Phote credit: Power Quevedo
Julius the Mad Thinker (JtMT) is a dynamic producer and must-see international DJ talent. Since the age of 17, Julius has worn many hats while distinguishing himself in the dance music industry. He is a true visionary with infectious energy and amazing music.
In 2009, Julius and business partner Jenn Hurst bridged DJ entertainment with unique travel concepts to co-found MCH (Mi Casa Holiday – www.micasaholiday.com).
In 2012, MCH achieved sold-out status, and since has evolved into the most exciting travel and music community in the US.
In 2017, Julius produced his debut album “Perspective.” It has been described as “an album of epic tunes for the dance floor, ranging from soulful vocals, deep to the classic Chicago sound. A wide array of variety and substance”- Osunlade”
Julius’ reputation for uniting music communities and launching premiere DJ music events has attracted worldwide acceptance and respect as well. His most recent event production to gain international awareness is Mi Casa Holiday (MCH).
He is also affiliated with YourPassion1st. It is an international coaching & mentorship platform focused on helping under-resourced young adults overcome adversity and earn money in the area of their passion.
Through art, music, entertainment, sports, and culinary, YourPassion1st envisions a world where all young adults are inspired to find, define, and follow their passion into the workforce. Young adults in under-resourced communities are challenged in achieving their dreams due to a lack of resources, support, and inspiration. We help young adults succeed through project-based learning, as they learn their value, build their confidence and recognize their innovative instincts and hidden talents.
Our Workforce Readiness Workshops, Festivals, & Events are transformative, collaborative, and entertaining, while our podcast series captivates listeners. You’ll hear a cross-pollination of fresh perspectives, layered with empowering stories from industry leaders and everyday people who have overcome adversity to follow their passion. Ultimately, we believe that inspiring young adults will cause a ripple effect, transforming families and improving communities, while influencing the next generation of youth. Your support helps create life-changing experiences.
Stay tuned and be ready to experience the next wave of JtMT!
GO BANG! Magazine: Where were you born and raised and call home?
JtMT: Elgin, IL, but I consider Chicago my home, as I’ve lived in the city since 1993.
GO BANG! Magazine: How did you first get involved in music and when did you know that you wanted to be a DJ / Producer?
JtMT: My music Journey started as a kid helping my mom clean the house every Saturday listening to soul music on a big stereo/record system with disco lights in the speakers (lol).
However, the broader story is that I was bored in the suburbs, so I bet my cousin that I could get 500 people to go to a party at my house. I figured that there were at least 500 people in a town of 80,000 that were bored like me. So after pleading with my mom, she finally let me throw a party under two conditions. One, I had to write a business plan and two, if I were to make any money, I promised to give spending money to my sister for her (high school) senior trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. So, I wrote the business plan, was able to get 605 people to the party, and was able to give my sister $500 for her trip to Mexico.
My sister went to Mexico, had the time of her life, then came back and eventually convinced the company who set up her trip (IS Tours formerly USA Student Travel) to hire her on as the youngest student organizer in that company’s history at the time. I went on throwing parties, and along the way started to disagree with the order of songs that our DJ (DJ Beauty) was playing. I became persistent and kept asking him to try, (DJing) until August of ‘94 when I was finally able to sync the beats successfully. The record was Joey Bertram’s “Energy Flash” and I’ll never forget that feeling, and how it inspired me to want more.
So, my sister had 20 + years of travel and hospitality and I had 20 + years of DJing and event production, when in October of 2009, we merged both concepts to create Mi Casa Holiday Travel and Music’s Community & Boutique Events Service. Along the way I always tried to stay ahead of the curve which led me to start producing music and music videos and then eventually an album in 2017. (Perspective)
GO BANG! Magazine: Why did you name yourself “The Mad Thinker” and how would you describe your sound?
