He has been an intricate part of the DJ community in Australia for well over a decade, remaining focussed, consistent and above all relevant in the ever changing world of hip hop. DJ Tikelz has never faltered when it comes to maintaining longevity in the DJ community in Sydney, surpassing controversy and legal drama to become affectionately known as “ Australia’s Most Wanted DJ’, Tikelz certainly has seen many different sides of the hip hop game.
The word survivor comes to mind when you think of DJ Tikelz. From being involved in a landmark mixtape court case with some major recording labels back in early 2000 (resulting in a loss and major fines imposed on the djs involved) to rising like a phoenix and eventually gaining his own recording deal with Dawnraid Entertainment and releasing his celebrated official legal mixtape “Street Dreams Vol 1”, alongside fellow DJ Peter Gunz, on Warner Music Australia, he has ridden the highs and lows of DJ infamy with relative ease.
From playing to packed clubs and concerts around the country as well as creating some of the biggest events and club nights in the urban community over the years, Tikelz has always remained a firm favourite as the DJ who breaks the newest and freshest Hip Hop, RnB and Reggae cuts on the streets. With residencies at the hottest clubs in Sydney and constant touring and guest spots all over the country, Tikelz has a strong following, both here and in New Zealand, where he is also a firm favourite. As a tour DJ, Tikelz has supported international superstars Ne-Yo, Sean Paul, UB40 and Xhibit to ame a few, playing to crowds amassing 30,000+ and always delivering in true DJ Tikelz style!
Adding the title of producer to his moniker , DJ Tikelz has steadily gained the respect of many in the hip hop community in Australia for his stellar production works with the likes of Savage, Nesian Mystik ,6 Pound and Deceptikonz to name a few. Having aligned himself with mentorship and management with the internationally renowned Get Busy Productions, DJ Tikelz star continues to rise. Focussing his energy on building his Allstar Events business, countless DJ gigs in and around Sydney and the creation of mixtapes ( The Quietstorm ) and productions with new local talent, DJ Tikelz in revelling in a job and life he has created from the ground up! Not one for getting caught up in the hype that the hip hop industry often fuels at times, DJ Tikelz has remained humble and true to himself as a DJ that truly loves the art of his craft. Life has certainly thrown him some curveballs over the years, but he has and continues to come out swinging, never settling for less than the absolute best!
Hey T what’s happening? Been a while between conversations – how has life been treating you?
Hey Ms Hennessey! Yes definitely. Life is good, very busy but all fun at the same time!
You have been a hip hop DJ in this Sydney community for well over a decade, building a very successful career for yourself in the meantime. How has the journey been for you and what do you think has been the biggest lesson you have learnt about the DJ business?
The journey’s been rewarding in so many ways. I’ve been blessed to be able to do what I love, while having some of the best times of my life, at the same time travel and take care of my family. What more could you ask for? (Lol) And there’s so many lessons learnt, but what stands out the most, are being humble and being good to people, it goes a long way in our industry. If you focus on your love for the music, your djing, and the events, rather than the politics, you can achieve so much more, and enjoy yourself doing it.
What was your greatest motivation to becoming a DJ and who inspired you to perfect your craft and pursue your dreams?
It’s funny I never really planned to be a DJ at the start, I guess I had other things on my mind in my teenage years, but I always had this crazy love for Hip Hop, R&B and Reggae music and it all kinda happened naturally, one day I was showing my friends the new CDs I just got, and the next minute I was buying vinyl and selling mixtapes at Anthem Records. My biggest inspiration was in the music itself. Guys like Teddy Riley, Warren G and DJ Rectangle made me wanna do more with a song than just listen to it. But also local DJs like DJ Brian, ASK, The Priority One guys and the late DJ Rangi, who I would watch while they were djing at under 18’s, they would have all these latest songs and remixes that no one else had, so I was like “yeah, I wanna do that too”.
What do you believe is the DJ’s biggest role in Hip Hop and what do you see your role as being in the urban music community in Australia?
I think in this day and age, the DJs primary role is to find and deliver hot music to the people. There is so much music being produced on a daily basis, and people are so busy these days, it’s our job to set the standards. This is an even more important role than packing a dance floor! We need to educate the crowds on what’s good even before it hits the mainstream TV or Radio. One role I’ve ‘assigned for myself’ is help keep Hip Hop & R&B music and events strong in Australia, by supplying it to the places where it naturally develops, like Western Sydney and other communities around Australia, so that we can keep our scene moving forward.
What do you love about being a DJ and how do you maintain consistency and relevance in an industry and music genre that keeps changing?
I love most the lifestyle of being a DJ, that I have an excuse to party every week and I get to travel on a regular basis. Also as a mixtape DJ, I love the fact that my CDs may mark a point in time in someone’s life… Like sometimes I’ll get a stranger come up to me at the club and be like… “Your Quietstorm CD reminds me of the get-togethers me and my friends used to have when we were teenagers” or something along those lines. That’s definitely a rewarding thought. I think the key to staying relevant is to be open minded about new trends, like some new artist or a new style comes out, and you’re not down with it, that’s cool, but respect it anyway, cos it’s still part of Hip Hop. For example nowadays, it’s so easy for DJs to be like… “This new Hip Hop style is rubbish, I refuse to get into it, nothing beats old skool hip hop”… and then you know pretty soon they’ll only be djing old skool events.
When did you first fall in love with hip hop?
When I first heard “Around the Way Girl” by LL Cool J, I was a little kid.
Your thoughts on the evolution of DJing as an art form to something that is now fused significantly with higher technology and software driven tools i.e. Serato etc.)
I mean being a vinyl DJ, I wasn’t really excited about it when these new CD Players, DJ controllers and programs first started coming out, cos I wasn’t really a CD guy, or a computer guy, but pretty soon I got used to it. With Serato, I still play records the same way I used to when I started, only difference is the music comes from a laptop, I choose not to even look into the more advanced features of the program, because I want it to feel like I’m still playing records. And the art form is still just as much of an art form, just with more choices. See if you still wanna play real 12 inch vinyls and carry crates around, the technology still allows for that too. So really there should be no complaints… That’s until I rock up to a venue and there’s only CD players there (lol).
What are your current projects / mixtapes etc.?
At the moment I’m focusing a lot of my time on running nightclubs and events in Sydney and interstate with my company Allstar Events. It’s not just Hip Hop, but also R&B, Reggae and community events. These events are the platform for me and other DJs in my crew to have the freedom to do what we do, in our own way, with our own flavour. I’m in plans with Get Busy Productions (my management) for a ‘DJ and artist’ tour around Australia and the Pacific, also working with Savage and local R&B group DTP on a new project, and still producing mixtapes, short mixes and remixes which people can find on my Soundcloud page. (www.soundcloud.com/djtikelz)
Where can people catch you spinning these days?
In Sydney they can catch me at LOVE Saturdays (Lone Pine Tavern, Rooty Hill), Boutique Saturdays (Sphere Nightspot, Sutherland), Secret Sundayz (PJs, Parramatta) and the return of Levelz Fridays (Parramatta). Interstate they can catch me occasionally at: Breeze (Perth), Breeze (Central Coast), The Heritage (Cairns), Booty Bar (Townsville), Monkey Bar (Canberra), Booty Bar (Darwin) and The Griff (Griffith).
Your motto in life?
You can change everything, just by looking at it from a different angle!
For more information on DJ Tikelz please visit:
Always Hip Hop