ill.Gates Remixes Dead Kennedys’s Iconic ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off,’ Uses Proceeds To Oppose Fascism [INTERVIEW]

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“Nazi Punks Fuck Off” is the iconic 1981 single by punk band Dead Kennedys. It is notably considered one of the defining hardcore punk bands since its creation in 1978. Fast forward a couple of decades, and we are here to share ill.Gates and RIP KENNY’s official remix of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off,” recently released via The Producer Dojo.

The road to the release was not easy, and it took ill.Gates over a year to track down the group and obtain necessary permissions. After finally getting in touch with Jello Biafra, Dead Kennedys frontman, Jello gave his blessing for an official release as long as the proceeds were utilized to oppose facism.

In honor of ill.Gates and RIP KENNY’s remix of Dead Kennedys’s iconic song, “Nazi Punks Fuck Off,” Electric Hawk had the honor to chat with ill.Gates about how this release came to be, the long-term missions he has to stand up for social justice, and what impactful lessons he’s learned as an artist during COVID. All proceeds from the remix will be donated to the ACLU.

Kaelyn Gray, Electric Hawk: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! It took you an entire year to track down Dead Kennedys. What type of methods did you try to reach Jello Biafra and the band before you finally were able to find his address to mail it in?

ill.Gates: Hey Kaelyn, thanks for having me as a guest! It’s a pleasure to be here. The story of getting in touch with Jello is pretty hilarious really … I mean, what old school punk rocker gives a shit that some DJ remixed their song from 1981, right? It’s basically the last thing they would be interested in so I knew from the start that we had an uphill battle to fight. 

But … I remembered my 14 year old self wearing a Dead Kennedys shirt to piss off the jocks in high school, and I knew that kid wouldn’t give up. So I kept calling and emailing, RIP KENNY kept emailing, my manager Jameson kept emailing … Just carpet bombing every email address and phone number they had on the site, finally we got through.

The Alternative Tentacles label people are actually really great. Once we got through, they were all very friendly and unpretentious, but Jello himself is the ultimate decision maker and he’s not really a big computer guy, so they asked us to mail in a physical CD. It had been a while since I did anything with physical CDs so I asked RIP KENNY real nicely to go and burn one. He did, and then mailed it in, and then we waited and waited and waited … Nothing.

But … I knew that Jello was cool, I knew the Alternative Tentacles people were cool, I knew they didn’t sell out and retained all of their own copyright, etc. So I didn’t give up. A few more rounds of emailing and we finally got a confirmation that they got it, but just hadn’t QUITE got Jello to listen to it yet. After a few more emails, the people at the label finally listened and they LOVED IT!

So … We were encouraged, but still hadn’t got the official nod. Weeks passed, months passed… still no word from Jello. RIP KENNY emailed, my manager Jameson emailed … Still nothing. I couldn’t give up though … We were so close! So I did ONE LAST BLAST and hit every single email address on the site, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Then, lo and behold! They apologized for the long wait and let me know that although Jello was busy working on a new album, he finally listened to the track, thought it was cool and gave us his blessing to release it so long as we ‘paid it forward’ and used the money to fight fascism in some way.

I couldn’t believe it! After a YEAR of trying, we finally got permission to release an OFFICIAL Dead Kennedys remix! Insanity! All proceeds from this tune go to the ACLU, please donate.

KG: Is “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” your favorite track by them? 

ill.Gates: They’ve put out so many brilliant tracks, I don’t even know where to begin. “Holiday in Cambodia,” “Let’s Lynch The Landlord,” “California Uber Alles” … The list is EPIC. Maybe I’ll do another one some day, who knows?

KG: What inspired you to remix this song in particular?

ill.Gates: I was really inspired by that movie Green Room with Elijah Wood and Patrick Stewart. Elijah Wood is in this punk band and then gets a gig at what turns out to be a Nazi compound, where Patrick Stweart does an excellent job of playing the head Nazi. The band decides to stick it to their Nazi hosts by playing a cover of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” and then get trapped in the green room at the venue while murderous neo nazis lay siege to their position. It’s a great movie. You should totally watch it tonight.

