CODE First Play: MAKJ & Henry Fong, 'Encore'


Mackenzie Johnson is on a roll. The 23 year-old DJ and producer known as MAKJ played TomorrowWorld’s main stage, opened for Bingo Players on their Rattle & Roll Tour, and wrapped up an official remix for Nervo. And that’s just since September. He teams with another rising star producer, Henry Fong, for “Encore,” an aptly titled track that will leave you wanting more. Listen to the premiere exclusively here:

“My good friend Henry Fong sent me a melody idea and a bassline idea, and then I sat down and started fleshing them out and working on the arrangement,” Johnson says of the track’s early production stages.

Johnson finished “Encore” in the studio with Fong, and like his other collaborations - most notably “Countdown,” his tune with Hardwell from earlier this year - the process of working together is one that satisfies his own artistic ambition.

“It gives me insight into their production process and them insight into mine,” he says. “I like to think that we all benefit from that in the end; we all teach each other new stuff.”

While he’s only been producing for two years, MAKJ began DJing at 15, at which point he was primarily pursuing his other passion: professional racecar driving. Ultimately, he physically outgrew the cars (a blessing in disguise he now says), and decided to devote himself to becoming a DJ.

In many respects, MAKJ is a DJ’s producer. Thanks in no small part to Johnson’s own formative experience in clubland (his first foray into nightlife came as a teenage racecar driver living in China), his productions are made with the intent to actually play them live, for a crowd, reflecting the influence of the late DJ AM, who took a young Johnson on as an erstwhile protégé. Through the caliber of his own original work and a slate of surprisingly fresh mash-ups, Johnson has earned the respect and support of Axwell, Alesso and Calvin Harris, among others who regularly play MAKJ tracks in their sets.

Given the rigors of touring and an in-demand studio schedule, he spends more time in planes than in cars these days. Still, the need for speed hasn’t completely left Johnson.

“I would love to buy myself a Tesla sometime in the near future,” he admits.  “I haven't really treated myself to anything since all this craziness started, so when the time finally comes, I think that's what I'll be buying.”

“Encore” is available through Hysteria Records on December 2 exclusively on Beatport and on all other channels after December 16.