FOSTERING COMMUNITY

DJ Mez on music as a unifier, the queer underground community and making more genuine efforts to understand one another

BY MARK ARIEL  |  PHOTO BY DUSTI CUNNINGHAM

Up and coming Los Angeles DJ Mez’s first ever gig took place on on his 21st birthday (June 10th) in 2019. “I had been plotting to become a DJ since I fell in love with going out when I lived in NYC. I’d never experienced that many queer people being free and unapologetically themselves as I had been pretty sheltered from the ‘gay experience’ up to that point,” reveals Mez in an interview in THE FIGHT. 

“I fell in love with that atmosphere and the way the music unified everyone in a way. I later on moved to LA and really fell in love with the scene here and quickly found a home in the queer underground community.”

“I want to acknowledge the very obvious quarantine fatigue many people, like myself admittedly, are feeling and just offer some encouragement. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got and for some it ain’t a whole lot. Here’s a reminder that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

INVOLUNTARILY OUTED

Born in Virginia, Mez—his birth name is Jamès Montgomery—says that coming out as a gay man wasn’t a singular experience. “I had to come out to many different people over a very long period of time, that I guess still continues to this day when I meet new people in spaces that aren’t inherently queer. I think you just get more comfortable with that experience over time.” 

“I was involuntarily outed when I was 15 years old,” reveals Mez. “I got my phone taken for skipping school and my mom being her snoopy Leo self found some things on there that she probably didn’t want to see, but reaffirmed something she surely already knew. Our relationship was turbulent after that—I moved out of the house a week after my 18th birthday. But as I get older and my mother and I start to develop more respect for each other, my perspective on her has changed a lot, and I’m sure her perspective of me has changed a lot, too. We make more genuine efforts to understand one another. I’m lucky to have a family that loves me and did the best they could with what they had because I understand that’s not always the case.”

THE POWER

Even before the thought of becoming a DJ entered his mind, Mez says that he always loved music. “I always wanted aux anytime I got in the car with friends, I constantly made playlists for different hypothetical moments and moods, but I never had the thought to do it professionally.  When I was in high school music was an escape for me into whatever I was feeling, and over time, I recognized the power it has to foster community, too.” 

“DJing is an expensive thing to get involved in,” reveals Mez. Access to equipment for practicing was a big issue in the beginning. So was being able to dedicate as much time as necessary to make a career, while having to work to pay bills. I took a risk and jumped right in, and it’s exciting to see that start to pay off…

My goal has always been to build community through sharing good music.”

ROUGH PATCH

When asked recently by Metal Magazine about his artistic influences, Mez replied: “Currently, I’m very inspired by the ‘90s, especially house music during that time. We’re going through a rough patch as a planet right now. This tension creates a strong need for release and, when that happens, creativity flourishes—giving rise to our own modern-day renaissance of art, culture, and nightlife. I feel a connection between the sounds of the ‘90s and what’s really tickling my ear right now. Everyone always talks about how crazy those parties were then, and I think once clubs reopen, we’re going to be able to experience our version of that—as long as it’s dark and no phones are allowed.”

BEST WAY FORWARD

“It’s become more important to me than ever to share Black stories, reveals Mez. “From my music selections, to the people I eventually want to book to DJ and host the parties I plan on having once we can—I think amplifying black voices of both the past and present, and organizing within our communities, are our best way forward…”

Additionally, says Mez, “I want to acknowledge the very obvious quarantine fatigue many people, like myself admittedly, are feeling and just offer some encouragement. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got and for some it ain’t a whole lot. Here’s a reminder that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”  


For more Mez visit IG @mezmonty, SoundCloud.com/mezmonty