DJ Tameil

“What the hell is that? That sounds like transformer music!”

Illustration by Lindsey Hampton
Illustration by Lindsey Hampton

DJ Tameil is one of the most highly respected Jersey / Baltimore Club producers. A prolific producer and active DJ, he performs at the hottest parties in the USA and Europe. Discorder was lucky enough to catch him the first time he was in Canada. In this in-depth interview, he talks about the over 60 member New Jersey-based DJ crew Brick Bandits starting up, dubstep, DJing with cassette decks, Wikipedia, amateur DJs flooding the internet and being Redman’s neighbour growing up.

Discorder: So I read you were Redman’s neighbour?
DJ Tameil: Yeah, we’re sorta like cousins but not cousins, you know. It was because we grew up together. His mother is like my grandmother’s sister, you know. It’s just like a big family thing, even though we’re not family. [He] pretty much taught me how to DJ before time, you know I was about seven years old, and it was the first time that I was ever actually on the stage in front of a crowd, at my uncle’s wedding, and I played EU’s “Doin da Butt.” … Once I got the crowd response from that, it was just like, in my mind, “Wow! You know I could actually be a DJ!”

D: You used to use tapes, you used to break the doors off cassette players right?
T: Oh yes, I could tell you a long story about that. I actually have somebody that’s outdone me, but yeah, I used to break the tape doors off the radios and just slow the tapes down with my fingers so that I could get a good mix, and I would record the mix with another radio … It was just so much, man! I would end up with like three different radios just so I could get everything right. One to cue the records up, one to play and one to record. … You gotta do what you gotta do!

D: So can you tell us about the Brick Bandits crew, what that’s all about?
T: Oh the Brick Bandits crew was… OK I’ll give you a little history on that. Yeah, you know, for a few years before that, you know, I used to be the known guy around Jersey, you know, when it came to Chicago Juke music, I was the man to go to, because you know, I used to get all the records before everyone else. So they knew me to be the go-to guy and then I got introduced to some of the guys from Baltimore that [were] producing, and at the time I was young, so you know, they weren’t really accepting me but I was buying all their records. After a while they saw that I was really serious, and I was producing Baltimore-style tracks and bringing it to them, and they’d listen to it and they’d be like “OK, you definitely got a different style, you add a little bit more to it.” They gave me their blessings to bring it back to Jersey, and that’s when I created the Jersey side of it, which I call Brick City Club music; but it’s still Baltimore Club music, you know. That’s where it came from. You know then after about a few years, I would say around maybe 2002, and I met these guys Tim Dolla, Mike V, Black Mike, and you know, it was a couple of guys in the crew but actually what happened was I had the whole scene on lock and they knew that they had to come through me to get known by everybody else. So actually what happened was I had a vinyl that I pressed up myself, I had started my own label, Anthrax Records. And to me, well, I listen to it to this day, and this probably happens with everybody—I can’t stand those records! I can’t stand them. You know, I listen to the way I produce now, and the way that I did then. My sound then was so flat! But I guess they saw that side of it, and they decided to attack it.

D: The Baltimore people you mean?
T: No no no, the Brick Bandits! So they’re also from Jersey. OK, so what happened was they decided to attack that, and I had a lot of CDs out at the time, so they put out one CD, I guess it was like one or two guys that had stands that I actually bought from them, so I just happened to be blasting my music on my stand one day, and I heard a guy down the street, and all I heard was “eeexcluusiiive!” That was the Brick Bandits drop at the time! So after I heard that, I turned mine down, and I’m listening, and I heard one of my records playing at first. And I was like “Oh cool!” you know, “Somebody else bought my record!” So all of a sudden, you know, it was just like a record scratching “rrrrrrip!” and then you heard some laughing and everything like that, so I was like “Wait a minute!” I went and got the CD, I was listening to it myself, so I called the number that was on the bottom of the CD. I was like, “What the hell, that was supposed to be a diss towards my music?” And the guy on the phone… deep voice, he’s just like “Yeah! Yeah mothafucka yeah!” I’m like “What the hell?” That was Mike V of course! [laughs] Mike V is like Debo! Mike V actually reminds you of… you ever seen Everybody Hates Chris, the father on it? The big guy! That’s who he looks like, and we crack on him about that all the time, but instead of us taking it to a level where, you know, it would get like stupid and everything like that, because we had a lot of teenagers [as fans], and we still do these days. We try to look like big brothers and sisters to them, so you know, it would be stupid for us to go back and forth and create a scene where they would think that it’s something more than it is, so we decided to put all of that aside, and come together as a team, you know. And to this day we just have a huge family. We don’t even really call it a team or anything like that anymore. We just call it a family, because that’s actually what it is, you know, it’s a family.

D: So you were already highly respected because of the Chicago Juke thing?
T: Yeah, it was that first, and then it went on to the Baltimore stuff because, you know, I was producing that at the time, and I was the only guy doing it. Yeah I was the only guy doing the Baltimore sound, and that sound was growing at the time in Jersey, you know, because they were buying the records from the store down there, Music Liberated, which the guy Bernie, rest in peace, he died in a car accident, but he had everything. He was the man to go to. Just like they had Barnie’s records in Chicago [which] was putting out all of the juke music. He was the man for Baltimore Club because he was the man with the money that was putting out all of the vinyls like every week. So yeah, everybody was buying from this guy, and pretty much the scene was really growing in Jersey at the time, and being that I was the guy that was producing that everybody knew at the time—plus I had the Chicago side; it was just like, wow, I was just the man not to be messing with, and they knew that. That’s why they tried to come at me so that I would actually say their names and blow them up, but it went the opposite way. But we formed a family after that.

