ORBIT: AMPLIFY Playlist—DJ 4rain [Q&A]
Over the past few weeks, electronic artists have celebrated the musical contributions of black artists by compiling ORBIT: AMPLIFY playlists. The playlists have succinctly spotlit productions from black artists and artists of color that have influenced these artists’ careers, and on a simpler level, kept them moving and grooving.
Following respective ORBIT: AMPLIFY playlists from Whethan, Cuppy, CeCe Rogers, Martin Badder, Loud Luxury, Akira Akira, Anabel Englund, Brando, and Major Lazer‘s Walshy Fire, DJ 4rain curates Dancing Astronaut‘s ORBIT: AMPLIFY Playlist for the week of August 10.
DJ 4rain, born Stephan Tavares, is a French-born, Miami-based DJ and producer whose music is an eclectic blend of Caribbean rhythms, hip-hop beats, and electronic sensibility. His wide range of sonic inspiration is tied directly to his community: the hip-hop music he listens to with his friends, the African music favored by his family, and the EDM and festival-inspired sounds that come from his career. With big-name collaborations alongside the likes of Tory Lanez and Meek Mill already under his belt, Tavares is making a name for himself with his multi-genre approach and his dynamic aural signature.
His 17-track ORBIT: AMPLIFY playlist highlights black artists like Carl Cox, Black Coffee, Idris Elba, and Afro Bros, who have served as Tavares’ personal inspirations. DJ 4rain’s playlist also features ORBIT: AMPLIFY alum, Walshy Fire.
In addition to sharing his ORBIT: AMPLIFY playlist and hinting at a future collaboration with Fire, DJ 4rain talked with Dancing Astronaut about his path to producing, his role in Lanez’s Grammy-nominated track, “LUV,” and finding his calling in music.
How do you get started as a DJ/producer? Was there a specific moment when you knew you were going to go all in and pursue this path?
DJ 4rain: “One of my older brothers was building a lot of events in the South of France. He was making big parties in clubs and warehouses when I was about 15 or 16-years-old. The first time I was there and saw the DJ, I was like, ‘Oh, I want to try this too.’ And every time I went there, I would try [to DJ] before the party started. It just came to me naturally. But the day we worked on Tory Lanez and Meek Mill’s [respective] albums, I think that was the starting point to push it really, really, really hard. I think that was the moment. I studied music because I love music [and dreamed] one day [that] I would be a big producer, but the first time you get something big, it’s like everything becomes different.”
What, specifically, did your involvement with the Grammy-nominated collaboration with Lanez entail? What was your approach to the production process? Does the sound you pursued for this project deviate from the sound for your solo work, or did you have a similar sonic approach?
DJ 4rain: “There were so many producers in the studio. My part was more to do with arrangement, to take all the vocals and the beats and all the stuff that we made together to make the final project ready to mix. It’s different because when you are with a lot of producers, most of the time they come with really, really good ideas that you never think of for yourself. But when I start my own beats, sometimes I’m just outside and I hear something and I’m like, ‘Woah, this could be a really good melody.'”
What did the Grammy nomination for “LUV” mean to you?
DJ 4rain: “It was amazing because a lot of producers have the dream to get this type of nomination. When we received it, it was like, ‘Wow, everything is possible today.’ This was the big change in my career because I was like, ‘Hey, today I was able to do it for Tory, so I’m sure I can do it for myself now.'”
Can you please speak about your experience as a black artist in this industry? Do you have any advice for budding producers of color?
DJ 4rain: “I always worked really hard when I started [in] music. I tried to never be in the studio with anyone who would make me stay behind. They can say, ‘Ok, you’re black,’ but my music will speak for me. I always try to work a lot, that way if someday my color is an issue, the music will speak for itself. Maybe they won’t like me, or will choose someone else, but I’ll do my best for my music. It’s always good competition to be better in doing this work. Good competition, work harder, and don’t let people judge you, but let the music speak for you.”
Make no mistake—dance music is born from black culture. Without black creators, innovators, selectors, and communities, the electronic dance music we hold so dear would simply not exist. In short, dance music is deeply indebted to the global black community and we need to be doing more. Black artists and artists of color have played a profound role in shaping the sound and culture of dance music and now more than ever, it is necessary for everyone in the music community to stand up for the people that have given us so much. Dancing Astronaut pledges to make every effort to be a better ally, a stronger resource, and a more accountable member of the global dance music community. Black Lives Matter—get involved here: