Behind The Beat: ANGELZ
Coming off the release of his new EP ‘Saint Thug’ on Tchami’s imprint Confession, we went Behind the Beat with ANGELZ for an exclusive interview. The Quebec City native DJ/producer tells his story from his start in the industry as a ghost producer to now, touring around the world playing sets at both popular nightclubs and major festivals. ANGELZ is certainly an act to watch for the rest of 2016 as he works alongside labelmates Gerry Gonza, Malaa, Maximono, Mercer, DJ Snake, Dombresky and Tchami.
Only The Beat: When did you start DJing and producing? Where was your first official gig?
ANGELZ: I started making beats on this weird Yamaha keyboard we had at home around 8 or 9. I was making proper songs at 12 and I’m 24 now. I started DJing about 3 years ago, my first gig was that year as well. I threw a Labor Day party at this club downtown because I’d been wanting to play my beats to people. I booked all the actual DJs I knew and had them open for me and I headlined. We sold out.
OTB: You are originally from Québec. What is the music scene like in the city? If I had to go to one venue where would you recommend?
ANGELZ: We have one of the biggest music festivals of its kind every summer. I played there last year and it was dope. Quebec is a very artistic city, there is something for everyone in any medium. There is a very strong indie or folk scene but the spotlight on electronic music in its more complex forms is growing quickly. Maurice Night Club is where it’s at.
OTB: Tell us about your motto ‘trendsetting or nothing.’ Where did this motto come from and what would you say is the next big trend in DJing/producing?
ANGELZ: It was something that I tweeted last summer and always found myself wanting to tweet again, I figured it was a short way to say a lot about me. I think the next trend in DJing is going to be playing a very-big majority of your own material. On the producing side, I want to see people get on the footwork tip.
OTB: Who influenced your sound when you started and how has your sound changed over time?
ANGELZ: At my core I’m a mix of The Neptunes on the drums, Timbo on the sound selection and Scott Storch on the keys. I’ve stayed true to this but my sound has evolved into what it is once I started studying different styles of dance music.
OTB: What is your favorite track that you produced and one that you did not produce, but admire?
ANGELZ: My favorite song that I have produced is probably ‘Stunt’. The song that I wish I had produced is ‘Breathe’ by The Prodigy. I remember vividly watching the video on Much Music when I was a very young child, I already knew what a hit sounded like against all odds.
ANGELZ – Stunt
ANGELZ: The aesthetic of my sound is dark and claustrophobic with high energy. Confession is the home to the most forward-thinking club songs in the game right now. I know the label’s audience has very good taste and can appreciate innovation so I like the challenge of catching these listeners off-guard with sounds they’ve never heard before.
OTB: You left ghost producing at Def Jam and took some time off in Australia. What can you tell us about ghost producing versus producing your own tracks?
ANGELZ: I know there’s a lot of stories about people getting taken advantage of. But for me, at that time I was stoked to be working with who I was working with, one way or another. I was still trying to make beats that were better than the last one every day. The biggest difference was that I often had to compromise for other people. If my idea was to be altered I would have no say in it. Now I can do whatever I want. I can’t tell you how many times over the year I’ve heard hits and would think back about how I tried to pitch something similar to artists only to be told it wouldn’t work and that I should stick with what was hot at the moment. My vision wasn’t respected then because I wasn’t a producer yet, I was just a beatmaker.
OTB: What advice do you have for an aspiring DJ that is trying to produce for a label like Confession?
ANGELZ: They need to hold their production value standards to the highest level possible. If they do that, they will get picked up. Simple as that, I see way too many people cranking out tracks weekly that are subpar . It might bang in the club – but everything bangs in the club. A kick and clap will bang in the club. Take your time and learn how to create art that’s musically interesting instead.
OTB: What is the top personal milestone in your career so far?
ANGELZ: Having my own Australian tour. It was something I always wanted to happen, I knew it would but for it to happen that fast was very satisfying.
OTB: Outside of Djing, what are your other interests or hobbies?
ANGELZ: I run long distances a lot, usually without music because I enjoy being outside. It’s one of my favorite aspects of touring, exploring the new location while running.
OTB: What can we expect from you for the rest of this year as you are set to play at major festivals including Nocturnal Wonderland, Moonrise Festival, and BOO! SF Halloween? Any other new tracks or collaborations coming up?
ANGELZ: More shows. I’m also moving to LA in September for a little bit since my working visa has been approved. I can’t say I have any collaborations in the works because I haven’t been able to get in sessions with who I want to make something with. I hate sending stuff back and forth online, we have to be in the same room. I’m very excited about the new songs I’ve been working on but I’ve released seven original songs in three weeks so I’m going to let everyone digest them before I come back. It’s all part of a bigger picture and to understand the new stuff people will need to have gotten familiar with the latest one.