An EDM DJ Listened to By Millions Showed Me Losing Can Be a Good Thing | INTERVIEW WITH DJ NO SLEEP
What does it mean to be born to lose?
That’s the title of No Sleep’s debut single, which shares its name with the Ray Charles song released 54 years prior. However, where Charles sings of his dreams only bringing pain, I interpret No Sleep’s original as distinctly positive. A positive take isn't surprising considering he is one of the best trap DJs in my opinion.
Last month, prior to this drop, I had the pleasure of talking to the artist about his journey thus far. He’s recently seen huge success, many of his remixes have millions of views on the @TrapNation youtube channel, with his G-Easy, Me Myself and I remix getting a staggering 51 million. Some may find it curious then, that his debut single would carry the name Born to Lose.
However the more I think about it, it doesn’t seem curious at all.
No Sleep’s career began in Pittsburgh, a city dominated by Hip Hop.
“The thing is Pittsburgh is such a hip hop based city, Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa, everyone wants to rap and make hip hop beats. Most of the people I grew up making music with we were all making hip hop beats."
“It wasn’t until college, I didn’t go to college in Pittsburg, and everyone was listening to EDM, it has been awesome to step out of that [hip-hop] box. ”
This leap outside of his comfort zone, into a new confusing genre which seems to redefine what it is constantly payed off, as he began gaining following.
He was no longer a fish in the small crowded hip-hop ‘pond’ of Pittsburg, he had now stepped into an international genre. With less dependence on lyrics, and a global appeal, DJs worldwide compete for listeners, and with his following growing every day, he was doing something right.
This is where my interpretation of the words ‘born to lose’ as positive begins to make sense. At this level, his ability to be critical of himself and always push himself to do better is what fuels his rise.
“Im super critical of everything I make, there's nights where I start five or six songs and I wake up the next morning and trash them all… maybe I'm just too critical? I dunno”
I think this mindset of never good enough is shared by most of the greats, if they always settled, nothing would push them to push the limits further? Look at Claude Monet, art critics call him one of the greatest painters of all time, yet he consistently would destroy his own work, claiming it to be not good enough yet.
For No Sleep, born to lose isn’t a fate, but a mindset. When he embarks on a new project, I don’t think he sees it as a direct path to release, it needs to continue to inspire him the entire way, or he leaves it behind. If you go into a new project knowing only about 2% of your new projects will be released, you are much more open to embracing the ‘loss’ on that one, and moving on, ever closer to your next big hit. His 51 million view G-Easy remix, what does he say about it?
“It took me a while to make that song and at the end i didn’t even like it, but my manager liked it. I honestly was not going to put that song out”
To many Born to Lose will be about a failed relationship, but after talking with No Sleep, Born to Lose will always inspire me.