D: I also picked something up, you’re about to work on something in Chicago called “It’s About Time Records?”
[Brad’s note: the label is now officially called “Ghettophiles.”]
T: Yeah, actually there’s this guy in Chicago named Neema. He started this new record label, which is… actually this is a good thing because now that I met him, I ran into a lot of the cats from Chicago that I used to look up to, and he introduced me to some of them. And … afterwards, after I just did this tour in Europe, and the United Kingdom, I was with these two guys from Chicago named DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn, and actually we’re about to work on a joint venture that will cross the two, and this is gonna be big, man, it’s gonna be big! [laughs]

D: So what new music styles are you feeling now?
T: Oh, new music styles. They might not be so new, but they’re new to me. Ok, I would have to say electro for one… and dubstep! Dubstep has grown on me in the past year and a half. Like, I love it! I can’t stay away from it now, and it’s funny because the area where I’m from, it used to be open, like when there was just the huger DJs’ names around, like there were ones before me, like Cool Lou and a few others, but at the time you know… I think this happens everywhere. I think it pretty much happens everywhere, where nowadays you have DJs that just can’t DJ at all. And everybody wants to be a DJ just because they get their hands on a piece of equipment or a program and this and that, and you know they really can’t do anything! [laughs] But actually how that goes is, my area is so stuck right now, to one or two styles of music. They don’t like to listen to anything outside of what they know, so when I’m riding down my street they see my BMW coming down the street and I got a loud system. I got a loud system in my BMW! [laughs] So I came back from Texas the year before last playing dubstep, and I still do to this day, and people were lookin’ at me like, “What the hell is that? That sounds like transformer music!” I’m like “Open your eyes. You don’t know. You don’t know about this stuff right here, it’s huge.” But I’m hooked on it now because I’ve seen great people play it. Like I would say AC Slater. AC Slater’s great! And I’ve seen DJ Craze play it. DJ Craze and DJ Klever, like, those were the most awesome sets to me. I think that was what turned me on to it right there, you know, when I seen them play it, and then afterwards I just started to look up more tracks and it was just like, it just blew my mind, man! Jakes, I met Jakes. Jakes is one of the coolest guys ever man! [laughs]

D: Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to get into producing, any technical tips you can let us in on?
T; For producing? I would just say about my brand of music, but I’m gonna say for all brands of music right now, if you want to be involved in a certain style of music, please study it before you try to do any tracks because … you actually hurt the people that have been there before you. You know, you come out and you think you know what you’re doing, and don’t know anything about the history, so now you come out with all of these wack tracks and everything like that, and you’re flooding the Internet, you’re flooding everywhere with it. … I’m not really even going to diss a new producer like that, I’m just going to say, just study before you get into it. That’s really all I have to say about that, you know, because it’s been a big change in music lately where there’s just a lot of people that see the popularity, they see that they can get popular from it, or make money from it, or get girls that like them just because they do it, and they don’t know anything about the history at all. Like, I’ve heard a lot of false stories and you know a lot of this floats around the Internet too! Like: “Perculator came from Baltimore.” No. Perculator came from Chicago! And you know, it’s just a whole bunch of false information. I think that if people really want to know the history of a music, they should go and study it. Find out who was there first. Find out the real facts, the real truth from the people who were there, the people who did it, instead of just finding a bunch of information from places like Wikipedia … So yeah, definitely do a lot of studying before you get into it. And if you get into it, make sure your heart is into it. You know, and this is what you really want to do and, you know, cross-reference the two, man, study … You know, my practice was every day, daily. I would recommend that to everybody, too. You know, if that’s what you really want to do, then practice it every day. I ate DJing, I slept DJing, I… everything, you know. DJing.

D: And your family too, right?
T: Yeah, all of my uncles were DJs, you know. I don’t know why they gave up… [laughs]. You know I held on to it even though they gave it up, I was just telling, it’s funny I was just telling one of the old G producers that I look up to, from Baltimore, Technics, I was just telling him the other day that when my uncle, one of my main uncles that was DJing, he threw out all of his records, and put ’em on the side of the house. I maybe was around, I probably was seven or eight years old at the time! But there was this one particular record, I knew the label of it, I just knew what it looked like. And when I seen those records out on the side of the house that day, it kinda hurt me that he stopped, but I was like, “I gotta look for that record!” It was Vaughan Mason’s Bounce Rock Skate Roll! I took that record out of the trash and I held onto it … I hid it under the couch … I just had to have it! You know, I mean… DJing just meant so much to me, you know? I just wanted to be a DJ so bad, you know, so I went through life, I remember all of the first records that I had of my own, that I used to play on my Fisher-Price turntable. Redman’s mother actually gave me a copy of James Brown’s Living in America … my mother bought me New Edition’s Candy Girl. I had Rebbie Jackson’s Centipede. Man [laughs], I remember all of that stuff! And it’s funny I can remember all of that stuff when I was so young, but you can ask me about somebody I met last week and I’m like “who?” [laughs]