Blending techno with house and electro, DJ Gray, born Jernej Graj, has had a varied career as a DJ and producer, putting out mainstream and independent releases and even starting his own label. Born in Slovenia, he began studying music as a child, attending music school, and this background translated into an interest in DJing and producer.
His first EDM success was getting published on Finnish label FAK Records, and since that point, has put out original releases and remixes on Universal Music, XL Recordings, and many other labels, including his own, Wawaviva Records.
Over email, Crossfadr spoke with DJ Gray about his career, background, and current projects.
Your biography mentions you have a background in music. How did that translate to or influence your DJing/producing career?
DJ Gray: If something fulfills you when you are young, you need to follow that string. I guess I was always surrounded by music. When I was 4, I was singing Steve Wonder and later playing on grandma’s some sort of Harmonium – Synthesizer and listening grandpa’s blues, jazz, and swing collection CDs with him. I also started to learn how to play guitar and drums while attending some music school classes. I think playing instruments and singing in early days helped me get the feel and ears for the music. No school teaches you that.
Why did you decide to start a record label?
DJ Gray: After few releases I had on other labels, I had decided to open my first label called Audionautica, back in 2004, to release more of my current creations. I was already releasing music digitally back then via Trackitdown service, and the digital era wasn’t even so popular as today. After some years, I realized that I want to produce more advanced music than techno, because I’ve always liked the melodies and harmonies more than just looped techno tracks. The mind is tricky here: You follow the superstar DJs and producers when you are young, and how you want to become like them, but you must realize in one time that you need to become yourself, as being a copy of anyone will not help you get anywhere in your career. You need to start listen to yourself and follow no one but you! When I realized that, I focused on my new label called Wawaviva Records, where I release most of my future releases.
Where do you see your label going in the future?
DJ Gray: I’ve always wanted for my label to release fresh, inspiring music from myself and other artists. I released all kind of different house genres, from electro house, hip house, tech house, progressive House to electro swing. The main focus of the label is having fresh ideas and my own vision. I think the best guideline for the dance music of the next generation is music which elevates you to feel better with its high frequency of love within and not the music that tramples you. I will follow this path.
Your tracks have been remixed by several artists already. Who would you like to remix your music?
DJ Gray: I would really like to hear what Daft Punk and Skrillex would do from my latest original production “Love Inside” that I’ve just released.
Who would you like to remix?
DJ Gray: I would like to remix an original major pop or dance artists, as it would be great new personal experience for remixing, and I could share some love to the masses.
Do you have any projects – either new material or remixes – currently in the works?
DJ Gray: On my Wawaviva Records, I just released brand new original house production entitled “Love Inside,” produced in cooperation with the very talented singer and songwriter MMAIO from New York City. This is a different kind of house music with a melody and vocals that is unlike anything you’ve heard recently. I think this is dance music for the next generation, The Beatles of dance. Music that calms you, connects you to the power and frequency of love that is within. I originally composed all instruments by myself. You can check it out on Wawaviva’s soundcloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/wawaviva/sets/dj-gray-feat-mmaio-love-inside
Then, I am having a release of my remix for track “Convict” by Simplu feat. Alex Velea on 3Star Deluxe & Wawaviva. Original track “Convict” was used for soundtrack in The Godmother movie.”
Also, some swing tech house tracks are in the works and are almost finished. I’ll then focus mostly on the style of house I did with “Love Inside,” as this is more original and fresh coming out from me
Has house music’s popularity in the U.S. affected your career, and if so, how?
DJ Gray: Yes, it did. I’ve got opportunities to work with U.S. artists, singers, groups, and labels, which helped me gained more musical experiences and work on more advanced production projects.
What is your current setup live and in the studio?
DJ Gray: My current setup in the studio is Apple iMac 27″ (2.93 i7 Quad Core), pair of Event Tuned Reference TR8 – Studio Monitors, TC Electronic Konnekt 24D – sound card, CME UF8 – Midi controller and Logic Pro software with other plugins. For live DJ performances, I am using 17″ Macbook Pro 2.5 i5, Konnekt 24D – sound card and AKAI APC 40 controller with Ableton Live software.
How has your setup changed during your career?
DJ Gray: I started to produce music on ACID software from Sony on my PC, then Reason with some PC sound card. Later, I produced with Ableton Live and when I bought my first Mac (thanks god), I switched on Logic, which I think is really good in output results. As a DJ, I started to learning how to DJ mix, beat match on some Gemini turntables, back in 1999 and later on Technics 1210 MK2. When digital era started to burst in, I was DJ-ing on Pioneer’s CDJs (800, 1000, 2000) and currently on Macbook Pro with AKAI APC 40 and Ableton Live software. I think it’s not the piece of equipment that makes you DJ, but the energy you output on a gig.
Do you have any gigs coming up, and if so, when and where?
DJ Gray: I have just entered into two of Mixcloud.com competitions for residents DJs in Ibiza and with some more luck, I’ll be packing to Ibiza this year