Life, Love, & AMEN Breaks | Interview with Mizeyesis

Mizeyesis

One of our team members, Nathan Smith, recently had the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Mizeyesis, member of the Zulu Nation who was recently added to Wu Tang’s DJ roster. She hails from Hartford, CT & is affiliated with the likes of Threshold Sound, Jungletrain.net, Satellite Records, Hipstep Zulu Massive, Wu DJ Coalition, & many more. Kick back & get to know this Jungle / DnB phenom.

Billionaires - First off, Thanks for taking the time to connect with the Billionaires family! Tell us some about your DJ name, what does it mean?
Mizeyesis - You’re welcome! Well, Mizeyesis is pronounced “miz” – “eye-sis”. Isis is the Egyptian mother goddess who gave birth to Horus & was the wife of Osiris in ancient Egyptian culture. I’m a person that likes to dig deep into the meanings of things and thought it would be cool to add another meaning to the name altogether. “Miz” is a another way to say “Miss.” Many friends of mine are b-boys, graff writers, DJs, Emcee’s, skaters etc. When I decided on “Isis”, one of my close friends, a DJ in the area named SNAFU said, “Put Miz infront of that. It fits you & sounds better.” I agreed & also added “eye” & “sis” to the alternation of the spelling. Eye meaning the intuitive 3rd eye, Sis, for obvious reasons.

B - You’ve been Djing professionally for around 8 years. How’d you get into the DJ game & why? You also have an extensive background in dance, how heavily has that influenced your career?
M - I started dancing when I was 7 years old. I begged my mother to put me in a dance class. I got really serious about it when I was around 13 and for the next 10 years after I studied at Hartford Conservatory, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, Alvin Ailey & many other schools & organizations in the northeast US dedicated to dance or artistic development. I did this while also performing and interning with dance companies in Connecticut and New York. I studied ballet, modern, tap, jazz, West African, & many other various techniques in the dance world. I’m originally from NYC, and in the late 80′s my mother started to bring home mix tapes of deep house DJ’s mixing and would play them constantly in the house. This was around 1986 to 1987 when I was really young and a hip hop head listening to DJ Red Alert on the radio religiously. At first I hated it. Then I grew to love house music. The following year, in 1988, there was the acid house explosion both in the UK and parts of the US as well. I have a lot of family over in the UK that would come for visits a lot in the late 80′s, one of which was working in the electronic dance music industry as a vocalist at the time. I was always inquisitive and would ask questions or read about it to understand. My older relatives would go out with one another to legendary clubs like Paradise Garage, Tunnel, etc. to dance to house music. During that time in Brooklyn, where I’m originally from, we’d get the Sun newspaper from the UK as many people were from the Caribbean & had families or ties to the UK.

I remember reading headlines like “Kids Die From Acid at Acid Party.” All I knew from that headline is whatever crazy parties these were where kids were listening to house music and acting all crazy on acid & I wanted to go to them when I was older. By 1989 I had fell in love with Technotronic, Black Box, Snap, etc. Mind you I was under the age of 12 loving electronic music. I credit my mother truly for exposing me to it at that time in my life. Moving into the 90′s, I continued to work with dance teachers & love electronic music. Sometimes I’d have dance classes where the teacher would utilize electronic music in class or for choreography. And being a teenager in the 90′s, we had all sorts of electronic music to listen to, such as techno, freestyle, latin club, & breaks. It was natural for me to fall in love with the growing genres of electronic music because of my early exposure to it from my family & dance classes.

My mother moved us to Connecticut in the mid 90′s as she grew tired of NYC’s hustle & bustle. She just wanted a better life with more opportunities for us outside of a major city like NYC. NYC is pretty much a hub of culture, and when I moved to Connecticut, I didn’t know that CT already had a electronic music scene like NYC with raves, etc. Prior to 1997, there was no way I could go out to any clubs or raves or I would have faced some serious repercussions that I don’t want to get into.

I had friends in high school, church, or at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts who would go to raves and tell me about the producers and artists. We also had two radio stations: 104.1 & 88.1 that would have DJ’s play electronic music on the radio. One of them was Dave “The Wave” Dresden who had a regular slot on 104.1, now known as “Dresden” from Gabriel & Dresden.

