If It’s Dirty & Sweet, It Must Be Sugarbeats – An Interview w/ Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life

We are bombarded everyday with the positive and negative elements of our environment. Embracing the good in others and staying true to yourself is one of the guiding principles of Jason Darius Mitchell aka Sugarbear, a new breed of beat-hound. He’s utilizing his Cali upbringing to elevate the sounds of the New Orleans EDM scene, and he’s doing it with stoic poise of a Wu-Tang-inspired shaman.

Are you doing what you love? Do you make those around you happy? Is your face kept in a perpetual smile? In an ideal scenario, those questions would be rhetorical and the answers would be a resounding “yes.” Unfortunately for most, this is not the case; however, if you are Jason Darius Mitchell aka Sugarbear, you are the manifestation of the affirmative. Here’s a little insight into what moves this beam of light to keep cranking out those killer sweet beats that have been rocking the Nola scene.

(some ear sugar-candy while you read: Sugarbeats 3.8: The Sneaky Bear)

A’Damaged Pro – Where did you grow up?

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – I was born and raised in California. I lived in Sacramento most of my life… I’ve only been in New Orleans for two years in January and I honestly have to say I love living here. There is such a rich heritage and tradition here it was very easy to make the transition even though being away from family and friends is the hardest part. I am soon to have 7 nephews and 2 nieces and I love kids. So its definitely hard to be away but I do enjoy going home for holidays.

A’Damaged Pro – What were your earliest musical influences?

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – Some of my earliest musical influences is an eclectic array of music. I grew up listening to west coast rap like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Too Short, but I’ve always been a East Coast rap enthusiast. I love the Wu-tang Clan especially Ghostface Killah. The Wu-tang Clan showed the power in numbers and they have a certain belief code when it comes to their music and lifestyle. I’m a true fashionisto or Hype beast naturally because of the time I was born so I absolutely love the brand Stussy, which is more like a lifestyle instead of just being about the clothes. Stussy incorporates the four elements of hip hop which begins with Djing, dancing, rapping, and grafitti. I also listened to a lot of down south rap early too. One of my favorite Southern rappers growing up was Pastor Troy. I was about 12-13 when I first listened to my first Dj Dieselboy CD and from the first time I heard it I was in love. I had a mega ghetto rigged stereo in my room that included (I want to say) about 5 subs with a receiver hooked up to a 300 watt stereo so I’d crank it as loud as possible (when my parents weren’t home) and jam out. So easily I was born in hip hop, taught in hip hop, molded in Drum and Bass, then taught the appreciation of trance and house music, and now find myself not only fully indulging into the trap scene but incorporating elements of all the different genres to create a sound that’s not specific to one genre but giving everyone, everything the want. I’m the truest meaning of Bass head. One of my favorite Drum and Bass artists is Dillinja and Lemon D. They created a sound that was so bass-heavy they created a sound system that was called the Valve Sound System that had so many subs they gave you earplugs before the shows. They were literally blowing eardrums out at shows.

A’Damaged Pro – When did you realize that you wanted to start making music?

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – I realized I enjoyed making music early. In the 90′s MTV came out with a game for PlayStation called Music Generator and I made a whole album of music with it. It was set up with so many sounds that it was easy to actually create things with it. My friend Randy and myself actually produced our senior video music with songs we recorded with my ghetto rigged sound system. This is when a tape player was used to make mix tapes, lol. We recorded on a cassette tape to take it to school and this is right when internet and dial-up internet were coming out too. So we took the tape to school and one of the teachers had the technology to actually convert it. It’s funny, too, because currently I’m getting back into producing and although it hasn’t been as easy as Music Generator I’m really excited to hear the things I’m creating. I’m also in the process of building Sugarbeats Laboratory (Well a larger studio than my current station) with full producing gear, a pair of 1200′s (every DJ needs a set truly but it’s understandable if you can’t afford em yet) and basically a musical temple. Wu-tang would call it Shaolin just referencing to the place they mold their craft into what they want it to be. So I want it to reflect the positive energy that I’m always sharing and invite people come into my Sanctuary and create music. I’m looking forward to what year two for Sugarbeats has to offer because my first year so far has been one of the best experiences of my life so far.

