12 Questions: DJ EFN
Sometimes random connections happen, either online or in person or at a show, that remind fans of hip hop just how small these underground circles can be. Such is the story of how we got put on to DJ EFN – a hardworking DJ known for his mixtapes and love for music. His new album, Another Time is out now via iTunes and Redefinition Records and is EFN’s first studio album after over two impressive decades of DJing, creating mixtapes and managing other artists.
- Introduce yourself – your name, where you’re from & where you’re at now.
My name DJ EFN, I was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up and currently live in Miami, Florida.
- When did it hit you that you identify with being a DJ/producer/artist?
In the late 80’s seeing DJs like Jam Master Jay, Terminator X, DJ Yella and Dr. Dre, Jazzy Jeff and Eric B inspired me to be a DJ.
- How did you get your start?
I really wanted to make mixtapes so before I could afford turntables I did Pause Tapes which was recorded using two tape decks using the pitch and pause button to create a mix feel. In 1993, I established my company Crazy Hood Productions and went on to get my first turntables, at which point I started to consistently put out quality mixtapes. Since there wasn’t anyone in Miami really putting out mixtapes on a consistent basis I began to stand out and was able to make a name for myself and my company through the mixtapes.
- Tell us a bit about yourself and your creative processes. What does your favorite environment to begin writing new lyrics or working on a new track or mixtape look like?
I will speak on the process of my most recent project which was my album Another Time, which is my first studio album. I can say I have very clear and stubborn musical tastes so I start out by picking out the production which is usually from one of my in house producers like Big Drain and BeatsNdaHood. Then the beat usually gives me a vibe for the subject matter which in turn helps me think of what artist would not only sound good on the beat but can most likely cover the subject matter which I feel the beat calls for. I like pairing up artists, especially artists not usually thought to be on the same track or that haven’t been on tracks together yet. I don’t just throw people together for the sake of saying I did but I really like to think about why and what artist would sound good together therefore complimenting each other.
- When does a new song or mixtape feel finished to you?
Again, referring back to my latest project Another Time I can say that once I felt I had covered all the elements I originally intended on covering then I knew it was done. For example, I had 18 tracks completed for my album and was past our internal deadline for completion but that being so I still felt like I was missing something I wanted and felt the album needed. Against my better urges to just finish what was already an accomplished 18 (20 with skits) album I decided to satisfy my urge to create that track which I felt would truly complete the album. That track ended up being one of my favorite songs on the project. The track is called “Revolutionary Ride Music” featuring Your Old Droog, Royce da 5’9, O.C. and Reks and is produced by the legendary Buckwild (Biggie, Big L, DITC).
- What helps inspire your music?
I am inspired by the past but try to create music for the now.
- What advice has really stuck with you and what was the source?
I have learned so much in my 20+ years of doing this but I guess one thing that really stuck was something KRS ONE had said about being creative in which you take something from all the people that you look up to or that inspire you and from that you create your own style.
- Fill us in about your latest project.
Like I had mentioned previously my most recent project is titled Another Time and is my first studio album. Unlike my mixtapes this is an all original album in which I meticulously and very methodically put together every song. The project is meant to embody all my musical morals and pay homage to my mixtape past as well as the era and scene which I started my career in.
- Share a memorable experience you had solely through music? Where has your music taken you?
Honestly there are so many memorable experiences and moments but I guess most recently when I celebrated my album release in Miami and had Redman as the headline performance. Redman is one of my all time favorite MC’s and to have him at my album release, then to have him give a killer performance and then to top it off have him really love and appreciate my project (which he is on) is just an amazing feeling. Nothing better than to be appreciated and acknowledged by your peers and one that you look up to and consider an icon within the culture.
And as far as where the music is taking me. I can say the music is taking me all over the world. I have a documentary series which I am developing in which I travel to other countries and explore the country through their hip hop scene. The series is called Coming Home and started with myself and my artist Garcia traveling to our ancestral home of Cuba hence the name – Coming Home. We have since filmed in Peru and Haiti and all three can be seen on Puff Daddy’s Revolt TV network. We plan on going to Asia and the middle east in the near future.
- What are you listening to right now?
I am always listening to 90s hip hop, but in terms of newer artists, I am listening to Kendrick Lamar, Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$, Gunplay, Meek Mill, Denzel Curry, Schoolboy Q and my own artists like Heckler, and ¡Mayday! whom I manage. I like music in general so depending on the days mood I can be listening to reggae, Frank Sinatra, 60s rock, 80s pop, etc..
- Who are your top 5 artists, either visually or musically these days?
5 of the artist/groups that have inspired me the most over the years. In no order.. NWA, Public Enemy, Wu-Tang, Ice Cube, and Outkast.
- If you can pick any artist or photographer to put together your album art, who would it be and why?
I already have one of the best and that is Skam2? whom I have worked with since the late 90s. He created my company’s mascot and several of our album covers including my recent album. For those that don’t know of Skam2? he is also responsible for the artwork in Eminem’s Slim Shady LP and Tribe Called Quest’s Beats Rhymes and Life and many others.
Since this is 12oz Prophet, I would like to shout out my homie DEED who had put me on to 12oz Prophet back in the day, Trek6 and the entire STV crew and the legendary Dr. Revolt whom I recently had the pleasure to work with.
Album artwork by Skam2? and photo by DJ Dank.