JtMT: Actually, I didn’t name myself. I was a creative director and executive producer of a local hip-hop group named the Rec Center, and we were deciding on producing our first music video for our album “Lonely People”. There were 10 MC’s, our main producer, my brother from another mother, DJ Emmaculate, and I. Everyone described their ideas about what the video should be, and I was the last person to speak. After I laid out my vision, it was total silence when “Luck” (MC Bad Luck) in a soft spoken voice said, “the Mad Thinker” (www.themadthinker.com). It felt right, so I embraced it!
I refer to my sound as Global Soul House music. Afro Cuban rhythms meet Electronic sounds through a rollercoaster of emotions.
GO BANG! Magazine: In addition to being an international producer/DJ, you are also a businessman. Please tell our readers about your music & travel event known as Mi Casa Holiday (MCH).
JtMT: Family, Music, Paradise…We curate, and you celebrate! Ultimately, MCH (https://www.instagram.com/micasaholiday) is your personal holiday with the best music, entertainment and the coolest, most inspiring people from around the world. The name Mi Casa Es Su Casa (My house is your house) was a reflection of my sister and I’s diverse upbringing, and holiday is a reminder that taking time for yourself is mandatory, hence…Mi Casa Holiday. The MCH concept was an extension of 3Degrees Global, a previous groundbreaking event and promotional network founded in Chicago (1999). If the world was supposedly separated by 6 people, then we believed that like-minded individuals had to be separated by only 3 people. 3Degrees was Friendster, Myspace, Facebook before their time and we used the concept to bridge the Chicago House music scene each Wednesday from October of 1999 -2007, and we still produce special events to this day.
That event grew so fast that in addition to our weekly Wednesdays, we started producing monthly events in San Francisco, New York & DC, and also big holiday tour events. However, there was one 3Degrees event concept l that we never executed, and it was called the Global House Project. The idea was to take our community to an exotic location. After years of frustration with the unwillingness of nightclubs to invest in new talent, decorations, to sound, to renovations, the fragmentation of the winter music conference, friends and I traveling around the world to hang out, meeting other artists and promoters who were looking to do something new and fresh, and my sister’s annual plead to do a travel event, it all led to producing a weekend in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico in October 2009. Since then, we’ve produced MCH events in Costa Rica, Cuba, US & Mexico. Everyone should experience MCH and Rediscover Amazing!
GO BANG! Magazine: You are also part of an international coaching & mentoring platform known as YourPassion1st. Explain what it is and why you are a part of it.
JtMT: YourPassion1st is an international coaching and mentoring program that inspires young adults to overcome adversity and through art, music, entertainment, sports, and culinary, empowers them to follow their passion as an entrepreneur or leverage their skills to excel in the marketplace.
During the pandemic we decided to produce a live virtual event like many others. However, I will never just do something for the sake of doing it. Therefore, we took our event production hats off and put our tv network hats on and envisioned a week long, 24hr/day cable channel where Mi Casa Holidayers from across the world could display their passions, talents, and most importantly connect at such an important time. I was incredibly excited about this idea because we were essentially building a new product, but something was holding us back. We realized that we had yet to identify a cause that resonated with our idea, when one day, a post came across my Instagram feed that read YourPassion1st. Instantly I was like wow, there is a nonprofit based on passion. This can’t be real. It touched me for a few reasons.
First, the one rule in our household growing up was that we had to have passion for whatever we decided to do. Second, their approach made so much sense. As opposed to force feeding young adults a specific path, instead meet them where they are most interested and equip them with the tools to develop their skill set and inspire them to follow their passion. Third, through MCH, we created an event called Exprésate (express yourself), which targeted young adults to showcase their talents, from Dance, Art, music, skateboarding, murals, fire dancers whatever…. Lastly, through entertainment, young adults have shown us how they’ve influenced the older generations, and through my involvement I’ve learned quite a bit about near peer influence which is about young adults impacting the next generation.