My first electronic dance experience was at a rave club in Hartford in 1997 called “Velvet.” I lived there during those days to just go out & dance. I wasn’t allowed to go all the time because of college & a strict household, but when I could I would just go to dance. I also worked at a local mall and started to meet raver kids that would give me flyers for various events. Working at the mall was alright with me since there were clothes & record stores. In August of 1997, I found a CD that would change my life called “Urbal Beats,” which was a compilation of verious electronic dance music put out by Urb Magazine. I was becoming bored with house, techno & breaks, also hip hop, reggae, & jazz and wanted a sound that put them all together. For months I was searching for something that was like this and on the Urbal Beats compilation two tunes radically changed my future… Inner City Life by Goldie & Share the Fall by Roni Size. This music was called, Jungle. I was so happy, it was like finding the philosopher’s stone!

This music was not getting heard at Velvet and the only way I knew I could hear this was at a legit rave. So then, my first actual rave was in 1998 at an event callled “Shine II” at the Globe Theatre in South Norwalk, CT. It was the Moonshine over America tour with Micro, Dara, Keoki thrown by Kingsize & Moonshine recordings, I think Caffiene was also involved in this. I really went because of Dara, who I tell all the time. Dara’s set was mad. He spun but also brought out a drum machine and from what I remember & was doing a live PA & mixing vinyl. Not many people were doing things like that back in those days. It was sick! I will never forget that rave. I knew I was home, & thus many long weekends followed.

We also had a spot called the Municipal Cafe in Hartford that acquired a new owner, JJ Blades, who added a record & clothing shop to the venue as a hub for the ravers & DJ’s. In the late 90′s to early 2000′s I was back & forth between NYC & CT a lot. I would visit Liquid Sky, the Tunnel, Sound Factory, Konkrete
Jungle, & so many other raves in NYC & attend various raves or clubs in CT & the New England area. Around 2000, things really exploded in the US rave scene again. In my opinion, this was the 3rd time, the 1st being in 1988, the 2nd from 1992-1995, & the 3rd from 1998-2002. To me, we’re in the 4th wave of the explosion at the moment.

At the time I was dating a kid who introduced me to this guy that moved to Connecticut from West Palm Beach, Florida named James Miller Junior (RIP). When he & I first met, we did not get along. However, years later this kid (even after me and the guy broke up) became my best friend. James was a house DJ & things really took off for him around 2001 (he passed away in 2009). When I decided to end my dance career because of injuries & because the lifestyle & industry of it didn’t agree with me anymore, I became inspired by James & decided I was going to be a Jungle DJ. In 2002, I bought my first pair of decks from my homie Danny Cruz, another House DJ. I spent 2 years learning through practice & recording my sets & playing at house parties until I had my first actual booking in 2004 at the Municipal Cafe. People were astounded. I’ve been going out for a long time & at that point was very well known by many individuals in Connecticut, New England, & NYC. I then started to get booked by True Productions (MA), Volume Productions (RI), Atari Safari (MA), various crews in Maine, & also NYC. James really helped me get my foot in the door & would coach me a lot on how to promo yourself, network, as well as JJ Blades & Breakadawn, another amazing female DJ in the area who pioneered the breaks sound. So that’s how that started, if that made sense.

B - You’re the co-creator of Threshold Sound. Tell us about it’s beginnings & EDM culture in your area.
M - Well back to what I was saying earlier. 2004 was when I started to play out as a DJ. By this time I was already promoting for crews & had been attending parties for years, becoming friends with various people in the scene including Torrential & Oneself, 2 DJs from Connecticut. I approached them both & asked them about starting a night after another friend asked me to help out with a project at a venue in Hartford.

Both Torrential & Oneself were well known jungle DJ’s in CT, Torrential being the king of the Ragga Jungle sound, & Oneself really being the king of the Nuero & dancefloor sounds during those days. I solidified myself in 2004 as being one who pushed liquid & atmospheric DNB believe it or not, despite now being known mostly for dropping leftfield Jungle, DnB, Choppage, Ragga Jungle, or atmospheric sounds in DnB.

