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Killa-Jewel : How to Engage Fans With Live Streams

9 min read Last Updated: Feb 12, 2024
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Cut With Me : How Killa-Jewel Gets Creative on Live Streams

"MySeat Media has made it possible for anyone to publish their own app, and since its launch I have received nothing but amazing feedback from people who have seen me promote it and from actual users."

What first got you into DJing and producing?

I spent 10 years studying classical piano before I became a DJ. By 17 I was ready to be creative in a new way, and that’s when I met DJ Mana. He had been DJing for 6 years when we first met and he was an amazing teacher. He was really happy to teach me anything I wanted to know. He introduced me to Techno, House and Drum n Bass and we practiced our mixing skills for close to 6 hours per day. Scratching and Turntablism came into the picture a couple of years later when we got further into the Trip Hop and Hip-Hop scene, learning off of our friends and peers who had the same passion for the music as we did. Back then there was no YouTube so we’d constantly be hooking up with friends, jamming and learning off of each other. I really felt accepted in the Hip-Hop world. For added motivation we would watch DJ Q-Bert’s ‘Turntable TVs’ and all of the instructional videos he would put out, feeling truly inspired by everyone around us. In a way, Hip-Hop and Turntablism helped me through some pretty rough times in my life. It was the perfect outlet.

I always knew becoming a music producer would be a natural progression for me. DJing was fun but after a few years I needed a new challenge. In the early 2000s I purchased a used MPC2000 (a classic 80s sampler/sequencer) and started digging for records looking for songs that I could sample. These samples, along with my own compositions as a pianist, would later become part of my first record, ‘Saudade’. I have since gone on to produce two more EPs, ‘Reckless’ and ‘Sagittarius’, the latter being released on Hydrophonik Records.

Who was your biggest inspiration when you started out, and who would it be today?

DJ Q-Bert was one of my first inspirations as a scratch DJ. He is by far one of the most influential innovators of the artform and has paved the way for so many turntablists of my generation. Kid Koala has also continued to be an inspiration for me in terms of his musicality and the way he uses the turntable as an instrument.

As a producer, DJ Shadow has hands down been my biggest influence. He was putting out records when I was just discovering Hip-Hop and his early releases “Entoducing” and “Preemptive Strike” really marked my formative years. I’ve always loved the grittiness of his sound, and the way he chopped his samples. Crate digging and record sampling was what being a classic Hip-Hop producer was all about, and it was a passion I could definitely relate to.

How would you describe the music that you typically mix? What style of music do you produce?

When I’m playing a set I love the underground/old-school Hip-Hop genre. I also love chopping things up and cutting things in and out. Sometimes I’ll take an acapella and scratch it over a Rock instrumental. I like cutting over Funk breaks and sometimes even over classic House tracks. It’s easy to get bored with the same song selections. The reality is there is so much great music out there. Mixing something old with something new is a great way to switch things up and to keep it fresh. Now that I’m producing my own music, I try to throw in some of my original production into my sets. There’s nothing like hearing your own music on a big system with an audience in the room!

As far as production goes, since I’ve stopped sampling records (due to copyright issues), I’ve moved from the MPC2000 to Ableton Live. I’ve also become mildly obsessed (ok...entirely obsessed) with analog synthesizers and because of this, my Hip-Hop production sounds a lot more electronic. I scratch and also sing over it too. It’s a style that really embodies the artist I’ve become, while still staying true to my roots.

Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues?

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to perform all over the world. I toured for many years as a DJ, actor, musician, singer in a theatrical production as well as played countless clubs, venues and festivals over the years. Some of yy most favorite experiences have been on outdoor stages, rocking it with other talented DJs and musicians in front of thousands of people. I’ve also been the on-camera DJ for a number of TV shows and networks. There’s something really magical in being part of a live and pre-recorded production. I don’t think I have a least favorite venue! The small ones tend to have a really intimate vibe that you won’t get on a bigger stage.

Are there any particular shows that really stand out (for good or bad reasons)?

I think the shows that impacted me in the most significant way was when I was on tour. The ability to travel the world, meet people and see different cities all while playing the venues, theaters and clubs in those countries (while getting paid for it!) is a pretty awesome thing. I’m really thankful for and appreciative of these experiences. Although the life of a touring artist is not always as glossy as it appears on the Socials, let’s just say that all of the negatives I’ve experienced over the years have only helped to build resilience and character ;)

What is your creative process when it comes to live-streaming on the Killa-Jewel App?

