of other DJ’s to donate money from gigs. This year Jay set up Red Dot Relief which rallies DJ support for Japan and joining him on the RDR bandwagon is Visionquest and Crosstown Rebels crew and newbie Radioslave.
In February this year Jay released what he said to be his final album: ‘Love = Evolution’. You can get the full story behind the album and download it for free in our interview below. What's more, we speak to Jay in-depth about his South American roots, the Love = Evolution’ tour, why Sneak is his number one homie and the future for Jay as he closes the curtains on his beloved TuningSpork and Contexterrior.
We also have a very special and rare mix from Jay made especially for his fabric family. So unique, it features music from a tribe known as living in the mountains of Colombia. In his own words, “Overall I guess it’s a mix of house music with soul and one that pays respect to 'real' music!”
DOWNLOAD: Jay Haze fabric promo mix
You're known for being someone who has a relentless focus on bringing political/social awareness through your music. Where does the passion come from & where do you stand by it today?
First off thanks for noticing my efforts. I guess the passion comes from the struggle I had growing up and trying to be an artist. I had to trudge through many different obstacle courses on the road to acceptance and it wasn’t easy! Out there I saw it all - darkness, deceptions, disease, violence, addiction and abuse - when I grew older and explored the USA and my mind, I started to appreciate the more beautiful side of life, this is what motivated me to move in the direction I do - I realized it’s not all bad, it’s never all bad - in fact it’s gorgeous!
What I went through grounded me, and at the same time opened my eyes to what's really happening in this social system. I think in many ways I’m still the same rebel kid with no respect for authority I always was, I just learned how to channel it differently into a more positive direction. I believe passion is an extreme expression of love- so whenever you have a passion, you are never too far from happiness. Having passion brings out the best in you, being able to do something you love is worth standing up for…. FOREVER!
Tell us about the collection of tracks that feature on your new album Love = Evolution?
Well, I think its best to refer you to a link here for your readers to click through if they are interested, as I have written the entire story of Love=Evolution Love Evolution Facebook
The collection of tracks has very much to do with a collection of amazing encounters and bizarre twists. I think it’s worth a read plus there is a free download link for anyone who didn’t get the album yet.
In what ways is the album special to you?
This album was special to me because I was able to realize something I had dreamed of years ago. Being able to set a goal, years before that, seemed unattainable, then 10 years on being able to say you did it - it’s pretty fulfilling!
What has living in Peru taught you and can you describe the different ways this been translated through your music since you first started out?
Wow. I can only say this is a land of extremes in all senses. You have the jungle, the mountains, the desert and the ocean all in the same country! It’s so powerful, and I find the people to be much more open and expressive in their spirituality, as you can imagine this is a very inspiring aspect of the cultures of South America. Also there is so much mystery in Peru which has a huge influence on my art and my music, I have always loved magic…
Being down in the third world really reinforced my belief that music is a necessary part of evolution (frequency alone is master), I mean music is such a uniting force of love. You don't need to speak sometimes. Sometimes it’s just better to listen to music in someone’s company and strong bonds can be formed through energy exchange made possible by the frequencies/vibrations. It seems that since I live in South America, I’m much more in touch with the earth again, and back in touch with spirit!
Tell us about how your album tour is going- what have been the highlights so far?
The tour is going just a real tour should be with 'ups and downs' - the situation in Europe right now is very unpredictable, so I actually enjoy going with the flow and being surprised. The highlights have for sure been the night I arrived and we rocked with Seth Troxler, Jozif, Voigtmann and Ryan Crosson for the Red Dot Relief Official London Party, it was such a powerful evening, so much love and emotions in that room, and on top of that we raised $8000 that was able to hit Peaceboat directly. When you combine that with the fact that Fabric (yes, you guys!) also did an event on the same night where funds collected were shared between 4 different efforts, one of them being RDR, that specific night we speak of raised $21,000 for a humble cause. A proud moment indeed. The music was on point and crowd was beautiful and respectful! Another highlight had to be Supynes Festival in Lithuania. I really wasn't expecting something so on point in the middle of the woods, yes it had rained - but it somehow didn't seem to matter.
I can’t talk about the tour without mentioning playing in Ibiza for Circoloco at DC-10 - the terrace was on a strong positive vibe, and when I dropped Spencer Parker’s 'mood2swing' remix the place was on fire! I think we got some nice videos from there people can find online. I guess it goes without saying, Ibiza is always lovely for terrace parties.
Following the tsunami in Japan, you played a key role in setting up Red Dot Relief alongside Seth Troxler and Isis Salvaterra. Can you describe the overall response to the relief aid within the dance community and in what ways are you still keeping its voice strong?
The response was massive, emotional, powerful, so much so that it was nearly overwhelming. There was literally love pouring through the doors. I guess the combination of great personalities we had on our team made so it just worked out perfectly - and yes so many people helped, it was just natural, this project brought a lot of us together for a good reason. The RDR project is still running strong in fact we have some new ideas in the works (like a short documentary showing the idea behind RDR and what the effort really produced on the ground in Japan). We are entering a new phase of this disaster and that is one where the worldwide media stop covering as much on the news and in the press, result is loss of interest in our minds and thoughts.
