8 Creative Questions is an ongoing series of interviews with everyday creative artists.
Today’s artist is DJ Chris Brown.
Chris, would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Chris and I’m a professional DJ. I go by DJ Chris Brown (No relation)
Thank you, Chris.
DDM: Where are you from?
DJ Chris Brown: I’m from the suburbs of Chicago. More specifically Carol Stream, IL.
DDM: What does “being creative” mean to you?
DJ Chris Brown: Being creative has many definitions to me. But most importantly it’s thinking outside the box. Take ideas outside of the normal lines of thinking. In my line of work, that could be taking an idea and flipping it to make something familiar but new. But, it could also be making an original “work of art” i.e. a beat or melody.
DDM: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating music was something you absolutely had to do?
DJ Chris Brown: I cannot remember a time when music didn’t fascinate me… When I was young, I would listen to the radio religiously. I loved hearing my favorite DJs on B96 and 107.5 (the local radio stations). When I heard mixes that I loved, I’d scramble to find a blank take, or an old tape that I didn’t mind recording over so I could go back and listen to the mix over and over again! I got my first taste of actually creating music from my PlayStation… There was a game called MTV music generator… Look it up! It changed my fucking life…
DDM: What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
DJ Chris Brown:It depends. If I go into a project with an idea of what I want to accomplish, I can sit down and work it out in Ableton, or I could figure out a routine to perform live on my turntables. That takes me no time at all… However, if I go into the day saying “I wanna create something new today,” It is not such a cut and dry process. I could spend hours looking for a song or sample to inspire some kind of jumping off point. I cannot make a mixtape or a routine without a proper introduction to set a tone for the rest of the project.
DDM: What’s your favorite mix you’ve ever created?
DJ Chris Brown: That’s a tough one… I am my own biggest fan and toughest critic. When I’m riding around, 90% of the time I’m listening to my own mixes. The mix that I guess I’ve been vibing to the most lately is probably my “Jodi Feels” mix. It’s a mix of Hip hop and dope soulful trippy beats. Features a lot of Drake and Mura Masa. Every time I listen to it, it takes me to another space.
DDM: What are you trying to communicate with your music?
DJ Chris Brown: Each project has a different story. “Jodi Feels” is in my Trippy mix series, they are wavy mixes that are based on love and relationships. I have 2 “Born Jamerican” mixes, they focus on my musical background and my heritage. I have 2 “Outta My mind” mixes, It’s a mix of some of the craziest things I could put together. Sort of a challenge to myself. And ant mix I do for DJ City is me telling the listener “Look how dope I am” using music that everyone knows and can understand.
DDM: Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
DJ Chris Brown: There’s a few. I took a single theater class when I was in college. It was called “Sound for Theater.” The class focused on the concept creating sound for scenes in theater and in movies. Think of what actually makes a horror movie scary. If you go to a theater to see a horror movie, you would still get chills and feel the anxiety of the movie even if your eyes were closed the whole time. That’s good sound design. I would love to try my hand at actual professional sound design! I also used to paint when I was younger, but I wasn’t great at it. I have terrible penmanship, but I can still see the things I would like to create. I would like to start making physical art to share with others. I haven’t figured out how yet tho.
DDM: What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?
DJ Chris Brown: Every great DJ that I’ve ever heard speak on creativity talks about the importance of practice and really immersing yourself in the culture. DJing is a multifaceted job. To be good/respected you need to be technical in your mixing and scratching. The more technical you are, the more patterns you can create. But you also need to know the history of the music you’re playing. Knowing your music allows you to make connections to other songs that your crowd may not have ever known. Those two skills will have your crowd and other DJs saying “Wow!”
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