Another Wanderer Special Edition:
Mixing It Up With DJ Lazy Eyez
While concert venues and night clubs have become veritable echo chambers under a layer of dust, live music is still alive and thriving on the internet.
Many music acts have accepted the sobering reality of life during the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing measures it mandates.
Events that used to take place in front of crowds of hundreds or thousands have since become something only possible with a Wi-Fi connection. Shows are now exclusively and responsibly experienced from the comfort of spectators’ homes, and they are broadcasted from the comfort of the performers’ as well.
Throughout recent months 5280 Geek has covered the evolution of the online streaming live music scene. This week we were privileged to have a conversation with one of Colorado’s premier live music DJs, DJ Lazy Eyez.
DJ Lazy Eyez is the co-host of the weekly live music show The Solution, streaming Friday nights at 8pm on Twitch.
Here’s how the conversation went:
The Wanderer: The music world’s a bit different than it was in February. Tell us about the transition from live sets at the night clubs to your online presence throughout recent months.
DJ Lazy Eyez: When all this went down due to Covid, live stream DJing definitely seemed like the wild west. I think all of us were trying to navigate how to DJ from home.
I remember that first weekend under quarantine, I just turned on Instagram & Facebook Live and went for it. I was surprised that I had like 100 people pop by. It actually felt like I was DJing for people. I knew from there, while the music is most important, DJing on someone’s screen added a whole new visual element.
It really was a natural progression and I was figuring it out weekend by weekend. Once me and Low Key (Lazy’s co-host) decided to keep our party The Solution going every Friday, it felt good. DJing every Friday is what we’ve been doing for over a decade. It’s my release and what I look forward to every week.
I’m fortunate that we usually only play parties we throw and with a crowd that is very much into the music we play. However, I will say that live streaming is different than DJing in person. I am definitely playing less “DJ standards” and reaction records. I’ve never really been forced to play anything I don’t want to. But on the live streams, I’ve really been trying to play new stuff or music that I find interesting.
TW: Your show The Solution is fire! Why not charge for people to attend?
DJLE: Honestly, Low Key and I are fortunately in a position where we are not struggling for funds, at least at the moment, especially in these crazy times.
I think being able to provide a safe space for community and an escape feels like the right thing to do. We’ve always been about the music and community before profits, for better or worse. I like to think that’s part of what makes our parties successful because people know we are authentic and not out to make a quick buck.
TW: You have some of the most unique and entertaining green screens of any show out there right now. They’re absolutely bananas! What inspired you to create such intricate backgrounds for the your sets?
DJLE: Thanks man! Honestly, I think I have an edge because I’ve always had a creative visual side. I grew up wanting to be a comic book artist and film maker. In college, I had a lot of experience designing flyers and websites. So I have a lot of random skills that definitely come together for the green screen. I have some experience in drawing, painting, Photoshop, and video editing that maybe I’ve never really put out there or people knew about. It really is a great opportunity to weave that all into DJing which I’ve never really done before.
Other than that, I think my creativity is sparked by trying to develop themes, to entertain, or to be funny. It’s kind of like of DJing translated into the greenscreen productions. At the end of the day if people laugh, have fun, or say wow then I feel like I did a good job. I’m always making them with the viewer in mind.
TW: How long does it take to prepare for a show between the backgrounds and song selections?
DJLE: That’s a great question. Sometimes those green screens can just come together with the right idea and execution. Sometimes, however, they can take a while based on how intricate I make them. It’s hard to say because sometimes just coming up with the idea and finding the right images can take hours. On average though, I probably spend a few hours a week on the green screen.
It can take a lot. Sometimes it can take more time than getting the music ready, which is why for the month of July I kind of took a break. I don’t want to be so over the top that it takes away from the DJing and music. For a while it did seem like a lot of DJs were tuning in just to see what I was doing. That’s cool, but at the end of the day the music should be first and foremost.
Which goes into your second question, the music part takes up a good amount of time but it’s spread out more throughout my day to day life. I’m not sure if people ever get the amount of time it takes to actually be a DJ.
I have my own process of digging for music. I follow certain radio shows, playlists, and DJs. Mostly I listen to music when I work out in the mornings, driving, or when I go to sleep. I try to screen shot anything that I like and then I spend Thursdays and Fridays downloading the music, organizing it, and figuring out if it’s something I want to play.
Keep in mind that I have a whole other life outside of this—career, wife, dog, friends, and family—so I have to balance everything. I’ve been DJing for two decades now and I’ve learned how to incorporate DJing and music in to my day to day life.
TW: The Solution has blossomed into a show where social justice and philanthropy have become foundational. Let’s start by commending your efforts and thanking you. Scholar’s Unlimited, Darian Simon’s recovery, Bella Joy’s & Elijah McClain’s memorial funds, and Black Girls Smile, are just a few of the causes you guys have funneled donations to. Why do this instead of throwing up a CashApp link like many other DJs are doing and trying to get paid?
