— Ultra Music Festival (@ultra) March 19, 2016
This interview is a part of #KanvasLive, an interactive, cross-platform content series brought to life on the Kanvas app and AOL.com. See more on coverage here.
MAKJ is ahead of the curve. The DJ, who started his careers playing weddings and frat parties, was featured this weekend at one of the most sought-after EDM festivals around: Ultra Miami.
What makes him so special, you ask? Well, besides his jaw-dropping beats and nonstop ethic, there's a savviness behind the music that you love so much. The DJ has a background in business, and while that gives him a leg up in successfully marketing his tracks, he also has an eye for platforms that are here to authentically market his music versus those that are just "trying to make a dollar."
This market of authenticity embodies MAKJ's music.
So, we're in Miami, you're playing at Ultra. What is so special to you about Miami, what makes it different than everywhere else in the world that you can play?
It's just the atmosphere of DJs. It's the atmosphere of people that come and actually see artists perform and see what artists have to look forward to for the whole of 2016. It's almost kind of like spring training for DJs. They come out to Miami to test new stuff, they see how their year is going to unfold. It leaves a lot of people expecting a lot from a lot of DJs. There's just a vibe here -- it's amazing people, amazing hotels, amazing food, amazing weather. It's great -- it's a really, really fun time.
Awesome! It's interesting how festivals work versus solo shows, because you have an audience that isn't necessarily buying a ticket solely to see you, you have people who might never have even heard your music. What makes it different for the show? Does it excite you?
I started doing college events, so when I started DJing I was doing frat parties and house parties. So I've always been really used to doing smaller venues and as my career has grown, I've definitely gotten used to the whole festival vibe, focusing on that front row of people. To feel the energy of the whole festival it's easy, because you can play anything and everyone goes crazy, but if you just focus on the front row, those are the people who are really watching you. It's definitely a different vibe, but I definitely love doing the beach parties in Miami and going out to Ultra and playing a festival. It's the atmosphere. Yes, not everyone's there solely for you, they're there for the whole festival, the atmosphere of Miami.
Is there anyone else playing at Ultra that you're excited to watch?
Pendulum, for sure. Nero, I've been a fan since birth. I've seen Nero before but I want to see them again, I want to see what they have prepared for this year. But, yeah, Pendulum is going to be super rad. I'm actually staying at Ultra just to see them.
That's so awesome! So, let's touch upon your fans. What's your favorite thing about your fans?
They're so supportive. I know that sounds so cliché, but they're so supportive. Anything I do, they're just like, "Awesome, man! Keep going!" I finally hit over the million mark, and every single one of those fans seems intrigued about my life and my career, and anywhere I go in the world I'll always have MAKJ fans, which is amazing. It's so hard, since day one I've wanted to do that. I've wanted to be able to play my music and go anywhere and have people come see me for my music. But it's just a weird feeling -- I can go anywhere, and people will see me play. It's so bizarre to me; I come from a very small city in California so going from frat parties to playing anywhere around the world, it's one of the most next-level, game changing moments.
Totally. And with your social media platforms, you're able to reach your fans pretty much any time.
You know, it's been difficult. I went to school for business, so studying all these marketing programs and seeing how other social media platforms interact. You're definitely having to find the loopholes with Facebook -- same thing with Instagram. With Snapchat, I feel like that's the best social media platform right now because you can reach anyone it's not restricted. People love seeing the day-to-day stuff. With Facebook, I feel like it's more of a business platform now. Amazing platforms, like I said, I wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for Facebook and social media. But it's just hard right now because everyone wants to make a dollar.
Trying to scratch MAKJ, making dope beats Jesse Marco
Posted by MAKJ on Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Completely -- they want you to pay for everything.
I put something up last night and it got, like, 30,000 likes. And I got a message saying, "Spend $6,000 to make it reach 35,000 people!" Is that really necessary?
Totally. Have you done livestreams? We've been doing that, and it's huge.
You know what's big about that, every time someone does a livestream that I'm following, I see that they're doing a livestream. Ultra wants to do a livestream of my sets, like have it on their social platforms. So I think that'd be a good way to start but I have not done it yet.
What's one thing that your fans don't know about you?
I'm allergic to watermelon. Super allergic, like deathly allergic.
Do you like watermelon? Does it suck to be allergic?
I've never had it except the time I found out I was allergic.
Got it. What are you excited for in the back 3/4 of 2016?
I have an album coming out and it's completely different from the stuff I've produced in the past. It's more of me, more MAKJ, a sense of where I started from. Hip hop, rock, not just solely house music.
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