DJ Sidereal — More Than Just Lil Keed’s DJ
DJ Sidereal is far more than a DJ, he’s an artist in his own right.
Born Samuel Matthew in St. Paul, Minnesota, he describes himself as “a DJ, a producer, a risk-taker, a genre-bender, and the best DJ on the planet.”
It was at age 11 when he was recovering from brain surgery that he discovered his unwavering love for music, which was a huge blessing in disguise.
At age 12, he would perform in front of a crowd of 70K people at the Paid Dues festival in Los Angeles. While he’s currently Lil Keed’s official DJ, Sidereal loves dance music down to the core. With that comes the ability to produce and create bangers, reeling in features from all the artists he’s crossed paths with on his journey to the forefront of music.
With a decade of experience shutting down shows and festivals around the world, Sidereal has an ear for what the masses like to hear. To kick off 2020 on a high note, he released his single “I See Ghost” featuring OMB Peezy and Alec Beretz, following last year’s debut “2500” with Lil Keed and K Camp. Most recently, he released his new single titled “Take You There” featuring Nimic Revenue.
Regardless, Sidereal gives hope to all those who feel the odds are against them, putting in the necessary work to overcome those obstacles that life throws at you. AllHipHop caught up with Sidereal to discuss overcoming brain surgery, how he got connected with Lil Keed, epic roast battles on Wild ‘N Out, memories with Denzel Curry, and more!
AllHipHop: How did you get your name?
DJ Sidereal: I’ve been deejaying for over a decade. I was in the 9th grade when I decided “yo I’ma be DJ Sidereal.”' Honestly don't even remember how I came up with that s##t, it just stuck. All my homies started calling me Sidereal, it took wind and we ran with it. Sidereal means the time it takes for the earth to go around the sun.
AllHipHop: You actually recovered from brain surgery at age 11. How difficult was that experience?
DJ Sidereal: That s##t was crazy. I was so in fear of my life but at the same time, I really was numb to the situation. I’m fortunate enough to come from a really beautiful family who’s really extensive and large. Coming from Minnesota, everybody’s there for each other. At such a young age, a lot of it was not understanding the magnitude of it, but knowing that you’re going to be okay. If you see the scan photo, I literally have 3/4th of a brain. My whole brain rerouted itself. I have one of the biggest cysts to ever exist in recorded history.
Crazy how it happened, I was playing sports. I’m 6’9”, I was born to be an athlete. My mom’s a collegiate champion in swimming, my whole family are collegiate athletes in hockey. My uncle played for Herb Brooks, playing against Russia in Miracle. I was playing and got hit in the face with a baseball, my ears started bleeding. We thought it was cool, it was routine. You get hit on the face, you get up and keep going. I went to the hospital, they found it. Next thing you know, I’m down in the Mayo clinic going over options for brain surgery. I’m really thankful. My parents paid for the surgery, but they had to go back to work right away. They couldn’t afford to not work so during that time of recovery after being in the hospital for 3 to 4 months, my grandma took care of me. After a while, I got interested in music very heavily.
AllHipHop: What’d you watch on Youtube that you liked?
DJ Sidereal: Watching DJs do scratch battles, rap battles, people playing guitar and doing different musical s##t. Really latched onto deejaying. When I got healthy, my dad bought me my first set of turntables. They were s##tty: belt-driven, not anything crazy. I rocked with those for mad time. The first year of my career from my first performance till my 10th performance, I used those until I couldn’t anymore.
Man, I’d be on those for hours. Once I got healthy, I’d skip school to sit there and use them. Practice, become better, figure out ways to be intriguing and entertaining to myself. I’m an only child so I didn’t have anybody there to witness it. That was great because that transpired into live performance. I figured if it’s dope and unique to me, then people are going to feel the same way.
AllHipHop: Coming from Minnesota, how did you land with Lil Keed?
DJ Sidereal: It’s wild. I’ve lived in LA for the past 4 or 5 years now. I got called like “go to the studio in Burbank, 5 minutes from your house. Go tap in with this artist named Lil Keed.” Don’t let Keed hear this, but I didn’t even know one Lil Keed song at the time. I didn’t know who Keed was so I went to the studio, met his day-to-day at the time Charlie. Charlie’s like “yo, you want to go meet Keed?” I said “yeah come on.” We go in the studio, I meet Keed. The first thing Keed says to me is “you gon’ to be my DJ.” No question, nothing. I don’t know if I was dripped out or I said the right s##t, my aura was cool, but he literally said “you gon’ be my DJ.”
AllHipHop: He didn’t have a DJ?