A’Damaged Pro – What equipment did start with?

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – I was originally taught on CDJs by my friends Freddy Silva, Justin Crescendo, and Enrique Silva. We didn’t use Serato either. They taught me how to beat match by ear from the beginning. Visually you can see when to play a song on Serato and if you know Serato every color represents a different element of sound so when you do it by ear you have to spend time learning your music and pay it forward and learn the songs. I practice religiously. I push myself to plan ahead of time but I’m great at winging it and reading crowds. I know some DJs don’t believe in making a set list before a show but I’m not one to play old songs over and over again. I get new music every week and make  a new list every week and I write em down in my recipe book just to know I can always reference back to a certain list and say this is the playlist I played at a certain show once and I can play it again if I want to. I was taught turntables by my friend Chris Karriker and I’ve enjoyed the sound of crisp vinyl. Turntables are harder to use, initially, but it’s like anything you try for the first time, but with practice you come to appreciate what the pitch can do.

A’Damaged Pro – Do you feel that where you’ve lived has affected your style of music?

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – For every city in the world there is music specific to them. In California we listen to a lot of house music and I’m close to the Bay Area which has its own music signature. So originally when I started playing here in New Orleans I played a lot of Elektro and techno but I love trap muzik (Southern rap music) and I like how its progressed into an EDM style cause now I like to play Trap muzik with Trap and try to do a mixture of everything, including, but not limited to Dubstep, Moombahton, Elektro, Techno, Drumstep, Drum and Bass… basically everything but I always end up in the trap. I like to call it the Bear Trap… cause you get lured by sweet beats and get caught in the trap.

A’Damaged Pro – How would you say that living in Nola, specifically, has influenced your music?

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – I have to say this before I say how New Orleans influenced my music. I went to TomorrowWorld last year and that, by far, changed my style completely again. I say again because I performed with Mayhem from Atlanta before and he never plays the same thing. Once I learned that I told myself I would do the same. So with TomorrowWorld I told myself something… less festival for myself specifically and way more trap and bass music. When you hear the worlds best DJs playing the same music 4 days straight no matter if it is a remix or not it’s still the same song. I almost went insane hearing “Animals,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” and “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.” So I came back with a vengeance, kinda. Playing only the newest and latest and leaving the classics for another day. New Orleans has changed my music specifically because the city has a really gritty past and it still is pretty rough but that’s what trap muzik is. It talks about people grinding to make their lives and their family’s lives better by any means necessary. It’s dope because I’m probably the nicest person you’ll ever meet but I’ve experienced some real ass shit in my life so it’s made me appreciate both sides of the spectrum. Plus me personally, I like to associate myself person all with real people and not peoples’ perceived notions of what real is. You don’t tell people you are real, you show it naturally. You go above and beyond as a person to help and provide for those who need help because you want to do something to help them out not to later ask for favors. People love to assume they know me because I’m out all the time and always smiling and turning up but that’s me naturally. I’ve been this way my whole life. I’ve always been sweet hence why they call me Sugarbear. Respect is earned through actions and given to those who are respectful. Never let anyone tell you what is normal or even discouraged when people talk shit about you… always remember you have to be something pretty dope for someone to try to knock you down.

A’Damaged Pro – Who are some artists that inspire you?

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – BOYS NOIZE, BOYS NOIZE, AND DID I SAY BOYS NOIZE ALREADY? =) Boys Noise specifically because this is a pioneer of a signature sound that’s always been his sound specifically. He started Boys Noize Records because he didn’t want to lose creative rights when putting out music. So in so many ways you can make whatever you want. I want to do the same with Sugarbeats Laboratory as well. Another artist that’s really inspiring me currently is Djemba Djemba. His music is considered Future Trill and incorporates 90′s elements with trap and rap influences. It’s kinda revolutionary. Also Mayhem is killing the trap game and really keeping Atlanta on the map as far as trap music goes. Bassnectar continues to produce such a beautiful eclectic mix of bass music with those bomb-ass California elements as well.

