20 Questions With: DJ Kakekaze
By day, Winnipeg’s DJ Kakekaze is a graphic designer. By night (and lunch breaks, and weekends, and any other spare time he can find), he is a music producer. We recently sat down with the self-proclaimed EDM addict to talk about Nine Inch Nails, his upcoming album and more.
Check out the complete interview below.
How did you get into producing music?
It started off with my favourite band, Nine Inch Nails. They released their music as Garageband files (free software offered to Apple users). You’d have a vocal track, a drum track, all these different tracks that allowed their fans and listeners to remix their songs. They even put out a CD of all the best remixes. It was awesome.
Who are some of your influences?
Growing up, I listened to 90s industrial music, so bands like Nine Inch Nails, Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy, Front 242. I really got into producing when technology became more accessible, and stuff became cheaper.
Walk us through your creative process and workflow.
I just start experimenting with sound. I’ll go into a synth plugin and I’ll just start up a patch. Then I’ll edit that patch and manipulate it into something harder or something more aggressive. I’ll just play with that patch and continue that process until I get a sound I like.
What makes a good beat?
I like a really hard bassline with a nice, hard kick. I like aggressive sounds.
How do you know when a beat is finished?
After I’ve worked on it, and it’s about four minutes long (laughs). Some songs take months. I’ll get a beat going, but then I’ll get stuck and move on to a different song before coming back to it. But sometimes it just clicks. When it sounds right to my ear, it’s pretty much done.
What is your current studio set-up?
Right now I produce everything in Ableton Live. Along with that, I have MIDI controllers: Akai Professional MPK Mini, Akai Professional APC Mini, a Novation Launch Control, and once in a while I’ll bust out the Roland MC-505 Groovebox.
If money is no object, what’s the first piece of hardware or software you go out and buy?
I’d get a really awesome modular synth.
Do you play any instruments?
Back in the 90s, during the grunge phase, I played the bass. But if I picked up a bass today I’d have no clue.
Have you ever tried your hand at writing lyrics?
No. It’s crossed my mind, but nothing as of yet.
What do you do when you’re not making music?
When I’m not working or making music, I’m spending time with my wife or son. Other than that, all I do is produce.
Do you listen to any mainstream music? If so, what is your biggest guilty pleasure?
It’s kinda like the devil. I was never into mainstream. If I had to pick a guilty pleasure, mainstream dance is sometimes OK.
How would you respond to someone who said music is just a hobby?
I would definitely argue with that. Music has become an addiction. I can’t stop producing. Even during my lunch break, I’ll take my computer and go somewhere to make music.
Describe yourself in three words.
I work hard, I always put 110 per cent into everything I do. That’s more than three words.
There’s a ton of producers out there. What makes DJ Kakekaze stand out?
One, I’m Native American. Two, a lot of producers out there produce EDM that all sounds the same – same bass line, it sounds like they all use the same patch and the same template. For me, that’s a bit boring, so I try to mix it up and stay away from that typical sound. I don’t really have a genre; I kind of fuse techno, electro, acid house, some dance. When I produce music I try to think of people on the dance floor. What would they dance to? What would I dance to? That’s what I produce.
How has technology changed producing over the years since you first started?
It’s more accessible, it’s a lot more economical. There’s even free digital audio workstations online. Anyone can do it.
Is DJ Kakekaze just a name, or an entire persona? Where did the name come from?
My wife and I geocache. Her geocache name is Kimmykaze. For mine, we came up with ‘Kakekaze,’ which takes from my last name, Kakegamic. I just thought I’d use that name as my music producer name. When I produce music I don’t specifically think of DJ Kakekaze, I just get lost in the music. I guess I’m trying to get noticed and build a persona, but I’m not that known yet.
Do you have an artistic agenda? If so, what is the story you’re trying to tell through your music?
For me, it’s just a creative outlet, just like designing. I have no cultural or political agenda; I just want to produce good music.
Between a full-time job and your social life, how do you make time for your music and stay focused as an artist?
I stay up really late (laughs). When everyone’s gone to sleep, I’m producing music.
What are your expectations for the new album?
It’ll be released within the next month for sure (it will be available on iTunes). I guess I just want to get my name out there and hopefully people will start recognizing the music.
What are your long-term goals music-wise?
In the near future, I just want to tour and promote this new album (FUZE). Longer term, I want to put out more albums. As my experience makes me a better producer, I’ll have better music and better albums, be better as a DJ. Right now everything’s independent, so maybe down the road a record label will pick me up. I think it’s just a matter of time.
Bonus question: What’s your favourite track from the new album?
I’d have to say Freak. I did a lot of sound experimentation and a lot of manipulation with that one, and it turned out awesome.
For more on DJ Kakekaze, check out our DJ Kakekaze Spotlight.