Exclusive Interview with Khaz by Kostas W.Voulgaris (DJ DragoN)
(This interview was taken on March of 2014 for Generate Project)
Carey Stansfield, otherwise known as Khaz, is certainly an artist for whom music is a constant necessity and means of expression. He has often stated that for him music is a continuous vent of emotion and that if he didn’t happen to have a piece of musical equipment around him he would most likely be scratching feelings on walls with knives as his tools of expression.
Khaz is an American writer, producer and vocalist. He is certainly not an artist that sticks to one certain genre and hit formula as he has crafted music that combines rock, house and progressive as well as pop. One thing that can be said about his music is that no matter the genre, each and every track is emotionally driven.
His need to create and put his feelings into music began when he was 12 years old, playing out tunes on his portable Yamaha keyboard.
This was a sure path to musical creation and expression as he has written hundreds of songs over the years.
In the era of the 90’s he produced three albums under his one man band (called
Purple Fuzzy Love Machine) that were released and stirred a lot of attention, gathering a good amount of fans.
There came a dark period later on that literally drained him of ideas and the drive to create. He states the five year dry spell occurred due to a variety of reasons, some being
bad decisions, bad circumstances in life and a lack of creative juices.
When all seemed lost he took up djing as a means to get inspired and explore new realms of sound which certainly did the trick. This kick started his career in the fullest as it gained him a DJ residency at a grand L A. club with a number of large venues and prestigious gigs to follow.
These past years Khaz has been on an all time production high as he has been producing loads of new material as well as collaborating with well known artists of the dance scene such as Markus Schulz and Boris M.D amongst others.
The sound can be described as progressive house and trance infused with haunting vocals, packed with a somewhat dark yet emotionally driven sound scape.
I am honored to have the rare opportunity of interviewing such a diverse and talented artist.
Question 1: What would you describe as your earliest memory associated with music or a defining incident that drew you towards music?
Musical creation has been a part of me for as far back as I can remember, but I think my earliest memory was when I was around 6 years old. I was given a small Casio keyboard as a gift, and I remember just going around wherever and coming up with cool melodies to go with the generic little beats it had on board. As far as a defining incident, my father was a musician and my mother was very musical as well. Having access to some great records/music on my mom's side, and various music gear including sequencing keyboards on my father's side really helped speed up my development and interest in making music.
Question 2: You have stated that as an artist you are emotionally driven and often pour your feelings and experiences into your music. Is there any track in particular you'd like to mention that is testament to this fact and if so in what way?
I would say one of the most intense songs would be "Cause You Know.” I wrote that song a long time ago when going through a real rough patch with my girlfriend (now wife). I sat down in the dark one night, crazy depressed, three bottles of wine and one day later it was done, production and all. A few years later when I met Markus, he seemed to totally feel the emotion I put into it, so that ended up being the first song I wrote that we ended up collaborating on with his 2nd artist album.
Question 3: We've seen you appear on several collaborations teaming up with esteemed artists. Which has been the most fun to work with and who would you certainly like to work with again?
People may not know this because a lot of the work has been just writer credits on my end, but I work with Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden (Gabriel & Dresden) a bunch. We always have a good time together and get along well in the studio. When they come into town they often swing by for a few days to jam with the vintage analog modular synth. Josh is a mad wizard with that thing, and it’s always such a blast to see what ends up!
Question 4: After working on music for years there came a dark period where your inspiration ran dry and you became absent from the scene for quite some time. What was the spark that ignited the loads of amazing music to follow and which was the track that turned it all around?
Without a doubt, the spark was when I started DJing. I started buying up a ton of vinyl singles, then went out and hit the local clubs. Eventually I had some decent higher profile gigs, and that just made me want to get back into writing/producing my own music again with a vengeance. Around that point making music with computers was just starting to be a reality for the everyday person. I ended up getting really into Propellerhead's Reason right when it came out. Growing up with just hardware and outboard gear I fell in love with that software right away.
The very first track that I wrote using Reason was the track that officially stopped my dry spell. It was called "Sequential Drop," a fun progressive track with an epic (rat-a-tat snare) drop. That track still makes me smile, I can go right back to when I felt it was done, and the feeling that I was in for a fun ride with the years to come.
Question 5: It is true that all your tracks are very special and each one has a certain air about it! Dark Heart Waiting (with Markus Schulz) is a big fave of mine. So haunting and gripping! Could you share the story behind the track?
First off, thanks! It’s always nice to hear that something you created is appreciated by someone else.
The story behind Dark Heart Waiting is a "dark" one for sure… In a nutshell, my father lived a very shady life (which was pretty traumatic for me). I grew up with my mother most of my younger years so I never felt like I was anything like him. As I grew older and started feeling more like a true adult, I started to fear that somehow inside me there were traces of him. And the song was sort of a confession to myself, telling me that I could be a good person regardless of where, or who, I came from. My original version that I wrote a long time back was much darker, slower and pretty heavy. Years later, I had this trance track I was working on, and for some reason I thought it might be cool to see what those vocals would sound like in that new space. I felt it worked, and then I sent that to Markus. He totally dug it, so we then worked on it together and the result is what you know.
I still have deep feelings for that original version, and I might end up putting the original up on my soundcloud page in the future.
Question 6: 2013 is behind us and 2014 is certainly looking like a bright one for the scene so far! What did the past year hold for you?
