Algo Mas and Ducks United prove that ‘charity begins at home’ for many in Ibiza. But charitable influences flow outwards from the island too, as shown by regular island visitor DJ Jay Haze who is using his fame and network of contacts to mount a charity programme in aid of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Among those contributing to the cause are Ibiza favourites including Tiefschwarz and Luciano.
Ibiza sees the most hedonistic, selfish side of the electronic music industry. Sometimes, it seems like all anyone involves cares about is how big the party is, how much money people are making, how long the after-hours runs for (unofficially, of course) and the all important question “was it busy?”
Not everyone on planet dance is so short sighted, however. One artist determined to use his talent and clout in aid of a bigger cause is American-born, Berlin-based musician and DJ Jay Haze. A sharp-eyed, sharp-tongued kid who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, Haze has led a colourful life – from his teenage years dealing LSD to fund his music habit, to a stint as a self-taught glassblower, to his current incarnation as a hard-working DJ/producer and record label boss. He is also refreshingly frank, a rarity in an industry riddled with posing and politicking. As he puts it bluntly: “I don’t give a shit about my image in the scene.”
What he does give a shit about is making a difference in the world. “I have always wanted to start a charity,” he says, “that’s always been my goal.” To this end Haze has put in motion DJs4DRC (DJs for the Democratic Republic of Congo). “Right now the DRC is the world’s biggest peacekeeping operation. There are children being used as soldiers, women being sexually abused, it’s a terrible situation,” Haze says, explaining how he chose the project. The current premise is simple: Jay is donating half of all the fees from his DJ gigs between September and the end of December, 2009, to DJs4DRC. He is also “having a lot of meetings” to encourage other DJs to chip in and donate 50% of their fee from one gig. Luminaries including Luciano, Tiefschwarz, Tiga and Loco Dice have joined the effort and, “More are joining every day.”
The money is important, of course, but the intensely thoughtful Haze hopes to reach the industry’s mind, not just its pockets. “I want them to think of this as time, not money. I want them to go into the DJ booth and think, ‘half my time is going to help people.’ It’s important to kick people in the butt and remind them that small efforts can have big results.”
Haze never minces words, and he might sound preachy, if it weren’t for the fact he leads by example. To kick off DJs4DRC he donated all the proceeds of his Fabric mix CD to the project. Like any good leader, he won’t ask anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. Typically, he has no intention of merely sending a cheque to the DRC. The money is going to UK-based medical relief charity Merlin, but come January Haze and a camera crew will travel to the DRC to film a documentary.
The aim is to raise awareness within club culture of the DRC and use the impetus to turn DJs4DRC into a foundation to fund music schools in Africa to promote peace through creativity. “Look what creativity did in my life,” Haze muses, “who knows where I’d be now if I hadn’t tapped into it. I want to do this for others. I see my future doing music with children, with people from all different backgrounds. If people in conflict zones can put their mind into something creative that can have a huge impact.”
This doesn’t mean giving up his own musical career – “Music is a means of expression. I’ll never stop making music” – but it does mean swapping industry standard values for a different set of priorities. He has no desire to “be part of the media machine”, remarking crisply: “Marketing is evil, period. It’s the beginning of the end. Nothing in the world has ever withstood [marketing].” Complaining about marketing is a marketing technique for some people, but not Haze. Anyone who doubts his sincerity should note he gave away his last album, ‘Love and Beyond’, for free. “I wanted to let people hear it without thinking about spending money.”
His current album (under his Fuckpony alias) is out 26 October but he would rather talk about DJs4DRC. “The face of club culture is [one of] ignorance, and I’d like to change that,” Haze says. “I want to represent club culture in a positive way through my charity work. This industry is not filled with people who only care about themselves. It is full of people who don’t yet know how they can help.”
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