Everyone Loves Caffeine. Wouldn't You Like a Dose?
Brian, What were your influences like growing up in the electronic scene?
I got hooked in the early 90s. I used to listen to Hard House late night on local CHICAGO radio station mix shows. They would play house and hard house till 5 am. I remember always “attempting ” to fall asleep to the hardest, fastest music. (Mind you that didn’t help my sleep cause out. This is probably what prepped me to stay up all night from the get-go. I have those days to thank me for my late night stamina and prowess …or was it my Ritalin prescription. :).?? On the radio, I was able to hear Bad Boy Bill, Bobby D and even Mr. Euro Dance, DJ Markski. This inspired me go to record stores like Harlem Jamz, Hip House Records, Super Dance and of course, the infamous Gramaphone to find the music I had just heard on the radio. It was at those places where I was able to listen to more European (mainly Dutch and German) artists like Isaac, Scott Project, etc.
How did you get started?
I got into the scene senior year of high school. I sat next to a DJ. (Forgot his name. I’m sure it was lame. Otherwise I would have remembered it. ;)). Since I already listened to the radio and went to record stores, I figured I needed to start DJing. So I started to work at a small kiosk at the mall (mix stand) that was selling bootlegs, mix tapes (yes actual TAPES); and for the progressive, a few CDs. From there, I started making my own “mixes” (if you could call them that) and got my first computer from my guy who I stalked at the mixed tape stand to get a job at “Just Dance.” DJ Z AKA Zaya. From there I learned Cool Edit Pro and attempted making mega mix intros like Bobby D (Google his “Edit Crazy” series. Amazing edits).
I was going to Concordia University for baseball, and decided to quit baseball to turn to music. I then transferred to Illinois State University for the sole purpose to meet the “Mix masters” that DJed there and were on the Chicago radio stations that I listened to as a kid. They would come down to ISU every weekend to play. I handed them a demo and got accepted to mix in the dark dirty basement, which was perfect for me to play my weird, dark and hard “progressive music.” At 18 years old, I was playing on a weekly basis. I dropped out of ISU to go back home to Columbia College in Chicago. I was in tune with the Chicago music feel and made a series of well marketed CAFFEINE CDs that finally ended up at the mix stands with all the other radio & underground DJs.
Eventually my mixes got some recognition because of some clever marketing logo on the covers, which made people listen and of course love. ;) The consensus was great and my mixes and intros spread over the web and YouTube. And here I am.
How did you come up with the name Caffeine?
Back in 98, I was at ISU and had just gotten hired at Varsity Club with all the big Chicago DJs. I was asked what my DJ name was. This being my first promoted and public appearance, I needed a new sweet name. Mind you… Before this, I had names my friends had given me such as Mixin Brian. *laughs* DJ Tayte or Tator (Don’t ask me why. I can only say that the people I was surrounded with weren’t too bright). Anyways, this guy Mike D says “Whats your name to put on the flyers?”“ (which were posted all over campus), and I say ” Caffeine bitch! Can’t you read my shirt.“ And he said, "OK sir.” What really happened while being put on the spot though… I was possibly wearing a Caffeine shirt …maybe… And I said, “Fuck it… Caffeine” (verbatim I think). And there it is!! The mysterious question has been answered! Many of my friends have tried to take credit for naming me. Maybe this story is completely wrong and they may be right, but I don’t remember, honestly. It was like 15 years ago. You remember something that long ago after living a DJs life… Haha
You played in Zero Gravity, etc. How did that differ from your other gigs?
I had to play a lot of dance music when I started out there to “pay dues” by not always playing what I wanted. (*coughbarbiegirlandhiphop*) Back then, I was just coming up and had to earn that peak hour timeslot. I couldn’t just go play my hard, banging’ underground music. I only had a short time doing that thankfully till I took off playing what I wanted when I wanted!! :)
ZG was were I started. I owe them a lot of thanks! But it differed from my other gigs in that it was more of an underground-ish / ravey-ish / clubby-ish where anything went in all forms and manners. ZG evolved to me finally getting to play what I truly love at “Industry” and parties like Progressive Nation. That’s where I gained a lot of credibility and recognition in Chicago
There are many who define you as a ‘progressive pioneer’
Pioneer… Awesome!! However…Progressive was just a local name Chicago clubbers called. The genre wasn’t really a name. To me, “Progressive House” was Sasha and Digweed. So I guess you could call it “Progressive” …Minus the word house…If that makes sense???
