One can sense it when a person pours their heart into their craft. Label owner, producer, and DJ Kaz James is such an artist, his veins coursing with the blood of a true musician. As a passionate record collector, vinyl aficionado, and classically trained musician, he has an innate understanding of his art.
Hailing from Australia, with Italian and Greek heritage, Kaz relishes pushing his own boundaries, working tirelessly, all the while maintaining control over his creative output. He began spinning records at the tender age of 15. By 17, he knew this was the path he wished to pursue in life, and he scored his first hit at 22.
Kaz’s mind is a constant whirlwind of fresh ideas and visions. His latest offering is a brilliant remix of Jefferson Airplane‘s 1967 hit single “White Rabbit,” a collaboration with Nick Morgan. During our interview, he divulges more about this project, as well as his upcoming weekly residency, ‘Kaz James Presents Another,’ set to launch this June at the Alemagou Beach Club in Mykonos. He also shares what continues to drive his motivation and passion for music.
photography by Christian Lamb
In your new remix of “White Rabbit,” co-produced with Nick Morgan, you’ve managed to infuse a pulsating house energy into the psychedelic lyrics of Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 hit single of the same name. Can you walk us through the inspiration behind making this track and what it was like to work with the material of such an iconic band?
We feel so honoured that Jefferson Airplane cleared our version. It’s actually the first time since 1967 that they allowed anyone to sample or remix “White Rabbit”. It took a lot of effort, hard work and convincing to make this release happen. So, we are super excited it’s finally coming out. It feels like forever ago when Nick and myself were in the studio working on this record. I remember one day Nick was like “I keep hearing White Rabbit played everywhere lately. We should do a version that we can play out”. So, it started off as just a bit of fun. But the more and more we played it out, the more and more people were asking about it. So, I guess that’s how it started to blow up.
Is there any personal story connected to the original song, something that links you or both of you to it?
Nick and myself have always been massive fans of Jefferson Airplane. We always loved the history behind the song especially the fact that when it originally came out the public didn’t realise that it was about psychedelics. We honestly can’t believe that our version of this masterpiece has actually come out.
Is there anything from the cultural and social climate of the Sixties that you feel is missing in today’s world, and if so, what would you like to see brought back into contemporary culture?
I mean when you talk to people who grew up in the 60’s they always talk about how growing up in the 60’s was the best experience ever. Especially in music culture. I feel that there’s so many restrictions right now placed on people. People are really scared to express themselves. We now live in a society where most people are so concerned about what everybody else is doing and what everybody else thinks. Who cares, do you? I say, “Some people just need to shut the fuck up”.
“I love having the freedom to bring in guests that I’ve always wanted to book.”
Can you tell us more about your weekly residency, ‘Kaz James Presents Another’, at Alemagou beach club on Mykonos launching on Wednesday, June 7, 2023? What can attendees expect from your sets, and how does this residency differ from your previous experiences on the island?
It’s definitely going to be my most exciting summer yet in Mykonos. Having my own night and full control like this has been a long time coming. I’ve always wanted to play at Alemagou. I think it’s the best venue on the island and it has something really special about it. They’ve managed to maintain their purity. I can’t wait to get started. I have really amazing guests this summer some really great talents. I love having the freedom to bring in guests that I’ve always wanted to book. I feel that over the years Mykonos has drifted to much towards what Tulum was doing years ago. I’ve always tried to stay away from that sound and stick to more of my house and techno roots.
What draws you to Mykonos as a performance destination, and what makes the island’s cultural and musical landscape so unique and inspiring?
The thing about Mykonos is that it’s raw. It’s a big rock with beautiful beaches and an amazing sunset. I think that it’s its simplicity that draws people there. It just has this feeling that you can’t explain; it’s something you need to feel for yourself. Because of its landscape and Greek culture, it lends itself to a unique sound that you don’t really hear anywhere else in the world. I find playing there very inspiring.
“The thing about Mykonos is that it’s raw. I think that it’s its simplicity that draws people there.”
Life is all about memories, and ‘Kaz James Wednesdays at Alemagou,’ could create just those memories. Summer, music, fun, and enjoying the moment. With such a focus on living in the moment and creating memories, do you think it’s important for artists to actively consider how their music will be remembered in the future? And if so, how do you approach balancing the desire to create something timeless with the need to remain current and relevant in the moment?
When I make records, I really think about how these records are going to react on the dancefloor, especially in places like Mykonos. If you listen to my music, I try to create sounds that strike emotion; records that make you feel something. I’m kind of painting a musical landscape for the environments I play in. I try and create music that’s definitely unique and my own sound. But I will say from time to time in the studio I drift off into out of space and make something very left of field.
In 2021 you launched your own imprint, Another Record Label, which has seen noteworthy international support from the likes of Pete Tong, Danny Howard, and Dennis Ferrer, among others. What was your vision behind starting this label?
The basic idea behind the label was to have my own creative control over what I was releasing. I wanted to be able to put out music when ever I liked, how I liked.
“Music constantly motivates me to work harder and push the boundries.”
With an impressive portfolio of hit releases and collaborations under your belt, what has been one of your most memorable career moment so far, and why?
To be honest with you I‘ve been doing this for 25 years so there are really so many. But this last 12 months has really been special. My music has received a lot of love from so many artists recently especially from ones that I really respect.
You’ve been at the forefront of dance music for over a decade now, consistently pushing the boundaries in everything you do. Can you share your personal hope for the future of the dance scene and tell us what keeps you motivated?
I love making music and playing music. Music constantly motivates me to work harder and push the boundries. I really beleive that to be an artist you need to put in the time and effort. So I hope that in the next few years in the Dance scene we will see more and more real DJ’s and real music producers rise to the top bit by bit.
How do you define success in your personal life?
Simple. Health and Happiness
Thank you so much for your time!