DJ Sidereal: He had one, I don’t know what the situation was. I’m experienced on the road, being with Wu-Tang, Ludacris throughout my teen years. We have a bunch of mutual friends over at the label so he might have caught wind of that or seen something. He was on the fence because I didn’t hear back from him for a month. I thought “well is this even really gonna happen?” They announced the next tour, Gunna’s Drip or Drown tour. I didn’t even know until the day of the show in Anaheim, I get a call “oh yeah, you’re deejaying tonight.” I actually had to go buy new turntables that day, 5 minutes before soundcheck because my s##t was not adequate. I didn’t know what the situation was.
I go there, I had the whole green room to myself. I’m sitting there like “yo where’s everybody at?” They’re in the other green room, I realize “they’re about to feel me out.” I go on stage and I start the set, these kids go crazy. I’m climbing the balcony. I’m out there doing front flips off the speakers into the crowd, really going crazy. All of a sudden Kevin Liles and Thug come out, they’re standing right next to my girl behind the lights watching me perform. I get off stage, go into the green room. I’m there by myself still but then Keed comes in and goes “yo, Slime wanna meet you.” I said “why?” [laughs] He’s like “bro what you talking about? You killed that, come on man.” From there we’ve been locked in. The whole Drip or Drown tour was amazing, that s##t was all flawless. Every night was amazing, the crowd was so high energy. I really miss that tour to be honest. We’ve been locked in ever since.
AllHipHop: Greatest memory from that tour?
DJ Sidereal: There’s so many man. Leaving Minnesota for so long and being able to bring a tour that’s so colossal for them, being able to suggest “let's go back to Minneapolis.” Everybody’s like Minneapolis? I’m like “no trust me, it’s going to crack off.” We go there on the Keed tour, it’s a sold out night at the Varsity. Craziest night of the tour. We had Meet & Greets, kids were bringing their custom clothes. So much love back home. For me, that's the most memorable moment of really any tour and every tour. Bringing it back home and seeing what it really means for the city that you’re from.
AllHipHop: Growing up did you think you’ll be here now where you are?
DJ Sidereal: Nah, I wanted to be an athlete so bad. I was really really good at baseball. I’m so tall, so I was good at basketball. I really thought I was going to be an athlete. I wasn’t good at school. Once I got sick, I couldn’t do sports anymore. I remember I tried to play basketball but I had to wear a wrestling helmet because if I caught an elbow, it was over. I could die. Man, I’m not going to no league wearing a wrestling helmet, so I gave that up. It was perfect timing that it all came together, I’m really fortunate. I didn’t see this being my future but once I found this as my passion, I knew it’s going to happen. No doubt, full forward. No shame in the game, it was it.
AllHipHop: Talk about releasing “2500” with Keed & K Camp. Are you producing or just putting plays together?
DJ Sidereal: I’m producing all that. It’s cool, part of putting out the music is being fearless and doing something that someone might not see coming. “2500” with K Camp and Keed is along the same lines of their sound and their movements. It’s predictable but then if you look at my other music, “I See Ghost” featuring my boy Alec Beretz and OMB Peezy, you’d never picture OMB Peezy going over a guitar beat.
AllHipHop: I love Peezy!
DJ Sidereal: We did a whole tour. We did a college tour for DTLR with Trapboy Freddy.
AllHipHop: You’re tapped in!
DJ Sidereal: I mean, you have to have friends. I’m such a good dude to so many people, I’m willing to help at all costs. Putting out the music is great, but my passion is in EDM music.
AllHipHop: I was going to ask about your love for EDM, that’s crazy!
DJ Sidereal: I love hip-hop. My dad played A Tribe Called Quest. Not really hip-hop but still with rhyme schemes: Bob Dylan, the Minnesota legend. Growing up around all that, I’m really deep rooted in hip hop but EDM’s so vulnerable to me. It provokes so much emotion, can change so many views on so many things whether it’s in emotion or thought processes. You could really change someone’s life with that s##t, so it means a lot to me. Taking EDM in a hip-hop space is such a risk, you never know what's going to happen. One day, I said “f##k it, we’re going to do it.”
I did it and it’s the best decision I ever made. I realized a lot of the hip-hop kids don’t mess with EDM, but it’s all about how you present it. Mostly all the EDM kids love hip-hop, it’s this weird dynamic. If you play a rap song at the rave, kids are going to go crazy like they would on the EDM song. I figured out if you pick the right EDM song, it’s going to go just as crazy at the rap concert. It’s cool being able to blend genres in such a dynamic way. Being able to bring rap into the EDM world by putting rappers on EDM songs, my next single is called “Take You There” featuring this super dope artist Nimic Revenue who’s on Def Jam.
She fought me on it, she really didn't want to do it. We made 5 slappers. She said “man, I really don't want to do this.” I’m like “yo, trust me. The way your voice rides and how melodic you could get, it’s really going to work.” She did it in one take, she’s like “yo, that’s it.” Doing the same thing with Keed, getting him tied in with Whipped Cream. Get him in such dynamic places where he could bring his flavor into a new scene and create a new palette. It’s really a beautiful thing honestly, because it pushes cultures forward.