At first, Threshold was a night in Hartford dedicated to exposing people to Jungle & DnB, which we loved so much. In many parts of the country, it was a growing trend to have DnB nights. Konkrete Jungle, Elements (Boston), & Respect (LA) being some of the first ones. Also Direct Drive had many successful events in NYC, so we were inspired. Plus we had a ton of people that were into the sound that lived in CT who were friends of ours.

As I mentioned, Connecticut had a long history of EDM culture going all the way back to 1988. Markie Gee & Dave Russell (both well known deep house DJs all over the world now) were involved with a night back then called Riot. I also found out about nights in New Haven, New London, & various raves that were happening even back in 1988 to 1989, so this was nothing new. Then you had crews like Kingsize, Swing Kids, Missed the Exit, Spiritual Emporium, & many others who threw parties & raves in CT for years in the 90′s. There have been other nights, DJs, & the whole nine existing in this area for a long time prior to 2012. Just the beginning of the mainstream acceptance we experienced in the late 90′s on that level was new.

In any case, Threshold grew really in 2005 when we added more residents to the night & started to do bigger shows & collabs with many crews. Although we don’t regularly do nights at the moment, many of us are working on separate or group projects. Also can’t forget OG CT Jungle/DnB DJ’s such as Operation Breakbeat (called MDMA back then), Tom B Ill, Meszenjah, Mistah Grinch, Coexist, Berk & DJ NEB (also known for insane turntablism & hip hop djing skills) who paved the way for DJ’s like me in CT to flourish in the future. The support from a lot of these guys over the year and the family we have developed into is something I will always be thankful for.

B - Last year you joined Hipstep Massive LLC, a chapter of Zulu Nation spearheaded by TC Izlam. What does Hipstep mean & what is Hipstep Massive’s mission?
M - I actually have been apart of Hipstep since 2010 & really became active with the group in 2011. Hipstep means “H-iphop I-nfluenced P-roductions S-timulating T-he E-arth P-eople”. The whole premise of Hipstep, which was started in the 90′s by TC Izlam, is to make sure people are aware of the underlying hip hop culture in electronic music & vice versa. I recently opened the main room at the 39th Annual Zulu Nation Anniversary held at the Gramercy Theatre in NYC back to back with Meszenjah and with Supa MC from London emceeing for us the whole time. Whether or not we want to admit it, music is joining up together, hip hop especially with electronic music. Zulu Nation will always make sure the roots are known & everyone is exposed to the sounds.

B - In your opinion, what does it mean to be a junglist? What’s been the inspiration for your love of breakbeat & bass culture?
M - You know, a lot of people will say being a junglist means dreadlocks & camo, smoking weed every day, speaking with a British accent or patois, wearing the freshest gear, & driving the freshest car. NO. For me being a junglist is one who loves jungle music, realizes the origins of it, respects the culture behind the music, the innovations of the production, & some of the influences of hip hop culture on the music. Its a breakbeat oriented sound, with roots in b-boy, and the 4 elements of hip hop. Not to mention respect for the UK & London in particular which gave birth to the sound.

A lot of people don’t like to hear these things & want to alter history, but you can’t. Its already been set in stone & you need to respect the roots. Junglism is also a way of life, being unified through music, having a conscious spirit, & fighting for what you believe in is what it’s morphed into from its hedonistic ways. Junglists love to party like any other person, but there’s more to junglism than that.

As far as my love of Breakbeat & Bass culture, I grew up in NYC at the beginning of mainstream hip hop. My mother was also a DJ back in the 70′s & funk & soul was also played in my house regularly. In the 90′s I recognized the breakbeats & samples from these tunes in both Hip Hop & EDM. I loved it. On top of that, I’m Afro-Caribbean so hearing jungle & other EDM sounds with not just US soul/funk influences but influences from the islands & albeit very obvious to those who know, was something that struck with me. Cutty Ranks – Limb by Limb remixed by DJ SS was one of the first ragga jungle tunes I heard back in the day & I LOVED it. So really I guess you can say my upbringing had a lot to do with my love of breakbeat culture & bass culture.