Let's see, I co-produced a track with Gabriel & Dresden that's scheduled for release soon, and had a few tracks with TyDi in progress as well. The main TyDi track is a vocal one, and the G&D track "Rise Up," is a banging instrumental track that was mainly created using the analog modular synth in my studio. However, most of my music production time was spent working on my first solo album. But to be honest, 2013 was a busy year for me outside of the music realm, I’m a recent dad!
Question 7: It has come to my attention that you are putting together a very promising artist album in the studio! I certainly am waiting to hear what you have in store for our listening pleasure! What can we expect to hear and find within?
Well mainly, I've really been trying to get back to my roots and feeling like a pure musician again not a featuring vocalist, DJ, or dance producer. I’ve got about 4 tracks lined up so far that are pretty solid I think. They range from super chill electronica to EDM, but nothing straight up trance or house. I personally haven't been so stoked with the dance music scene lately, I feel like so much soul and emotion has been stripped away since I came on board over 15 years ago. So, my album is going to reflect that most likely. Very emotional, creative, not following any set guidelines or pattern to make a "DJ friendly" track. If tracks end up getting remixed and club playable that’s fine with me, but I’m not setting out to start with that version.
Question 8: Which gig would you say has stood out as your favorite since the start of your career and for what reason?
I was resident DJ at this super underground club in Hollywood for some time, and that was really fun. CDJs were just coming into the scene, but I was mainly still playing vinyl, and by then my record collection was pretty decent. There were nights where I was seamlessly going back and fourth between progressive trance, progressive house, and breaks, all genres I absolutely love. Sometimes ending up after 4-6 hours or so with a very banging set around 6am to close it out. The vibe was always awesome because all the people that were there were crazy dance music fans! It was so pure and truly magical at times. The main room would be packed with 1000+ people all sharing the same moment.
Question 9: Which country would you like to visit and uplift the public's senses with your performance?
Good question, I’m not really into the gigging scene anymore. Almost, all my life is studio based now, but I think it would be cool to do some crazy event somewhere exotic, like a jungle rave in the Rivera Maya in Mexico, or some permanent daylight party in Iceland.
Question 10: What does 2014 hold for you and what are your plans so far?
I started this little mini project (or more of an idea) this year to help keep the inspiration and creativity flowing while I’m working on the album. Basically, I’ve got like 800 tracks I’ve written just sitting around. Some are really far along and some are just clean demos. I don't feel like they represent what Im doing now, but I really like listening to them as do others close to me. So, the idea was to post 1 unreleased track every week on my soundcloud account (soundcloud.com/khaz). It’s basically a way for me to move on with some older ideas to let in newer ones. “The Way Up,” the first week track, was actually one that I’m planning on having on the album. That way, people could get a taste of what direction I’m going in at this phase of my life. Some are super chill and others are really dancy, but I know down the road, there will be some real gems for people that are into my more trancy stuff.
Question 11: Every artist has his influences and this is often shown in their work. Which artists or musicians do you hold in high esteem?
Well, my deep rooted influences would include, Depeche Mode, The Police, U2, Nine Inch Nails and even Abba, lol. I grew up in the 80s-90s, so I’m really partial to that era. More modern day influences are Apparat, Mode Selektor and their super group Moderat (all of them together). I just love the emotion, technological know how, and overall vibe that their stuff shines through, everything is super tight and seems to flow very organically at the same time. It’s beautiful.
Question 12: If you could choose to work with any artist in the whole music spectrum, who would it be and why?
I would love to sit in with Trent Reznor. His music has always been a part of my life. Would be amazing to just be involved in his workflow and creative methods. Not to mention that his new album is pretty solid.
Question 13: What would you say is your favorite genre to create music for and which would prove an interesting challenge for you?
I'm truly all over the place with that one. I enjoy making banging club tracks as much as I enjoy making an ambient chill out piece. I think that because I’m a little burnt out on the dance scene right now, making just clean and grooving electoronica is where I’m at production wise. A challenge would be to do some crazy dub step track. I like some dub step, usually, the more melody based tracks. I think it would be a new adventure to try and knock out something in the lines of that.
Question 14: I know this may be a question you get a lot but "Khaz" is quite an original artist name. How did you come by it? Does it hold any special significance?
I’ve been going by Khaz for so long now, just about everyone I know at this point calls me that.
When I started DJing I had thought of going by CAS (Carey Alan Stansfield), shortly after finding out there was a Cass (of Cass and Slide). At one of my earliest gigs I was asked by the M.C. what my name was (he was doing the shout outs when DJs came on). I wasn't ready for it and blurted out "CAZ" (to not sound like Cass)! He then started shouting on the mic, "give it up for DJ Taz!!," the whole time I’m yelling "No, CAZ!" (he couldn't hear shit, cause it was too loud, lol). Everyone ended up calling me Taz the rest of the night, so I went home and looked up DJ Taz on the internet. Turned out was a ton of DJ Taz's out there! I started to experiment with how else to say CAZ, and it ended up evolving to Khaz.
So, Khaz = CAS = Carey Alan Stansfield = Me!
Question 15: What is the one thing you would not be able to live without?
I was pretty nomadic in my early life, moving around all over the country and loosing "important" things during moves and what not. In the process, I’ve learned that you can in fact live without anything you once cherished.
That being said, now that I have a 1 year old daughter, I couldn't imagine my life with out her.
(and I would be really sad if the iPhone was never invented) ; )