DJ E-CLYPS

DJ E-CLYPS | FORT WAYNE, INDIANA | DJ/PRODUCER

DJ E-CLYPS | FORT WAYNE, INDIANA | DJ/PRODUCER

INTERVIEW: SHAMIKA SANDERS-SYKES [@PINKIETUSCADERO]  | PHOTOS: KATIE LASKOWSKA [@POLISHKATIE] 

STRAIGHT OUTTA FORT WAYNE COMES DJ E-CLYPS, A HIP-HOP PRODUCER WHO DECIDED TO DELVE INTO THE WORLD OF DANCE MUSIC AND WOUND UP CRANKING OUT SOME HEAVY DANCE HITS UNDER HIS INDEPENDENT LABEL, BLACKLIGHT MUSIC. HIS UNIQUE STYLE, STRIVE AND DETERMINATION GOT HIM TO BECOME ONE OF THE NEWEST SIGNEES OF ULTRA MUSIC. I SPEAK WITH THE INDIANA NATIVE AS WE TALK A LITTLE ABOUT HIM AND A SUBJECT THAT HE IS STRONGLY OPINIONATED ABOUT... THE MUSIC INDUSTRY.

VALIDATED: WHAT GAVE YOU THAT LOVE FOR MUSIC?

DJ E-CLYPS: HONESTLY, I THINK IT WAS JUST BEING AROUND IT AND ALWAYS HEARING IT. SO MUCH WE DO IS SURROUNDED BY MUSIC. WE’RE A RHYTHMIC PEOPLE. WE DO SO MUCH TO MUSIC… IT’S ROOTED IN ALMOST EVERYTHING WE DO. WE REFERENCE SONGS TO EXPLAIN WHAT WE’RE DEALING WITH OR WHEN WE REMINISCE ABOUT LIFE. SO FOR ME, I THINK IT WAS JUST HEARING SO MUCH OF IT MADE IT A PART OF MY DNA, BECAUSE THERE AREN’T VERY MANY MUSICAL PEOPLE IN MY FAMILY, BUT THEY ALL JUST LOVED LISTENING TO IT… AND IT STUCK WITH ME. IT JUST GOT TO A POINT THAT I DIDN’T JUST WANT TO LISTEN TO IT, I BECAME OBSESSED WITH IT. I STARTED TO BE CURIOUS ABOUT HOW IT WAS MADE, AND HOW TO MAKE MY OWN. IT WASN’T COOL TO JUST LISTEN TO IT ANYMORE, MUSIC BECAME WHAT I WANTED TO DO FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

VALIDATED: WHAT MADE YOU SHIFT FROM HIP-HOP PRODUCTION INTO THE WORLD OF DANCE MUSIC?

DJ E-CLYPS: TO ME THE TRANSITION TO DANCE MUSIC WAS MORE ABOUT THE CHALLENGE OF BREAKING INTO SOMETHING NEW. AS A DJ WORKING CLUBS YOU PLAY ALL TYPES OF MUSIC, SO IT WASN’T LIKE I WAS FOREIGN TO IT, SO IT WASN’T REALLY A SHIFT, JUST MORE LIKE EXPANDING MY BOUNDARIES OF WHAT I WAS DOING MUSICALLY. BUT, I DID LIKE THAT THERE WEREN’T REALLY ANY RULES OR SPECIFIC STRUCTURE TO IT. IN HIP HOP, YOU KIND OF HAVE THE UNWRITTEN RULES FOR THE MOST PART, LIKE 16 BARS, 8 BAR HOOKS, 4 BAR INTROS, ETC. IN DANCE MUSIC, IF YOU WANNA MAKE A 7 MINUTE SONG YOU COULD, EVERYTHING ISN’T WRITTEN FOR RADIO. YOU JUST MAKE MUSIC, AND WHERE IT GOES IT GOES. BUT HONESTLY, HIP-HOP IS VERY ELECTRONIC IN NATURE TOO, SO WHILE PEOPLE THINK THERE’S A BIG TRANSITION, IT’S REALLY NOT… JUST THE TEMPO IS FASTER. THE SOUNDS ARE DIFFERENT, THE DRUMS ARE SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT. BUT HONESTLY, DANCE MUSIC IS LIKE ANY OTHER GENRE OF MUSIC, YOU LEARN THE RULES TO THEN BREAK THEM IN YOUR OWN WAY. YOU FIND A WAY TO DO IT THAT’S REPPING YOUR SOUND AND YOUR ROOTS. THEY’RE BOTH ABOUT EXPRESSION AND DOING WHAT YOU VIBE WITH. AIN’T NO RULES TO ANY OF THIS REALLY THE DEEPER YOU GET INTO IT, AND HONESTLY I THINK YOU’LL SEE A LOT MORE PEOPLE TRANSITIONING FROM HIP-HOP INTO DANCE MUSIC, OR DOING BOTH. BOTH ARE ROOTED IN BLACK CULTURE, BUT PEOPLE ARE SOMETIMES TRICKED INTO THINKING DANCE MUSIC ISN’T REALLY FOR US TO DO ANYMORE… IT KINDA GOT LABELED AS SOMETHING WE DON’T GET INTO OR NOT FOR US ANYMORE, OR SOME WEIRD EURO SHIT, BUT NO... IT’S MUSIC. IT’S NOT EXCLUSIVE TO ANYONE. WE JUST HAVE TO DO IT OUR WAY AND BE TRUE TO IT.