Your first two tracks were ‘Dropping Bows’ and ‘Climax. How have your production techniques and sound evolved over time?
Well, Dropping Bows was a track I did with Josh R, now a Mixmaster on B96 Radio Chicago, a big help and mentor of mine. We both loved good, banging’ hard house, and we came up with the remake of an old German techno track “Hocus Pocus,” which we should probably put out and remix. Be on the look out! ;) To this day, it was never released.
Climax was also never released. Mind you, it was Mixin Marc, one of my old school inspirations, now making J-Lo remixes; Tony Too Much AKA Tony Arzadon AKA the Jump Smokers’ producer, and me.
Do you prefer your caffeine in coffee, tea, soda or energy drink?
I never really drank coffee until recently, believe it or not, but now I love all caffeinated products. This would have been a great spot for a nice product placement **Cough** (i.e. Coca Cola, the Red Bull and the 5 hour energies too. Yummmm)
Do you miss the days of Chicago Hard House?
No I don’t. I do appreciate what it has inspired and evolved music to be today though! I appreciate it, but the sounds and full tracks are much better produced today.
When did you first start with hardstyle?
As soon as it was released. Tracks that started me were The Hose - Call it Hardstyle. Scott Project’s remix of Elastique Culture – U. Mauro Picotto was a big influence. There were also some tracks by Isaac that had that offbeat bassline. These tracks were out previous to the official genre name titled “Hardstyle”
How did you meet Leo Of Corson Agency?
Back in 2001, DJ Isaac came to Chicago for his first appearance, and I had the extreme pleasure of showing Roel and Leo his “agent in the making.” At the time, Leo was a shining producer going by the name Dutch Boy ..Eventually the music production and competition for gigs with me got to him, so he decided he would try something more up his alley… ;) And from that day forward, I have been blessed with the best agent money can buy!!
How did you become apart of HDN?
With having such a great agent comes great things such as being apart of such a great team and network of harder style music lovers (aka Hard Dance Nation), working towards one goal to spread the most bad ass type of music known to man!
Are you a sex addict because your songs mostly involve some sort of sexual reference?
UMMMMMM… I grew up listening to booty house like DJ Funk and hard house that sampled dirty fucking vocals laughs. So I have no comment on that except that sex sells, right?
How do you see hardstyle in the states?
I see it evolving right at the proper rate right behind the Dutch and Italians who have pioneered the sound and style. You know… We in America do everything Europe does months later, but seriously… It’s great to see hardstyle finally getting recognized and played across America. It’s a dream that is coming to fruition. The underground hard styles are now coming up for their chance to romance. I just made that line up! Booom!!
What was your influence that led you to where you are right now?
My influence that led me here was my brain’s taste in music – what it likes and doesn’t like. Can’t really explain it.
What is your taste of music like (outside of hardstyle)?
Jump, bounce, banging’ electro, dirty dutch, maybe a dubstep track here and there. Anything that is harder dance music.
On the hardstyle side, I’ve got a collaboration with Crisis Era that’s going to be finished …again… this week. ;) An anthem type track with UKR Hardstylers called “The Decision”. Just had a Hard house Mash-up “Biitches and Hoes in my nose”(what a great mash-up title that was). It was played at Decibel 2012 by DJ Ruthless and is up for free download on www.soundcloud.com/djcaffeine (you can get lots of free mixes and tracks I did there) I also have some tracks with the old hard house feel coming out on my label Sick Recordings. Be sure to click my twitter links!
I have give love to Hard Dance Nation for the great job they are doing spreading the hard dance music across this great America. ”Like“ my www.facebook.com/djcaffeine page. Follow me on twitter, and if you do, PLEASE SHARE the tweets of free music. It’s the only way we will grow and expand this beautiful hard music! Also ALL my OLD mix CDs (that I referred to earlier), some shirts and cool gear should be up on DJCaffeine.com soon. I promise! It has been years in the making and will be worth the wait!
Connect with DJ Caffeine:
Listen to DJ Caffeine’s Music:
Podcast: Soundcloud / iTunes
Interview by Bryan Friedman (email@example.com)