So, after meeting the founder Chris Thomas, we seamlessly integrated his workforce readiness music festival vision into our MCH virtual event, and the MCH community helped to raise over 10k for the YourPassion1st organization. I was incredibly inspired after the live event, where there were 150 content contributors from 19 countries where we generated over 25,000 streams. After the event, I got involved and helped redesign the program, along with the addition of integrating young adults from Brazil and South Africa. This year, our program participants are producing 5 events that will air during the 2nd annual MCH Virtual Weekend + Workforce Readiness Music Festival November 10-17. (https://www.yourpassion1st.com/)
GO BANG! Magazine: Over the years, you have had the opportunity to perform with numerous well-known DJs and talent. Is there anyone or any event in particular that stands out as one of your most memorable?
JtMT: There are so many, however, I’ll never forget Keven Saunderson booking me to play the main stage at Detroit Electronic Music Festival thanks to my friend Monica Lockett. Or when my friends Priti, Monna, the 3Degrees crew & the late great Frankie Knuckles surprised me and he played with me on my birthday. Or when Lil Louis personally called me to book me for his CPR event in Chicago, the first time that I ever played in New York through Body & Soul’s John Davis, and Blaze’s (Josh Milan & Kevin Hedge) came to hear me and were dancing all night. Playing all night with one of my favorite DJ’s of all time, Louie Vega at Cielo, all of the late night Mi Casa Holiday Mexico sets (starting at 4:20am). Sharing the bill with legends like the last Paul Johnson, Terry Hunter, Tony Touch, Joe Claussell, Derrick Carter, Mark Farina, Dixon, and Heather. The time I played the same club in the Philippines as Tiesto, but more interesting than that, playing on this insane sound system for my good friend Christopher Andrew’s destination wedding, and the first person on the dance floor was Tiesto. Or the event that really catapulted my name around the world, when Large Music’s Jeff Craven asked me to open the main room for Large Music’s first ever Winter Music Conference event in Miami with Dennis Ferrer, Kerri Chandler, Jask & Roy Davis Jr, and asked me to also wanted me to close the back room which ended up getting me to New York and then later around the world.
I’ve been blessed and I feel like my schedule is about to get hectic as I still get the same responses that I was getting 20 years ago, which is people asking me “how do I not know about you, and where can I get more?!”
GO BANG! Magazine: Just recently in August, 2021, we have lost a few prominent DJs due to Covid and other health issues. Many of us haven’t had the time to even grieve. Did you know any of these DJs and how has their deaths affected you.
JtMT: I’m still processing all of them, especially my friend’s DJ Paul Johnson (Chicago), and my friend Reese (Miami). They both had so much spirit, it’s hard to believe. Unfortunately, there have been many amazing friends who were taken too soon like my friends Voodoo Ray (NYC) & Kweston (Chicago) pre-pandemic. I’m less affected about how they all passed, rather the fact that they’re no longer physically here. I think when someone has impacted you, it’s your responsibility to help live out their legacy in the way that they inspired you, so that is what I am doing. I believe that It’s important to understand that no day is promised. Therefore, live your life to the fullest, open your heart and open your mind in a world that thrives off of friction.
GO BANG! Magazine: How are you dealing with the Covid pandemic, pre-vaccine time and post-vaccine times, and how has it affected you or your business?
JtMT: I’ve vowed to not lose any friends regardless of where they stand. It’s disheartening to see so many people pointing their fingers at others when they don’t know nearly as much as they think they do. Especially when they are pointing fingers at people who have previously and consistently brought joy into their lives. It’s sad. The world is made up of complicated issues, and I hope the dance, music, and arts community will be strong enough to respect one another’s journeys and conclusions versus pointing fingers or worse, supporting segregation. Yes segregation, because that is exactly what’s coming if people don’t get their acts together. Art, Dance, music, comedy, it’s up to us to be strong and open. If we can’t come together, then it’s a wrap.
GO BANG! Magazine: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
JtMT: Traveling around the world inspiring people.
GO BANG! Magazine: If you weren’t a DJ/Producer/Businessman, what would you be doing?
JtMT: Probably a consultant and/or motivational speaker.
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