When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from Greensboro, N.C., the recent viral TikTok sensation/budding bass talent HEYZ (aka Mike Hayes).
What’s it like where you’re living? How have you spent most of your time? Well, the weather has been super-dope recently, so I’ve been trying to get my tan on a bit. I get pretty pasty and sickly looking in the winter, so I’m trying to get my white-dad bod primed up for the summer. But besides that, it’s pretty solid here in North Carolina. We were locked down for a while last year and things kinda feel like they are getting back to normal now. The bars can stay open until 2 a.m. again. I see a lot more people out day-drinking and just enjoying life again. I spent a lot of my time in lockdown being an idiot on the internet, to be honest. I worked on music and chilled outside a lot in my backyard making TikToks like I’m a 16-year-old girl – but I’m a 29-year-old man.
Did you lose important gigs? Uhhhh, yeah, a few. I was supposed to be direct support for Zeds Dead at World Nightclub in July, and that got canceled. I was really looking forward to that, but I actually used quarantine to magnify my brand and music, so I can come out swinging when shows come back.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? I get my normal little royalty chunks here and there, but it has really been TikTok that has given me a new source of income. I’ve been doing loads of Cameos as well, and I just sold some merch, which has kept me afloat – grateful for that. I’ve learned a lot in the downtime… mainly that it’s possible to keep a “music career” growing, and even expedite that growth, during a time with no shows and few releases. You just gotta get crafty and use social media to your advantage.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? Growing my brand and getting my personality out there has helped tremendously. I’ve certainly solidified my own goofy personality as the main driving factor behind the “HEYZ brand” during this time. But yes… my biggest music release ever is out now on Deadbeats and it’s an EP called “Who Is HEYZ.” I’m mega, super, wicked, hella, yoked stoked for it.
In the studio, what’s your set-up? I actually completely re-did my studio during quarantine – thanks, Cameo money – and I love it. Let me rephrase that: One of my best buddies in the world, Grainger Stewart of Copperline Builders, re-did my entire studio, and I watched and fed him biscuits. It’s like a dual studio/streaming hub, so I have everything set-up perfectly to either write music, stream video games, or stream a DJ set. Ain’t she a beaut? No Deadmau5 studio, but she somethin’.
What’s your creation process in the studio? I take a shower, then put on some comfy pants that have an elastic band – so my stomach fat is nice and relaxed. Then I usually start making cool basses and twisting knobs in software synths until something sounds cool. Find and tweak some nice samples, write some melodies, lay down some beats and just start slappin’ all that ish together. Then I start saturating and compressing and distorting and EQing and just mangling the sounds until they are loud and proud and I have a certified classic A-plus banger.
What’s your typical DJ set-up? I use a Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 all-in-one controller – and a lot of Miller Lite.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? How absolutely special live-music experiences are. I took it for granted before and would blow off going to some shows just to lay around and do nothing. I miss them so much.
Have you done anything online recently? Have you seen any DJ video streams that impressed you? Yeah! I’ve stayed pretty active throughout the last year with consistent DJ sets on Twitch with my “House of HEYZ” series. I also just got into streaming video games and goofing around and doing karaoke on my own Twitch channel. Man, all the Insomniac live-streams at the start of quarantine impressed me, as well as that Slander set out in the desert with those massive snakes that blew fire – insane.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? I’d say just keep yourself really busy and go visit friends, if you’re all vaccinated. Go to outdoor bars and enjoy the spring weather. Try something new you’ve always wanted to try, like gardening or Olympic pole-vaulting or try to beat the world record for holding your breath underwater, just anything you’ve always been interested in and never had the chance/time to do!
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.
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