Personal Experiences and the Daily Grind
Where’d the name come from?
jRiZzz was given to me by a friend in Ione, CA where I lived for 12 years on the North Shore of Lake Camanche. My original DJ name when I started out in the late 1990s and throughout the MySpace world was “DJ Are.” I made the switch to jRiZzz to mark a turning point in my life: my focus was no longer making myself famous, instead I was going to focus on getting paid for what I like to do while being able to be a good father to my son. That meant no more parties or DJing because all my attention was going to be put into the lab.
What turned you from a listener to a creator?
When I was young, I attended many raves and started spinning Drum & Bass at parties in Sacramento and the Bay Area. My father introduced me to Fruity Loops (FL) Version One at about the same time and it just sort of snowballed from there.
What are some of the landmark moments in your career so far?
In 2015, I sold over 250 beats exclusively to hip-hop artists online. I was constantly working in the studio so the whole year was just a blur of constant production.
How do you manage all your musical involvement with your family responsibilities?
I'm a single father of a son who also shares a deep love for music. He’s also a musician and enjoys being in the lab with me. Being self-employed means that you’ve got to invest almost all of your time into the work if you want to be successful. Dedication is key to making it all work out for you. There’s a lot of multitasking and late nights which means there’s not a lot of extra time for anything but my son and the hustle.
What are some of the craziest interactions you’ve had when networking?
Somehow, I got into helping people monetize their PornHub accounts… So that would definitely be at the top of my chart as far as weirdest things go.
What is one of your craziest memories with the music scene?
There are so many crazy moments but I'd have to say that most of them took place at the International Rave Center in Oakland, CA AKA Home Base. In 2001, I was at a rave that got shut down and I ended up outside in freezing cold downtown Oakland wearing only my boxers and body paint.
What happened was that the venue was jam-packed which made the place feel like a swamp. Naturally I just stripped down to my boxers and the next thing you know a couple of girls are up on me splashing around their glow paint. I guess they saw me as an empty canvas, but I definitely don’t mind getting my body painted by a few girls having some fun!
Fast forward back to the aftermath, I had completely split from my group with no way of getting back in contact with them (keep in mind it was 2001 technology we were working with) so there was me and about twenty-five thousand other people wandering around the cold-ass streets of Oakland just waiting around for our rides to come. Mine took about five hours.
You recently included this list of hustles you’re currently into, how would you rank them in terms of personal enjoyment? Which of these would your younger self be most shocked about and why? What’s your next hustle going to be?
These are more than enough to keep me busy all day. I’ve done my research so that I made sure to get involved in all the key points to owning a successful label. It’s all about fostering growth from all angles.
What are you looking to improve, either in yourself, your business, or your music?
Nothing specific since there’s many things I can always improve upon. Most of the improvement revolve around my habits and making the most of my time. The most important thing to me is becoming aware of any bad habits that I’m forming and work to correct my routine accordingly. Of course, it’s not like I’m flipping a switch to fix my bad habits because it takes some serious reflection and control to make these sort of life changes. As far as the work goes, if someone points out a more efficient way to do something, I’ll always jump on the opportunity to maximize my returns.
What’s the most tedious part of your life?
The whole thing! The work and music LOL! I do it every day (bro). I don’t take days off and when you’re self-employed you’ve got to get what you can so I know I have years of sleepless nights ahead of me. Not to even mention how many I’ve had to get to where I am today.
How do you keep your head in the game with all that you’ve got going on?
I never take my head out of the game. I live, I sleep, and I eat. You have to be focused if you want to be in this for real.
Business and Soundcloud Promotion
Where is the money to be made in the EDM scene these days?
It’s still all in DJing and live performances.
Any tips for people just starting their own Soundcloud network?
Get out there and talk to people and make those connections either through Facebook groups, chatrooms, or even over the phone if you have to. Human interaction is the best type of networking.
How did you go about amassing your massive Soundcloud connections and repost partners?
Networking. I just talk to label owners all day and we exchange advice and help each other grow.
Spotify, Soundcloud, Beatport, or YouTube?
Soundcloud is definitely my personal favorite but I believe they’re all equally important. A successful network focuses on more than just one platform in order to reach the biggest possible audience. Every listener has their own favorite platform so in a sense you’ve got to go to them and make your music available everywhere.
You’ve fostered a lot of talent, but I’m sure not all of them make it; what do you think are some common pitfalls that new artists may not be expecting? What advice would you give to avoid falling out?
Be consistent in your growth as an artist and keep up your work at a steady pace.
What's the hot genre on the rise these days?
I think that hybrid style trap music will take its place in the world of gaming, film and television in the years to come because I’ve seen more companies buying up my own hybrid trap demos for their productions. It may die out on the festival scene but I believe it has major potential in those other areas. I also think you will start to see more styles of trap sub genres.
Genre that will never go away?
Hip-Hop/Rap, Rock, and Country. They’ve always been the leaders in the mainstream charts and you see its influence everywhere in EDM as well.
Bad trends in the demos you receive these days?
Music that isn’t mix or mastered properly is the absolute worst. It’s so easy to go on YouTube and watch a tutorial on how to do this in any DAW and people still send me unmastered tracks. People that record vocals on their iPhone are pretty bad too.
Genre that’s popular right now but really shouldn’t be?
Any music that has evolved from Xanax and opioid abuse. This is not the message we should be pushing out to our youth and I’m sick and tired of hearing about people dying from overdosing. Drug use and music have gone hand in hand since Rock n’ Roll but the hard drug use talked about in these new songs usually has been relegated to the underground scene. But now that more and more people can relate to this type of drug use, this type of music has been making its way into the mainstream, compounding the issue and continuing the cycle.
Artist that you’re most guilty about liking?
Lil Peep. I know I just told you I’m not about that sort of message for our youth and he just died from a Xanax overdose recently, but you did ask about guilty tracks! I just can’t help but vibe to his tracks. It’s a real shame that he passed away but I hope it sends a message out to all of the young artists about the dangers of using and glorifying prescription drugs.
Same as my life motto, Go Hard!
Best qualities to have in this game?
Patience and a disciplined work ethic.
Anyone you want to call out on their shit?
Nah man, I drive in my own lane and don’t got time for hate. It’s all about the love with me.
Anyone you want to call out for being awesome?
Sure! Vinny Fergs, he's my networking partner. All this would not have been possible if the two of us never met. We work together like bearings and a wheel.
What are you most proud of?
My son. He's literally a genius and gets awards from his schools all the time. He actually received a letter from the President for being in the top 3 percent of students in the entire district.
Check out more of what jRiZzz is upto!
Editor's Note: Thank you so much to JR Wagner for being the first interview up on this site! He's one of the most kind and generous guys I've ever come across in the business and it was an honor to get to know him better. So please go check out everything he's up to and always hit him up if you need any extra promotion!
Conducted by: Chris W. Lao
DJ, writer, and student
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