Dancing in the dark: Drezo talks new EP series, hip-hop origins, and disregard for genre tags [Interview]
Heaven is a place in hell for infernal mid-tempo master, Andre Haglund, widely known as Drezo. In recent years, a deliciously dark cloud has swept over electronic music with Lovecraftian non-subtlety—and Drezo has had an integral hand in expediting its unholy arrival. After a lengthy release hiatus, Drezo has begun rolling out a new EP series entitled Omens, which he describes as multi-track emblems of his trademark sound.
“I just want to represent where the heart of my whole entity lies,” Drezo tells Dancing Astronaut of the impending EP. “The dark, gritty club vibe, an atmosphere, really, which is very addicting to some people,” says the LA-based producer.
While Drezo has yet to solidify a day of reckoning for Omens Vol. 1, he has shared the first driving, electro house harbinger of the inaugural EP. The track is aptly named “Afterlife“—fitting for Drezo’s shadowy appeal.
The dramatic nature of the track, says Drezo, is meant to symbolize “a new era” for the seasoned beatmaker; a level-up of sorts. Indeed, the “Guap” producer has eclipsed major benchmarks to earn steady, consistent appearances on the most prestigious billings in the electronic ether, including his explosive appearance at EDC Las Vegas in May.
But before he was sucking souls from high-in-the-sky stage setups and having his cream-of-the-crop cuts played out by the likes of Skrillex, Dillon Francis, Zeds Dead, and a menagerie of other EDM eminence, he was a regular college kid, selling weed, trying to make ends meet. That is, until a cop tipped him off that his operation smelled a little louder than he may have thought.
“I stopped [selling] and the next day I went to Guitar Center and bought all this DJ equipment. I really loved music and just thought ‘Fuck it.'”
Perhaps the magnum opus of DJ genesis stories, if one ever existed.
New to DJing, but open to any and every opportunity, Drezo soon scored himself a small residency DJing eight-hour slots twice per weekend, in addition to, he says, birthday parties, frat functions, and any other conceivable DJ-friendly backdrop—often for little-to-no pay.
“And I was a shit DJ, and kind of just a placeholder,” he says of his most nascent years behind the decks. “But because I did it so much, I learned a lot about structure and mixing, and that’s when I started experimenting with hip-hop and house music.”
The darkness in Drezo’s sound is self-evident. And he’s certainly run with the fire and brimstone branding that his sound seamlessly bred (note the demon orgy-themed live visuals from his most recent tour, compliments of heavily electronically aligned visual artist, Sus Boy). But underneath the beguiling guise and vitriolic live visuals, it’s not hard to see that he’s a hungry, humble fellow from Arizona who just wants to make and mix his house music (laced with a dash of malice for good measure).
“I don’t try to be ‘evil,'” Drezo maintains. “It’s funny because when I make music that’s how it turns out. It’s very tonal—there’s not much melody. It’s very sound design and rhythm-driven. It sounds dark and I just go with it.”
And while his malevolent signature will run rampant on the new EP series, Drezo says he has plans to venture further into aural experimentation in LP format soon, particularly in the hip-hop/G-house arena—a realm wherein a young Haglund took his first sips of experience, in fact. This influence has remained evident in his continued hip-hop hat tips through the length of his career, especially in his early profile-building remix catalog (see: his renditions of iconic rap hallmarks like Nas’ “Made You Look,” Dr. Dre’s “Forgot About Dre,” and Lil Wayne‘s “A Milli”).
While Drezo’s precision in style and form carries weight with him, he says he exercises caution against caustic categorization, specifically in regards to the often dizzying litany of electronic genre nomenclature. And although his sound often varies in tempo, composition, and degree of “darkness” so to speak, he urges that it’s still always “just house music.”
“It’s easy to get caught up in where who stands and with what genre and blah blah blah,” Drezo warns. “You have to remind yourself that we’re all just trying to dance and ask ‘Who really gives a shit?’”
Sage advice from a sharp production talent who has seen electronic music balloon into a global phenomenon and still manages to calculate cautious and precise times to strike. But for the genre purists and even the newcomers alike scoring electronic music’s low-lit locale searching for the right genre tag for “Jaded” or “Ginseng,” the best bet is to probably just shut up and dance like hell. Drezo’s orders.