[Behind The Beat] DJ Fenix Interview; The Russian Man on a Mission
DJ Fenix has been a prominent producer for over 10 years. He’s arguably one of the most successful artists to come out of Moscow, Russia and broke the mainstream barrier with his hit song “I Believe.”
On March 10th, DJ Fenix released his new single “All Around the World”, a collaboration with American rapper Chris Casino that is destined to get EDM fans ready for the summer. After spending most of his career releasing music through his self-found label Say Wow Records, DJ Fenix released “All Around the World” under Carillo Records with the goal of making this song a top ten hit.
For more information on DJ Fenix‘s new hit and getting to know him on a more personal level, here is the exclusive Mix 247 EDM interview:
Q: What artist(s) have been the most influential when it comes to your music?
A: When it comes to my music, I’d like to say that I’m still – and always will be – a student of the game, so to speak. I’m always keeping my ears open to new DJs and producers coming into the game and always referring to the pioneers in the EDM world for inform my sound and develop new takes on my style to push the envelope for myself as an artist. If I had to choose a couple of names that I think are the biggest influences for me, it’d have to be Afrojack and DJ Snake. Their respective sounds are so massive and modern, but at the same time so distinct. I think the nuances in how they approach the musical process are so distinct respectively that hearing their tracks really helps me sort of mold the way I personally evolve and learn. I’d love to collaborate with one (or both) of them one day. That’d be huge!
Q: What was it like trying to make it as an EDM producer in Russia?
A: It wasn’t easy, I could say that much right off the bat. When I first started pursuing EDM some years back, the very concept of this type of music as a genre was very foreign to the country. It didn’t have much mainstream appeal, and so the process of gaining recognition was an uphill battle, especially because the public was really entrenched in a style of music that was heavily influenced by a traditional, melodic structure that depends on vocals to really execute. So, as an up-and-coming artist specializing in EDM – a genre generally conceived to be antithetical to what most people know and are familiar with – it wasn’t easy to forge my own path. BUT…I knew that if I could do it right, I’d be able to make that lack of familiarity work for me by helping to introduce a musical style that could be equally exciting for a new audience. That said, from a business perspective, I’d tell the new generation in my country to create a multi-layered focus for exposure that strives for global recognition instead of solely trying to conquer their own market first.
Q: How did your new hit ‘All Around the World’ come into creation?
A: It’s an interesting story. I met up w/ Chris Casino while touring in various countries throughout 2016. We sparked up a casual conversation about travelling to perform in general, joking about the hectic scheduling and all. One thing led to another and we started sort of brainstorming about whether or not that concept in itself might be an interesting narrative for a track – especially since we’ve talked about collaborating on something in the past – and so, it was sort of a natural fit. Chris suggested that do a song about the subject and the rest is history. Little did we know what started out as a couple of guys doing some light-hearted venting would turn into a huge single to kick off the Summer months this year. We actually did an original, as well as a Dance Club Remix of the track, so you can take your pick when it comes to your preferred variation of the song.
Q: What made you want to collab with Chris Casino?
A: Well, as I mentioned up above, Chris and I have been pretty good friends for a little more than a year now. When we first met though the subject of a collabo came up and as I explained, the convo that sparked the subject matter of All Around the World happened organically. We took it as a sign to get together and record the track. I’m really excited about it and I’m equally psyched that I was able to make this track happen with someone I consider to be a great collaborator and even greater friend.
Q: Did you think your music would have this much mainstream success?
A: Honestly, I can’t say I did. It’s a dicey question though because I think that any one that strikes out in this industry – if you really care about it, and if you crave to get your artistry out into the world – the success should, ideally, come because of your own hard work. I know that sounds very romanticized and maybe even slightly naïve, but I’m an idealist about these things sometimes. That said, I work extremely hard year around, head down in the studio day in and day out (I practically sleep in the studio at this point, haha!). And so, because I’m always looking to enhance myself and evolve the product that I put out I’m extremely excited about the success I’ve seen. I set out to make music I’m proud of though first and foremost. The success is an incredibly welcome and appreciated byproduct of the work. And just to add to this, I couldn’t have gotten to this point on my own. I have a consistently dedicated and determined dream team around me that support me every step of the way. Them and, of course, my fans have contributed to the level of success I’ve achieved. Couldn’t have gotten here without them.
Q: As a kid, what was your original dream? (What did you want to be when you grew up?)