AllHipHop: Is EDM still your main thing?
DJ Sidereal: Yes we’re very much in that direction, but that doesn’t mean the rap stuff is falling to the side. I still got bangers on the way with PARTYNEXTDOOR, Jeremih. I got a bunch of stuff in the vault. Everything’s in motion. It’s not so much one-sided, I like being able to be diverse and bring different vibes at different times. It feels good.
AllHipHop: Bring us back to the roast battles with Denzel Curry and interrupting Ariana Grande’s “thank u next” session.
DJ Sidereal: [laughs] Shout out Denzel, Zel my dawg. I was living here in LA, I had a seizure in the car. I went to the hospital, they said “you have another cyst on your brain. We have to helicopter you to the Bay, you need brain surgery tonight.” I said “I have to call my mom, I can’t do this.” At the time, my girl wasn’t with me. “You have to get my mom on the line.” They’re pumping me full of drugs, I was in such hysteria like “everything I worked for is over with.” My mom’s like “nah, he’s not doing that. We’re putting him on a flight tonight back home. We’re going to his doctor, period.”
They loaded me up with horse tranquilizers, I got on the flight. I was asleep for 18 hours a day for a month, waking up not knowing where I was, who I was, who the people around me were. I was really f##ked up medically. I go to Mayo clinic again, they said “you had another cyst grow back in your brain and it literally popped in your head. We don’t know how you survived that.”
AllHipHop: Can you feel it?
DJ Sidereal: You can definitely feel it. It’s an arachnoid cyst so it’s spinal fluid that makes a bubble in your head. When the bubble bursts, it throws liquid on your brain. If that happens, your brain can drown. They treated me, I didn’t need another brain surgery. It was epic, really Godsend in that moment. I come back to LA, Zel’s out there on Sunset. I go over to the spot he’s kicking it at, my boy Nel’s there too. I played beats, they started freestyling for an hour. Zel says “let’s go to the studio right now.”
We go to my guy Peter Rafelson studio over in Burbank, we’re sitting in there clowning. Denzel writes out this whole health plan for me: how I need to eat, I need to do yoga, I need to exercise. I need to stop smoking. Denzel’s a funny guy, so we get to roasting. We’re roasting loud as hell. I forget what he said, we start hollering. The next thing you know, the engineer comes out the other room. He’s yelling at us like “you need to be quiet, you f##ked up my song 10 times now.” Come to find out, we were on Ariana Grande’s “Thank You Next” record. It wasn’t the final cut but we f##ked it up. [chuckles] They had to run it back hella times to get it right. Zel’s my guy, he’s so funny, I haven’t seen him in so long.
AllHipHop: How was your experience on Wild ‘N Out?
DJ Sidereal: That episode was crazy, with Thug, Keed, and Karlae. It’s funny as hell. We roast all the time, we’re always gunning each other. Now looking back, it feels like they let me win every one. I don't really take a loss. I’m really good at roasting, I’ma put you down. At Wild ‘N Out, I’m sitting on the couch. [laughs] I got so angry because Thug, Keed, the whole cast was hitting me with them. It felt like 6 months to a year of roast coming out the woodwork. It was so much fun, a really good time. We had to go down to the new Tyler Perry Studios to film it, that was cool.
AllHipHop: I heard that s##t is nice!
DJ Sidereal: What? It’s like flying into Fort Knox. It was surreal.
AllHipHop: Goals for yourself at this point of your career?
DJ Sidereal: To get back on tour after surviving the quarantine. Putting out the best, most unpredictable music possible. Making sure that my fans are safe and healthy. Making sure my mother’s healthy. Continuing going onward and upward, building what we got. A lot of people come in and they get everything at once, but my progression wasn’t that way. I built it all from the ground, from the dirt, so my fans really ride or die with me. If it’s up, it’s up with them. My goal’s really to be there for them and put out the best me possible. Put out the best experiences possible, keep this thing growing.
AllHipHop: How are you surviving quarantine being a DJ?
DJ Sidereal: Barely. I got a hood on right now, look at my hair. I got pre-existing conditions, my girl got pre-existing conditions, so we really can’t be f##king around with that s##t. Health is wealth, I’d rather stay inside and stick it out. It’s really great creative-wise. We have a whole backhouse so we built a whole functioning studio in there. Really been putting stuff together and making it work.
AllHipHop: Do you smoke?
DJ Sidereal: I don’t smoke, I had to give that up. That s##t was making me paranoid. Denzel really helped with that because I was still smoking heavy, mad weed. We’d go get a zip and I’d smoke that down in an hour. I quit, it just wasn’t for me anymore.
AllHipHop: What can we look forward to next with the music?
DJ Sidereal: A new video very very soon. We can look forward to a colossal feature that I’m not even going to speak on. I can’t even give that to you, it’s on a very iconic album. All the music and the new tours after the quarantine.