(Sung to the tune of the Dexter’s Lab theme song) Enter at your own bass-loving peril, passed the bolted door, where wonky things may happen that the world has never heard before. In Dr. Ozi’s Laboratory, lives the gnarliest boy you’ve ever seen, but NSD releases his experiments blowing minds smithereens! There is head banging, and doom while things go boom, in Dr. Ozi’s Lab!
In Dr. Ozi’s Laboratory, lives the gnarliest boy you’ve ever seen, but NSD releases his experiments blowing minds smithereens!
There is head banging, and doom while things go boom, in Dr. Ozi’s Lab!
Entering the dubstep realm with his heavy synths and bass, Toronto-based Nix Chohan, aka Dr. Ozi, has been “breaking molds and infiltrating dance floors with uniquely upbeat but relentless sounds”. Although he functions off minimal sleep his continuous energy and savage style is taking the world one release and tour stop at a time. A passionate and highly driven producer, Ozi packs his sets full of new and old NSD favorites among other fire to ensnare the crowd and make them chant in unison “HEY! HEY!”.
While recently in Philadelphia, aka Filth-a-delphia, he impressed with his very strong opener and hip-hop based transitions and refused to leave without creating a mosh-pit. While unprecedented in his music production, you can truly gain a sense of how much he really loves to wow his fans and the dedication he puts into his craft. Taking cues from some of EDM’s finest such as Zomboy, Cashmere Cat, Datsik, amongst others, his drive is unparalleled as he continues to decimate city after city with his charisma and heavy bass sounds. Watch out, you just might be the Doctor’s next big stop… and you have absolutely no idea what you’re in for!
I was able to catch up with Nix on his latest tour stop in Philadelphia!
(photo by Rivkin Photos)
Most people don’t know Dr. Ozi started out as two people. How did the project form and tell me about your change from duo to a solo act?
That’s the first question that a lot of people ask, that’s so weird. It used to be a duo… yes. Basically… well, I’m gonna come clean, why the fuck not? Basically, the dude that was doing a lot of stuff with me he wasn’t really pulling his weight and I decided you know its time for me to actually move forward and try to actually do something myself rather than have someone floatin’ the boat. He’s my best friend, I’ve had him for like 9 years, the longest time, and he’s still my best friend, and I look up to him in the biggest manner ever. But I think music, we just weren’t meant to be, so I guess we kind of just like stopped doing it. It’s easier that way, he wanted to do school, he wanted to do dispatching, I wanted to do music, and I ended up doing stuff like this now. And it’s become a career, so it’s better that way, to be honest.
After having some Visa trouble you finally got your passport to tour the States from Canada, what has that been like for you? What’s been your favorite venue or stops so far?
Well so far that Visa thing was the shittiest thing I ever dealt with. Even Cookie Monsta had to deal with it cuz he has some charges on him and he had to deal with some ridiculous stuff. And the thing is that he was applying for O1, he wasn’t even applying for the thing that I was, which is P2. But the thing is that time was probably… like I was fucking at my house and just crying to myself every show I missed. And I hated it because if you think about it the one thing that I want to do is meet these people (fans) and I do. In the bottom of my heart, I can’t… they already spent 20-40 dollars to see me just play a couple songs, but I do actually want to see them in person. So I don’t get to do that, it takes a weird ass toll on me and it sucks, but when that happened I only go to play 2 shows. Later on, we realized that we should obviously take the next step further which is premium processing of the Visa, which is paying an extra 2 grand and you get to have it faster than ever, which is a lot better. And I finally got it, and to be honest this entire tour, this tour… ‘Laboratory’ tour is completely different, but this one… ‘My Friend Mr. Hyde’ tour, I would have to until now, up to Philadelphia I’ve played… Seattle fucked shit up! Dude, I can’t believe how hard I went because it’s weird, when you’re djing and you see the crowd going harder than you are, you wanna go harder than them. So even these guys in Philadelphia, these guys were like not having it, we’re gonna go fucking harder than Ozi’s going. So finally obviously Philadelphia is doing a lot better than Seattle right now, but these two cities are head-to-head right now.
Have you played the Bassment in New York yet?
I played there with the ‘Laboratory’ tour – I played Webster Hall. And that was fucking great show! Even though there were 150-200 people, that’s the kind of show I wanna play! I tell this to everyone whoever is starting out to be a DJ or anything, I tell them if you’re going to start out if you can’t make those 100 people, even 500 people, if you can’t make them dance, then you can’t make 5000 people dance. It’s impossible! So when I played the Webster Hall with 150 people it was mind-blowing because everyone was feeling it, it was fucking great!
So where does the name Dr. Ozi come from? Because it makes me think of “ozzie” like Australian.
