An Interview with Dizz1

Late last year, Melbourne musician and producer Dizz1 signed to UK label Tru Thoughts and soon after, saw the release of his latest release, the Everyday Grind EP, which features the likes of Aloe Blacc, Om’Mas Keith and Warrior Queen. Following on from years of performing alongside some of the world's biggest names, playing at Sonar festival and attending the Red Bull Music Academy, Dizz1 is back in Australia working on some new music with new artists, and we had a chance to shoot him some questions to talk all about it.

An Interview with Dizz1

Melbourne-based turntablist, teacher, producer and drum kit expert Dave Norris aka Dizz1 has been involved in the music industry for over a decade. Starting off as a DJ, he has worked and performed alongside the world’s best such as Grand Master Flash, Jam Master Jay (RIP), Jazzy Jay, and A-Trak, and along the way he has been progressively building up his reputation track-by-track and beat-by-beat.

Within the last few years, Dizz1 has been poppin’ up left, right and centre and in turn, has been receiving recognition from some of the best musicians in the industry. From playing at Sonar 2010, and attending the Red Bull Music Academy in Spain; he’s now performing alongside the likes of De La Soul, Mos Def, DJ Vadim, Gaslamp Killer, DJ Krush, and Tokimonsta, just to name a few. Amazing, right?

Recently signing to UK label Tru Thoughts, Dizz1 released his debut EP, “Everyday Grind” which is filled with textured layers reminiscent of the sinister dreamscapes created by Clams Casino and fellow RBMA alumni Flying Lotus, but with bright, organic drums – presumably his own; I did mention that he was a drum kit expert, didn’t I?

Want to know more? Read on for Dizz1’s thoughts on life-changing records, his live shows, and the music he creates.

1. Who exactly is Dizz1?

My name is Dave Norris originally from Sydney, Australia and now residing in Melbourne. I started learning drums from age 8 and have played everywhere from school halls to the Sydney Opera House and Entertainment Centre. I started collecting vinyl and adapting my drum rudiments to the art of scratching at about 17 and even created a notation system cause I was always forgetting new combos and needed a way to write them down…

Lived in Japan for a couple of years and it was there that I became interested in production. Brought an MPC2000 and a DPS hard disk recorder back with me to Australia and started making mix-tapes and some pretty elementary beats.

Then I broke my neck while on tour playing drums for a band in 2003, was temporarily quadriplegic and in that recovery time I just worked on music as much as my body would let me. I guess it was my own kind of therapy and I’m still in counselling to this day.

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2. How would you define your sound?
Hip hop with references to reggae, jungle, dnb, dub, etc

3. You’ve been playing quite a few gigs around the country lately. What can one expect from your live shows?

Yeah, it all depends what kind of set I’m doing. I’ve been getting back into DJ sets cause of the versatility of it all but when I do the live set, it usually features guest vocalists and I play all my own music off Ableton with a controller and sometimes jump on the drum kit too.

A lot more prep goes into the live sets and I guess you are kinda stuck playing what you have rehearsed so I find the DJ sets can be more varied; and I love to go across all different genres when I DJ so the most recent shows I’ve done for RBMA (Vadim and Daedelus) have been on the 1200’s.

4. What was your state of mind when you were creating your latest EP, “Everyday Grind”?

Ahh I definitely approached it differently than I did my album. I really wanted to make a “club EP” with that Dizz1 flip on it. The album is all over the place as far as influence goes and I purposely made it that not every track comes out banging so with the EP I just wanted to smack some heads.

5. Aloe Blacc sounds like a completely different vocalist on the title track. How did the collaboration with him and the sound come about for this particular song?

Yeah, my manager at the time knew him and at the time I lived over the road from 301 studios in Sydney.
He was really feeling a track off my “3rd Time Lucky” EP and wanted to spit on it so I tee’d up a session and over we went. It was crazy because that vocal was written to a different beat and was recorded in Pro Tools which I don’t have on my computer so the track just sat on my computer for a couple of years to the point that I had almost forgotten about it!

I ended up writing the beat that was released on the EP around the vocal which I wouldn’t normally do but in this case it seemed to work.

6. What is the difference between the music you create and the music you listen to?

The music I listen to inspires me and is waaaaay better hahaha.

7. What was the first record that changed your life, and the last record that gave you chills?

I think RUN DMC’s “Raising Hell” album changed my life. That or Public Enemy’s “Yo! Bum Rush The Show”. I remember walking around school in year 4 with a big old walkman on just acting like I ruled the world. I think pretty much everyone else was listening to Guns N Roses at the time and well, what can I say…

The last record that gave me chills would have to be either Schoolboy Q’s “Break The Bank” or Kate Bush’s “Wild Man”.

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8. Pay it forward: What’s the best advice you’ve received that you would happily share with others?

I think when I was at my lowest, my dad told me “well at least you’re not Robinson Crusoe”.

Another one I came up with around that time was something along the lines of “You can be like the Titanic in all its glory ploughing through the high seas and all it takes is a bit of ice to sink you or you can be as simple as a piece of cork and float about all day no matter what the condition.”

9. What are you currently working on, and what’s next on your agenda?

I’m working with a really talented singer/songwriter called James Chatburn. Super soulful voice and one to keep your radar locked on! Also got my new album and a bunch of remixes all dropping over the next few months on Tru Thoughts as well. I’m always chipping away at something.

10. How would you like to be remembered?

Howbout “That cheeky prick that made us grin”. [sic]

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As the interview questions were sent to Dizz1 around the time of the applications for 2014’s RBMA in Tokyo, we sneaked in a question for future applicants. 🙂

11. You’re an alumni of the Red Bull Music Academy and the applications for this year’s RBMA in Tokyo closes in a few weeks. Do you have any advice for those hoping to be accepted into the prestigious program (or for future applicants)?

Yeah, it’s already closed so for future applicants: just be yourself.

Take some time to just sit with the questions and not worry about them too much. I was on tour in Brighton UK doing a month season with this hip hop circus I performed with and would just come home after a show and chip away at it. Even if you don’t get accepted, it’s a wonderful eye-opening experience asking yourself those questions and what it is that makes you tick.

I was truly blessed to have been a part of that!