A’Damaged Pro – What aspects of their music speak to you directly?

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – I guess the one aspect that every artist has come to appreciate is the concept of time. Time is one thing no one really grasps the concept of. We all too often over look how important it is to manage our time and how to properly make use of the time we currently have. Everyone of these artist’s work ethic is what has got them to the levels they have achieved so far. You have to grind it out and work your ass off to achieve the dreams you set for yourself. That’s why I practice religiously and that’s why I put out my Sugarbeats mix series as often as possible. People can tell who is actually busting their asses and who is winging it. If this something you are passionate about then it’s a blessing everyday to wake up and do it. You have to stay hungry and stay motivated. Don’t be afraid to do anything because you’ll never know what works and what doesn’t. The people who end up at the top were the ones who weren’t afraid to stand out and be different.

A’Damaged Pro – How would you like your music to speak to others?

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – I’ve had such success because my music kinda reflects elements of regular life. I play songs that people hear the words to and they can relate to. In so many ways just like our parents, in the 60′s and 70′s, were rebelling against society and believing in peace, love, unity, and respect, today’s generation is just recreating the same vibes with EDM and the festival scene. I’ve been into the scene since I was 15 and it was so beautiful and had such an amazing impact on me growing up I’m now trying to make a positive change to help kids younger than me help find what they really want out of life. I also like getting girls dancing as well because it really makes me smile when I see these beautiful young ladies smerking while they are twerking. Women in general are key to starting any dance party. I’m a true gentleman and you can’t imagine how many people I’ve touched individually and they connect with the music and pledge their loyalty to my sound. If I can be a inspiration to a younger aspiring artist or even teach someone how to DJ, that’s how you help unlock the limitless potential from a person. I’m a firm believer in always paying it forward, being humble, being respectful and mindful of others, and always telling you the real truth instead of sugar-coating anything.

A’Damaged Pro – Do you enjoy producing or performing more?

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – I love performing way more than I like producing. I’m a DJ first and a producer second. I’m at peace when I’m behind my controller or when I’m searching for new music. I very rarely have free days so when I am free I try to do normal things like hang out with friends or ride my bike around the city and just relax. When I sit down and start producing I start to realize how many shows I have coming up and switch from producing mode to practice mode. Plus I’m an avid believer in showing up in support of my fellow DJs so I’m normally out at everything (I try to be everywhere without being nowhere lol) so I can personally be recharged by the music and draw inspiration from everyone. Plus I’m definitely a night person and I can’t practice at night because my roommate needs to rest for work. You can tell I’m having as much as you are when you see me playing cause I’m dancing, clapping, and turning up behind the decks. I’m yelling, telling people to turn up and kick over a trash can or slap somebody because that’s how you know you had a good time. You for once get an opportunity to let go of your cares and worries for a hour and turn into an animal. It’s more fun than you know.

A’Damaged Pro – What is your dream gig?

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – My dream gig is starting Sugarbeats Laboratory and become a staple for New Orleans EDM. The scene here isn’t as large nor is it as diverse as the California scene that I’m used to. People are adamant about staying in the past instead of evolving with the change. Having appreciation for everything is important cause it shows you respect what once so beautiful those who grew up here in their earlier scene and encourages the steady progression of the times. Incorporate certain elements of the past but always remember that the people who come to the parties or shows we play at are the ones we play for. Sometimes its a pride issue, sometimes its a choice of music, but never forget who you are playing for. In so many ways you sacrifice a small piece of yourself to gain the attention of everyone. There is always an opportunity to play your favorite music hence why you start podcast or a mix series and for those who are truly passionate you find those specific nights that cater to your style of music and support that night.

