Getting to Know MAKJ at TomorrowWorld
Young, handsome, up-and-coming DJ, MAKJ, is taking the world by storm. At a young age, he retired from the world of car racing and turned his focus to music. His high energy beats and off-the-wall demeanor have quickly brought him worldwide recognition. Snagging a spot at this year’s TomorrowWorld is just another step for MAKJ. Sensible Reason got a chance to chat with this powerhouse at the festival, and we got to know this charming DJ a lot more than expected.
So where did the name MAKJ come from? I know your name is Mackenzie is that what inspired it?
It comes from Mackenzie Johnson. So that’s pretty easy.
Do you consider yourself more of a DJ or a producer?
I would have to say DJ. I started DJing about 10 years ago, and I only started producing about 2 or 3 years ago. So definitely DJ before producttion.
What sets you apart from everyone else?
I feel like I’m able to play a versatile bunch of music. I started out with playing hip-hop. I used to do the DMC Championships, turntablist stuff so I still influence that in my electronic sets. Not a lot of people grew up listening to a lot of turntablist stuff, so it’s really cool to influence that with my electronic stuff.
Is that what you still use on stage, turntables?
No, I wish! The funny thing is we tried getting that for my 2014 rider my technical rider, and the majority of clubs are like “We can’t find these anymore, 1200s.” and everyone’s like “really?!” I know Snake still uses them, but he brings his own. It’s classy it’s like getting those good pair of Nike’s.
I saw Keys N Krates recently, and their turntablist was using real vinyl and I thought that was so cool.
You don’t see that anymore. It’s all CD Jays and Ableton.
You know what, I like CD Jays because you don’t have to think about if someone comes up to you they’re not going to hit the needle. You have to be very protective around 1200s. It’s a moving record box.
So when you make your music at home, do you still use your 1200s?
Yeah, I sample. The funny this is, I’m doing an album here in January and the majority of the stuff that’s coming on the album, a lot of it is from vinyl. There’s a lot of samples that I used from a lot of old vinyl stuff. I’m actually working with a band called Placebo, so that’s super sick. They’re like the most epic 90’s band of all time.
(at this point a go a little fan girl on Mackenzie, being a huge fan of Placebo myself) I love them! That’s really amazing.
So I’m doing a track with them and its been nothing but a fucking experience.
They haven’t come out with anything new recently, have they?
Well they’re coming out with something fresh. I’m really stoked. They’re my Emo jam.
When is that coming out?
Hopefully we find a label to release these new tracks, but early next year for sure. It’s gonna be rad.
So what do you think of TomorrowWorld so far?
I love it. ID&T never fucks around. It’s the epitome of what an EDM festival or dance music festival should to be. They have everything, they have every artist that’s able to play whatever they want. Look where we’re at, we’re at a horse stable that looks like a movie set (referring to the Artist Mansion). I love it. So they don’t fuck around, I think TomorrowWorld is one of the best events. I’ve played almost everywhere and I’m blessed to be able to play everywhere but I’m never disappointed with an ID&T event.
At this point, I unprofessionally stumbled to find the remaining questions I had written down prior to the interview. The questions took a detour and threw me off guard.
Awe, the conversation was going so well! I like it when interviews are just a conversation, I hate set questions.
You’re right, that’s the whole point, just sitting and getting to know someone.
Unlike questions like “What food do you like?”
That can get silly, but I did ask Porn and Chicken what their favorite drunk late night food was. I figured it was fitting, but they surprisingly said Pizza.
Ugh, mine’s tacos.
I also talked to Ryan Moran of Slightly Stoopid about his favorite veg-out-on-the-couch munchie food was. He said popcorn.
Do you know the band Rebelution is? I’m working with them, too. They’re a lot like Slightly Stoopid very reggae, California coast stuff. When I used to smoke a lot of weed I was super into these Fritos, Chile and Lime Fritos, they were amazing. Put some cheese on that shit, the best munchie food of all time.
What’s your favorite thing about being in the music industry?
Meeting people like you! I get to meet so many new people all day, I get to travel all over the world. It’s an experience, I’m only 24 and I’ve been able to travel almost everywhere, that’s basically my favorite part. I love travelling, the more I get to travel and get paid while I travel it’s like hitting the jackpot.
So, what would be the worst part about working in the music industry?
Travelling. [Laughs] It’s like an oxymoron for me. Travelling on planes is by far the worst fucking thing ever.
Do you just not like to fly?
No, I love flying. I’m actually getting my pilot’s license, too. So, I love to fly, but I hate flying with a bunch of random people. It’s very sketchy to me. I can’t go into crowds, it’s so weird I can play in front of 20,000 people but I can’t picture myself walking through crowds. I get really claustrophobic. It’s a little pet peeve of mine. A little mystery thing you want to know about MAKJ, don’t put him in a Porta Potty, he’ll freak out. I get really fucking claustrophobic. I had two older brothers and they used to always pin me down, and that used to get me.
So are you the youngest?
I am the youngest, out of 3.
Are you staying here all weekend?
No, I’m leaving tomorrow, I’m going back home. I got here yesterday from London so I arrived yesterday, slept all day, and then I’m heading back home.
So where is home, where did you grow up?
San Luis Obispo, California. It’s a very small beach town, it’s about 3 hours North of LA. Very small, they have a university there and that’s about it. It’s amazing, it’s super quiet. I can’t wait to go back home, it’s going to be amazing.
Are you going to see anyone this weekend?
Yeah, I really wanted to see Kygo, but he played yesterday. I had a boner jam for that guy. He’s like pool party jams. If he’s ever going to see this, every time I have sex I play his SoundCloud, he’s my sex list. Every time. And that’s like the best quality a DJ could have. If they’re good and they’re also on that sex list. He’s on that MAKJ sex list. So if you’re reading this, I want to meet you and shake your hand, my friend, you are a legend.
Wow, I think that’s all I need. Thank you so much for chatting with me!
It seems as though the best interviews are ones that are the least planned. We got to know MAKJ on a more personal level than anyone I’ve ever interviewed. His ambition, and ability to conquer anything he puts his mind to, is inspiring. A driver, a pilot, a turntablist, and claustrophobic Kygo enthusiast, MAKJ is a versatile musician with many facets. We hope to catch up with him in the next few months as he finishes his new and exciting upcoming projects, and that he gets to shake Kygo’s hand soon.