Imagine going from the opening slot at Exchange L.A.—performing to a near-empty venue—to headlining and selling out the following year.
For 26-year-old DJ and dance music producer ACRAZE, this was reality. Before becoming the red-hot "Do It To It" artist we all know and love, his music production journey started on a much different path.
In an exclusive interview with EDM.com, ACRAZE admits that growing up, he "was not very musically inclined."
But his interest was piqued during his senior year of high school, when he knew he wanted to become a DJ. ACRAZE then went on to release his first original production, "Pull Up," in 2017 via 4B's MACA imprint. It's now a far cry from what fans have come to know and expect from him these days, but any longtime fan will know that he was originally a speaker-rattling bass music producer.
Over the years—and a myriad of ferocious trap and dubstep songs later—ACRAZE cultivated a loyal fanbase of head-bangers. But he felt unfulfilled.
"In the bass scene, there was a lot of competition and I didn't feel like I had my own space," ACRAZE explained.
Exploring New Sounds
When the global quarantine period began, ACRAZE used the downtime to work on his music. There was no real direction, he says, so he began exploring new sounds.
"Three months into quarantine, I started making a lot more house music," he revealed. "I had never felt more alive making music. I was making hundreds of songs and my manager was amazed because he had never seen me like that before. I was making so much music and he said to me, 'Okay, I think we're going in the right direction.'"
Influenced by house music virtuoso Chris Lake, ACRAZE released "Marco Polo" in 2020, calling it one of his favorite songs. This tech house track was released as part of Malaa's thumping Illegal Mixtape Vol.3 compilation, a showcase of rising talent.
His urge to produce house was superseding that of bass music, and he felt moments of resistance as he redefined his sound.
"I played my first house set on New Years 2021. I had never done a full one before," ACRAZE said. After witnessing the positive feedback from the crowd, his team started to debate whether or not it was time to make the transition.
By taking that risk, ACRAZE feared he would "sacrifice all of [his] memories and bass-head fans." And after mulling it over, he says it "was something I had to sacrifice because I really love the house music scene."
It's All a Feeling
With his newfound direction, ACRAZE says he drew his inspiration from "older records and sounds that feel nostalgic—like you already know what it feels like, you just never heard it [like this] before."
ACRAZE initiated his revamped musical project earlier this year with an unapologetic house rework of Lipps Inc.'s 1979 disco classic, “Funky Town," which he said was one of his favorite records back in the day.
Ultimately, "Funky Town" served as a preface to his chart-topping hit, “Do It To It."
"I remember making ['Do It To It'] around October of last year," ACRAZE said. "I made the song because I thought I was going to be playing an EDC livestream for Orlando and I needed a new intro."
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Sampling vocals from Cherish's 2006 single "Do It To It," ACRAZE created a sensational house track that felt both nostalgic and fresh. Infusing the beat with classic house drum programming and his newly reimagined sound, ACRAZE came into his own.
"It feels good to put out more house music because I feel more alive," ACRAZE gushed. "As a musician, it's all a feeling."
"I performed ['Do It To It'] for the first time live in Orlando, on New Years with Tchami, and when it dropped it was absolute chaos… the crowd roared from all the way at the back of the club to the front," ACRAZE explains, reflecting on that profound night. "The next day I woke up to like 500 to 600 DMs and that never happens to me. Everyone wanted to know what the song was called. When I showed my manager, that's when we realized that we've got something special here."
Who's Song Is This?
In the months building up to the official release of "Do It To It," ACRAZE sent it to DJ Snake, Malaa, and many others, who incorporated it into their performances. Snake rinsed the track in a slew of his own DJ sets, hailing it "the song of the summer."
In June, house music contemporary Dombresky had a show at Orlando's Celine nightclub, where he invited ACRAZE to come along. As it turns out, Steve Gordon, co-head of electronic music at powerhouse agency UTA, happened to be in attendance. When Dombresky played "Do It To It," Gordon appeared to be enjoying the track.
"When the drop came in, [Gordon] looked around and asked, 'Who's song is this?'" ACRAZE said.
As luck would have it, ACRAZE and his manager Alex Akleh happened to be at the club that night and everyone pointed to them. "Steve came over to me to talk about the song and about three days later he signed me to UTA," he said. "It feels surreal."
Song Of The
As “Do It To It” continued to circulate, more and more people took notice.
Before its official release, the record reached the top spot on 1001Tracklists and garnered support from Pete Tong, Chris Lake, Jax Jones, Dillon Francis and John Summit, to name a few.
"Do It To It" officially dropped on August 20th, 2021, and it quickly took over the internet. With EDC Las Vegas coming up, ACRAZE and Akleh decided to go to the festival because they knew how many people were going to support the record.
"I wanted to put a face to the song," ACRAZE explained. "That weekend was perfect for networking and to actually have people get to know who I am. I got to meet a lot of the legends like Malaa, Tiësto, Zedd, Martin Garrix, DJ Snake, and so many more."
The virality of "Do It To It" took a step further when Zedd opened his EDC Las Vegas set by mashing it up with the Squid Game theme. Dubstep star Subtronics eventually previewed his blistering rework of "Do It To It" at EDC's Orlando edition, where dance music legend Tiësto delivered a stunning remix of his own.
ACRAZE told EDM.com that an official "Do It To It" remix package is in the works. "We are working on a pop version," he added. "Trying to get a rapper or a singer to rework it."
An official music video has also been filmed for "Do It To It," marking the first release of ACRAZE's that has been accompanied by an audiovisual. "It was really fun [to shoot]," he said. "Everyone was telling me stories about how they first heard ['Do It To It']. It didn't matter how many times we had to replay it, everyone was having a good time."
"Do It To It" has been climbing Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs for 12 weeks now and, at the time of writing, is currently at its peak at #7. With no signs of slowing down, it's on track to be the song of the year.
You can catch ACRAZE at one of his upcoming 2021 shows.
ACRAZE 2021 TOUR DATES:
November 24 – The Ave Live Philadelphia, PA
November 26 – Bisou Nightclub Mcallen, TX
November 27 – HQ2 – Ocean Casino Resort Atlantic City, NJ
December 02 – Distorted Reality Tour Boston, MA
December 03 – Distorted Reality Tour Toronto, Canada
December 04 – Distorted Reality Tour Montreal, Canada
December 28 – Get Together Edmonton, Canada
December 29 – Winter Music Festival Vancouver, Canada
December 31 – NYE Countdown San Bernardino, CA