B - Over your career, you’ve performed up & down the east coast & have been onstage with many of the legends of EDM. Do you have a favorite performance or party memory?
M - So many amazing things have happened to me over the past 8-9 years, but some cool things to reflect on where some experiences of this year.

My favorite performance was my 2 hour set at Elements in Boston in August of this year. I was so nervous before this gig as it was my first time playing there. You gotta understand, Elements is like the premiere DnB night in the US along with Respect. Both have been running for more than 10 years. The best of the best play at those nights. The crowd was so appreciative of what I did & Lenore, who has been running the night forever, is an inspiration to me as far as one who conducts themselves with elegance & grace and still is a junglist! There’s an amazing soundsystem at the Phoenix Landing & kids that know their tunes. Playing things like Locust by Ed Rush & Fierce to newer sounds like Heavyweight by Tactical Aspect for this crowd which did not stop dancing was a dream come true. When I DJ, I feed off my crowd, & love to get them excited, so that night was very special for me.

There have been many parties this year in particular which have blown my mind that I have played at or attended. The BEST jungle night I’ve ever been to by far was Rupture at Cable in London. That blew my mind. I didn’t even really go into the Renegade Hardware room either as Rupture, which had the other room had Rumbleton, Spirit, Genotype, Mantra & Double O (007), & PARADOX LIVE! I was all set. Plus, being recognized by heroes of yours & being thanked for attending is crazy. In this movement, which is worldwide, the community is very tight knit. We all know one another and respect one another. While some of us may have different styles & tastes, we respect one another as there are different aspects to junglism worldwide. That’s something I’ll take away from that experience this year & a bigger picture into this world of music.

B - There are many that feel traditional DJing values are slipping away as the technology changes. As a vinyl DJ, what are your thoughts on it? How important do you think it is to incorporate the new with the old?
M - Well I learned on vinyl & played out strictly vinyl up until 2009. I then moved to Serato scratch live which is timecoded vinyl so I’m not a purist in that sense as some people may assume. I still play regular vinyl & have brought a lot of it this year, old & new. Personally I think its very important for anyone to learn the roots of what they are into. When you take an audio engineering course, I’m sure you will learn about using a soundboard, dat tapes, & other analog things as well as how to equalize sounds, etc. even though you may not utilize it in production as many of these computer programs will do it for you now. Same applies to DJing for me. I feel that new Djs should learn about vinyl & using it first before moving on to controllers & CDJ’s or even Abelton.

The reason for this is that even though these programs offer easy alternatives to mixing a set, if you rely solely on that, how would you know by hearing if it’s off or not? You are a conductor of sound, not a conductor of vision. There are many things that a machine can’t do, which the human body can. Remember John Henry? But seriously, think about it. I also played bass guitar & piano growing up, so hearing is very important to me. Having a track selection I know & love is as well. I know my tunes, & a program can never mix that for me.

Its crazy though. The amount of ignorance about DJing software is astounding. So many people assume Serato mixes for you. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be DJ’s. Serato, the way I use it, is a digital crate. The timecoded vinyl allows me to mix tunes that unfortunately you won’t get on vinyl that I want to play, which is another factor people forget. A lot of record shops stopped selling vinyl in 2008 as more & more people were buying MP3′s & labels putting out 500 vinyl releases a year vs the 5000 a year they used to put out & that number is dwindling. You see these reports that vinyl sales are making a rise again. Yes they are, but is that for DnB? No it’s not. So many need to adapt or else you are playing the same old, same old and not giving this music a chance to expand for the sake of tradition.

After 8-9 years of djing, I’ve just learned how to use CDJ’s & controllers this year. While it’s not my thing & I would need to use them more to see the full potential, using all these tools together I feel can only spread music more & allow for more unique things to a selecta that wants to get the sounds out in different ways. I think those who are stuck in the past should embrace new technology. And on the flip of that, those who are new need to not develop the cocky know-it-all attitude of “My controller makes me sound good.” You should be in charge of that controller & know your music! Everyone needs to look inside themselves & be honest about what they are doing with this culture we have. Slow & steady wins the race. Quality over quantity. Take your time, learn it all, & do it right!

