Following on from his latest single release, Rachael Halaburda has a chat with the homegrown talent to talk career highlights, time spent slowing down and off the road in lockdown, as well as offering advice for budding DJs and producers…
Notts is home to some great artists. One of the notable names breaking through in recent years is producer and DJ, Darzky. Having grown up in Carlton, Nottingham, it didn’t take long before he became part of the local nightlife scene, “It was going to Stealth when I was 18 that made me want to be behind the stage rather than in the crowd.”
It was a steep incline for the young DJ, “I wasn’t really doing anything at all and then all of a sudden it was just show after show every week, I was just pushed in at the deep end. It was pretty crazy, especially since I wasn't really that good at DJing at the start either, I was learning how to DJ better while doing shows in front of people which was a bit mad. I didn’t have any decks at home so my only time to practice was in the clubs.”
Despite Darkzy’s popularity seeming to boom all at once, he had been working on his craft producing at home from a very early age. “When I started producing I was around 11 or 12. I used to look up to all the artists from Notts and it's a sick feeling to know that I'm there now. But I've worked 10 years for it, and it's pretty mad how it's happened and everything has fallen into place.”
Thanks to his busy DJ schedule Darkzy is usually on the road a lot, travelling to different cities every week, so lockdown felt strange when it brought everything to a sharp standstill. “I didn't realise how much I used to travel until I stopped. It was literally two, three times a week in a different city,” he said. “Now all my friends are back at work, it's literally just me on my own for seven hours a day. I can’t wait for everything to get back to normal, to be honest, and get travelling round.”
Darkzy agrees that the past few months have been unusual for everyone, whether it was spent learning a new skill or just trying to keep motivated in situations where there isn’t much motivation to be found.
“Literally I've just been carrying on making songs in the studio, but not as much as before because without the shows it's hard to get inspired and motivated to do anything like that. To be honest I've not really been doing anything apart from playing PS4 and going to the pub occasionally since they’ve been open. There’s not really much you can do there, but when it's seven days in a row you start to think, when am I going to do something different.“
As a performer, one of the strangest feelings is not being able to get back up on stage. “I was doing it non stop for literally three years. At the start it was a nice break to have two, three months off. But now I feel I'm gonna be all rusty. It’s just like doing your first show all over again. You’re not used to it and you’re not sure what everyone's expecting, especially because no one's been out for ages. People's tastes change and, you’re gonna have to build it all up again.”
Amongst many others, the past few months have had a pretty disastrous effect on the entertainment industry as a whole, with month after month of cancelled shows. However, the people behind these businesses are not the sort to give up easily. Darkzy is one of the many hoping for the industry to start back up as soon as possible.
“I just hope that shows and festivals pick up, and that bassline continues to get even bigger really. And at the same time I continue to grow, and not the opposite - you just don’t know at the minute. I hope that all the festivals we’ve missed this year, maybe happen early next year, to kick start things off.”
One of his greatest performances was last year, with a major sold-out show at Nottingham’s Rock City.
“Honestly it was the best day of my life, all of my family and friends were there,” he said of his headline show last spring. “We had two festivals before that as well. It was a horrible day because I was just constantly checking my phone to see if it had sold out or not. Then on the way to Rock City, we found out it was! I can’t describe how good it felt, especially walking out on stage with everyone there. Then afterwards going to the back room and just seeing my grandma crying and all that stuff, it was great - we had an after-party for two days. There wasn’t any sleep following the show, but there was after that party...”
Not always playing solo, Darkzy is also part of Crucast; a collective group of producers and DJs that have been taking the scene by storm over the last few years, producing a range of beats, from garage to DnB.
“Last year on the [Crucast] tour bus was definitely a highlight. We went from Reading festival to Creamfields, to South West Four the next day. It was two days on a tour bus with 15 people, lots of alcohol and very little sleep. It was super fun.”
On 14th August Darky’s latest single Slow Down came out, and this time he’s trying out something different to his previous releases.
“It's more dancy and it's more similar to tunes produced in the American market really, but it's also got the same style as the more old school bassline. It's kind of a mix between the two. I don’t want to always be making the same thing, but when you make something different, you get asked why. I want to see if this one is too different for people or whether they like it.”
As a word of advice for Notts young DJs and producers, Darkzy was keen to make it clear you should not give up just because someone else thinks you won’t make it.
“Literally, the main thing is just to keep doing it. Don’t stop because people say no. One of my biggest songs, no one would put it out. Then Crucast did and now it's got over 5 million views. If I just quit after 10 people said no I wouldn't have got anywhere. Just keep doing it, as long as you’re happy.”
Slow Down is out now on all major platforms.
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