VALIDATED: YOU HAVE COME A VERY LONG WAY. YOU WORKED UNDER A WELL-KNOWN PRODUCER, THEN BASICALLY WENT TO BE A TOURING DJ WHO RAN AN INDIE LABEL ON YOUR OWN WITH NO MANAGER, PUBLICIST, NOR BOOKING AGENT, TO BEING FEATURED ON SPOTIFY, SHAZAM AND ITUNES AND NOW YOU ARE SIGNED TO ULTRA MUSIC. WHAT WAS YOUR PUSH?

DJ E-CLYPS: CONSISTENCY. IT WAS ABOUT BEING CONSISTENT INSTEAD OF JUST POPPING OFF FROM ONE RECORD AND HOPE YOU DON’T FIZZLE OUT. NOT BEING CONSISTENT IS WHY YOU SEE A LOT OF PEOPLE COME FROM NOWHERE AND THEN IN LESS THAN A FEW YEARS YOU’RE LEFT WONDERING WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM. I FELT LIKE IF I CAN FOCUS ON JUST BEING CONSISTENT, THEN I’LL OUTLAST THE FLUFF. THEN, PEOPLE WILL GO BACK AND LISTEN TO THE WHOLE BODY OF WORK AND BE LIKE "DAMN, HE’S BEEN DROPPING BANGERS FOR A MINUTE, HOW’D WE MISS THESE?" SO I WAS WILLING TO TAKE THE LONG HAUL INSTEAD OF BUYING FOLLOWERS AND FAKING NUMBERS FOR THE QUICK BUZZ. YOU SEE PEOPLE DO IT, AND IT’S TEMPTING BECAUSE THAT NONSENSE ON THE SURFACE APPEARS TO ACTUALLY WORK, BUT OVER TIME, YOU SEE THE GRIND IS REALLY WHERE IT’S AT. YOUR FANS GROW WITH YOU, MUSICALLY YOU GROW, AND BY THE TIME YOU’RE REALLY IN YOUR ZONE THE TIME COMES AND THINGS START TO GO YOUR WAY A BIT. NOT WHAT MANY WANNA HEAR, BUT IT’S THE STRATEGY THAT WORKS FOR THE LONG HAUL. ALOT OF PEOPLE DON’T WANNA PAY DUES ANYMORE, THEY THINK IT'S ABOUT HAVING THE RIGHT GIMMICK, OR CATCHING A QUICK BUZZ OFF SOME CLOWN S***. IT’S LIKE PEOPLE ARE AFRAID OF JUST PUTTING IN WORK, THEY WATCH YOUTUBE AND SEE THIS SEEMINGLY "OUT OF NOWHERE" COME-UP AND THINK THAT’S THE BLUEPRINT TO SUCCESS… IT’S NOT. IT MAY GIVE YOU THAT FLASH IN THE PAN MOMENT, BUT IT’S NOT WHAT MAKES CAREERS IN THIS BUSINESS. LONGEVITY SOMETIMES IS GRINDING AND KNOWING THE LONG TERM RESULT IS WELL-EARNED SUCCESS.

VALIDATED: WITH YOUR STYLE, YOU KEEP YOUR MUSIC VERY HIP-HOP INFLUENCED, WHICH COMES TO THIS QUESTION: DO YOU THINK THAT YOU WILL EVER GO BACK INTO THE REALM OF HIP-HOP, IF GIVEN A CHANCE?

