MANEKI MEETS: Cajama
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If you haven't been living under a rock in the last year, the chances are you've heard of Cajama. The UK Bass Producer has continued to make his mark with a string of releases on CruCast and has begun running riot in the most revered clubs including Ministry of Sound & Printworks. Oh and did we mention his spotify streams increased 999%? Madness. We caught up with Cajama to talk heavier production styles, the importance of stage presence and getting support from your idols.
LISTEN TO CAJAMA'S NEW MIX SERIES: 'JAM'
Maneki: That the New Years countdown was nuts! Was that the highlight of last year?
Yeah the countdown was crazy! That was only 1 hours work, I was meant to actually prepare a midnight dub "just incase" and left it until last minute. I got a call saying the act who was meant to be doing the countdown had cancelled, and had to get on it straight away - but it went down a treat even though I was incredibly nervous. I had the track loaded on 3 different USB's all playing at the same time on different decks incase one died, safe to say I was prepared for the worst!
Last year was full of some incredible moments for me. I got to take part in some crazy shows, meet some new people, and travel up and down the UK all year. It's really hard to pick one single highlight, but I've got to say the first time I ever played my track "Crazy" at Lab11 in Feb 2019 was something really special to me. The track wasn't actually finished and it was my set opener (at 11pm), and the place BLEW UP - the footage really shows and is still something I go back to sometimes. I'd say one of my biggest highlights is the growth in the past year. 2018 marked the start of playing shows with my debut in Tank in July, and by may 2019 I was playing 1 or 2 shows every weekend - it was such a crazy feeling. Slowly over time I started to notice more and more people come to see me play, and still to this day it blows me away and makes me so happy to see.
Maneki: You definitely have a strong stage presence, is that something you consciously do? Some DJ’s are stiff in comparison, how much of a difference do you think crowd interaction makes?
For me the most important thing is being relatable to the crowd. At the end of the day you're part of a show, but you should want to BE the show. It's not actually something I do on purpose, I always love playing so much and I just want to jump everywhere. I always dreamed when I started to produce future house back in 2016 that I would be able to play on a stage infront of hundereds of people, so everytime I step on stage is just like the first and I want to give the energy the crowd deserves. I know what you mean about a lot of DJ's who stand pretty static whilst playing, majority of the time that's the only way they can concentrate. In my opinion, I feel if you match the crowds energy you can interact with them on a more personal level which just makes the set better. Positivity and negativity rubs off on people very easily, if you have thousands of people who come to see you and you're stood there with a frown on your face not really looking like you're enjoying yourself - that will rub off on the crowd and very quickly the energy could die. Where as you look at the polar opposite, if someone see's you having the time of your life up there, they're going to want to join you!
Maneki: If you could only listen to TWO genres of your choice forever what would they be?
IHmmmmm. Tricky one. I'd say hip-hop/rnb, for the car journeys and to chill out to. And I'd say Bass House - there is such a large variety in the genre there is literally something for everyone, with more music being released worldwide every day. I'd also say the stuff some of the lads in the scene are making at the minute is pretty close to the genre and could sometimes even class as Bass House.
Maneki: You’ve had support from almost every big bass name, was there a specific one that got you gassed?
The support since I first started has been nothing short of incredible. I got gassed over literally every single new name that added to the roster. My biggest moment has to be when I managed to sneak backstage at Parked Out in 2018, and I sent my "Gotta Get Thru This" bootleg to Notion earlier in the day. When I heard it getting mixed in I tapped Notion on the shoulder, at first he didn't know me - then I said "Thanks for playing my track" and he noticed who I was and we ended up playing the track together on stage. That was my first ever experience on stage and that's when I knew I wanted to follow the scene and really leave my mark. Then a week after I did the same thing with Skepsis as he was playing in my hometown, and I had sent "Deepah Love (Skepsis Special)" and played that which was another mad feeling. The week after that I saw them both play the tracks at Parklife in 2018, which I was on the brink of tears. Every moment I see my tunes getting played even now by other people its a sick feeling, all the support is what makes us.
Maneki: What’s the most underrated plugin you use and why? GO
I constantly get asked who does my masters, and the answer is I do them all myself. I would definitely say Ozone 9. For people who want to do their own masters, this is one of the most impressive bits of software I've ever used - it does EVERYTHING for a sick master. Many people will just pay for a master, but the problem with that if you have a problem with your mixdown it can get blown out of proportion when the track is mastered. If you do this yourself, you can notice the error, head back into your project and fix up without spending a penny (apart from buying Ozone).
Maneki: If a zombie apocolypse happens and you can choose 4 fellow producers to help you survive, who are you choosing?
This is a very hard question. I'm the fat one and in every Hollywood movie the fat one dies first! Darkzy for vibes and entertainment. TS7 is practically an athlete so he can do all of the work. Kryphon is a super smart kid so I reckon he would help me stay alive a little longer. I feel like I would need someone to keep me in check, so DJ Zinc would be that guy - even though I've not spoken to him yet he seems to be the father of so many artists.
Maneki: You’ve had one of the most meteoric rises in the whole of the Bass scene. Do you think there was a specific moment that made you as an artist?
The longer I'm in the scene the more I fall in love with it. I feel the passion drives me to do better day in day out and it really helps with the progression. I still don't think I am "made" just yet, I still have a LONG way to go. I am really wanting to push this year and make it as an artist in my own mind, I have my boundries - everyone does, and I want to keep pushing until I can't go any futher. Which, if you think about it will never happen, you can always improve yourself which sounds fairly negative but you are always the best version of yourself.
Maneki: What inspired your heavier production style? And do you see yourself exploring any other genres or styles in 2020?
I've always been in love with crazy sound design, and grew up listening to Hardcore, Dubstep, Bass House, Future House and they're all heavily invested in gritty sound design - with future house being the odd one out and bringing the melodic style which really makes you fall in love with a tune. I never heard of bassline or listened to it until I was dragged along to FearFest 2017 by a girl I used to fancy at work. I didn't know what to expect but I was in the Face of Steel stage and heard banger after banger after banger, all based on the sound design that made fall in love with each genre previously. It was all new to me, and I loved it. I looked up at the stage and saw "NOTION" in big lights, and instantly took to his SoundCloud after the event - and he truly inspired me to completely ditch the future house genre and head into bass music. I've always been exploring new sounds, genres and creating things people wouldn't expect - I'm just very selective which tracks get let off their leash. So in 2020 I'm just going to focus on what makes me happy at the time, and it varies - but right now I'm really feeling the melodic vibe people like TS7, Notion and Skepsis (his With U collab with FineArt) are bringing to the stage at the minute.