Regard

It was by accident that Regard found his stage name. The word, “regardé,” came to the DJ during French class in high school. “To see” became the core behind Regard’s music. “When I perform,” he says, “I look at the people and how they feel the music.” For Regard, his deep house mixes consist not only of sound, but also of sight. Performance is a reciprocal and intimate relationship between the DJ and his audience. Since 2013, Regard has performed from Melbourne to Manchester to Dubai. He has built a unique understanding of his audiences and the music that makes them move. The deep house Regard mixes in Jordan is different from the deep house he performs in Croatia. The nuance of each crowd is not lost. Regard’s audiences were not always so large, having grown up as the middle child and only son of a construction worker and a housekeeper in Ferizaj, Kosovo. He was only 6-years-old when the Kosovo War displaced 1 million Albanians and killed almost 10,000. Throughout his childhood, NATO troops paraded the streets as he played soccer. The sport was his first passion, followed by photography once he reached his teenage years. The digital Canon a cousin had gifted him was his first tool in practicing “regardé.” Childhood and adolescence for Regard were replete with musical variety. Like most Albanian children, Regard grew up knowing the names of the artists he loved—not the names of their songs. From the Albanian classics of Sabri Fejzullahu and Aleksander Gjoka, Regard also grew up listening to George Michael, John Lennon, and Michael Jackson on the radio. The UK and US hits of the 80s were a goldmine of inspiration to Regard. “I have always had an international focus,” says the DJ of his music taste and work.

 

The music scene in Kosovo was not strong in the early years of its independence, so Regard frequented lounges with his cousin during their teens. American hip-hop and R&B hits played over the speakers, with few house music compilations in the mix. Club-goers sat at tables instead of danced. Over drinks one day, Regard’s cousin half-jokingly asked, “Why don’t you make songs like these?” Regard’s curiosity was instantly ignited. Regard began listening to artists like Tiesto on YouTube and studying house compilations. From creating electro house mixes on his computer, he moved onto deep house. Sharing his music was one of his favorite parts about creating. Regard would transfer each of his remixes to his cellphone. At school, he would give his friends an earbud and play them his mixes on his mobile. From the schoolyard, the DJ moved his audience to YouTube. His remix of the Kelly Family song, “Fell in Love With an Alien,” became one of his favorites on the platform, even afteruploading dozens of compilations. The DJ continued to develop his formula for mixes while working with his manager, Hajriz Bajrami of LEAF Management. The two had been classmates in high school when Hajriz noticed Regard’s talent for DJing at a house party. Together they built Regard’s profile on YouTube to 800k subscribers after filling in the site’s gap for deep house mixes. Hajriz developed Regard’s sound over a five-year period before he was signed with Ministry of Sound. Over time, Regard has honed the ability to recreate any song he can get his hands on. This drive to experiment and grow as a DJ has formed his unique musical style today. Regard’s passion translates into his sound—a kind of deep house that conjures nostalgia for memories one has yet to create. “Music is the cleansing of the soul,” he says. “It gives me energy. It gives me everything. Without music, I cannot live.” It is this high spirit that has kept Regard making his tunes. After almost ten years of mix sessions, Regard created his hit single, “Ride It,” in two days while at Zrce Beach in Croatia. Regard’s remix of Jay Sean’s hit was uploaded to TikTok and quickly went viral. The iconic dance label, Ministry of Sound, picked up on the song’s success, officially releasing it during the summer of 2019. “Ride It” exploded and went on to achieve ten Top 10 official chart placements globally, peaking at #2 on the UK Singles chart. The music video, directed by Meji Alabi, has garnered over 100 million views on YouTube. Since then, Regard has released a remix of Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now,” as well as a collaboration with RAYE on his most recent single, “Secrets.” Regard’s future collaborations are promising. Having been in contact through social media with his idol, Tiesto, the two have begun looking towards teaming up together. Regard carries a similar mindset to Tiesto; he doesn’t want to work with artists only if they’re well-known. “I want to work with anyone who makes good music,” he says. Good music is not Regard’s only inspiration. The calm of the night also serves as an important guide. “I work during the night, and not the day, so it is only normal that I find my peace and inspiration in the nighttime.” The advent of COVID-19 has not stopped Regard from performing. He has easily adapted to the digital festival scene, performing on the livestreams of Kiss Ibiza, Tomorrowland, and Spring Awakening. Ultra Music Festival in Miami, too, sits at the top of the DJ’s to-do list. Saying that Regard is ambitious is an understatement. While Regard’s stage name was the work of luck, his success thus far has been anything but chance. And he is only just getting started. “I want to be the #1 DJ in the world,” he says with a grin. “The best producer on the planet.

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