DJ E-CLYPS: HAHA, WHO EVER SAID I LEFT? I MEAN, JUST BECAUSE MY NAME ISN’T ON A HIP HOP RECORD RIGHT NOW DOESN’T MEAN I’M NOT STILL ACTIVE IN IT. I STILL MAKE HIP-HOP BEATS, TOO. THE BUSINESS SIDE OF MUSIC IS REALLY ADDICTIVE TO ME, SO I TRY TO KEEP BUSY IN THAT AREA OF HIP-HOP. THERE’S PROJECTS IN THE WORKS, AND IN SOME WAYS BOTH WORLDS WILL COLLIDE AND THAT’S A WHOLE OTHER TOPIC. BUT EVEN IN DANCE MUSIC, MY SOUND IS VERY HIP-HOP ROOTED. SO I DON’T CONSIDER ME LEAVING HIP-HOP, IT’S JUST NOT MY PRIMARY FOCUS. IT’S BEEN A FEW YEARS OF TOTALLY REBRANDING WHAT I’M DOING TO GET TO THIS POINT IN DANCE MUSIC… SO FOR ME TO REALLY DO HIP-HOP IN THAT ASPECT OF IT WOULD HAVE TO MAKE SENSE BUSINESS WISE, YOU HAVE TO BE STRATEGIC IN HOW YOU MERGE THE TWO ALL TOGETHER TO MAKE IT MAKE SENSE.

VALIDATED: WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF APPRENTICESHIP?

DJ E-CLYPS: GETTING WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE. EVERYBODY WHO CLAIMS TO WANT TO TAKE YOU UNDER THEIR WING ISN’T NECESSARILY OUT TO REALLY HELP YOU, SOME MAY WANT YOU FOR A SELFISH REASON OR FOR A SELFISH SEASON, AND THERE’S A SELECT AND SMALL FEW WHO REALLY ARE IN IT TO HELP YOU BE THE BEST YOU. YOU GOTTA KEEP YOUR STREET SENSE ABOUT YOU WHEN IT COMES TO THAT OR ELSE YOU CAN GET BLINDSIDED BY IT THINKING THAT IT’S ALL ROSES. THE PROS ARE WHEN YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT CIRCLE WITH PEOPLE THAT REALLY CARE ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS, YOU LEARN A LOT AND IT WILL MAKE YOU BETTER. GET WITH THE WRONG ONE, AND THE CONS BECOME OBVIOUS, REALLY QUICK. THE BEST WAY TO KNOW IS TO MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS. IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF AT SOME POINT, YOU’RE PROBABLY RIGHT. GET WITH SOMEONE WHO’S NOT ONLY GOING TO HELP YOU MUSICALLY, BUT SOMEONE WHO’S GOING TO MAKE YOU AN ALL AROUND THREAT, MEANING GIVING YOU AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE BUSINESS SIDE OF MUSIC TOO. IT’S AMAZING HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN THE INDUSTRY BUT KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE INDUSTRY THEIR IN. IT’S LIKE MOVING WEIGHT AND NOT KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR PRODUCT. THE TALENT PART ISN’T REALLY SOMETHING YOU TEACH, YOU CAN ONLY REFINE IT… KNOWING THE BUSINESS OF WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS IMPORTANT. SOME CAN’T DO APPRENTICESHIPS BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO PUT IN THE WORK, THEY WANT THE FAST TRACK TO SUCCESS AND FEEL LIKE IT’S A WASTE OF TIME. BUT TO BE HONEST IF YOU CAN’T BE A GOOD INDIAN, YOU’LL NEVER MAKE A GREAT CHIEF. SO MANY ARE SO OBSESSED WITH BEING THE BOSS, THEY NEVER LEARN HOW TO BECOME AN EFFECTIVE ONE. THAT’S THE BEAUTY OF IT THOUGH, YOU NOT ONLY LEARN WHAT TO DO, BUT ALSO WHAT NOT TO DO. WATCH THEIR MOVEMENTS BEFORE YOU JUST SIGN UP TO BE UNDER SOMEONE, KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO… ALL THAT TALK IS COOL, THEIR ACTIONS MEAN MORE.


VALIDATED: YOU ARE VERY OUTSPOKEN WHEN IT COMES TO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO ARTISTS OF COLOR. HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS ISSUE TO YOU, IN YOUR OPINION?