DJLE: I think Low Key said it best in his Facebook post “At times, it’s definitely felt tone deaf and especially inconsequential with so much going on right now. Me and DJ Lazy Eyez talked about it a lot and decided that keeping the consistency for the folks who tune in for the community and a healthy distraction/release/etc was an important thing to maintain during such a stressful and uncertain time – so we decided to turn the parties into fundraising efforts to help pay things forward.”
TW: You and LowKey are University of Colorado’s Radio 1190 Basementalism alumns from way back in the early 2000s. How did that transition into The Solution, your Friday night shows?
DJLE: Well, of course Basementalism was where Low Key and I met. I always tell people I went to college to study Political Science but graduated with a PHD in Hip-Hop. Basementalism was a huge part of our lives and where we built the foundation for where we are today. That’s where we made a lot of life long friendships but also really planted the seeds for the networks we have outside of Colorado. I think those skills and friendships helped make The Solution successful. Even though the music wasn’t exactly the same, I once told someone The Solution felt like the real world extension of what Basementalism was on the air in terms of a music community.
TW: Thinking back to Basementalism, that college radio show featured a community of DJs that became a who’s who of Denver and Boulder’s hip hop scene. Many of those same names appear regularly in The Solution’s Twitch show chats. How did you stay connected to all those personalities for all these years?
DJLE: Again that show was super influential in so many people’s lives. It’s a huge part of Colorado hip-hop history. We were all so young and hip-hop connected all of us. I think we stay connected because we all love hip-hop and I think Colorado just breeds good people. We are just fortunate to be a part of a special music scene here in Colorado.
TW: You and DJ Low Key are a vital part of an underground pipeline of DJs all over the country. How’d you get to be so well connected?
DJLE: I know social media and the internet definitely make it easier. I give credit to Low Key because he probably networks and travels more than I do.
While it seems like everyone is a DJ these days, I think there is a certain crop of DJs I personally gravitate towards. I like to think of them as DJs who maybe grew up on the Hip-Hop style of DJing, but now they champion what I just call good music. It’s the Good Music DJs, the ones who love hip-hop, but play a variety of music from Sault to Anderson Paak to a cool house music groove to Burna Boy to some crazy Brassband remix cover song. I think that avenue of DJ is a lot smaller and the ones I’m interested in. You get excited when you come across another good DJ and it feels like a secret club because everyone knows everyone.
TW: Speaking of the secret club, what three DJs don’t we know about right now but should?
DJLE: Ones that you may not know but should? Mixmaster David, Anthony Valadez, and Rebel Foster.
Mixmaster David has this crazy old school Jamaican sound selector style of DJing where he just talks the whole time and gets the party going. It doesn’t work in the world of live streaming, but in a night club setting is perfect. Also, the way he goes from some Atlanta trap music to Soca to Dancehall to other genres is just perfect.
Anthony Valadez is the man when it comes to playing great new music that just has a good vibe to it.
Rebel Foster is this crazy good young DJ out of Philadelphia. I saw him at this bar called Saint Lazarus, definitely off the beaten path and a cash only dive bar. He was crushing it for like the 5 people there on a Tuesday night and I’ve been following him ever since. He was our special guest on The Solution on August 12th.
TW: Do you plan to go back to live shows when it’s safe?
DJLE: Absolutely. But there’s nothing like controlling the crowd and partying with your friends.
TW: What do you miss least about performing at live shows?
DJLE: I don’t miss the annoying pushy random people who make requests. And I’m the guy who is always opening to hear what your request is.
Also I hate carrying and setting up equipment—lol. I’ve been DJing for over two decades and at this point I am over carrying all the equipment.
TW: Will you continue your online footprint once live music is back?
DJLE: I hope live streaming is still a thing and I also hope people will live stream their gigs.
TW: Is there anything I haven’t asked that you’d like to communicate with the 5280 Geek readers?
DJLE: I hope people can give the live stream a try. Throw it up on your smart TV. Put it on a Bluetooth speaker and hang out on your patio. Or put on some headphones and hang out.
Also, don’t be afraid of the chat room and say hi. It sounds weird at first, but the chat room really is part of the live stream experience and you can even make some new friends.
TW: Thanks, DJ Lazy Eyez, for taking some time out to chat with us. We’re looking forward to seeing and hearing more of your live sets on Twitch this and future weekends.
Be sure to follow The Solution on Twitch to get notified whenever the show goes live. You can thank us later.
Thanks for checking out this very special edition of The Wanderer. We were blessed to be able to bring it to everyone.
Until next time we wander. . .Stay geeky!
Written by John Andreula.
Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
John and Kodid will be on the The Solution’s Twitch chat every week. We’re loudmouf13 and leylakodid. Make sure to say hello.
And hit John on Instagram at: JohnAndreulaWritesStuff
Or Kodid at: Leyla.Kodid
#TheWanderer #LiveMusic #ConcertCalendar #GoodMusic #DJLazyEyez #TheSolution #TheDenverSolution #HipHop #DJ #HipHopMusic #LiveShows #Wandering #Music #ListeningTo #Watching #OnlineShows #LiveStreams #Basementalism #Philanthropy #SocialJustice #Denver #Colorado #StayGeeky