Interview | From Jay xero to DJ Hero

Photo: Tasha Tongpreecha

While some DJs act like models (yes, I’m talking to you Diplo), Jay xero is a actually one. The New Yorker is not just a pretty face (and cat lover), but a certified double threat with cover boy looks and producing chops that have been compared to Zhu among others.

Ultra Exclusive | Interview: Jay xero Teases ‘Really Big Backlog’ of Upcoming Releases

I caught up with xero over email in lieu of his recent show at Space Yacht at Genesis in Hollywood.

Crave: I love breaking in stories. What was your first DJ gig and what song did you play?

Jay xero: My first “gig”, I guess you can call it, was during a rush event at my fraternity. I was the only guy in my house who knew how to hook up the sound equipment and I think our DJ dropped out last minute. So, I used my computer and borrowed a friend’s so I could transition between them, and pretended to DJ as well as possible. I got hooked on the energy. Probably played “Fergalicious” five times.

You grew up as a classically trained musician. How has that helped you as a producer? Do you approach creating the songs differently?

I studied percussion my whole life. I think playing such diverse music: classical, blues, jazz, grunge, funk, etc. helped me discover the unique qualities each genre had to offer and allowed me eventually to blend them to create new sounds of my own. For me, writing music without exposure to diverse styles is like trying to make a pizza with only cheese.

You’re playing at Space Yacht in LA which is one the hottest EDM spots right now. What have you heard about it?

The photos make it look awesome, but apparently they don’t hold a candle to how amazing it is in person. I’m really excited! Big thanks to Rami, Ollie, and Henry for having me.

Being a New Yorker, do you approach crowds differently from LA than NY?  

I approach every crowd with an open mind and almost no plan. No crowd is the same. It all depends on what the dancefloor reacts to. I try to gain the crowd’s trust first and then have a conversation between their dance and my music.

You’re also a model. Are there any crossover attributes that a successful DJ and model share?

I think there are. Just like in modeling or in any pursuit, I feel you’ve got to be willing to critique yourself honestly, see what works and what doesn’t, and move forward using that knowledge. Also, when you’re on a shoot or playing a show, you’ve got a ton of people watching and lot of pressure on you to create something great. I thrive on the pressure, and love when I can deliver.

I did some Insta-investigating. You seem to be a cat guy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. What’s your favorite cat-meme?

Haha… yeah, my cats keep me company in the studio. I trained the girl cat to play fetch, so I basically have a dog, too. Check my Instagram story if you don’t believe me. It’s adorable. I don’t know if I have a favorite cat meme, but I love all pictures and videos of big cats trying to fit themselves into tiny things… I laugh like an idiot, usually in public.
For more sights, sounds and info on Jay xero go here.