At EPIC, we have amazing opportunities to attend shows all around the world. From festivals, to local shows in downtown venues. In part with attending these live events we have amazing opportunities to network with local talents. Interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts is an invaluable skill that will get you far. Upon speaking with Cleveland local Dan Loesch, otherwise known as DJ D-Zilla, we came to find that the power of networking can really take you far. Starting off in local clubs in downtown Cleveland, DJ D-Zilla’s career has been propelled forward by the love of local fans, friends, and other DJ’s. Last weekend, DJ D-Zilla was the only local talent not in the tour roster to open the stage for none other than Dutch artist Oliver Heldens at the legendary Agora in Cleveland, Ohio.
Naturally, with great big news like this, we took the chance to delve deeper into DJ D-Zilla’s local success in Cleveland.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: How would you describe the EDM scene in Cleveland?
The Cleveland EDM scene is definitely growing. EDM in general seems to be making its way into mainstream pop culture more and more. No one probably expected Skrillex, Diplo and Justin Bieber to release a track together, nor did they expect Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s “Lean On” to have such an effect on pop music. I think Cleveland music fans have interests in a variety of sub-genres, but mainly they just want to dance. Whether it be a progressive or electro house show or a dubstep and trap event, the people of Cleveland love to move.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: How did you begin landing gigs?
One night while playing at The Upper Deck, Mike and I were “discovered” by another DJ who became our friend and business partner. Justin Daubenmire saw a lot of potential in us and wanted to expose us to other venues and crowds. From there we started playing shows in Canton, Cleveland and other places in Akron. Eventually we worked our way into Zar Nightclub in downtown Akron and began DJing there. The plan was always to grow the EDM scene and bring bigger artists to the area. Next thing we knew, the three of us started a promotional company called Elektric Events and we started booking talent for Zar. During the next year we brought The Zomboy Outbreak Tour, the grammy nominated artist Audien, Pegboard Nerds, Brillz, Snails, Milk & Cookies, Bear Grillz, Schoolboy, Terravita, Mitis and RoeVy.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What inspired you to start DJing?
I started DJing because of my love for music. Originally I just listened to rock and metal and I did vocals in bands through high school and college. After that I became a drummer in an alternative band and a deathcore band. The DJing thing kind of happened by accident. My good friend Michael Tokarz wanted to do it and asked if I would join him. I had just started listening to electronic music and going to those types of shows but I figured it sounded like fun, so sure.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: How would you describe your sound?
I only play songs that I like in one way or another so you’ll never hear me play something just to play it. The songs you’ll hear are only ones that mean something to me. Recently I’ve grown to enjoy more of the melodies of house rather than just the bone crushing drops of dubstep and trap, although that’s what attracted me to DJing. I try to keep my sets multi-genre to engage any listener and to get them moving.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What was your first show like?
On May 7th, 2013 Mike and I played our first show at The Upper Deck on the Portage Lakes, just south of Akron. It was a spot that we pretty much called a home away from home during the summer. We had an event there every other Tuesday night called “Elektric Tuesdays”. It was a night of EDM that usually consisted of Mike playing electro house and me playing dubstep. Our first show really just had some friends and the local crowd but it started to grow and we threw some pretty cool blacklight parties and just had a lot of fun but we always wanted to move on to playing bigger shows.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What are your aspirations for your music career this year?
This coming year I’m diving into the producing side of it all. I’ve been working on my first original track along with my good friend Jesse Trillet. It’s actually ready to be mastered at our friend’s studio and then it’ll be released. In the meantime we’ve been working on a bass house track that I’d like to have finished up before March although that date is quickly approaching. Other than that I’m just excited to play these tracks out and to see people’s reactions to them.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: How did you land a spot as an opener for Oliver Heldens?
I’ve really got Mike to thank for this one. I feel like we have different presences throughout the EDM scene but he is definitely better at networking with managers and promoters. He spoke with Michael Mellon about bringing Oliver Heldens to Cleveland and Michael already had the show in the works. Mike asked if we could play and the next thing I knew I had my name on the flyer! I was definitely excited to be a part of this show in any respect but to be the only local DJs to play it is pretty cool.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Any travel dates to play shows yourself?
I don’t have anything booked travel-wise at the moment but I’ve been talking to another promoter in Nashville who might want to have me down for an event and then we’d have him play a show of ours up this way as well. It’s always good to travel and check out what other people are doing and different trends within their own local scenes.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: How would you like to see the EDM scene progress in 2016?
I like the way that the EDM scene is moving. I think getting more into pop culture is a good thing because it makes those people want to get exposed to new types of music. More people means bigger shows and that sounds like a lot of fun to me. I also think that the underground “rave” scene has a bit of a stigma and I think that moving towards the mainstream thing can help alleviate that.