Getting To Know Jez Dior

By Chioma Nwana

Two weeks ago, we got to sit down with rapper and singer Jez Dior of Epic Records and ask him a few questions about his life, his music, and what he has in store for his listeners. Here’s what he had to say:

Jez Dior , photographed by  Chioma Nwana .

Jez Dior, photographed by Chioma Nwana.

For our followers who may not know, what’s your name and where are you from?

My name is Jez Dior, and I’m from Los Angeles.

How long have you been making music? 

I grew up in a household full of music. My dad was best friends with Sid Vicious from Sex Pistols, so I grew up around rock music, but it wasn’t until I was like 12 or 13 that I first got introduced to hip hop. My cousin bought me The Eminem Show, and that was the first hip hop CD that I ever listened to.


I heard you’re a big fan.

A huge fan, yeah. A huge fan. That was the first time I fell in love with hip hop. I completely got immersed in the culture and fell completely in love with Eminem. From there, it was 50 Cent and G-Unit, and everything like that. So it was around 12 or 13 that I started writing raps – I was completely obsessed with that. I would write raps like I was Em or like I was 50, and I would try to be like them.

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How would you describe your sound? I’ve listened to you on SoundCloud and on Apple Music, and from your music, I got a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Would you be able to put a word – or a couple words – to it?

I mean, I never want to put myself in a box. My music is always evolving, and it just has to do with the way that I’m feeling at a certain time. So I could go in the studio and make an acoustic song, and have no drums in it, and not rap and all, and sing. Or I could go make the hardest rap song with the craziest 808s banging. So it really just depends on how I feel and my emotions. But I never want to put myself in a box because what I’ve come to find out over the last couple years of maturing as an artist is that there are certain things that I can do that are outside of what people normally think, you know? I don’t always rap, and I don’t always just sing. I like to keep it broad, and my music’s very eclectic. I do a lot of different things.


After doing some research, I discovered that your father is Steve Dior, a well-known UK punk rock artist. How did his musical background and his presence in your life influence you to make music?

In two very different ways. Being raised around music obviously made me feel enticed to do the same thing. And being around him and watching him in our shed and our backyard just play guitar all night – being around that vibe – also influenced me to make music. Also him leaving my life for a very long time influenced me to make music, hence the reason that I fell in love with Eminem. I related to his lyrics and what he had to say about his father and his mother. So in two very different ends of the spectrum: being around music until I was 11 or 12 and also him leaving. They both inspired me to make music in two different ways.


In addition to your father, who else influences your sound? I know you mentioned Eminem and G-Unit…

It’s interesting. I grew up listening to them 24/7, but I also grew up listening to The [Rolling] Stones, and Oasis, and even blink-182. Some of the melodic stuff that I do comes from listening to them when I was younger. So it wasn’t strictly hip hop. I wasn’t just a hip hop head, even though I would look up the first-week sales of Mobb Deep when I was younger because of G-Unit. So I love that side, but when I’m at home, I’m pretty much listening to old Oasis or The Stones and stuff like that.

I know that your music tells us stories about your life. Tell me a little bit more about your upcoming project and the story that you’re trying to tell with that.

So we have an EP coming out in October. It’s going to be very hip-hop driven and more urban than what’s going to be on our upcoming album. I have these great records that I love and have been working on for a while that I definitely want to get out there, so that’s why we’re doing the EP. And with the album, I feel like this is my opportunity to tell my story of the first 25 years of my life, you know? Like from the second I was born until now, this is my opportunity to tell my story. The sounds are all going to be very different and eclectic, but it’s going to be a cohesive story about where I’ve been and what I do.


That’s awesome. We’re looking forward to it. So the next question: I was looking at a couple of your songs on Genius. I saw that you not only write your music, but you also produce sometimes? Is that true?

I’m not a producer, and I don’t play instruments, but I’m always in the sessions from the beginning of the process. I’ll be in there, and I’ll say which sounds I like, and the way I want the drums to be and the guitar, so I guess in a sense it is producing, but I’m not actually playing any of it. But I always like to be there from the beginning of the production.


So you’re somewhat of a co-producer?

In a way. I don’t know. Producers can send me beat packs and all that stuff. I just prefer to be there for the entire process for all my songs, and I definitely write all my lyrics.


Alright, let’s break from music talk for a second. Aside from making music, what do you do in your spare time? 

We play a lot of Fifa, we drink some Jack Daniels… I play soccer. My other love in life, other than music, is soccer. So you can usually find us kicking a ball around or just hanging out at the crib. I like hanging with my dog. I like my alone time sometimes. Whenever I get a break, I really want to catch up on the new season of Narcos.

What's your favorite soccer team?

Inter Milan.


Just checking. Alright, let's get back into it. Is there any artist that you are planning to or hoping to work with in the future?

I mean there are artists that I’ve loved since I was a kid that I would love to work with on my album or in the future. Liam Gallagher, the lead singer of Oasis. He doesn’t really do features, so I don’t know if that will ever happen, but that’s a dream of mine. The lead singer of Kings of Leon, Caleb [Followill]. It’s not really your typical thing where I want to work with this rapper or that rapper. I kinda want to keep it selective and do something that people wouldn’t anticipate. Everybody is hopping on everybody’s tracks, and it’s cool, but my songs are really personal to me, so it would have to be something really special.


I respect that. And now for the next question: aside from the album and the EP, is there anything else that we should be looking forward to in the near future or before the end of the year?

I’m constantly in the studio. Whether it’s the album or the EP, I have records that I’m making that aren’t going to be right for either of them. Maybe I’ll put out a mixtape or I got videos coming out. I got a bunch of videos coming out. For the last couple years, I’ve been really selective about how we do things, but now I think it’s time where we have so much stuff built up, and we have such a back catalog that I want to be able to give people content constantly. Keep the content rolling. Get stuff going out. I’ll just say expect a lot of stuff.


And here's my final question for you: what is one thing that you want our followers – and people who are paying attention in general – to know about you?

Just that I’m the realest. Everything I say in my music is true, and I’m not fronting on anything. I do this because it’s an emotional release for me, and the reason why I started making music and related to Em so much is because it helps me get through life. I don’t take it lightly – I’m really fucking excited about my album, and I think it’s going to be something special. I hope the way that I felt about Em and about all these artists is the way that these kids can feel about me. I hope they can look up to me and that I can help them the way they [my favorite artists] helped me.

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