Behind the Beat: Getting to know PAZ at Decadence Music Festival
We had the opportunity to interview PAZ after his set at Decadence New Year’s Eve Music Festival in Arizona. It was late and had gotten cold. We met up with PAZ at the Media Tent as he finished another interview. In the distance, the bass from one of the other DJs was kicking and people were dancing. We quickly learned how funny PAZ is, so we asked him about that.
US: How important is having a sense of humor and having fun to you while you DJ?
PAZ: Having fun is one of the most important things. I’ve been going to raves for a long time. When I’m at a rave, watching a DJ play, I always get more energized when I see them having fun. I hate seeing a DJ who’s just moping around, hitting a button, and, like, turning around and talking to a girl. I was like, “God, just be into it!” There’s so many people that want to have fun. I saw an interview with Nelly Furtado and she said “The artist sets the tone on the stage. If we’re not having the most fun, how can we expect anyone to have fun with us?” I was like, “that is exactly how it should be.”
We told him that we saw that during his set, people really got into it. Everyone was dancing and jumping. He told us he probably was having the most fun and that he loves playing. “I think the crowd vibes off that.”
US: At the beginning of the set you said to mosh every time you hear “Sk8er Boi.” Then you follow up later with some Avril Lavigne…
PAZ: There are three Avril Lavigne songs in the set. I don’t know if you noticed that. You really sneak them in. The show starts with Avril Lavigne, which really sets the tone. Like, “Here’s what you should expect.” Then “Complicated” just weaves in there. It sneaks in, which is key. You have to sneak it in sometimes, you can’t just bang it in. You just gotta woop, woop. Here, PAZ makes some hand gestures to accentuate. “Woop” is the word.
The “Sk8er Boi” mosh pit… I don’t even know how that started, to be honest. I think I was tweeting about it before EDC, hyping it up, like “Yo, we’re going to have a Sk8er Boi mosh pit.” Everyone was like “What?” and I was like “Sk8er Boi mosh pit, Sk8er Boi mosh pit, Sk8er Boi mosh pit.” It’s like, the more you say something the more you will it to happen.
US: Your new single, “Taco Bae.” We want to know about that. Where did that idea come from?
PAZ: That’s a really good question. It came from two places. One, I was in the studio working on the song and I really wanted to make a good Bass House track. I love Bass House and I hadn’t made a track like that. But I wanted to make a Bass House song with a melody, because I haven’t heard many that you could hum. As I was humming the melody I said out loud “who’s my taco bae?” I don’t know why. I said it and I was like “and that’s the song.”
A friend of mine was in the room at the time and he looked at me like “are you fucking kidding me?” I was like “I’m not kidding.” And then I justified it to myself: This is perfect, now I have a song to play when I throw tacos. So those two things came together. And I think people connect to it on a deep spiritual level. He laughs. People vibe with the “Taco Bae” lifestyle.
US: You’ve had a bunch of new singles come out, do you have an album coming for us?
PAZ: I have a bunch of new singles coming out. He laughs. I feel like I work better, lately anyway, in individual thoughts. So, I’m like, I wanna make this kind of song, I wanna make this kind of song. I have a very short attention span. I have a future bass song coming out that I’m really happy with. It came together really well. It has a really strong melody. I love that in all of the songs I make. I really love melody. I feel like every song that I hear when I’m at a show, my favorite part is singing the melody or hearing everyone all together singing it. I want to make songs that people want to sing along to.
US: You want to be able to fade out the melody and everyone is singing?
PAZ: That is the best. There’s a handful of songs where everybody knows the beat, everyone knows the melody and you can turn it off and you can just hear everybody go (he sings) “bah bah bah bah babah bah bah” and you’re like that is the best shit. Ever.
US: Speaking of fun songs names like “Taco Bae”… “Diplo Tears”?
PAZ: He laughs. I don’t even know anymore, man. The original title of this song was “Prom Night with Diplo.” Cause I was just thinking “how ridiculous would that be?” And that was the concept, initially. And then, if you look at the album art, it is literally me and Diplo going to Prom. Which no one ever really picks up on. I shared the title with some friends and they all thought it was a collab with me and Diplo. They were like, oh, “Prom Night (With Diplo).” And I’m like “no, no, no, no, no…” That did not happen. I should not call it that. Then I was like: “I’ve never seen Diplo cry.” I bet, if he cried, this is kind of what it would sound like.
US: Are you planning a tour?
PAZ: Yes, I am. I’m planning a tour for this coming summer. I don’t know the cities yet. I’m kind of out of this equation. He laughs. Turns out the DJs don’t really decide. You go where the people that really listen to you are. Turns out that makes sense. But I’m down to play anywhere.