So a lot of people think that it’s “ozzie”, it’s actually technically “ozi”. Honestly, I don’t care as long as people don’t spell it wrong. But the thing is, when I was a kid, I used to have a huge imagination. I used to just think of imaginary things all the time, my mom used to get scared all the time, like “What the fuck are you thinking about?” and I was just like “It’s nothing, it’s just imaginary things!” But when I used to be in my parent’s car, I used to basically put music on, put earphones in, like the teenager that everyone is. And then I would imagine this huge, bulky, strong ass person, completely inhuman, like Hulk. We’ll call him Hulk for now, just because it relates to him the best. He’s just tearing shit apart, he’s taking buildings down, he’s taking telephone wires down. I named him “Ozi”! The older I got, basically, the more serious my parents got. They were just like you need to have a career. And culturally and traditionally speaking, Indian parents always want their kid to be an engineer, or a lawyer, or a doctor. So out of spite, I was just like “You know what, fuck it!” I’m gonna call myself “Doctor” because you guys are fucking shitty. So I just ended up calling myself “Dr. Ozi” – it just ended up coming together. At least it has a meaning behind it and it has a history, so I just called it that.
How did you first get into dubstep? Why did you choose to produce bass-centered/dubstep music over other genres?
That’s a really good question, not gonna lie! I used to like drum & bass, and that’s actually how I got introduced. When I moved to Canada I actually listened to a drum & bass channel! One day I slept to a radio that was on an AM channel, and it was playing drum & bass. And I slept with it and I never could find it and I finally figured out that it was the Toronto jungle, drum & bass guy, named Marcus Visionary, and I finally told him, I was like “You were the guy who introduced me to electronic music!” And then after that, I started building it up, I already had a love for two-step music – a kick on the first and a snare on the third. So it made sense for me to go back and forth, and it could be anything, it could be trap; drum & bass is two-step as well too, but it’s faster really. So I always had a feeling for that, but for some reason, that BPM, 150 BPM, just made sense for me to constantly grow onto. I mean I could make a trap song if I wanted to and I could make a drum & bass track if I wanted to. But I think that people that follow me know that I will evolve into dubstep, and better into dubstep. So I just keep making it really.
(photo by Rivkin Photos)
You’ve produced music through a lot of different labels like Uplink Audio, Buygore, Firepower Records and others. Recently you’ve done a lot with Never Say Die and their NSD: Black Label – what’s the best part of releasing with them and how did you start working with them?
I’m gonna be honest, out of all those labels I can guarantee you I would not be anywhere without those labels. I have to do a shout-out to Play Me; I have to do a shout-out to Heavy Artillery. Heavy Artillery was the first label that actually brought me to the scene that gave me my first paycheck. So I owe a lot to those people as well. But like Firepower, Buygore, all these guys, and even Uplink, these guys have truly believed in me. But not gonna lie, out of anyone who’s been super supportive and to really worry about what Dr. Ozi is, is Never Say Die. And these guys have like taken me as a child of their own and it’s been a great fucking… I can’t even believe that they consider me as like part of them. Because if you think dubstep, it’s Never Say Die! You don’t think of anything else, you may think Buygore, you may think Firepower, but if you are thinking of dubstep, you are thinking of Never Say Die! So it’s amazing how much love they have been giving me! Like the fact that I’ve got to release a couple songs with them, and I get to do shows like this because I am with them, it’s crazy! Like a lot of people will be like “You know what, you got lucky, you have a talent or whatever”, I hate the word lucky, so much! Because I really did work for this, I ended up actually focusing on it, and trying to work on myself, so that’s the worst thing to say to me, to say that “You are lucky”. It sucks, but on the other hand, I think Never Say Die really looks forward to what I can provide them. I make songs on the daily; I make ideas once a time, a lot of unreleased stuff. That’s what happened when I made “Blueprint”; basically, I just gave them 30 tracks, and I was like pick whatever you want. And then they actually decided that this is gonna be the EP, this is a perfect size and I was like “That’s totally fine”! So honestly I can’t stress on how much I owe to Never Say Die, it’s been crazy. And the fact that I’m gonna be on Zomboy’s tour, on the bus!!!! You know when I started, I was just like you know what the main thing I just want to do is be on a bus that was my fucking dream! Like going on a plane to go play the show is not bad, I like it a lot, but being on a bus is so much different. And I wanted that so bad when I started this and finally I get to do it! It’s fuckin’ dope!
Who are some artists that you listen to?
I listen to weirdly enough, I listen to a lot of Cashmere Cat, I kind of get my influence for my melodic stuff from him. And Lido, I don’t know how to spell it (L-i-d-o), he’s beautiful. I don’t know he does it… it’s amazing! The recent artists that I’ve been listening to I would have to say, I’ve been upping Isqua, like for the longest time, like he’s been a weird influence to me. I think that when he makes music, I know exactly what he’s thinking. Like he wanted something to happen at that moment, and it happened, and you realize that that’s exactly what he wanted in there. And that’s something that I really envy in a producer when they get something that they really like. The other person, of course, I can’t stress on is Zomboy, like he influences me quite a lot. And he makes different stuff all the fucking time, so I listen to him all the fucking time.
