Er ist meiner Meinung nach einer der heißesten Acts in den Staaten: Jez Dior! Gerade kam seine „Youthanasia“-EP raus und mit den Singles „Forever“ sowie „Loved You First“ ist er in meiner Liste der am meisten gespielten Songs dieses Jahr ganz vorne dabei.
Nach seinem verrückten Gig im Moondoo im Rahmen des Reeperbahn Festivals durfte ich mit dem Künstler sprechen. Mein Begleiter Babak und ich wurden zunächst von einem zuvorkommenden Label-Menschen in den Backstage-Bereich geführt, wo wir vom Künstler höchstpersönlich einen Jack Daniels mit Pepsi Light überreicht bekamen. Natürlich stilecht im Plastikbecher.
Plötzlich waren wir auch schon mitten im Gespräch. Wir lümmelten uns noch schnell auf eine Couch in der hinteren Ecke und quatschen zunächst über Kanye West. Jez, der sich selbst als riesigen Fan betitelte, trug sowohl Hoodie, als auch T-Shirt aus der aktuellen „The Life of Pablo“-Merch-Kollektion. Es stellte sich heraus, dass er auf jeder Kanye-West-Tour war, außer der ersten zum „College Dropout“-Album.
Ich versuchte ein wenig Struktur in das Gespräch zu bringen und fragte nach seiner Verbindung zu Europa.
Jez Dior: I’ve come here when I was younger, but I haven’t ever played here. My dad is English so he has lived here for forever. He lived in the States till I was like 11 or so and then came back over here. I visited my family when I was a kid, but it’s my first time ever playing here, and my first time ever being here in, like, 18, 20 years.
Do you like Europe?
I am a massive football fan!
Football or soccer?
I can’t stand to call it “soccer”… I grew up in a pub with my dad and all his English friends and they called it football, so that’s all I know. I am a massive fan, so to come over to Europe was always like a dream of mine, whether its playing music or not. I am so happy being here. It’s amazing to see the culture.
What’s the biggest difference between Europe and the United States in your opinion?
It’s a crazy time. I was here in a hotel last night in Hamburg and at 3 AM we were turning on CNN and another black man has been shot in America by the police. These riots going on in North Carolina. It upsets me what is going on there so much. Many black friends are so scared to go around the police. That is a huge difference! To see people that actually want to vote for fucking Donald Trump makes me so angry…
But other than that, I can walk down the street with my Jack Daniels here, that’s amazing. I get arrested for that back home. The people here are so nice, everyone is so welcoming. I like it here! I really, really do.
Besides, do you have a favorite soccer team?
Forza Inter! Inter Milano. I am a massive fan since I was 5 years old. I have “Fuck AC” tattooed on my lips. AC Milano, I hate them. Massive football fan, massive Milano fan till the day I die. That’s my team. I will get the crest tattooed on my heart. I am an Ultra bro!
Nochmal auf Fußball zurückzukommen war vermutlich ein Fehler. Mein Partner in crime, Babak, und Jez haben ihr Thema gefunden und bleiben dabei. Das mit dem Tattoo auf der Innenseite der Lippe stimmt übrigens. Immerhin kommt noch die eine oder andere Anekdote dabei rum. Zum Beispiel, wie der 92er-Jahrgang überhaupt Inter-Fan geworden ist. Als sechsjähriger sah er 1998 die WM in Frankreich und war fasziniert von Ronaldo („not Christian, the original“), der damals bei Inter Mailand spielte.
Heutzutage trifft sich seine gesamt Crew am Wochenende bei ihm zu Hause, um zu trinken und europäischen Fußball zu schauen. Natürlich wird dabei auch Fifa gezockt: „I am the best, don’t ever test me!“. Wir haben eine menge Spaß und ich konzentriere mich zunächst auf mein Kaltgetränk, beschließe dann aber doch wieder in das Gespräch einzusteigen. Ich muss ihm nur erzählen, dass seine Show grandios war, und Jez findet den Einstieg selbst wieder:
First and foremost: for me it’s fucking insane. I don’t think this shit is handed to me, I worked very hard. I’ve been in the studio for a long time and played a lot of shows so for me it’s crazy to go overseas, play my music and get paid for it. Do what I love. Just to have a crowd out there, and I didn’t expect it to be like that and it’s so humbling. For them to turn up like that is just amazing to me. In a different country, overseas and even talking to you guys. It’s humbling for me.
But you do have these big songs! They would work in a stadium as well.
It’s insane to me. I got tweets today, saying that they heard “Loved You First” on Big FM today. My Label here told me it got on rotation on day time. Fuck bro, people are driving their car, listening to my music. That’s amazing! I am doing this for a long time, and seeing it grow is really cool.
Let me talk on this. I started Grunge Rap. And I see people out there, people that I know, biting my style. I started that shit! My dad was a Rock ’n‘ Roller and I grew up in my house with him playing guitar all day and listening to Rock ’n‘ Roll and Grunge. He introduced me to Nirvana and I mixed that shit with rap and I started Grunge Rap. When I see people, that I know claim that… I love that shit and I will never leave that. Yeah, I will do more Pop records and more Hip-Hop records or whatever, but I started that and I will never leave that and I will always keep guitars in my music. So don’t ever get it twisted: Jez Dior started Grunge Rap!
Babak: Does it bother you on some point, seeing rappers or even funs running around with Guns ’n‘ Roses, Nirvana or Slayer shirts without knowing who they are?