A’Damaged Pro – Name 3 artists that you would like to collaborate with, and why.

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell – BOYS NOIZE, BOYS NOIZE, AND BOYS NOIZE!?!? I LOVE EVERYTHING BNR… EVERYTHING!

So here’s the realest information I can give any aspiring DJ. First, instead of saying that you want to do something, buckle yourself down and actually do it. If you say you are gonna do something, pay it forward and do it. Second, stay humble and never forget who you are or were before you started playing music. All too often you experience people changing just because they play at clubs. Third, always make sure you are grateful of every opportunity and take advantage of every situation. Just because you are opener doesn’t mean you turn down… YOU GO FUCKING HARD EVERYTIME because you never know who’s watching and listening. Fourth, it truly is all about who you know so start saying “Hi” and introducing yourself to everyone. Be confident in your music because no one else will if you don’t. Last but not least, establishing great business relationship with clubs and promoters goes a long way. If you are playing a show you bust your ass selling tickets, street-teaming, setting up, and don’t just be an artist… and use the excuse “I’m practicing” or “I’m the DJ.” I have achieved an insane amount of accomplishments in one year because every time I’ve played I’m going as hard as I can and never have I once taken anything for granted. I worked in corporate America most of my life and it sucked waking up and doing this job just because I have to. I’m played my first festival, Lunar Massive, and I’m more grateful than anyone in the world. People have this higher than thou perception of themselves so it’s easy to not like them but when you realize that at the end of the day I’m just like you and I have real life problems and struggles like: bills, family, puppies, etc., you stay level-headed and grounded. You talk to people normally, offer people life advice, and send your help when possible. Karma is real, so keep your good karma jar overflowing with positive experiences. Also, the world will try to break you down and do things to test you to see what it’s gonna take to actually make you crack so appreciate the hate and prove something to yourself, and prove you can’t be knocked down. Let your music do the talking and keep yourself around people who are like- minded and send positive encouragement! The haters will hate. They’ll say you have changed but if they really knew you, they’d say you’ve always been you.

I want to personally thank my Flyy by Nite family and management team. We started with nothing…no people coming out but just the family and staff at The Hangar and now we are going on tours. We have the best EDM night on late night Saturday and that’s something big money can’t buy. I said this union was written in blood and it shows my loyalty to the people who given me my greatest opportunity and I’ll never forget it. To all you guys, especially everyone who works at Hangar 13, I fucking love you, and I’m glad I can continue to work with a family that loves me for me and nothing else. EDMutual, you guys saw the potential in Sugarbear in our first meeting and from the start of your first event we started making our dreams come true. Your message is valuable to the positive change this EDM scene needs. We are going places I couldn’t even imagine possible. I played my first festival ever and I couldn’t be more than grateful for every opportunity that I’ve ever received. That goes for both EDMutual and Flyy by Nite. I would also like to say thanks to my S.A.F.E Trip family as well. What once was just a positive idea for improving safety within our scene has evolved into a legit life plan and it has truly inspired people to become more safe when are partying. Just us sharing the information has saved more lives than you know. Nate, my soul brother, together we are going to change the world and just remember you asked for something amazing to do with your life and look at how the universe gave you exactly that. =) To the clubs, promoters, and DJ’s around the city I love and respect you. To the Magik Skwad… Jerry Potter loves you guys more and more every day and I personally have to thank you for being my friends and helping me achieve the dreams I have set. The bear movement is real. To all my Bearcats, ladies, you guys make my job easy by expressing yourself through dance, promotions, and also through a mutual passion of the music. Every girl deserves a gentleman and for my Bearcats you get that but also a true friend who loves you for you and would do anything for you. To Republic you guys really know how to make a guy feel like he’s at home and truly loved and appreciated. I know it may seem like I’m a diva at times but I have a horrible habit of keeping it real and it sometimes can be misconceived. To the supporters of Sugarbear and Sugarbeats you guys have truly gone above and beyond to let me know how much you love the music and how it’s helped you through hard times as well provided you with the most positive experiences so far. Just know, I’ve been djing for 3-4 years and it’s when I started taking it seriously that it started to pay it forward. Now that I’m going into the second year of Sugarbeats Laboratory, I’m more motivated and I have more ideas.