“Youth In Asia” is one of my more favorite of your recent tracks, what was the process like for you for making that track?
Honestly, the way I started that track was I downloaded a sample pack of Migos, and I found a little clip of them doing a “beat the pot”, I don’t even know. I hate lyrics… I can’t do them! But anyways so basically I was talking to Never Say Die, and they were just like this is not gonna go thru Migos, they’re gonna talk about it if it gets too popular of course, because of the name, which is “Youth In Asia”. It was going to be controversial and that’s a marketing scheme really on my end. On top of that it’s a very heavy drop in the dubstep community, so a lot of people actually enjoyed it, so we were really looking forward to it. And the funny thing is the dude that I kicked out, Christian, the second half, he’s the one who actually made the vocal loop happen, he sang it again in his own voice. So he basically went it and was just like, “I will do it, I’ll make the whole vocal happen”. I made him change a little bit just to fit the key of it. He sang it in a different key, so I said let me put it in a different way and hope it works, and it did. The process of it was basically, honestly, if I ever showed you the project file of the song, it’s the simplest… okay let’s say for example my track, “Johnny” in the Blueprint EP, has over 99 tracks as a channel. So I’m making different kinds of sounds in 99 different ways, that song “”Youth In Asia”) was 50. So half the amount I was making it! So it was the simplest song and the most intricate in a way but in one direction only. And I don’t mean the band One Direction, but it definitely was the coolest way to keep it very rhythmic and groovy to just like keep it in the same pocket, if that makes sense. In the groove, in the pocket, in the cup, in the pocket, in the funk!
How do you feel your sound has progressed over the years? Was there any song that you released where you really went, “Wow, this is the best track I’ve released so far!”?
Since I started obviously I look back to what I have made, like for example I made a track a while ago, a remix of DJ s3rl, hard-core hardstyle dude, and I just made a remix and put it on YouTube. And when I listen to that and what I make now, there’s a difference. Because you hear people like Virtual Riot, and you hear people like Cymatics making all these sounds and samples to make people better. But you have to be different in a weird way! So I finally figured out what’s my sound, to show people this is who Dr. Ozi is, and that’s how it’s gonna sound.
I’m going to have to say the recent track “Johnny”, is definitely what I felt was feel-good, my top favorite, best mix-down, best master, everything involved. That was definitely the coolest track I’ve made because when I was making the track, I constantly thought about Johnny Bravo. It’s weird I told this to UKF as well, and the dude from UKF was just like, “Why did you name it ‘Johnny’?” And I was just like the only reason was that it’s so uplifting, and it sounds so bad, but Johnny has such a weird confidence. He never gives up no matter what happens to him! He gets let down so many times but he still has a reason to worry about his hair! And I envy that about a person, any individual, if they’re just like, “Look… I’m having the hardest time, I broke up with my ex-girlfriend or whatever, but I still have me to worry about”. And everyone has a little tiny bit of Johnny about them, and I envy that about people. So I don’t know, I thought it kind of persuaded a cool feature in a song, so I just named it “Johnny” – that song in general, I was like this is definitely gonna be one of the coolest songs. That’s why I guess UFK featured it on their channel, but other than that… “Youth In Asia” was cool and that got popular and now, same level, “HartyHar” is getting in the same zone. And “HartyHar” now is getting the most exposure I have ever seen in my entire life. To me… “Johnny” is good, but “HartyHar” in live perspective, everyone loves it. It’s so weird, and it’s literally the same thing, 50 tracks. And everyone is just like, “Wow this is the coolest track” – it’s so simple! And people love it for no reason and I love it! It’s so cool!
What can we expect from you in the future?
The main question that a lot of interviewers ask! Honestly, to you, personally, I wanna tell you right now, is that the only thing that I look forward to is to talk to people like you. And it means a lot more than you think that it does. Cuz I know deep down that you actually, weirdly give a fuck about me. And you and I have been pretty cool friends on Facebook, and to talk to you is what I love. And the fact that you talk to people is amazing. And because I get to meet people like you, I don’t ever want to relax. I don’t ever want to see myself being in the studio and trying to make a song. I actually want my foot to bleed… feet to bleed… not just one foot, that doesn’t make sense. But if I get to meet people like you, and I get to perform the way I am, and to talk to people that actually feel great, that’s what I want in the future. I will make music for the longest time, but I want to meet people who thrive for me and tell me that their lives have changed and how they’ve got through their break-ups. And if people are looking into that in the future, like I’m down to forever be… that’s exactly what I do on Twitter, that’s exactly what I do on Snapchat, that’s exactly what I do on my Facebook page. I try to talk to them! A lot of people don’t respect that as a producer or DJ, they think it’s too much, that I shouldn’t respond, I’m just gonna be my own person, in my own bubble. But I think it’s so valuable to speak to these people and to be honest in a weird way that’s the part that inspires me to make new music. I’m not just gonna not talk to these friends or fans who inspire me to make new music, it feels better to do it that way, then just make something out of nowhere.