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KazMeer: From St. Ambrose to Spring Awakening
The path of a professional DJ is often a winding one, full of unanticipated side trips and sometimes
delays. Just look at one of the biggest DJ/Producers in the world; Calvin Harris. Before he hit
stardom he was bagging groceries, DJing and producing music on the side in his bedroom! Now he
commands $400,000 every time he plays Hakkasan or Omnia night clubs in Las Vegas!
Zach Orzechowski, also know as KazMeer, has been forging a path that has seen him work his way
through Rock Island High School, then St. Ambrose College, and now he works as a professional DJ.
Currently he is bouncing across the Midwest playing shows, honing his craft and building his name
in hopes of landing gigs at bigger festivals and clubs across the country.
Most recently, KazMeer landed a gig at the prestigious music festival, Spring Awakening, in Chicago.
Spring Awakening Music Festival (SAMF) is the premier EDM festival in the Midwest, and in 2016
produced a lineup that competed with bigger festivals such as Ultra and EDC. While SAMF
production isn't as large scale as some of the mega-festivals such as EDC, the depth of rising talent
and veteran stars that played SAMF was simply astounding and many of the artists that played
SAMF also played EDC Vegas and Ultra.
Through previous work with SAMF organizer, React Presents, KazMeer was granted an opportunity
to play the Silent Disco stage at the 5th anniversary installment of the festival. The concept of Silent
Disco, which has been wildly embraced by festival attendees, centers around, well, a silent DJ set.
There are no speakers and everyone at the Silent Disco stage wears headphones to listen to what
the DJ is playing. It is a novel idea, but one that provides a deeply individualized experience with the
artist playing that particular stage. While the crowd may all be equally feeling the music, the sounds
and how the individual processes those sounds is a blend of input from the DJ, the headphones and
that individual person's interpretation of what they are hearing. It is a unique site to behold when
one is on the outside not participating. To see a whole stage of people dancing and grooving to the
music, but not actually hearing what is being played is intriguing and creates a desire by those
watching from the outside to put headphones on and hear what everyone is so excited about!
Fortunately, I was on site doing coverage for WAUG.FM and I was able to experience first hand the
power of the Silent Disco Stage and KazMeer's set at SAMF. Needless to say, KazMeer killed it! I was
so intrigued by the concept, and supremely inspired by someone who is local to the Quad Cities, I
thought I would follow up, make contact and see if I could interview KazMeer as part of my
coverage of SAMF. What follows is a transcript of our conversation:
WAUG.FM: When did you first start DJing and who were your most influential artists/producers at
KazMeer: I picked up Djing for the first time in the winter of 2010. A close friend of mine convinced
me to learn with him. His brother, who works as an artist manager in the music industry, guided us
on what gear to pick up. At the time I was really into Rusko, Flux Pavilion, Clockwork, Justice, Boys
Noize, and Bro Safari.
WAUG.FM: As you have developed into the artist you are today who would say have been most
KazMeer: Currently my most influential would have to be RL grime, who made his move over from
clockwork to create some of the most staple trap and original songs in the scene. He truly helped
create a much larger audience for the style of music he and other artists alike make. Another artist
would be KRNE who continues to push the envelope with his creative and original tunes.
WAUG.FM: Who are some of the well known artists you've had the chance to play with, or spend
time working with?
KazMeer: Some of the well known artists I have had the pleasure of playing/working with are:
Meaux Green, San Holo, Sullivan King, Hexes, Hippie Sabotage, RL grime, ZEDS Dead, Filibusta,
Pleasure, Dvnk Sinatra, to name a few.
WAUG.FM: Of the big artists you've played with what was the best piece of advice you got from
KazMeer: I would have to say San Holo. Playing with him this year was very special. It wasn't really
advice that he gave but he showed it with his actions. He is one of the nicest guys out there, very
humble and thankful for everything. You can really see how much he enjoys and appreciates what
he does in the way he performs and the music he produces.
WAUG.FM: What has been your favorite gig to date and why?
KazMeer: My favorite gig to date would have to be playing Porn and Chicken Dance Party with my
good friend Sullivan King, that show was crazy! Not only did I get to perform with a good friend of
mine, but it was a full house and the crowd got down for every single minute of the show.
WAUG.FM: When you aren't spinning what are some of your favorite things to do?
KazMeer: When not spinning I really enjoy playing/ watching hockey. I'm a long time Penguins fan
so I'm still feeling that Stanley cup win!! I also enjoy traveling, hanging with my dog and hanging
with friends and my beautiful girlfriend Jess.
WAUG.FM: What would your dream gig be and why?
KazMeer: My dream gig would be to perform on one of the main stages at Electric Forest at night.
That fest has some of the best people and crowds I've ever seen.
WAUG.FM: What advise would you offer other dj's just getting into the game?
KazMeer: Practice, practice, and practice some more. Your mixing should be fluid and smooth. Work
on your transitions and track selection, as well as the ability to use all different kinds of equipment.
The ability to read a room and what they are feeling is important. Don't attempt to get live gigs until
you truly believe you are ready.
WAUG.FM: What are your favorite songs on your play list right now?
KazMeer: A few of my favorite songs on my play list right now are: Dr Fresch - On And On (Y2K
Remix), Graves & TSRK - ####, KRNE- Bonezzz, Droeloe- zZz
WAUG.FM: Talk a little about Spring Awakening and how you landed that gig?
KazMeer: Spring Awakening was one of the best experiences of my life. Being able to perform at a
festival with not only a lot of my homies performing, but artists I look up to was truly surreal. The
silent disco stage was literally flexing up and down because people were dancing so hard during my
set! I was contacted to be booked to play earlier this year, I have played a few shows for React
Presents, which especially helped get my name out there.
WAUG.FM: Do you have plans to play SAMF again next year; have they asked you to play again?
KazMeer: I would love to play next year, but it's to early to tell!
WAUG.FM: For some dj's if it is a big gig they believe firmly in mapping our a set so that they reduce
the chance of making a mistake as well as make the set sound as fluid as possible. Some dj's play a
totally unplanned, unrehearsed set. What is your approach? Does it vary depending on the gig?
KazMeer: Well it really varies on the gig. I've had shows where I've played unrehearsed entire sets
and just felt the room's vibe. With festivals I pick out the tunes I want to play and put them in a list.
I make it pre-planned, but I tend to bounce around the play list because I don't always have enough
time to play all the music I want to. However, I've spent years perfecting how to transition from
track to track to make my sets very fluid, even if I play unrehearsed.
While the smoke continues to clear from Spring Awakening, fans interested in seeing more of
KazMeer can check out his summer tour shown in the picture above.
WAUG is Augustana College's student-run radio station, located in Rock Island, IL, broadcasting over the internet 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Students are allowed to host a weekly radio show in which they can utilize their creative talents to both speak and play different music varieties over the air. Having a radio show at WAUG provides students with the proper training and practice for future careers in radio and communications industries