KG: Listening to the original and remix, it’s amazing how much you and RIP KENNY have been able to make the song your own. When you two decided to remix this, did you have any idea what you wanted to do with the track?

ill.Gates: It started as one of my timer beats, where I just try to start from a specific sample or recording and then bang out a song as fast as possible, usually in a half hour. I was doing it every morning as a personal challenge in 2019. It really helps to get your chops up to scratch. Anyway, I had this big long playlist of timer beats on soundcloud and sent it off to a few of the homies. RIP KENNY has a real punk/rock aesthetic so he asked for stems and I sent them off.

He completely reimagined the track and added all kinds of new guitar and bass parts, and then we went back and forth on the phone making more edits for a few months. Eventually, we decided the best thing for it would be if he came down to stay with me at the Producer Dojo HQ and we finished it together. We made some more major changes and finished it up in the Dojo studio together, and I’m really happy with the result. We did our own mastering and everything. She bangs!

Listen to the ill.gates and RIP KENNY remix:

KG: You mentioned that Dead Kennedys energy and attitude have been a huge influence on you. How do you think the band has influenced you as a musician and as an individual?

ill.Gates: It’s amazing how liberated you can be when you truly don’t give a fuck what other people think about you. Many people spend their entire lives just keeping their heads down and trying to be the most normal, like it’s a competition or something … I don’t get it. When you can truly let go of all that fear, you become unstoppable. Jello has always been my spirit animal in that way. He stands up for what he believes in, makes no apologies and no compromises. It’s beautiful.

KG: I know you’re donating all proceeds to the ACLU. What are some other long-term goals or missions you have to help the fight against fascism and stand up for social justice?

ill.Gates: Fascism is something we ALL need to be constantly vigilant against, just like communism, cults, or any other form of authoritarian oppression. Growing up, we learn about it in school, WW2, the gulags, all that stuff, but then somewhere along the way people seem to have forgotten what problems these toxic ideologies can cause. We’re seeing all kinds of post-truth authoritarian strong men, beating the drums of racism and hate all around the world. Divide and conquer. It’s the oldest trick in the book.

At the end of the day, all of these divisions in society are illusory. When you really get to know lots of different kinds of people around the world, you realize they’re all just a bunch of kids who got old. There is only one race: the human race. Music is a powerful tool for us to make that leap, to celebrate life and shared destiny, and to come together in love and beauty. 

KG: I really love how vocal you have been on social media, in regards to the injustices facing the world. However, I recognize that standing up for these injustices can become draining, especially since you have such a large platform and people who find anything to criticize. How have you been taking care of your mental health amongst your activism?

ill.Gates: Yeah, it can get exhausting, but whatever. My life is awesome. I have a beautiful wife and daughter. My parents are amazing, my friends are amazing, I get to do what I love and make a living doing it. I’m as lucky as a guy can get. I just count my blessings and all that stress melts away.

KG: What has been the most impactful or most surprising thing you’ve learned from your experiences as an artist during COVID?

ill.Gates: The value of COMMUNITY! For real!

On the 4th of July, we went up to the roof of my warehouse in downtown LA to watch the fireworks, and our little dog Daisy freaked out and ran away. We looked all night and couldn’t find her anywhere, it was the worst. After a couple days of postering the neighborhood, a good samaritan pet detective reached out on Facebook and let my wife know that someone had found Daisy about a mile away and taken her to a shelter. She had a busted elbow, presumably from jumping off the roof of our warehouse, but was otherwise okay. 

We couldn’t believe it! We thanked the pet detective and zoomed off to the shelter to get Daisy, but once we got her we learned she needed surgery on her elbow that was going to cost $7,000!

