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Interview: CHKLZ Chats with Us About House Music, Creative Process, Future Plans & Much More

CHKLZ’s journey begins with a heartwarming rescue story. The duo’s muse, a small white dog named Charlie, was found on a scorching Fourth of July under a truck in downtown Phoenix. This little dog, affectionately called “Chuckles,” inspired their mission to build an inclusive music community – and that is exactly what has happened. Their upbeat and fun-loving spirit isn’t just in their music—it’s a reflection of who they are.

Now, CHKLZ is making waves with a tech house remix of “”White Wine Spritzer,”” a song originally by Okilly Dokilly. The guy member of CHKLZ was part of this Simpson-inspired band, and the song was a major hit. The remix brings a fresh, energetic twist, blending their past and present styles seamlessly. This track is a full-circle moment, connecting their history with their current vibe.

Their accolades are impressive. Named Best Dance Artist 2023 by Phoenix New Times, CHKLZ has toured throughout the USA, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and Costa Rica. Their live shows are electric, and their upcoming tour promises more unforgettable performances. With their unique sound and inclusive message, CHKLZ continues to win new fans around the world.


How did you transition from being part of Okilly Dokilly to forming CHKLZ and diving into electronic dance music?

A: I always loved dance music. It’s always been at my core as a drummer. No matter what project I was in, I always pushed dance beats into my music. When I was younger in my 20s, I regularly went to see acts like Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, LCD Soundsystem, Justice, MSTRKRFT, and Hot Chip. I went to the festivals often then as a fan, dreaming of when the time would come for us to be playing these kinds of stages!

In fact, I still say today the greatest show I’ve ever seen was the Chemical Brothers 2011 at Coachella. I was rolling my face off, surrounded by a massive crew of friends, for our 5th Coachella in a row. It felt like such a surreal experience, and it always made me wanna do my own style of dance music. It always made me wanna cross over that threshold of being an electronic dance music artist, but not necessarily always having to be “EDM” or a “DJ.” When I saw these acts, they were basically considered “bands” back then on the festival circuit. Not sure how they really are classified today. The one thing I know is, they weren’t just producers playing their tracks through CDJs. They were using really cool gear.

They didn’t play other artist’s music either. Their sets were very much the same as a DJ set today, with little to no breaks and seamless mixing and mashing up between tracks, but this was all done with their own songs they wrote. Not even remixes, just their tracks.

And it was performances like this peppered throughout my 20s that really fueled this transition. As long as I can remember, I always wanted to be in a band like this, writing and performing our own songs. I just wasn’t ready to run an entity like this yet. I never thought I wanted to be a “DJ” my whole life. (And that is not to knock DJs). I always thought I wanted to be the producer/drummer in some kind of indie dance band that makes people dance. A band that’s known for its fun and high-energy shows. That’s designed with the festival vibe in mind and is truly a festival band. And now we are doing the kind of music I have always dreamed and are becoming that kind of “EDM band” I always thought possible. One where we play and remix all of our own tracks live and one where the drums are front and center! We may be a small duo unit, but we pack a full live sound.

If there is one thing CHKLZ has confirmed for me yet again as an artist, it’s that you never know what is coming next in your journey. I just know I continue to embrace it as it continues.




What is the story behind your duo name, CHKLZ, and how does it reflect your music style?

The name CHKLZ (pronounced Chuckles) was born from our little white dog Charlie. We called her “Chuckles” as a nickname because, as a little girl, “Chuck” just wasn’t going to stick.

She quickly became a source of inspiration one night while sitting in my living room. Our entire theme and language is “Doggies!” And it’s because of her. Former founding member LeMarshawn Jean suggested we spell it this way to be different and to stand out. And what a great decision that was looking back today.

The name represents our musical genre of Groove Fiesta very well in my opinion. Innovating and changing it up is our modus operandi. Not going down the traditional route. Being brave and blazing our own path with our own style. And I feel like everything we do and the music we make really embodies this spirit.

How does the remix of “White Wine Spritzer” connect your past experiences with your current musical direction?

It is just another evolution in my musical journey. I have played in over 50 bands in my life. 50 bands for which I learned their set for at least one live show on drum kit or percussion. I always say it is important to stay open in life, especially as an artist. You never know what is going to come next. I can say that 10 or 15 years ago if you would have asked me how this all would look today, my answer of what I thought it would be and what it is would never have aligned. And that is the beauty of it to me.

And the remix just further builds that connection and character of growth and melting pot of sound that the Groove Fiesta of my life truly has been. Fusing heavy Nedal, house, and lots of percussion…who would even think to do it in the first place. And that is what I love about it. The same fills that work in heavy Nedal somehow also work in house and so on. It’s all connected.

Can you walk us through the creative process you went through for this remix?

This remix actually started as kind of a joke idea with some friends of ours on an August morning last summer at our first major international Friendzy Fest in Alberta, Canada. We started joking about how the vocals would sound on a house track and started pretending to do the deep growls like Head Ned and mouthing the beats and the structure. We all started laughing, but I actually thought it was a great idea, so we followed through with it. And here we are today. Ironic how Okilly Dokilly started the entire project in a similar manner to us creating this production.

What do you hope listeners will feel or experience when they hear the CHKLZ remix of “White Wine Spritzer”?

We hope they feel joy and excitement. We hope they feel like this is something fresh and innovative they want to enjoy. We hope they hear the melting pot of genres happening in our Groove Fiesta remix of the Okilly Dokilly classic. We hope listeners feel inclined to dance and move their bodies. We hope the head bangers love the break down and slam the rails. We hope the loyal Neighborinos who supported Okilly Dokilly over the years find a new love in a new sound for the song. And most of all, we hope listeners want to enjoy the tune again and again and share it with their best Doggies!

How important is it for you to maintain a connection to your roots while exploring new musical genres? What are your thoughts and feelings around this whole category of the creative process in general?

It is the most important thing. To me, when I started DJing, it was a great new experience. But I was craving more from our live show. Coming from a background as a drummer/percussionist in touring bands (not just Okilly Dokilly) and playing so many genres, I wanted to bring that influence and experience to life in our shows. What started with a single cowbell has turned into a full-on show with an electronic drum kit and extra live FX that makes our experience unique.

And all of my years of songwriting in bands as a drummer has really helped shape CHKLZ today! No doubt about it. Especially being mostly self-taught aside from a few critical lessons in technique that changed my life as a drummer.

From teaching myself music theory and how to read music, to teaching lessons as an instructor and being pushed to know more, to being forced to understand energy flow in songwriting as a drummer, it all matters and shows in our song writing and approach to the game. And I am so thankful to have all of those years of experience as CHKLZ continues to grow our foundation.


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