So in the moment we are strategizing on how to keep it going strong with as much focus and devotion as we have now. Just today I spoke with Matt Edwards aka Radioslave and he decided to become part of it (you see its never too late!)- stay tuned for his addition to it, I can only imagine it’s going to be big! We are also talking to some people about an Iphone app to raise awareness, but actually in the moment we are open to any ideas to help the voice stay strong, if you have any interest contact us!
Love = Evolution marks the end of era for yourself both an artist and as label head for Contexterrior and Tuningspork. It’s hard news to swallow- can you talk us through the decision? Is there anything you want to personally say to your fans?
I want to say that I’m not going anywhere but forward, so please stay tuned and let’s see what happens together. We all pretty much know this current economic situation in the world is about to collapse, it might take this for the masses of sheep to have a spiritual awakening- or it might just take the right people believing in the right thing and deciding to act on it together -anything is possible. I’m happy to be finished with the labels as it’s a lot of responsibility, but man what a great time it was for the last 11 years. Yes- that’s right we are 11 years old! I think sometimes we just need to know when to bow out and let the new kids come in and rock our world- this again is something I hope happens. The seeds have been planted, now lets hope the water is pure enough to reap some positive creation.
Will we still be able to catch you behind the decks on special occasions?
You will still catch me behind the deck all the time (of course where they let me), next year will be 20 years behind the wheels for me! It’s part of my life- a big one. I'm just not going to support the fake-money grubbing profiteers. We are going to move on into new territories and make magic happen everywhere. Bring love with music and educate people about the situations happening not only in their scene but in the world!
What direction are you heading in next?
I am just going to continue to follow my instincts and develop more social projects, as well as do more film related work. I really feel charged as an artist again, I feel this creativity flowing heavier now than ever before - I realize I lost myself somewhere along the way, the electronic music scene will make you go crazy at some point- but man I am ever so glad to be back on track and moving forwarder than a mother!
What have been some of the happiest moments for you both an artist and as label head for Contexterrior and Tuningspork?
The happiest moment came when I was able to step back and see what we created. I don't think I have ever felt happier- we really did something special, unique, fun and built a family - and now little families are popping up everywhere in the world that will keep the spirit alive . To go from a town of 2,700 people with no real family ties- to having a family across the great big world makes me feel humble and overjoyed. I would say that’s the happiest moment, and it’s now! Here I sit patiently waiting for a 2012!
You said in the press release for Love = Evolution, “After spending years contemplating what love is, I have realized that the only way to evolve is through love.” Can you elaborate for us… open our eyes & mind if you will?
Well, you see after putting everything into perspective I realize to some degree much of what I have tried in my life had to do with meeting a certain criteria, meeting some certain trend or suggestion, not only in music and art- but in my own social patterns. It wasn't until I fully immersed myself into the idea of oneness that it became totally clear to me. What became clear you ask? That, if we continue to treat each other the way we do, to treat the earth the way we do, and most importantly- if we continue to treat ourselves with such disrespect, and ignorance for the powers within, we will continue to be destroyers. Now, if you choose LOVE as your main motivation, as your guiding light, your principle you relate to from which you can accumulate happiness and love for yourself, together we will build beautiful things. We will eradicate the cause of disease and live in better harmony with the universe. So, to sum it up - if we continue on this path of destruction we will cease to evolve. If we accept love and oneness with the universe we will evolve. Love=Evolution!
You are playing in Room 1 with Sneak next Saturday. We are aware you and him are, in spite of having worked together are very good friends. How does that translate to the night?
I think anytime we can make a night of music happen with friends, it’s going to be magic. Sneak is my homie for good reason, dude has heart and soul! We have a teacher + teacher relationship, we ain’t played together for 2 years since he had me out for his birthday bash in Toronto - so I’m curious as to how he’s gonna bust it.
You see, what I like about playing with Sneak is there is this friendly competition battle and you know I love challenges. It’s like 'I'm gonna one up you' , "no no - watch this.” Sneak is a Legend, what more can I say to that?
Finally, can you tell us a little about the mix you have made for us?
I haven't done a proper mix in a while, so it was great fun to put this together. Whenever I do a mix I try and make it different- do something special. So on this specific mix I was happy to premier the new Hollis P. Monroe track "Flashback" which is the first release under the "Music 2.0" platform. It’s a lovely song reminding us of those moments we wish to turn back to. Hollis and crew shot a video in proper 8mm film to highlight the concept. Check the link for the video. Hollis and I go way back to Philly days! Full circle anyone?
For the rest of the mix, I tried to make it groovy and flow through all the different types of dance music I like – Also, I featured an intro and a song by Colombian Palenque artist Sixto Salgado, if you haven't heard about these people its worth informing yourself. They are a tribe living in the mountains of Colombia, but are ex- slaves preserving traditional culture. Yes you heard that right- a dark black culture of Africans living as they originally did in Africa, in the mountains of Colombia!
I thought this mix would be a good place to introduce these people to the heads who have yet to discover, in fact just made a remix of an artist from there, which will come out on Soul Jazz records in London. Overall I guess it’s a mix of house music with soul and one that pays respect to 'real' music!
Jay Haze will be returning to his Farringdon throne on August 6th in our disco. Don’t forget our amazing fabricfirst offer every Saturday during August. Members go free with a guest half price. Follow this link to sign up: fabricfirst
Photo by Lars Borges