A: Great question! When I was younger, I always wanted to be a guitar player – like one of my main musical idols, Angus Young from AC/DC – in a rock band. Big stage, lead guitar, and my bandmates. That was sort of the vision I had back in the day. So, while I’ve found my home in a different musical genre, I guess technically I’m on my way to fulfilling that dream each and every day.
Q: Where has been your favorite place to perform and why?
A: This is a great question, but unfortunately – and perhaps this is a good problem to have – I can’t say if I have an absolute favorite place to perform. I’ve so many good experiences playing in many clubs and venues around the world. I’ve done parties around the world, but don’t think I’ve necessarily found ‘my favorite place’. There’ve been many highlights, however, such as Ibiza Club in Odessa, Provacateur and Marquee in NYC, and I’m doing a show at NOTO in Philadelphia this May. If I had to pick a country though, I’d say the States has been my favorite to perform in. Tons of unique energy in every venue and state I’ve been too thus far. It’s exciting to see.
Q: While performing, do you notice a difference in how the crowd reacts to your music wherever you perform or does everyone vibe to it in similar ways?
A: Hm. interesting question. I know I touched on this a little bit up top, but honestly, I’ve experienced different levels and types of reactions everywhere I go. I think it all depends on the smaller variables – the venue, the locale, the crowd and overall environment (for example, playing at a festival is a completely different energy than playing at a club venue if that makes sense). But when I play in general, I try to strike a balance. I try to maintain a duality when it comes to interacting and addressing the crowd versus the song that I’m performing. It’s kind of like playing a professional ping-pong game with yourself and those around you. When you hit a rhythm, it becomes this sort of amazing thing to witness and feel. It’s all incredibly organic. It’s really the best ‘high’ in the world for me.
Q: For over 10 years you have been making music as DJ Fenix, what is a goal you would like to accomplish that you have not yet reached?
A: Well, I usually approach this question looking at the short term and then planning onwards. Starting this year, I want 2017 to be about putting the finishing touches on an EP or an album (depending on how things play out). I’m hoping that I’ll get opportunities to collaborate with any one of the legendary DJs/producers that have inspired my career, which would be a dream come true as well. Looking ahead though, I’d love to organize my own tour and really direct and dictate the direction of a big production like that – I feel it’s a natural progression over time, and would give me an outlet for sharing my music with even more people. I’d love to put out a platinum album at one point of my career and perhaps even host more special, private events for select groups of fans. Like an exclusive party of sorts in multiple locales around the globe. Why not, right?
Q: How did you come up with the name «Fenix»?
A: I created the DJ Fenix brand in 2000. At the time, honestly, it was a bit of a commercial decision (a reference to the mythical bird of legend). If you check out any of my shows, you’ll notice that I try to incorporate symbology and iconography that refers to various ethnicities and beliefs that sort of reinforce the concept of the Phoenix (or Fenix in the case of my name). I think, however, the longer I’ve been a part of this industry, the more I’ve found myself connecting with and feeling the spirit of the name become a larger part of me. I, like many artists, have experienced a multitude of ups and downs. Sometimes the “down” can be pretty heavy, but having a name like DJ Fenix sort of reminds me that like the mystical figure, I too need to (and have to) rise up and overcome the obstacles that life throws at me. It’s become more than just a name – it’s become a personal philosophy for me.
Q: How do you go about creating a song? Do you hear a sound and create a beat to it or do you base it off what mood you are in etc.?
A: Well, to be honest, there’s no true science behind it. Like all great artists, I think the essence for new material comes from life experiences, emotions, moods, your environment, etc. So really, I try to pull from all those aspects of my life on a consistent basis when I’m putting together new music. That said, I do also get my inspiration from the sounds I hear on the radio or in a DJ mix. I am and forever will be a student of this genre regardless of the level of success, which means I’m always listening to the new and the old for inspiration. Ultimately though, it comes from my heart and my emotions.
Q: With how difficult the music industry is, what advice would you give to aspiring artists to break in and make a name for themselves?
A: Be yourself, work hard, and consistently keep pushing forward. That’s my advice. This industry is not easy to survive in, let along to thrive in and I think most people can detect bullsh*t in general. So if you’re going to get into this game stay true to yourself and your goals. Work hard. Every day. As much as we all want the success and the perks that come with it, if you don’t care about anything but the fame, it’ll come through in the product you put out there and you’ll fall flat every time.
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