DJ E-CLYPS: IT’S DANGEROUSLY IMPORTANT. TOO OFTEN WE’VE BEEN THE CREATORS AND THE INNOVATORS, BUT END UP BEING SLAVES TO OUR OWN CREATIONS. WE DON’T OWN S***, BUT WE CLAIM IT. THAT HAS TO STOP. MORE OFTEN THAN NONE, YOU SEE PEOPLE PUT A LOT INTO THIS GAME AND LEAVE WITH NOTHING BUT PATS ON THE BACK AND ACCOLADES, BUT THEN CAN'T AFFORD TO LIVE. WE NEED MORE SEATS AT THE TABLE INSTEAD OF ASKING WHY WE’RE NOT BEING TREATED FAIR. WHEN YOU START OWNING THINGS, PEOPLE HAVE TO LISTEN BECAUSE NOW IT’S A CONVERSATION THEY MUST HAVE. WHEN YOU DON’T, ITS HOPING THEY WILL LISTEN. A LOT OF CHANGE HAPPENS WHEN THEY CAN’T AFFORD FOR YOU TO WALK AWAY FROM THE TABLE. I APPLAUD WHAT PEOPLE LIKE STEVE STOUTE IS DOING WITH UNITED MASTERS, HE’S TAKING HIS EXPERIENCES AND HELPING PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF OWNERSHIP, BUT NOT ONLY THAT, GIVING THEM AN OUTLET TO DO SO. SO HE BACKED THE WORDS WITH ACTIONS, AND YOU HAVE TO APPLAUD THAT. REAL BOSSES HELP CREATE OTHER BOSSES, THEY’RE NOT AFRAID OF YOU PASSING THEM UP, BECAUSE THEY KNOWN THEIR OWN WORTH AND AREN'T’ INTIMIDATED BY WHAT SOMEONE ELSE CAN ACCOMPLISH. THEY EMBRACE IT AND WANT TO HELP CULTIVATE IT. THE TIME FOR US AS ARTISTS OF COLOR SIMPLY BEING THE TOOLS BUT NEVER OWNING THE TOOLBOX IS DEAD. WHEN YOU SEE LEGENDS WHO’VE BEEN IN THE GAME FOR DECADES IN REALLY BAD PREDICAMENTS, IT BOTHERS YOU, BECAUSE YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU DON’T LEARN FROM WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM IT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU.


VALIDATED: WHY DO YOU THINK ARTISTS OF COLOR GET SHAFTED A LOT IN A MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY DESPITE THEIR MANY CONTRIBUTIONS?

DJ E-CLYPS: LACK OF UNDERSTANDING THE BUSINESS. DANCE MUSIC IS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF IT. HIP-HOP TOO. THERE’S ARTISTS WHO’VE BEEN LABELED AS LEGENDS AND DYING BROKE. NEEDING GOFUNDME CAMPAIGNS TO EVEN BURY THEM OR PAY MEDICAL BILLS. WHY? THEY DON’T OWN THEIR MASTERS, THEY DIDN’T ACQUIRE ASSETS OR THINK THINGS LIKE THEIR CATALOG OR RETAINING PUBLISHING WAS IMPORTANT. THEY WEREN’T BUYING STATIONS, VENUES, MEDIA OUTLETS, ETC… THEY TOOK THE UPFRONT MONEY AND DECADES LATER IT’S ALL GONE. SO I DON’T THINK IT'S REALLY GETTING SHAFTED. MANY SIMPLY LEFT IT ON THE TABLE. YOU’D BE DUMB NOT TO PICK IT UP IF SOMEONE LEAVES IT THERE. PEOPLE DON’T PUT GUNS TO YOUR HEAD AND MAKE YOU SIGN THIS STUFF... IT’S A CHOICE. A COLLECTIVE OF DUMB CHOICES. BAD BUSINESS DEALS COLLECTIVELY OVER TIME MADE ARTISTS OF COLOR STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN LAND. THAT TIME IS CHANGING NOW WITH THE INTERNET, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND THE ABILITY TO MAKE OUR OWN CONTENT. PEOPLE ARE FIGURING OUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO SIGN YOUR LIFE AWAY ANYMORE. OWNERSHIP IS NOW A BIG CONVERSATION. PEOPLE ARE TURNING DOWN DEALS NOW BECAUSE THEY’RE LOOKING AT THESE AGREEMENTS AND SAYING "WE CAN BUILD OUR OWN, AND KEEP EVERYTHING… NO THANKS." PARTNERSHIPS AND STRATEGIC ALLIANCES SHOULD NOW BE THE ONLY THINGS THAT SHOULD MAKE SENSE…. SLAVERY IS DEAD.


