Revered as the man behind Resident Advisor's number one label of 2011, Crosstown Rebels, owner Damian Lazarus is bringing his deep house and minimal sounds to the US while making waves in LA. With the success of his “Get Lost LA” party, a festival in Playa Del Carmen on the horizon and the release of Crosstown Rebel's 100th EP we felt honored to get a chance to chat with him backstage at this years Nocturnal Wonderland. We talked to the British DJ, label owner and now musician about cultivating his sound, holding up residencies in Ibiza and what it's like to be a part of the tech/deep house culture.
“I was buying records at 11 and bought turntables at 14,” Lazarus says . At the time, DJing was not a real profession so Damian was forced to teach himself by going to clubs, record shops and listening to pirate radio stations in London. He then became the UK music magazine editor of Dazed & Confused and shared his passions there. “I was a pretty rubbish DJ when I first started 10 years ago and it took me a while to find my sound.” Back then it wasn't as easy as purchasing every song of a genre on Beatport to hone your sound like today. “I'm very particular and specific about every track I play,” explains Lazarus. “It has to touch me emotionally and creatively in order for me to want to play it.” We can attest to that as his deep, melodic and trippy set at Nocturnal Wonderland created a story for us and took us to another place. “I'm not the kind of DJ that just slams hit after hit. I like my music to have a real beauty and sense of being,” he adds.
Today Damian headlines festivals all over the world (except the US) including holding residencies at some of Ibiza's most famed clubs and parties. “Circo Loco at DC10 is without doubt the best club in Ibiza. I've been playing there as a resident for so long now and it just keeps getting better and better,” he says. We noticed there's something special that goes into these parties in Ibiza from the music, production and even the DJs. “In my style of music there's a large extended family of people all around the world. There's a lot of love and support for everyone's projects and Ibiza means that over the summer months everyone from all over the world can congregate at the best clubs and hear the best music,” Lazarus says.
Now he's bringing this extended family to the states and specifically Los Angeles. “People in America are starting to come into our sound and really enjoy what we do musically and the culture around us,” he says. This kind of style and vibe is what we got to experience at the “Get Lost LA” party at Exchange LA as well as at the “Rebel Heart Party” he did at Burning Man. “I don't think you can ever go to a better party than that. It's like partying on another planet with thousands of special people,” says Lazarus of the Burn. He attest the bonds experienced at his events are due to the non-competitive nature in the music and culture compared to other scenes. “The Crosstown Rebels, Jamie's Hot Natured crew and the Vision Quest guys are all one big family. We all have a lot of respect for one another,” he explains. “It's become quite an inspirational group of people to be around because we are constantly creating fresh music which is so fucking mind blowing good.”
Crosstown Rebels is a very forward thinking label that never really cares what the current sound is or what's catching on at the moment. “We are more about trying to second guess or predict what we think people will be into way down the line,” he says. “I've been running this label now for 10 years thriving on working with young artist and have had some great successes with artist like Jamie Jones, Art Department and Maceo Plex.” In August the label celebrated it's 100th EP release with Tiga's first new track since 2009. “We've got some incredible music coming out next year,” shares Lazarus. “A new Art Department album and I'm working on my second album as well.”
Yet the biggest thing that Damian and the Crosstown Rebels are looking forward to is their 24-hour party in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico on December 21st titled Day Zero. “We are putting on this amazing event and working with someone of the most important people in the UK festival scene including Secret Productions and the BPM guys,” shares Lazarus. The event is meant to celebrate the end of the Mayan calendar at a never before used Mayan theme park. The line-up boasts the usual Crosstown Rebels like Damian Lazarus, Jamie Jones, Art Department, Fur Coat and Francesca Lombardo as well as others in their extended family like Thugfucker, Matias Aguayo, Massive Attack and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. “I figure a lot of people say it's going to be the end of the world,” he laughs. “I like to think of it as a new beginning or a new chapter, but if the world does end then what better way to spend it than with your friends dancing to the best music in the world amidst the pyramids?”