After giving up a career in music to be with his young son, the DJ and producer discovered dubstep and made an album that went straight to No1 – and he couldn’t be happier.
It’s 11am on a Tuesday morning and Jay Monds, aka Bulletproof, is sipping champagne and eating cake at the offices of EMI on Auckland’s Karangahape Road. It’s not how he usually spends his mornings, but the superstar DJ has got a couple of good excuses. It’s his 35th birthday
and his new album Dub Me Crazy has gone straight to No1 in the iTunes electronic chart and number four in the album chart. “Best birthday EVER,” he declares on his Facebook page.
A lot better than five years earlier when he spent his 30th birthday at his mother’s house in Tauranga “in a pit of despair and depression”. For three years before that Bulletproof had been in the Far North in Kerikeri and Totara North working on commercial fishing boats. It almost broke him.
“It drove me insane,” he says. “I nearly became an alcoholic. I was working long hours for little reward.”
He’d given up his career as a drum ’n’ bass DJ and producer, playing sellout shows in the US and Europe, to help raise his son, Zion Zamiyr. But because he was out fishing for days at a time, he rarely got to see him.
“The first thing I said to my boy when he was born was ‘I’ll never leave you, I’ll always be there for you,’” he says. “It was a massive thing to me to not break that promise. It took me a few years to realise I could still keep it, but I couldn’t do it living in the Far North. I couldn’t make music up there, I couldn’t make a living there, and not being able to provide for my kid was demoralising. I realised that I couldn’t be a good parent while I was so unhappy. As heartbreaking as it was to leave my son, I had to do it for him, and for my own sanity as well.”
Within a month of leaving Kerikeri he was back playing DJ sets in Auckland and getting ready for a US tour. It was like he had never been away.
Read the full story in November's issue of The Red Bulletin.