I am cool. You see Justin Bieber running around with it and I am a Justin Bieber fan. [Starts singing] “Is it too late now to say sorry…”. That’s just style and everyone copies everyone. Style is style, people gonna look goofy anyway.
You said it took you one year to create the sound that we are actually hearing. What kind of sound is it, what did you work on?
It was a very transitional period and I am not lying when I am telling you this, but I may have recorded like 100 songs in the last year. We were in the studio every day, every night. My girl was driving nuts because I come home at 4 AM and she never gets to see me. I did “The funeral” and it was a very dark time in my life and I really needed to record this EP.
At this time around I felt better, like, I get in place, but it was kind of a struggle to find the sound. Because I am always truthful in my music. I am always telling the truth and what I feel. I was very accustomed to make music about me being sad. So it took a while to figure out the sound. And once we did we just ran with it and we did so many songs. I’ve got so many songs, that are still gonna get out, that we recorded from this time. I am excited about that.
Would it be “Pop Grunge Rap”?
Yeah, you have Grunge Rap on it. But a song like “Loved You First” – I will never call it Grunge Rap. That’s Hip-Pop. But I am an eclectic artist, I never want to be put in a box. At the end of the day I can rap my ass off, so I can just do Hip-Hop/Rap songs. So I never want to put myself in a box. On my new EP you will find pop, you will find Grunge-Rap, you will find Hip-Hop. That’s what that EP is about. And my album is gonna be the same. If some label dude tries to tell me “No, that doesn’t sound cohesive” – I will find a way to put the songs together right. Don’t put me in a box.
Babak: At the same time people like Kenrick and Kanye have released great albums. How is it for you, who is still in the studio, trying to improve it day by day, to get those inspirations?
That’s a good question. I listen to them, Kendrick is in L.A., Kanye is my favorite artist; but I listen to them at the end of the day. I can really separate my mind. It’s like one zone is just a listening zone and one zone is a work zone and I can separate them. Because I try not to pull from other artists. I really want to do my own thing, and make my own stamp and have my own message. I really want to create my own vibe for everything. I love those guys and they are my heroes but I try to separate it. I really do. It’s not too hard. Me and Ben, or Smiles, have our vibe down and we really stick to that.
DJ Smiles: Jez is one of my best friends. It’s so easy, cause we know what’s going on in each other’s life. Sometimes when we go through all this shit together, we both look at each other and we give each other this little look, that is like we’re hitting the studio. And I feel so blessed to be creative with my best friend. Funeral crew till I die!
How did you and Jez meet?
First time I ever met this fool? This is like five or six years ago: I just moved to L.A., working a terrible day job, hating my life and I walked into my house and there was a random Brazilian dude laying on my kitchen table getting tattooed. I was like: “Who are you? Why are we tattooing people in my kitchen?” [laughter] It turned out to be Jez and we became friends. It just clicked instantly.
At that time, I was doing some other stuff, he was doing some other stuff so we became friends for three or four years before I was like “Yo, what the hell! We’re best friends, we both do music. Why aren’t we working together?”. And ever since there is no other I would rather like to be in the studio with. Like I said: it’s easy.
Babak: What did you do before you met?
I was in a rock band. I tried to be a rockstar…
Babak: Really? What’s the name?
We don’t need to do that, we don’t need to look that up on YouTube! [laugther]
Most of our friends come from this rock world and most of the time when we play, we play with a full rock band. It’s Hip-Hop, but with these guitars and big drums. But it’s the first time in Europe, so we had to make some change, but look at us: that wasn’t a Hip-Hop show. The energy we channel, what we bring: that was a Punkrock show! We’re jumping up and down, throwing water at people… we don’t care. That’s the heart of it.
Jez, you are into whiskey somehow…
Jez Dior: Okay, this is a thing, this is clearly a thing. I am into whiskey, yes, but I am into Jack Daniel’s. I love Jack Daniel’s. I am not really into whiskey; I am just into Jack Daniel’s. I drink it every day. I am not like a whiskey connoisseur by any means. I had some nice scotch here and there, but I really don’t like Irish whiskey. Sorry Dublin, we go there tomorrow. I really don’t like Canadian whiskey.
What about japanese?
I have had a nice Japanese whiskey, that I really liked. Shout out to my girl Tavy! But yeah, I like Jack Daniel’s. But they don’t like me, what is upsetting. They tried to sue me because of the Old No.7 Artwork…
DJ Smiles: Him saying he likes Jack Daniel’s is an understatement. If you walk into my studio, there are at least 15 to 20 empty bottles. It’s absurd how much Jack Daniel’s he drinks.
I only drink Jack Daniel’s. I hate cocktails. Put a blueberry into a mojito with mint leaves on: miss me! If I go to a nice restaurant, they look at me like I am a nuthead when I order a Jack with diet coke.
Thank you so much!
Jez Dior ist einfach ein hochsympatischer Kerl, der dankbar dafür ist, das tun zu können, was er macht. Und der möglicherweise eine Menge trinkt, aber jeder, wie er mag. Wir verabschieden und kämpfen uns durch das erneut volle Moondoo zur Ausgangstür. Zwischenzeitlich hat eine Rock-Band die Bühne erobert, doch auch die kann den Ohrwurm von Jez‘ Hit „Forever“ nicht vertreiben.