Health over wealth. Review or take every opportunity you can get. Actually, go and support the artists you look up to. Show up to the venues you want to perform at. One in-person encounter wins over 100 cold call emails.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing DJ Kice.
Kice is one of the hottest DJs and producers based out of Chicago. He has performed at some of the most popular festivals and nightclubs around the globe. More notably, he has distinguished himself by teaming up with top-tier instrumentalists in his famous DJ ft. live music sets.
Chicago-born Kice spent time in Amman, Jordan, and returned to Chicago at the age of 15. He emerged onto the music scene when he was 18 years old, with his first major set at Bon V Nightclub Chicago. For more than a decade, beginning in 2007, he enjoyed immense popularity as he performed at high-profile venues. Over the years, he developed a reputation for skillfully reading his audience, innovatively integrating all genres of music, attracting crowds, and most importantly, bringing energy to any venue.
Using the impeccable knowledge and skills he gained from the music industry, Kice went on to found Treblemonsters, a unique artist management, and music consulting agency that services both top-tier global talent and venues across the USA. Clients include international names in the nightlife, hospitality, and corporate worlds.
He has also gained acclaim as a touring act, integrating his original music and Treblemonsters artists on saxophone and violin, with sets at Burning Man, Northern Nights Music Festival, Hard Rock, Sound-Bar Nightclub, PRYSM Nightclub, and many other notable venues.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kice stepped up as an artistic leader, initiating a movement to support unemployed artists during the pandemic. That movement was one of the driving forces behind the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA) in Illinois, which allows the self-employed and others who did not qualify for state unemployment benefits to receive financial assistance.
In order to further support struggling artists during the COVID-19 crisis, Kice co-founded Chicago Entertainment Relief, a resource where artists and musicians can find information during economically uncertain times about everything from where to locate discounted food to where to find economic resources and relief.
The pandemic may have slowed down the entertainment industry, but it has not slowed down Kice’s passion for music and entertainment. His new initiative, called “Bring Out The Creative,” uses virtual reality to create an experience that is as much like performing in person as possible. As a place for artists and performers who have lost their outlet to deliver their talent and performance, Bring Out The Creative events attract hundreds of viewers and high-caliber performers on a regular basis.
Bring Out The Creative, Treble Recordings, Chicago Entertainment Relief, and Treblemonsters along with Kice’s other achievements, highlight his ongoing commitment to advancing incredible music and entertainment and supporting the artists who provide it.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me! I was born in Chicago, USA and then at the age of four, I moved to Jordan with my family. Then a junior year in high school I came back to the USA and am currently residing in Chicago. I am the youngest with an older brother and sister. We visited the US almost every summer while I was in Jordan. Martial arts, sports, academia, and music were all things I enjoyed growing up.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
At a younger age, I played the Piano and the Tableh (middle eastern drum). I have always been into music; my mom loved music! I knew every song and its artist on every cassette I owned. As an early teenager, I outgrew the classical side and heard some live DJs on the local Chicago radio station. I thought it was fascinating. I ended up purchasing turntables and from there, continued to learn on my own, while always trading up my gear for the more professional and current gear. Then finally in 2009, after a couple of terrible private events and low-profile bar gigs, my cousin gave me an opportunity. He knew a nightclub promoter that had a DJ cancel on him last minute. I am sure I was this promoter’s last call, but I went in and executed the gig. From there, the promoters and owners kept calling me to come back.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Shifting the business to Mexico during covid. On a previous trip to Mexico, I was driving a golf cart on Isla Mujeres when a promoter flagged me down outside a hotel and showed me an amazing rooftop day club. When COVID hit and all US venues were shut down, Mexico reopened quickly and I began contacting people in hopes of getting a gig or two. Initially, I decided to move there for a month-long club residency on Isla Mujeres. That led to then bringing out 20+ artists from Chicago to play in Mexico, then eventually to living in Mexico for about a year and establishing our first international Treblemonsters contract at Canopy Hilton Cancun, where we currently book both local acts and route talent from the USA.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Dating someone that you meet at an after-hours; don’t do it!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Treblemonsters and my new DJ/Producer brand, Kice. For Treblemonsters, we are scaling the business to what we had planned pre-covid into other states and countries. Curating music programs for bars, hotels, and clubs around the USA and Mexico is a very fulfilling feeling. It is a lot of hard work. We just opened our first legitimate office in River West, Chicago with 12 staff members. As for Kice, I have always produced but not seriously. So in 2019 I took a production boot camp and am back in it. The goal is to release more tunes in the House realm on a quarterly basis. I have many years of DJ-ing under my belt and reading rooms; it is time to really execute my thoughts into music.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I can give you one strong reason from where I sit. Being Jordanian and living in the USA, essentially in two worlds, I know for a fact that I look at both worlds from a different perspective. An open-minded, expanded, and understanding perspective. It helps me have more patience in certain situations and address things in a way others won’t find as a solution.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Health over wealth.
- Review or take every opportunity you can get.
- Actually, go and support the artists you look up to.
- Show up to the venues you want to perform at.
- One in-person encounter wins over 100 cold call emails.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I am currently experiencing this. The only thing I can say is to dedicate a lot of time to the research and training of people before hiring them. Because once you hire them and spend hours and energy training and they are not that good, you will always start again or settle with low-quality results. People are everything. Take your time and invest in the right people.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Good karma in the industry: trust, loyalty, and doing good for others without expecting anything in return. This can be applied to any status level or industry.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Myself. I do not want to sound arrogant but, myself. People come and go. They can really only help you to a certain level. You are always the first and last one standing regardless of how much effort or money you spend on others to help you. You find your drive and energy to stay standing so when these people come and go, you do not fall. People often only help to a certain level of their own return, which is never enough to really “impact” your career.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Help me, help you, help us. From customers to talent, if others are to genuinely and truthfully do good work then that will allow me to continue to do “my thing” from a business perspective in order for everyone to grow together.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
MK. Only because I am currently producing Piano and Dance House and he is truly one of 3 artists that I religiously listen to. I would like to ask about his production journey and how he goes about the creative process and structure building. Super inspiring and an OG in the game.
How can our readers follow you online?
@kice.music on IG/FB. I am also on SoundCloud, Spotify, and Apple Music. All these details are on my site www.kicemusic.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!