Before COVID I was doing pretty well, but once the lockdown started I was forced into a terrible position. Our warehouse studio complex is $5,000 a month, my health insurance is $2,000 a month, and now I had ZERO gigs. I’ve just been watching my bank accounts DRAIN ever since March, it’s terrifying. There was no way I could afford $7,000 to get Daisy surgery.

The whole Dojo was in despair, but then my awesome wife suggested we do a GoFundMe for Daisy’s surgery. At first, I was against it. George Floyd, COVID, etc. meant that people had other things to worry about than some DJ’s little dog. Who was I to ask for help? 

But … She persisted. She said, “Dylan, stop underestimating the goodness of humanity. There are tons of people out there who would LOVE to help. Give them a chance and it’ll blow your mind.” So I gave in and let her post the GoFundMe for our little doggo, and then BLAM! In less than ONE DAY, we raised the $7,000 for Daisy’s surgery and lived happily ever after.

KG: Before we go, I’d love to learn some cool projects you’re currently working on for Producer Dojo?

ill.Gates: Sure! There’s a TON of stuff on the go at the Producer Dojo.

We’ve just launched this new Dojo TV community broadcast network where all of the Dojo members can make their own live shows to do performances, music showcases, podcasts, teaching etc. It’s really popping off. There is SO MUCH TALENT in the Dojo and this new Dojo TV really gives them a chance to shine their light.

There’s a WHOLE LOT of really amazing music coming out on the label, too. I’ve got a series of ill.Gates singles leading up to a full album titled The Arrival. I’ve been working on it for a long time and just can’t WAIT to bust it out. It’s the most mature and evolved version of the ill.Gates sound to date and I think it’s really going to change things.

There are some absolutely stellar artist EPs as well as new mixtapes every month and some killer guest artists. Be sure to follow our SoundCloud, I think the music stands for itself.

ill.Gates: Then, we’re JUST about to launch this new marketplace site that’s by artists and for artists, no investors or suits getting in the way. It’s a place for artists to sell music, sound packs, videos, teaching time, etc. and they retain full control of their page. There’s nothing else like it.

KG: Thank you so much for your time, it was a pleasure to chat with you! We’ll be seeing you shortly at our next Harmony Festival. What do you have in store in a couple weeks?

ill.Gates: My pleasure!

The next couple of weeks are action packed. There’s of course the Dead Kennedys track, but we also have a MUSIC VIDEO for it that is absolutely killer. That was done by our excellent in-house Dojo VJ Kelly Fin in collaboration with motion graphics legend Beeple of Brainfeeder/Flying Lotus fame. I cannot wait to unleash that one.

After that, I’ve got a really exciting remix EP and music video with another Dojo member EyeOnEyez. He’s an anonymous masked Trap/Rap producer who works with all kinds of huge names like TI, Method Man, Prodigy (Mobb Deep), etc. I have been training him for ages and he’s finally coming into the spotlight with a series of absolutely incredible singles and music videos he directed. In mid-August, we are releasing a remix EP with fucking GUCCI MANE! AAAAAAAAAAA!!!!! I can’t believe it!

KG: Before we go, is there anything you’d like to add?

ill.Gates: I know it’s hard right now, but keep your head up. This shitstorm won’t last forever. We’re all gonna party together under the sun some day and the breeze will taste that much sweeter for all the time we’ve spent locked indoors.

If you want to help support my music and family the best way is to go to Patreon. There’s all kinds of exclusive music and performances there, and I am in very regular touch with all my fans there. We’re family in the Dojo, and we’re family over at Patreon.

And if you want to learn to make music, there literally is NO BETTER PLACE anywhere online or offline than the THRIVING community over at ProducerDojo.com. If you’re the kind of person who KNOWS you HAVE TO make music, then you are missing the fuck out. Get over there and check it out, Dojo TV is free and it’s a great start. 

“My role as a musician is to act as a unifying force and counteract all of the divisive rhetoric and hate out there. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, we can all use a big fat bass drop every now and then.” -ill.Gates

Join the Dojo and train here. Sign up for Dojo TV for free here.

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