Live-streaming is another great way to connect with fans. I think we all saw how integral it was for DJs and musicians during the pandemic, to be able to continue to be seen and heard and to ultimately stay relevant. For me, live-streaming allows my fans to get a more up close and personal view of my workspace and my process. I can easily plug and play if I feel like DJing a set that I’m working on, and the fact that I know there’s an audience makes it feel like I’m on stage and not just in my bedroom. There’s a little more pressure which is always good practice. Other times it’s fun to just focus the camera on my production rig, and invite people to watch me work on a new beat in real time. It’s pretty awesome!

How did you find the process of creating your own personalized app on our Creator Portal?

The team at MySeat Media have gone over and above to give me the help and support I needed to understand the app and the Creator Portal, and to get my app up and running. It’s like anything, once you know how it works, it’s really easy to use. It’s been a very smooth process and I’m thrilled to have it as a tool in my social media arsenal!

Do you think designing your own app, and getting it published in the App stores, is achievable for artists at any level?

Getting the app up and running is the easy part. MySeat Media has made it possible for anyone to publish their own app, and since its launch I have received nothing but amazing feedback from people who have seen me promote it and from actual users. What sets this platform apart from all the others is the fact that you get to publish your own app with your own name and face on it. There’s a coolness factor in that that you just can’t find anywhere else.

The challenge, of course, is having a creative vision and a long term plan of producing content on a regular basis that continues to drive people to sign up and subscribe. It’s definitely held me accountable from a creative point of view. I’ve needed to figure out an easy way to create and edit videos (I knew, for example, that fans remembered me from back in the day when I appeared on Q-Bert’s Q&A style DVD. So for the app, I thought it would be cool to create weekly “Cut With Me” sessions in that same style, where DJs can come and jam with me virtually)! The trick is keeping most of what you upload to the app exclusive to members only, and teasing it on your other socials. This strategy has actually helped to grow my followers on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok at a rate that I haven’t been able to achieve before. You kind of have to be your own PR/Marketing strategist. But once you find that formula, you’re good to go.

What is some of the content that fans can expect to view on your official app?

As I mentioned, I release a new ‘Cut With Me’ video every Friday for scratch DJs to come and cut with me. I choose a new beat every week and try to keep it fresh. Fans will also gain access to pre-release songs and videos, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, new gear unboxing, live-stream performances and more!

How do you feel the Internet has impacted your DJ career?

When I first started out, the internet was dial up and it took 10 minutes for my Hotmail inbox to load. Interviews were being conducted over the phone and then printed in the local paper. Getting a feature on a scratch video DVD that was physically sold in a brick and mortar store in Japan was next level. There was no such thing as views, likes or follows. You built your reputation on good old fashioned hard work and maybe if you were lucky, word would get out. The internet changed everything. It brought people to me, without me having to leave my bedroom. It turned me into my own business manager, producer, video editor, creative director, PR and marketing strategist…it forced me to wear all the hats and to own and run every aspect of my own show. It is a tool that if I am to continue being an artist and to promote my brand, I must leverage it in the best way I know how. It’s also been a lesson in knowing when to switch things off for my own mental health. It’s been impactful to say the least, for better or for worse.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

The best advice I’ve been given has been to just do what I love. It might seem obvious, but in a world with so many distractions, it’s hard staying focused and keeping your eye on the prize. When I was younger, I would grab any opportunity that came my way and I believe that was the best way to operate in the beginning. I created many opportunities for myself by saying yes to it all. These days, although it’s difficult for me to turn certain things down, doing so helps me stay the course. It’s important to check in with myself every so often and ask, is this really what I want to be doing? Is this really going to help me achieve my goals?

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

I’m not sure I would change anything about the industry. It’s always been a hot mess and I can’t imagine it any other way lol!

What’s next for you?

I’m currently finishing up production on my next EP to be released later this year on Hydrophonik Records. I’m excited to be writing and producing new music, and have a couple of exciting collaborations with different artists and creatives in the works. I intend to keep banging out those ‘Cut With Me’ videos for my fans and subscribers, and I’m currently working on new ways to put out more production-related content. I take advantage of the winter months by focussing primarily on music production, whereas in the summer I’m typically gearing up for all of my live shows. Ultimately my goal remains the same. Keep doing more of what I love and sharing it with the people who enjoy and appreciate it the most.

What is one message you would give to your fans?

I’m just really thankful for all of the support I’ve received over the years. It’s not easy being an independent artist but it’s the love from people who do appreciate your art that makes it all worthwhile. So, thank you!

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