Baltimore is an illusion sometimes. It's small enough to make you feel like you know everything that's going on--especially if you're a native to the city. For so long, I just assumed that, with club music, I knew who everyone was. Between the radio and parties, that used to be a good way to measure what was going on with the culture. Not anymore. I've recently (like, real recent) started to take it upon myself to approach Baltimore music discovery as an outsider; not assuming that I know everything that's going on and every artist "worth" knowing. That's impossible and really an ignorant and unwise approach to seeing what's really up. Since I've started randomly searching and clicking Sound Cloud links, I've found some truly interesting things coming out of the city.
My most prized find yet has been an 18-year-old club producer, DJ Dizzy. A couple months ago I started fishing through who some of my favorite local club DJ's (Matic808, Techniques, Booman, etc.) were following on Soundcloud and I came across his remix of Lor Scoota's local hit, "Bird Flu". From there, I found his remix of the Rugrats theme song (!!) and random spin-offs of popular vines and anything else that's gone viral online. I was hooked shortly after and reached out to him to play FLAT OUT (come through tomorrow!). Recently, I got the chance to pick his brain and learn how someone his age came across club music, what his fresh perspectives are and what could be expected from him in the near future. Read up!
True Laurels: Being so young, how were you first introduced to club music? Just the radio or did your parents play it?
DJ Dizzy: Well, I always heard it on 92Q but one of my dancer friends from around my way introduced me to the newer style of club music. Of course I knew the older stuff like Blaqstarr and K-Swift so when I heard new stuff I got interested in the scene and wanted to make it.
What new stuff were you hearing?
Dizzy: It was more of the battle style that you would hear at a shake off competition.
Are you a rare breed amongst friends when it comes to club music? Is it still big to people your age?
Dizzy: It's not necessarily an age thing but there is a big local underground network for people who are still really into club music. That ranges from like ages 13-25. It's also more for people who dance to it. There are still monthly dance competitions.
So did you start as a dancer?
Dizzy: I actually just started getting dances down but DJ'ing came first because it seemed easy to me with the music all being the same speed. My homie gave me the link to Fruity Loops and I started making stuff. I was about 15 or 16.
What was the first club mix you ever made and what inspired you if you can remember?
Dizzy: I still have it on my old computer. I sampled Waka's "Fuck This Industry". But what inspired me really was just that the song was hot, Waka was hot and I wanted to remix a song that nobody had done yet.
A lot of your mixes stem from popular online content like Vine or just a viral video. Is that what makes it fun for you? Just fishing online?
Dizzy: It's more of what's relevant for me. Industry songs are cool but how you get listeners is by finding something everybody can relate to and making it danceable. Make it familiar for everybody.
Tell me about this collective you're a part of, Entourage.
Dizzy: Basically, before I started these classic style remixes that I've been doing recently, I was making battle tracks. Entourage got me started on how to develop my own style. They make classic style but mainly battle stuff.
And when you say battle style, do you mean fast-paced and choppy like Jersey Club?
Dizzy: Not necessarily. There is a very underground part of Baltimore Club that's mainly made for dancers. It's complicated to explain. For someone who's just a listener it may be hard to notice but I'm trying to find a balance between traditional and battle. With battle, the difference is in the use of samples. I'll use gunshots instead of claps and it'll be made specifically for movements dancers can make. It's faster too; instead of the standard 130 BPM, it'll be between 138 and 145.
What clubs DJ's do you look up to the most? Who'd you wanna collaborate on a mix with?
Dizzy: I was always a big fan of Blaqstarr. I look up to him. I really look up to Matic808 too. He's an inspiration to me. I like Techniques and Rod Lee's vocal style.
You're away at college right now. How do people respond to your DJ'ing at school parties? Is club well-received at UMES?
Dizzy: Down here it's a 50/50 mix of people from PG/DC and people from Baltimore. DJ's in general control what the population will know musically. When I first got down here, I noticed that DJ’s from Baltimore would play club music but it wouldn’t be a lot and it would be classic stuff. So when I DJ’d and played my remix to Lor Scoota’s “Bird Flu” people loved it because they love that song and it was a different take on it. I’m the one people recognize as the guy who’ll play newer stuff they never heard. I’m not gonna say club music is dead but it’s all in what the DJ’s bring to the table. For me, it’s about exposure because I can play my style and they won’t get that from anywhere else.
You could've went a million ways with flipping the Rugrats theme song. Walk me through that.
Dizzy: That actually is a good example of a battle track. It’s simple enough for people to sit and listen to it but I chopped it up that way for people to dance to it. I’m trying to simplify my approach to battle tracks because there’s so much that usually goes into it. I wanna make it accessible; no matter how it's chopped up, people are going to recognize the Rugrats song.
What's been the most challenging part of your young career?
Dizzy: Producing-wise, the biggest challenge is developing a sound that everybody can like. I’m trying to take this whole underground part of club music and bring it to the surface. Not even just dancing, there’s a lot of talented, young club producers just like me. Like, a good 20 and nobody has really heard of them. Getting it to everybody is hard too.
With DJ’ing, at first it was actually getting into venues because I just turned 18. It was hard to maneuver through that. Getting gigs was hard too but now that I’m away at school, I’m starting to get booked for stuff. It’s cool.
Tell me about your stuff in the works. Any solo projects dropping soon?
Dizzy: I’m working with James Nasty on an EP right now where we’re gonna take New Orleans Bounce and put a Baltimore Club spin on it. Also, I’m coming out with an EP of all battle tracks with a few other DJ’s but that’s gonna be the last time I do battle stuff for a while; I’ve been benefitting so much from the classic style of remixing I’ve been doing recently and I want to focus on that more.