By Justin Ho
The UP Lab interviews Izzy Loh covering his perspective of living a dual life between being a DJ and a student as he explains why it is important to give yourself permission to enjoy life.
“Everyone has a little cow that allows us to get by.”
Izzy sat in front of me at a local coffee shop slowly sipping his tea. We finally were able to align our hectic schedules to meet up, sit down, and talk.
Izzy told me a story of this man who wanted to be successful.
“His master told him, that if he wanted to be successful, he had to kill another family’s little cow. The cow was the only thing that kept that this family alive. He knew that if he killed this family’s cow that they would most likely perish. After fussing over the idea, he finally threw their cow off a cliff. As promised, the guy eventually became extremely successful, but he couldn’t believe that he ruined another family’s life for his own success. He returned to the family’s land and found that it had flourished, and there was now a huge mansion filled with riches. Bewildered, he asked what had happened there. Apparently, when the family woke up to find their little cow gone, they had to fight to survive, and everyone in the family began working. They were pushed up against the wall, worked hard and became successful.”
“The moral of the story is that, for some, it could be shocking to say that a college degree is the little cow. ‘This degree is going to get me by and I’ll survive’, but what if you lost your degree? You’d be forced to follow a different path that you never thought you wanted. You don’t know how strong you are until you’re really tested. The little cow was what was actually restricting this family.”
While he’s focused on attaining his degree, Izzy also reminds himself to look past his ‘little cow.’ He is currently a full-time student at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) majoring in civil engineering and minoring in both material science engineering and management.
“As much as I love engineering and building things for other people, there are massive emotional ideas [with music] that are so prominent that they demand attention. How can you ignore something so powerful?”
He’s an student by day, and DJ by night. Otherwise known as Reckasette, Izzy is president of UCI’s Electronic DJ Union (EDU) and is passionate, about his music and just music in general.
“You can get so many emotions and ideas in a book or a movie, but music has the power to do the same thing in a matter of minutes. Music is a universal language. Nobody is taught how to listen to music. It’s something very visceral and has a lot of potential if you choose to allow it. That’s the thing with music, it affects everyone differently. Every moment has an accompanied song. There is a reason why some people listen to music when in a specific mood. Music is an extension of emotion.”
Reckasette aims to focus on becoming a producer rather than a DJ. Being a DJ is more akin to being a conductor of an orchestra. They choose what kind of music to use for your audio journey, whereas a producer is the composer. The producer makes the music, then strings everything together.
Izzy’s interest in Djing stems all the way back to his early teens. In middle school, he attended a dance where his language arts teacher’s husband was the DJ. Izzy loved the fact that this DJ was a regular person
doing something that created positive vibes. If this guy could DJ, Izzy could too. He loves the fact that with electronic music, you have an infinite amount of noises and sounds to work with. The fact that this type of music makes people move with its upbeat tempo really drew him to the genre.
“I realized that I love sharing. I love making things for others. I just happened to choose to make music for them.”
Living a dual life of academia and music hasn’t been easy for him. He admitted he lacks consistency, spending upwards of 30-40 hours a week to lows of 3 hours producing music. Once Izzy acclimates with the school workload, he hopes to put in at least 10 hours a week producing. He looks towards the accomplishments of popular DJs such as Armen van Buren and Above & Beyond, both who lead similar dualities, for inspiration and motivation. Both artists pursued technical degrees while emerging as DJ’s.
“Living two lives–why not both? You don’t have to choose one or the other. What is sustainable is up to you. Why not have your cake and eat it too? The only person preventing you from doing both at the same time is you because you make that decision to do one or the other. If you really want something, you’ll figure out a way to make it work. Yes, you’ll sleep less, and yes, you’ll see people less, but you’ll find a balance.”
Desire can push you to do things you never imagined. “Undoubtedly,” he said, “there will be a point where we have to make a decision of which path to choose, but, until then, there shouldn’t be anything limiting us from seizing it all.”
What drove him to come up with this ideology?
“Pain. Pain and hurt for sure. Sometimes it’s just getting hurt from other people and hurting yourself. You realize at a certain point that you don’t like the way you feel. Nobody wants to get hurt. Everyone is scared of failure.”
He realized that a lot of aspects of life are ideals. Attaining the ideal is near impossible, but what is perfect is the pursuit of this idea. This is where he finds his happiness and drive.
“My want to DJ was greater than my negative thoughts of it being too difficult. I essentially broke limits that I arbitrarily set.”
He continued by sharing Einstein’s reference of standing on the shoulder of giants. Einstein was so compelled to continue the work of the men before him. He was driven to shape the future like the men had done before him. Izzy wants to do the same. Sure, maybe he won’t sell millions of records across the world, but what matters to him is that he is following his passion as an EDM producer and making music for others to vibe to. He may have a small
fan base, but if one of his tracks puts someone else in a better mood, he feels deeply rewarded.
“The only person holding you back is you. Of course there are things that are out of your control like financial and living condition barriers. But something like learning is something that people take for granted now. It’s not that we don’t have the resources, but we don’t have the motivation or the foresight, or the confidence. Sometimes it’s bred from inside, and sometimes its external from social context. I’d tell my [younger] self to do what you want and you’ll end up happier. You won’t know until you try.”
“Back when I started, I looked at DJing and asked myself, ‘should I really be doing this?’ I said ‘yes.’ I made the right decision. I feel when you say yes to [your passion], you’re saying yes to happiness.”
“You give yourself permission to enjoy life.”
Affiliations at UCI:
Electronic DJ Union – President
Student Parent Orientation Program: Mint, Tie-Dye
ASCE – Conference Chair
Engineering Student Council
Sigma Chi Fraternity
The Hill at UCI
Photo Sources: Justin Ho, Izzad Loh
Check out Reckasette’s Soundcloud!