Seducing us into a whole new vortex of discovery, DJ CoolRex rips off the band-aid of the past and drops us deeper into his speaker-shuddering new single, I Want. The Ohio-born tech-house producer reveals to us the inner workings of the music business, surviving 2022’s disastrous Hurricane Ian, future plans, selling cars and how it feels to be completely uplifted by a 24-hour rave in the mountains of Tennessee.
Llewelyn: Welcome to A&R Factory and we’re absolutely delighted to be speaking with you today. Firstly, how did you get in the music game and your DJ name..we love it..what is the story behind it if you don’t mind sharing?
DJ CoolRex: Hi, thanks for having me! It’s really nice to be doing a feature with you guys! I have been making music since I was a kid and actually made a song back in high school that I tried to get our principal to play when our team came out of the tunnel, so you can see that I always had a business-like mindset. I went on to make some songs in my early twenties and got to a point where I had about 50,000 monthly listeners under a different name that had started as a group and ended up becoming a solo act because the guy I made the songs with (who shall remain nameless) after ghosting me three years prior came out of the woodwork demanding all this stuff from me. Then shortly after that the songs were removed by my publisher and that was that, but I learned a valuable lesson. I knew that moving forward if I was gonna make music again in the future I would do it by my own hand. So I moved towards producing and fiddled around with trying to make beats for the next few years just here and there. It was funny though I remember right around when Covid was really taking off I was working at a dealership and would be watching youtube tutorials on beat making or watching some lecture on EQing while waiting for clients because I was really trying to learn. It was always nerve-racking because in car sales you’re kind of always supposed to be on the dealership phones calling clients or sending follow-up emails, and car sales managers are always super inquisitive which makes it extra embarrassing if you get caught.
You might be surprised to hear that I picked the name and had it all mapped out before I even got a DJ controller. The name at first was just going to be CoolRex but one of my best friends Steve told me it should be DJ CoolRex so I made that change. I picked the name because I’m a laid-back guy most of the time unless I’m inspired about something which truthfully doesn’t take all that much but the Rex part is actually a double entendre because it is like a dinosaur like a T-Rex but Rex is also a synonym for King and I think subconsciously that kind of gives a sense of empowerment to the name on top of it already being like a T-Rex, a Cool, T-Rex, DJ CoolRex. I figured also everyone loves dinosaurs so, in the worst-case scenario people are just vibing heavily to some dinosaur visuals with lasers, smoke, and crazy bass which to me sounds like something I would want to do!
Llewelyn: DJs are God-like figures to many who just want to dance and forget their worries. What has been the best experience in the music world, be it with a fan or meeting a youngster who is so inspired to be behind the decks and rock a crowd into absolute delirium?
DJ CoolRex: This is funny to me as well because I just got back from a 24hr rave in the mountains of Tennessee that my brother Jake who is also a DJ he goes by Specs had invited me to last minute. I wasn’t scheduled to play or anything so it was just listening to other DJs for 24 hrs. Lots of dancing and mingling, it was great to be a fan of other people and just be a part of the crowd. I’m sold on the rave scene, I love the people, I love the energy, it’s a blast!
Llewelyn: Covid destroyed many dreams in the music world. Do you feel like everything is ‘back’ in your local area or is there more work to be done to ensure the long-term success of the venues?
DJ CoolRex: Yeah post covid it definitely seems like gatherings have been smaller at those venues but I think things are getting better over time. I think people just got used to not going out for a while so we have to give them a reason.
Llewelyn: Hurricane Ian almost destroyed your family and life. Firstly, we’re so happy you and your loved ones are okay.
Career-wise: You used to sell cars, how has the transition to being a full-time music producer/musician been and do you miss anything about your previous career?
DJ CoolRex: It’s going to take years to rebuild down there. The smaller towns around that area, their structures were like wooden houses on wooden poles extended out of the water. I mean they crumbled; I saw them. I remember not too many days after the hurricane, I was at the dealership helping move the cars back and clean up debris. The cars were ok but the dealership had taken some damage like the shop doors were smashed in. Anyway, This lady showed up in a frenzy asking if she could buy a car and we didn’t have power so we couldn’t sell her one. She was saying that she was from one of the smaller areas like the one I just mentioned and that she needed to buy a car to get out of the state because they had found a dead person in her front yard after the storm. We didn’t have power for weeks, other people went longer than us without power or running water. I miss certain aspects of it. I miss hanging out with my friends but this is better for me. I have more control over what I want to do. I can market/sell how I want and nobody is above me. That’s one way in which it’s similar. It’s still a business. I still manage it like I did in my car sales career. The difference is that I didn’t love selling cars, I love making music.
Llewelyn: If you met an alien tonight who had never heard music before, how would you describe your sound and craft to them?
DJ CoolRex: If I met an alien tonight firstly, I’d be amped and want to know all about their story and what it’s like where they’re from! If I had to explain my sound to an alien I would first have to ask them what it is they’re hearing, if they can hear. Then I would ask them what they mean? Then as they’re explaining to me through their own words my reactions would tell them if what they’re saying is what I think too. The more fellow earthlings I meet the more I have learned that people hear very differently. So I’m always more interested in how others are interpreting my sound rather than actually giving them a foundation to base their beliefs off on.
Llewelyn: You’ve just been given the keys to crafting a massive festival lineup with an unlimited budget. Who is on the lineup, what is the vibe and where is it?
DJ CoolRex: It’s going to be somewhere that is not too hot or cold so people are comfortable. I’d have to research venues. I’m bringing Fisher, Martin Ikin, Chris Lake, David Guetta, Morten, Skrillex, James Hype, Diplo, Matroda, Noizu, Pauline Herr, DOBe’, John Summit, Chris Lorenzo, Oliver Heldens, Tom Budin, Merk & Kremont, Justus, Header, CamelPhat, armnhamr, Ray Volpe, Wax Motif, Dombresky, Flow Dan, Fredagain, Gorgon City, Zeds Dead, Blasterjaxx, Dom Dolla, Arminvan Buuren, Subtronics, Jay Eskar, Elif. I’m sure there’s more because there are so many dope artists all over the world oh and my brother Specs. The vibe is lots of lasers, bubbles, some fire, a gigantic screen for visuals, it’s a multiple-day festival. There are food trucks, lots of artists with tents to showcase their work, and all just love and fun.
Llewelyn: Lastly, what does the future hold and where do you see your sound headed? Also, where can our A&R Factory readers see you live next?
DJ CoolRex: In the future, I definitely plan to play festivals, and other big venues, and I have more songs in the pipeline so stay tuned! My social media is active and I’m always sharing other music artists’ content on my stories from all over the world so there’s fresh and exciting content daily! Also, please go to my website and subscribe to the mailing list so you can stay in the loop about new shows, merchandise, discounts, giveaways etc.
Turn this up on Spotify and forget all worries.
See the journey expand further on IG.
Interview by Llewelyn Screen