Getting To Know… IAMDJDRAKE

Getting To Know... IAMDJDRAKE

F: Hi Drake, it’s a pleasure to chat with you today, how are you?

Drake: I’m blessed and ready to step into a new facet of my career as an artist and producer. I’m excited to be talking with you today and sharing a bit about my background and what makes IAMDJDRAKE who I am. 

F: Please tell us a little about where you’re from and how you first got into making music?

Drake: I’m from the U.S. specifically the East Coast. I grew up as the youngest of four and was exposed to all genres of music just by listening to what my parents and siblings were playing. I started as a DJ at the age of 13 and learned the fundamentals of spinning and eventually elevated my skills by mixing and blending different music genres. I didn’t have a name for what I was doing at the time, but realized years later that I was really creating and remixing songs. I got my first keyboard and drum machine at 22 and have been creating music ever since.  

F: Who are your biggest influences?

Drake: My early influences were Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Today, I’m influenced by Calvin Harris and his ability to make hits across different genres and Black Coffee and his success in Afro House and Soulful House. 

F: How would you describe your sound?

Drake: I call it Afro Soul because the music is soulful with both house and African vibes intertwined.

F: What was your first release? 

Drake: My first release was ‘Africa’, released in 2020. It was a collaboration with Juan Coon and really my first attempt at releasing music. It was a good song, but I had no experience in promoting my own music. 

F: Which of your own tracks was the biggest labour of love to create / personal favourite? 

Drake: ‘Bother Me’, which was released in 2023 was the biggest labour of love to date. I had production and writing partners, secured a featured artist, created a video, and hired a PR, promotions and social media team to help promote the song. This was the first time I really understood the differences between being an artist/creative and taking care of the business side of music. The release was also remixed by DJ Spinna later, which is great!

F: You’ve performed on stage with some huge artists including Busta Rhymes, DMX, Chris Brown and Keyshia Cole, among others. Please tell us a bit about that?

Drake: I’ve been blessed to be recognized as Connecticut’s premier DJ for many years. With that came amazing opportunities to be the opening DJ for concerts that came through the area. Opening for some of the best in the business has been a privilege.

F: What’s been your favourite gig so far?

Drake: There are so many favourites, but most recently I was the after-party DJ for the Black Music Action Coalition Gala in Los Angeles. The event was amazing as artists such as The Weekend, Kevin Liles, George Clinton, and Lil Baby were recognized for their contributions to the music industry and for using their platforms for change. People from music, film, and TV were all partying to IAMDJDRAKE!

F: So you’ve only started producing house music in recent years, who or what turned you on to House production?

Drake: As a college student, house music was the music of choice. I remember partying all night to house songs such as Strictly Rhythm classics like Hardrive ‘Deep Inside’, Alu Us ‘Follow Me’, and tracks like ‘Soho’s Hot Music’. What turned me on to producing house music was listening to Black Coffee and Kaytranda. And watching Calvin Harris produce and manoeuvre across different genres was the spark I needed to know I didn’t have to be limited to producing in one genre.

F: Your new single release, ‘Fool 4 Your Love’ featuring Jemimah Eze has just come out on your own new label. What’s it all about?  

Drake: ‘Fool 4 Your Love’ is about being madly in love and willing to do anything to get the love back, even though you know the love is not good for you. It’s definitely a theme many can relate to or have first-hand experience with. Jemimah delivered a stunning soulful vocal in both English and Nigerian, that really fits great with my gritty deep house groove.

F: How did you link up with Jemimah and will you be working together again in the future?

Drake: I was introduced to Jemimah through Morris Revey. Morris wrote several songs for me and said he had the perfect person to sing the lyrics. When I heard Jemimah’s voice, I knew I wanted to use her on a couple of the songs. ‘Fool 4 Your Love’ is the first, and we’ll release another single later this summer called ‘Omalicha’, which means beautiful. 

F: You’ve also recently started your own new label, DNJ Records, what made you decide to take the plunge and what plans have you got for it?

Drake: Having my own record label allows me to be in full control of my destiny. Although I’m starting the label with my own Afro Soul house productions, I plan to expand the label to sign other independent artists that represent different genres. 

F: You’ve also worked as a radio DJ and presenter for key US stations for many years, what drew you to radio and have you any tips for any young budding radio presenters looking to kick start their career on the airwaves?

Drake: Radio presenting is another way to get heard as a DJ beyond the local clubs. As a radio DJ I got a chance to be heard across the state, collaborate with other DJ and radio personalities, and meet music entertainment celebrities. I ended up being the DJ for several of them when they came to perform in my area. In terms of tips, firstly, make sure you know the players including the program director and general manager of the station you want to join. Continue to build your name in your local area, so when you apply you can demonstrate your following and that you can bring listeners to the station. And finally, Keep working on your craft to ensure you can stay competitive with others trying to do the same thing.

F: What can we expect from a typical IAMDJDRAKE set and why should we come and see you?

Drake: My sets are always upbeat with a lot of energy and a blend of different genres. Expect the unexpected, like house music with a country acapella, as an example. I see myself as a magician, flowing in and out of music, keeping people on their feet and on the dance floor, and having them leave saying, “I haven’t partied like that in a long time.”  

F: What’s the best DJ set you’ve experienced recently?

Drake: Last year I went on the first annual Rock The Bells Cruise to the Bahamas. Kid Capri, as usual, did his thing. He performed every day on the cruise and had the ship rocking. Every set was just as fire as the one before.  

F: Who are your top 5 current producers? 

Drake: Pharrell Williams, Kaytranada, Calvin Harris, Black Coffee and DJ Spen.

F: What are your goals for 2024?

Drake: I have three goals for 2024… First is to continue to build my IAMDJDRAKE brand as an artist, DJ, and major player in the entertainment industry. Also to build DNJ Records to be a power label in the world of House Music, and to secure some DJ gig performances at some of the major festivals would be great.

IAMDJDRAKE ft Jemimah Eze ‘Fool 4 Your Love’ is out now on DNJ Records.

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