US: Where is your dream place to play?
PAZ: EDC was my dream place to play. I got to play there for the first time this year. That was life changing, man. You go to a festival for a long enough time and you look up at the stages and I think every aspiring producer has the same thought running through their head: “I wanna be on that stage someday.” If you think that to yourself enough times, it becomes a very distant, unreachable goal.
And then all of a sudden, you’re up there. It’s the most surreal thing on the planet cause you’ve been on the other side. When I played this last year, I was on a stage that I had been watching at the year before and I could see the spot that I had been standing, right by the smoothie stand. I was like, I was literally right there exactly a year ago. It was the coolest feeling on earth.
US: On your Facebook, your influences are listed as fictional and nonfictional accounts of karate tournaments. (PAZ chimes in saying, “This is true”). All joking aside, what are your influences?
PAZ: He laughs. That’s a great question. I know a lot of people say, “all kinds of music.” I really do listen to all kinds of stuff. Everything from country to, obviously, other EDM. Growing up, I had a friend’s older brother who had a lot of Sublime records. They weren’t records, they were MP3s. He laughs. I listened to a lot of Sublime, a lot of Hip Hop. I used to not like Deep House so much, but I went to Burning Man, and now I like Deep House. It turns out that happens, you go to Burning Man and all of a sudden you like Deep House.
Other musical influences? Pop Music. Avril Lavigne songs kinda take me back. I think all the songs in [my] set kind of seem like they might be goofy. Like “Sk8er Boi,” obviously, or like Soulja Boy or Spongebob… These songs, I’m not really putting them in there as jokes, they’re really like nostalgia triggers, you know?
Nostalgia is one of the strongest triggers of emotion. And when you hear a song it can literally transfer you very instantly and very powerfully to a moment in your life. You hear that song, you hear Spongebob, and you’re instantly a kid again. And you can see it in the crowd. It could be a head banger or a techno snob, they all watched Spongebob. And you can just see this magical moment where all the people in the crowd, for that split second, are connected. Looking out into the crowd and seeing the hardest dubstep guy singing [Avril Lavigne’s] “Complicated” at the top of his lungs… No better feeling.
US: We know you’ve worked with artists like Crywolf… who do you think would be the most fun to collaborate with?
PAZ: I don’t want to sound too cheesy on this one but, going back in time… If Mozart knew what electronic music was, he’d be a DJ. I thoroughly believe this. Have you seen the movie Amadeus?
US: Yes, that’s a fantastic movie.
PAZ: I love that movie. Amadeus Mozart was about this life. He motions around. He was about this version of that life back then. Mozart was like, “how extreme is a rock star, man?” He was in the salon getting down with the king’s court. That’s who he was. He would totally be a DJ. And he would be producing the most amazing music. He would be pretty fun to collaborate with.
US: I think that may be the best answer I am ever going to get from that question.
PAZ: He laughs. I think that would be a legit collab right there. I don’t know what we’d call that song. It would be quite sophisticated, I guarantee it. He would not let me call it “Taco Bae,” there’s no chance.
US: The stage you played on today, later in the day, was graced by Duke Dumont, ZHU, and Tchami. How does it feel to perform on the same stage as them?
PAZ: Awesome as fuck, man. It was like so awesome. I cannot describe to you the degree of awesomeness. It’s just so sick. I mean, being a raver, having gone to these guys shows and now being on the stage that they’re going to be on… How does it get better than this, man? Going back to EDC, finally being in the place you’ve always wanted to be, is that moment of realizing… maybe not that you’ve made it, but that you’ve achieved something you’ve always wanted to achieve. It’s such a good feeling.
I always put a lot of time into planning my sets. But that EDC set, I must’ve put a thousand hours into that set. I locked myself in a room for a month. I’m super OCD, I was literally trying to make the best set. I knew it wasn’t achievable, but I’m going to go there trying to play the best set. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go try to compete with everybody else that I’ve loved. I made sure every song’s key matched perfectly. I auditioned like 80 songs for the right drop after “Sk8er Boi.” What song slides best into “Complicated?”
A lot of effort, it turns out, is worth it. As a raver, I totally appreciate it. You can tell when a DJ puts in the work. I always thought that if I got to perform on one of these stages, I don’t ever want to let somebody down. They came to see me, I want to play the absolute best set I can. I want people to leave saying “I got to see that guy.”
And with that we concluded our interview with PAZ. He posed for a few photos with us, showing off his taco bling. He was a cool, funny, and interesting guy and we definitely look forward to when we get to see him play next.