VALIDATED: WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS THAT ANY ASPIRING ARTIST SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO BEFORE INKING ANY DEAL?

DJ E-CLYPS: IF THEY SAY "THIS IS OUR STANDARD AGREEMENT" AND LEAVE NO ROOM FOR NEGOTIATION... WALK AWAY. AVOID PERPETUITY CLAUSES IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. LIMIT WHAT CAN HAPPEN WITHOUT YOUR APPROVAL. DON’T EVER GIVE UP ALL OF YOUR PUBLISHING. READ ALL OF IT AND DON’T BE IN A RUSH TO SIGN ANYTHING UNTIL YOU SEEK GOOD LEGAL COUNSEL. IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT SOMETHING MEANS ASK SOMEONE WHO DOES. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STUPID QUESTION, BECAUSE IT CAN BE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUCCESS AND PURE TORTURE IN THE FUTURE. THERE’S PLENTY OF WEB CONTENT ABOUT HOW TO MAKE MUSIC, AND VERY FEW ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF MUSIC. THERE’S A REASON FOR THAT… STUDY UP, OR YOU’RE F*****. BUY BOOKS ON THE MUSIC BUSINESS, ATTEND SOME SEMINARS, GO SIT WITH A MUSIC ATTORNEY, ANYTHING BUT JUST SIT THERE AND BE STUPID BUT THEN GO CRYING ON THE INTERNET WHEN YOU REALIZE YOU GOT JERKED.

VALIDATED: WHAT IS ON THE AGENDA FOR DJ E-CLYPS FOR 2019?

DJ E-CLYPS: GROWTH. I GUESS IT CAN ALL BE SUMMED UP INTO THAT. REALLY NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO THROWS THINGS UP INTO THE AIR UNTIL I KNOW IT'S FOR CERTAIN. BUT THERE’S A LOT OF PLANS I WANT TO EXECUTE AND SEE HAPPEN, BUT IT ALL DEPENDS OF HOW THEY LAND, YA KNOW? I DO WANT TO HIT THE ROAD MORE AND PLAY OUT CITIES I HAVEN’T BEEN TO YET. MORE INTERVIEWS, GET BACK INTO DOING MY RADIO SHOW/PODCAST, AND DROP THIS ALBUM. IN THE MEANTIME, JUST GROWTH IN EVERYTHING.


VALIDATED: ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ADD?

DJ E-CLYPS: YEAH, DON’T LET YOUR INFLUENCE GO TO WASTE. SUPPORT GOOD CAUSES THAT MEAN SOMETHING TO YOU AND CAN DEDICATE YOUR TIME TO. BE ACTIVE IN THINGS THAT HELP BRING ABOUT CHANGES IN THINGS YOUR CARE ABOUT. FOR ME, IT WAS JOINING CAUSES LIKE GIVE A BEAT (GIVEABEAT.ORG) THAT HELP FIGHT AGAINST MASS INCARCERATION AND INJUSTICE. IT’S EASY TO GET CAUGHT UP IN ALL THE HYPE AND FORGET ABOUT THOSE WHO DON’T HAVE THE PLATFORM YOU DO TO INITIATE CHANGE THAT HELPS OTHERS BESIDES YOURSELF. WHEN YOU SEE PEOPLE DOING SOMETHING GOOD, DON’T WAIT UNTIL THEY BLOW UP TO SUPPORT IT, BECAUSE THEY NEED YOU ON THE GROUND FLOOR TO HELP BUILD IT UP TO SOMETHING GREAT. TOO OFTEN PEOPLE FAIL THAT SHOULDN’T HAVE… NOT BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T HAVE THE RIGHT STUFF, IT’S BECAUSE NO ONE WANTED TO SUPPORT THEM IN THE BEGINNING. EVERYONE STARTS SOMEWHERE! LASTLY, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS YOU’RE DOING, DON’T GIVE UP. ALOT OF TIMES THINGS AREN’T GOING TO LOOK LIKE YOU WANT THEM TO, PEOPLE AREN’T ALWAYS GOING TO BELIEVE IN YOU, AND SUCCESS ISN’T ALWAYS OVERNIGHT. SOMETIMES YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO BELIEVE IN YOURSELF WHEN NO ONE ELSE DOES… KEEP GOING. BUT IN THE END, IF YOU GRIND IT OUT IT’LL PAY OFF.