B - Where do you see the EDM industry in 5 years?
M - In the US hopefully it means more acceptance of the music. The one thing which does bother me is how the marketing of the term ‘EDM’ is turning the culture & history of electronic dance music into some farce so some guy can line his fat pockets. Have we all forgotten what happened to mainstream hip hop? Money is great, but it isn’t everything. While you are calling it all EDM, there’s House, Techno, DnB, Jungle, Dubstep, Dub, Garage, & so many other sounds with other cultures, production elements, & followings. To a new kid hearing this for the first time, this meaning gets lost in the shuffle.

I’m all about the expansion of this music. Lets face it, I want to hear it on the radio, I want to go to better venues, I want to have more discussions about the sounds. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, but what is wrong is watering down the culture to make it ‘mainstream’ or ‘poppy’ just to feed mouths or make it in some way gentrified. That is NOT why this music was made in the first place. These sounds are based upon being unique & expressing yourself in different ways, which should never be taken away because of greed. Right now its crucial for DJs, producers, & enthusiasts to teach other about this music & its origins & respect the roots, so that when things get solidified, no one is complaining about the knowledge not being there. We can do it now, but it’s up to us.

B - In addition to being an event promoter & DJ, you’re also working on a couple of radio projects. Tell us about those.
M - I’m currently just hosting a show on Jungletrain at the moment. On occasion I do mixes for shows, as well as guest appearances on the UStream channel for DnB girls of Canada, who by the way are an awesome group of ladies. SW@T, Jams, Ella Grave, B Traits, are just a few who who are just as passionate about the music as I. It’s been wonderful to work with them & I adore them dearly.

B - What do you hope to accomplish most with your music? Do you have any projects you’re especially excited about coming up?
M - I have a TON of upcoming projects for 2013, both on the local, regional, & national front as well as some international prospects. I’m about to start a new night in Hartford & am working with many crews in the area on shows & projects for 2013. I’m also working on some forums for young artists & charity shows which is exciting. I also got added to the Wu DJ Coalition, the Wu Tang Clan’s DJ faction started by RZA, which has been an honor! I’ll be doing some interviews & articles over at Satellite EDM next year & I’m also producing now too using Abelton. I can’t get over how much fun & easy it actually is for me. Once you get the hang of it, that’s it. I guess you can expect some tunes from me as well. Busy, busy, busy!

B - Is there any advice you’d like to give the up & coming DJs & promoters out there?
M - DJ’s: know your history, know your roots. Don’t be blinded by ‘fame’ & money. Take your time. There’s no rush. None of what happened to me happened over night, & I’m not anywhere close to being done. Stay humble & respect your elders. Don’t get cocky either because you rocked one night where all your friends were in attendance. Listen to your tunes, practice, & learn to DJ on all formats. Also, record your sets & listen to them & be honest about ways you can improve.

Promoters: just because they are an artist on Beatport, doesn’t mean they will be a good DJ. Know who you are booking. Listen to a mix & do background on your talent. Don’t book someone just because they appear to be able to bring numbers. A lot of promoters make that mistake & then the talent stands there clanging mixes all night sucking at DJing. Stop that. Let’s have some quality control in this scene. Pay your talent! It’s not just about the venue or you. You booked these people, so respect them & pay them for coming out. If you don’t want to, throw a house party.

All in all, this scene is fun; however, just as in any aspect of life, be aware of what’s going on. Be respectful & remain humble. So many DJs & talent have vanished because of being cocky & not respecting the opinions of others. There’s a way to be tactful.

B - Thanks again for giving us a look into your world. Is there anything you’d like to say to the Billionaires family & fans or shout outs you’d like to give?
M - Thanks for allowing me to have a voice! Shout outs to everyone who has supported me over the years, I’m honored & flattered. Shout outs to my various music families in CT, New England, NYC, the US, UK, & the rest of the world & to my close & special peoples, my family, & friends. They all know who they are!

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*Be sure to check out her bi-weekly broadcast Wednesday nights from 7-9pm EST.

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