Stay passionate about your dreams and remember the universe is a wishing well. When you tell yourself you are going to do something it starts happening but you have to bust your ass and start grinding to put yourself in that position to succeed. I’m living proof of what can happen what can happen in just one year. I’m going to succeed cause I’m too motivated to let myself fall.

My name is Jason Darius Mitchell. I value loyalty amongst friends, respect everyone like they are supposed to be respected, provide people with smiles and positive experiences all the time, love my family, friends, supporters, fans, and every human being. I’m adamant about being upfront and real with everyone and apologize if the truth hurts. You respect me more because I realized from an early age that respect is earned not given. I’ve seen the future more times than you could imagine and I’m doing what I’ve been sent here to do. I’m positively happy as fuck, a bear in human form. My knowledge expands more than in book knowledge and I’m utilizing everything I’ve learned in life to become the person I’ve become so far. Life is not easy, it’s dark and difficult if you let the clouds rain on your parade. EDM has cured me more times than you can imagine. Now I’m in a position to pay it forward and give back to the scene that’s often frowned upon from the outsiders but we are the true pioneers of the future. Small doses of positive energy goes a long way. So start doing your part to make a difference in our world. I have multiple different formulas of turning up but let it start first from the passion you have for the music. You have seen Sugarbear and I’m TURNT TO THE MAX! My music speaks for itself and I’m a great human being. I’m looking forward to many more positive experiences, endless nights at the Hangar, and sharing the highs a lows of life with you all. Sugarbeats is just beginning and I’ve played with: Mimosa, Mayhem, Butch Clancy, Getter, Gents and Jawns, Yellow Claw, Vaski, Willy Joy, PHNM, DJ Rozz, Unlike Pluto, Huglife, Styles and Complete, HPNTK, GWANN, and the list keeps going and going… one thing they’ve all said and all my fellow DJ’s can agree with this is that they all used to be like you and they realize passion when somebody is doing their shit properly. They all fucks with the Sugarbeats. If you have ever seen the colors of a prism just know that life isn’t in black in white it’s more beautiful than anyone can imagine, so keep your head in the clouds and stay reaching for the stars. “Simplicity is ultimate purity” – Jiro So Do yourself a favor and create your happiness through passion. Smile big and show people that life is beautiful. If you ask me how I’m doing I’d tell you “I’m doing so good I’ve achieved the high score in the game of life!” So make everyday a great day.

Stay hungry, stay motivated! Oh and TURN THEE FUCK UP ON THÀT PLUR YOU PUSSIES =) (I mean that in the most positive manner ever!)

Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell

– More Vibrant, More BASS!?!

P.S. “Hey, you with the face, yeah you come here! What’s your name? Mine is Sugarbear and I’m a fun terrorist with a PhD in positivity and a Masters in GREAT KARMA. I’m the notorious H.U.G. and I’m a bear so who wants a bear hug? I got fresh beats and turnups on deck all day! For every girl who I’ve met and I’m going to meet I’ll tell you something you should hear naturally “you are beautiful!” and for all my dudes I got more respect for you then you realize because we are men. I love candy, riding my bike, and providing people with huge smiles. If you see me out and about stop me, introduce yourself, and you tell me something that makes you special so I’ll never forget you. =)

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

Positivity can take many forms and a genuine smile is unmistakeable. You can hear the enthusiasm for life in his voice and the passion for the music in his beats. Sugarbear has true juggernaut capabilities and isn’t showing any desire to slow down for anything. This bear’s star is on the rise…

Connect with Jason “Sugarbear” Mitchell: Facebook | Soundcloud

Photo credit: KB Photography