[MEET THE DJ] CEM OZDEN: 24, READY TO CONQUER
I am Ioana. I am 23, energetic writer, PR, and owl by day.
You are Cem, 24, running DJ, label owner and struggling Business student by day :D.
When my boyfriend told me about Selin and Cem I had instantly felt like I have to meet these people. Sometimes, you can tell just from how a person is describing other people if you could have a connection with them. Shortly after, I got in contact with Selin for, let’s say, professional matter. We got along so well and it felt pretty awesome how a conversation with someone was perfectly completed by the sound of Cem. Cem Ozden.
If you haven’t yet checked out Fake Society or Sound Bakery, you should probably know that these parties are like an invitation to explore another side of a usual party: it’s not about what you wear, how you dance, whatcha say because you don’t have time for that. It’s about the vibe, the interconnections, the music that makes you want to dive deeper into the void of sounds.
Cem is, in my opinion, the main pillar. The artist that is guiding the musical path, accompanied over the time by artists like Cezar, Priku, East End Dubs or Cristi Cons. With cultural influences from Boston and Istanbul, his birthplace and his childhood place, emphasized by the Milan vibe, his current home, Cem’s music approach is a minimal fusion of forceful aesthetics.
I began listening to AC/DC, Depeche Mode, Limp Bizkit, Miles Davis and all sorts of rock, electronic and jazz artists. I fell in love with music and got to take ballet and street dance later.
What was your first date with music and how did it influence you?
My father bought me a 2pac CD when I was just starting 1st grade. I was obsessed with hip-hop and RnB when I was a kid and went to CD shops regularly every weekend. My father was also into Djing as a hobby. He would play at friendly gatherings and that’s how I was introduced to Djing. On my 12th birthday, he bought me a mini DJ setup and that’s how it all started.
What do you think that a DJ can do in order to break through nowadays? How does the industry establish some „bare necessities” in your opinion?
I would say sticking true to your roots is important. Everybody has different influences while they grow up in life. It is important to reflect those emotions and influences in your set. Also having a distinctive style based only on your personal music taste is crucial. Playing something because it is popular or your favorite DJs are playing it shouldn’t be the only reason you play a track.
And I couldn’t agree more. Coming from an artist who can easily show you that his performance is just a pure state of mind, I definitely feel like more artists should start a dialogue on this matter of subject. The fairer you become towards your music, your true self as an artist, the more results you will see in the long run. Hypes always come and go.
What can you tell us about your journey right now – what are you working on, what are your plans?
At the moment, I am mainly concentrated on finishing my university here in Milan and my project Fake Society. We have just kicked off the record label and things seem slowly fitting into place. I am excited about the future. We are also in the process of building an agency. So far we have 3 artists; Camelia, Haokah and myself. We are not rushing this part of the project, we want to work with artists that really have the same vision as us, about life in general and music. Our objective basically is creating a true family. Meeting the right kind of people takes time, so we’re patient.
I think that most DJs have a favorite place or event. What was yours or where do you feel more like home?
It’s hard to list because there are really so many…
From the top of my head, I can say Bushwick A/V in New York is always very uplifting and it is the place we first played together with Camelia, so it has a special meaning for me. We try to play there as often as we can and it’s always a long set that we can really be creative and have fun.
I was also really impressed when I had the chance to play in Gazgolder, Moscow. The vibe of the place was incredible, they really know how to party over there.
Finally, Dude Club in Milan, of course. I run monthly parties called Sound Bakery over there with my partner Simone Adinolfi. We’ve had so many unforgettable nights at that club. It always feels like home.
How important it is – in your opinion- that DJs focus on networking and promotion, rather than just playing music?
I believe promotion should never go in front of the music. I think it is better to concentrate on your passion which is music as an artist and the rest will follow. When you do your job well enough and keep improving, you automatically reach a level of promotion and meet the right people.
Now, a bird has whispered to me that you have a very important person in your life. Selin is, if I understood correctly, your manager. Please correct me if I am wrong. How is it for you guys to work together?
Yes, she is also my girlfriend and my partner in the whole Fake Society project.
Working with her is super easy and comforting. She takes care of the bookings for all Fake Society artists. Having someone that’s always by your side and handling the booking part of the job is truly a privilege.
Speaking of which, is it hard to maintain a personal life as a DJ? Most people think the lifestyle doesn’t allow this too much.
Yes a bit, since a lot of travel and work is involved daily. I also have to concentrate on my studies, so that also takes up some of my time. However, we still, of course, make time for each other at every opportunity.
What do you besides music? What hobbies you guys enjoy?
We watch a lot of TV shows, movies, and documentaries together. We love going for walks in the park located near to our home in Milan. Going skiing in the mountains is a must for us at least once every year. We’re also both kind of into fashion and Selin is already taking some design courses this year. And finally, we are always down for trying new restaurants and beers J
Let’s say for one day you and Selin switch places. What kind of music would she play and how would you describe her?
She would probably play some RnB, hip-hop influenced late 90’s, early 2000’s stuff from our record library. She loves female vocalists from that era. Also, some Indie/Soul oldies or disco classics with a touch of house can be expected from her.
Well, this one is also a very difficult question. I could probably describe her as my rock and the best person I know.
What’s the most important thing for you regarding your career right now?
The happiness of my Fake Society family. This is a project that we are working on slowly, but surely. If we stick together like we do now and keep improving the relationship between us, I believe the rest will follow as I mentioned.
Would you ever accept to do something that is imposed, but it’s not really comfortable with you?
No, I am really not that person. I don’t like being imposed J
What do you think about the balance between work and passion?
When you are truly passionate about something, I believe you automatically put the necessary work in.
For the grand finale, 3 flash questions:
If you weren’t a DJ, you would probably be: A designer.
One track you could play forever: I tried to narrow it down as much as I can. Almost any remix done by Cristi Cons JHis remix of Vortex by Cesare vs. Disorder is a track I always keep going back to for years.
What’s your fav track or set from Cem?
I can’t answer this question since I hope, I get better as a DJ every single day. It’s hard for me to criticize myself in that sense.