HOJ [New York] Musician

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Don’t worry, we’ll tell you how to pronounce “Hoj” correctly. That way if you ever meet Hoj, you can surprise him by pronouncing his name correctly. But we’ll hold out a bit longer for dramatic effect.

First we want to know whose HOJ? And if it’s just a nickname why HOJ?

Hoj is my real name (pronounced Hōj with a long “o”. It’s a shortened version of my real name, which is difficult to pronounce. But a lot of people pronounce Hoj wrong too. Go figure. My friends and family have been calling me Hoj since I was very young, so I’ll stick with it.

Where are you originally from?

I’m originally from Iran. I was born in Tehran and came to Northern California when I was 4 years old. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.

When did you begin to DJ?

I began to DJ in 1998.

When did you develop an interest in music beyond appreciating it as a listener?

We had a couple big record stores in the area when I was a kid – Amoeba and Rasputin. Walking into these shops was like walking into a different world … there were endless aisles of records and CDs, listening stations, and posters covering every inch of every wall, t-shirts that pissed your parents off, and employees that intimidated you without trying. Every different genre had a look, an attitude, an aesthetic, a style … a mood. I would spend hours in these shops listening to music based completely on cover art. I had no idea what I was looking for or listening to, but I wasn’t going anywhere. I think I was 11 or 12 and had no idea that being a “DJ” was a thing beyond radio. I don’t think I ever saw myself on stage or anything like that, but I was fascinated by the culture that music created.

I still go to these two shops whenever I can. And I still listen to a lot of CDs and Vinyl based completely on the cover art.

Which artists and styles inspired and influenced you?

I don’t know where to start …

How about I create a mythical super-band: On guitar I’d go with Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) because he is a legend, and I like his 5-string bluesy twang and reggae influence. I’d have Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead) on rhythm guitar and whatever else he wants to play. For drums I’d go with Danny Carey (Tool) for that big sound and atmosphere, and on bass I’d bring in Les Claypool (Primus). On vocals – tough but for this band it would have to be Roger Waters (Pink Floyd).

What types of music do you sample from?

Anything I can find. I have a sweet spot for classical Persian instrumentation, vocals, percussion and melodies. Actually, I’m a sucker for all kinds of world music.

I know you are currently very busy. What is your latest project?

So many projects! I have a “project wall” at home that is getting pretty big. I have a few productions and collaborations in the works. I’m also working on some visual projects to add another element of storytelling to my sets.

Where to find your next club tours taking place?

I leave for the Burning Man Festival in a few days. It’s not a music festival, but it’s something I look forward to all year. It’s tough to think beyond that at the moment.

You satisfied with the success so far?

I feel very lucky. I’ve always played the music that I like, and it seems other people are liking it too for the time being. That makes me feel good.

Who do you think is the best ambassador for the genre you play?

Lee Burridge believed in our sound and gave it a platform. Through the ALL DAY I DREAM events/label, Lee has given our sound a voice. The sound itself

Continuously evolves and has immense range, but thanks to Lee’s efforts we have a vehicle to share it.

What kind of audio production equipment did you use when you started?

My first setup was a $50 used Gemini 2-channel mixer, one Technic 1200 turntable, and one Sony Discman (I couldn’t afford the second turntable).

Please describe the evolution of the audio production equipment that DJs use since you began?

I started with vinyl. I watched everything go digital with some sadness, especially as my local record shops started to shut their doors. But the Pioneer CDJs made playing on moving vehicles easier (no more needle skips), and I can take a lot more music with me when I travel. I feel like there’s just a lot more globally accessible music in general because of digital.

You have played an amazing set at ALL DAY I DREAM. Tell us more about this day/dream?

I feel so much positivity and support at ALL DAY I DREAM events – it’s like home. A good set at ALL DAY I DREAM for me tells a unique story of cloud chasing, wild

Horses, ice cream topped mountains, and underwater circus acts.

Any plans to visit the Middle East region? Who you visited any before?

Yes! I was just in Lebanon and had an amazing time there. I had a bigger trip planned earlier in the year that was unfortunately cancelled, but I will make it up Soon. I love coming to play there.

What is your dream for 2016?

My dream for 2016 is to do a 10 city tour by RV/Bus (no airplanes) with a group of really good friends.

Thank you, HOJ, for describing your progression and professionalism.

 

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