On The Record: DJ Zane
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
With the music serving as his whip and friendships his fuel, DJ Zane is on a quest to entice the senses of electronic music loyalists who seek the surreal.
He’s not your average rah-rah, throw-your-hands-in-the-air, fist-pumping DJ. You’d be hard pressed to find someone with more clarity and responsibility than Zane; he’d much rather pour his attention into the audible experience for diehards to bask in.
Zane’s animation resembles high quality audible distinction — a “keep calm and kill it” approach, if you will.
“I play to what is true and to what I like,” he said. “If people like it, great. If they don’t, then, I’m sorry but, my main concern is to play good music.
“While I do consider it a privilege to take part in shaping the way the Hawaii market thinks about electronic music, I can only continue to play and produce what I think is good. Hopefully Hawaii follows suit.”
Aside from his DJ responsibilities, Zane has held it down quite nicely as co-owner of techno-house haven Asylum Afterhours, the Kakaako establishment DJ Mag raved about in its “Top 100 Clubs in the World” issue the last two years. The publication went on to call Asylum “the dance music capital of the Pacific.”
He is the do-everything dude of sorts, an ultimate glue guy willing to recalibrate his priorites for the sake of the scene, the club and its patrons. One minute he will be greeting guests, a second later he will be picking up opala and checking on the sound. Moments later, he’s manning a computer to check visitor traffic on the club’s live Ustream feed. Next thing you know, he’s jumping on the decks himself to put the crowd into a full-tilt frenzy.
“My friends, who are also my staff, are there for us, both (co-owner) Willis (Haltom) and I, when we need them,” he said. “Our wives and girlfriends, our homies, everyone chips in. It’s that group effort that allows me to both run the club and still focus on my music.”
Many popular DJs have a fan base. This guy has a fam base. It’s this genuine loyalty he can’t help but reciprocate.
“I consider myself fortunate to be surrounded by friends who are (just) as excited by this venture as I am,” Zane said. “Asylum was built on friendship and a vision, and our business was built on our friendships.
“At the end of the day, my friends inspire me. They tell me what’s good, they tell me what’s bad, and at the end of the day I’m playing for my friends.”
Among a highlight-filled past few months, what tops Zane’s summer so far was playing at Chicago’s Wavefront Music Festival during the recent Fourth of July weekend. The three-day event featured Diplo, Rusko, Fatboy Slim and “Love Fest Hawaii” headliner AC Slater. The opportunity to represent Hawaii with the amount of big names around him was trumped by a chance to share the stage outside of Hawaii with business partner Haltom.
With the bulk of the summer in the rear view, Zane is focused on the launch of Asylum Confidential next month. The new label will feature DJs Russoul, Loic Tambay, Higher Concept, Fathom and Bernie’s Diction. The plan, years in the making, is to create music of global proportions.
“It’s always been a goal of ours from the get-go,” he said. “We’re all friends who like good music, and it’s a 100 percent collective effort between all of us.”
Last weekend, Zane teamed up with Higher Concept (together they form the production duo Dozguise) and unleashed a preview of what Asylum Confidential has in store. The crowd was amped up, to say the least, at the futuristic uptempo display of effervescent thrash groove.
Enjoying every moment of the process has led to reaping the rewards of progress as far as Zane is concerned.
“What excites me most as I progress as a DJ and producer is that I surround myself with contemporaries who are all thirsty for greatness,” he said. “As I mature and as I continue to experiment with out-of-the-box thinking,I hone my ability to mold music together in a very unique way and really play the music rather than letting the music play itself.
“That’s something only Asylum could have helped me do. Whereas most DJs are playing for a different crowd every day, it’s a blessing and a curse that we play to the same crowd, weekly, who actually know music and hold us accountable. We keep it fresh.”
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.