Hello MadJam; & thank you so much for granting us this interview. And we are so happy to have you with us as one of our favorite DJS.
Let’s DO this!
How did you get into DJing?
We all love music, don’t we? The only difference is some of us would collect tracks as kids on cassette tapes. I did that for most of my childhood even through my early teenage years just to get the best tracks off the radio back in California. First party was my twin sisters’ 13th birthday in 1992 when I was 10 years old, I used my cassette collection to keep them dancing for 5 hours and it just kept going since then- 22 years on and never stopped and have no regrets.
Who were some of your influences when you started DJing?
I was quite young and never had any idols, but all the subconscious sounds from the Southern California FM stations have influenced what I have always been playing- music with soul! Lebanon was in the dark war phase at that time and they focused mostly on soft rock while I was listening to funk, soul and electronic pop from the 80s. I’m still getting influenced by many DJs and producers that I receive tracks from every day, it’s like oxygen- can’t live without it.
Who would you think is the best ambassador for the genre you play?
The only DJ I could relate to in many ways is Carl Cox, mainly because he is all about having a good time while playing music, smiles and occasionally using the microphone. Plus he can do banging hard techno sets at night, then be on a boat party playing Earth Wind & Fire the next day. Having that multi-genre variety of music in your heart keeps you flexible and versatile to handle any type of crowd… well minus Arabic of course J
Do you prefer DJing or producing?
DJing has always been what I love the most, because there are people around you that you share music with for hours on end. Producing is done mainly when I’m alone in my studio working for hours with no distractions to focus on getting a sound that I’m digging. With production it takes a lot of patience, to listen to the same single track for 8 hours while DJing could potentially play over 120 songs in the same 8 hours to a bunch of people instead of me alone.
What advice or tips would you give a young and upcoming DJ?
It’s not as easy of a lifestyle as everyone thinks, okay there is a lot of fun in it and if you do well and are appreciated by the people around you then yea it’s great. However, there are major sacrifices to be made in the long run like personal life, relationships, friends’ birthday parties/weddings you will miss out on. Plus just like any professional occupation (hate when people refer to it as a ‘job’) there are ups and downs, so be ready to handle them. Oh yeah and keep true to what you want to play, don’t give in and just play music ‘to get paid’ that’s the wrong way to approach it and you’re better off working an office job.
What is the best and worst part of being a DJ?
Best part is sharing music to thousands of people every week from clubs or events with feedback in front of your face or via radio shows and downloads that you’ll probably only get 0.1% feedback from. Just nice to see people happy and give them a soundtrack of your own selection of music to listen to hours on end. Worst part is being labeled “ahhhh you’re a DJ huh, well you must be arrogant, unhealthy and too many women and and and..” I do have a lot of responsibilities, and the last 20 years of DJing has trained me to be ready for them. Some other DJs fit the stereotype and ruin the whole scene, but the successful ones know how to keep it real.
Who would you love to DJ alongside with?
Anyone- I’m very flexible to sway into different genres with other DJ friends. Some of the most compatible DJ’s are the close friends that go 2 tracks by 2 tracks. There are others that are friends but would rather do hour by hour since our selection don’t fit as well. As for the well-known DJs, they are so famous that we end up playing on different stages or I have to get off when the warm up is over so they can come in with the huge intro and fireworks and all that. Any DJ that can share a DJ booth properly is welcome.
What’s, in your opinion is the best Track you have produced?
Ohh there are hundreds, but only few I’ve ever put out under the ‘maDJam’ name- the rest are under 3 or 4 secret nicknames no one can identify as me. Even with the track registration my real name is concealed, because I don’t want people to associate my name with that one track- some are too chilled, others light/funky, or mind-trip tech house and the rest borderline mainstream. If one of them came out I’ll be requested to play it at certain gigs and don’t want to fall under the Edward Maya Syndrome where they only book him for that single track.
What has been your best show?
There are so many good memories- an overdose of happy thoughts. The Monot Music Festival 2001 was a breakthrough gig with Mix FM that will never be forgotten as we had 14,000 people squished into a dusty parking lot playing “house” music and it all made sense from then onwards. Recently there were a couple of private parties up in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon that both started midday and went on for 12 hours. Those super long sets at ultra-intimate places is where my spirit gets rejuvenated- because it’s a continuation of that first party I did 22 years ago.
Where do you find the best audiences?
Wherever, I like the audiences that know how to leave their stressors away, drop the ego and simply have a good time. One place that’s always great is Ibiza since it’s parties are 24/7 starting from June til October. Usually everyone getting on that island are there to escape the normal life they live. However I’ve experience similar levels of “letting go” wildness in the most of unlikely places including Aleppo (North Syria 2009-2011), Jeddah Saudi Arabia, Beach Chalets in Kuwait, Afterparties in Greece and Cyprus.
What is the best city that you have traveled to as a tourist?
As a non-clubbing tourist ? Hmmm that would have to be Bentota in Sri Lanka- everything from the smiles on people’s faces to the seafood quality to the weather. Great escape!
You’ve had many concerts and events in Beirut; how do you find the crowd there, and which one was your favorite and why?
Every event has a special place in my heart when it comes to Beirut. Mainly because of whatever the country was going through at the time, the event always had a special feeling as a result. The One Big Sunday event in September of 2006 was the first proper event after the war ended and one of the best spiritual moments in my memory with goosebumps on my arms the whole day, just seeing everyone happy again. John Digweed at BIEL in 2008 was similar because there was some civil unrest that happened and we barely got out of it, yet the party was a big success that included people from both sides of the division. That and the fact our geography is so small (always bump into people you know) is what makes Lebanon special.
Is there a perfect set length, and if yes, how long would it be?
The longer the set the better. I love having full mood and mind control with a crowd on a day throughout the night… or night through day. Gives me freedom to choose whatever my instinct tells me to play, complete improvisation, and there are so many different genres to fit in together. Plus tolerance (booze and the like) and endurance/strength to play longer sets means you really are doing it from the heart. I keep playing until that last person collapses- even if it is just one person. A reason most club managers hate me J
What are your goals for 2015?
Just keep going up, never plan anything because you’ll get depressed if you don’t reach that goal like Brazil vs. Germany. Especially with music, it depends on so many factors like politics, economy, internet speeds, global trends vs. local club trends… so keeping an open mind and heart and always hungry for more. That sound like a plan!