Updated: Aug 2, 2021
(Instagram: Themanstanjuzwiak) April 19, 2021.
Over the pandemic, 20 year-old producer, photographer, video director, and editor Stan Juzwiak has asserted himself as a leading force in the Twin Cities’ Hip-Hop scene.
With a near endless library of floor-shaking trap beats and a growing catalog of high-octane music videos, this young creative’s trajectory is nothing short of sensational.
(Instagram: Imrjugo) May 5, 2021.
Juzwiak’s rise from a homeschooled piano player, raised in a town where his peers rode tractors to school, makes his rapid ascension through the Minneapolis rap scene all the more unexpected.
Within the last year, the multi-talented Juzwiak has collaborated with countless local Hip-Hop stars, working heavily with the WaterWave TV crew on hundreds of various beats, edits, and music videos for our very own Kelvino, Treyson Green and Gibson Prescher, to name just a few.
I had the chance to sit down with Juzwiak at WaterWave TV’s in-house recording studio, where I found him in the midst of whipping up a wall-shaking, U.K. Drill-inspired track.
Luckily for me, he finishes up just as I walk in. Like a kid being called inside for dinner, Juzwiak slowly pulls himself away from his laptop before spinning around in his chair to greet me with a smile.
Though it seems he’d much rather be cranking out his next beat, it’s time to find out how this mild-mannered country kid turned his love of music into a booming career in Minneapolis’ flourishing Hip-Hop scene.
(Instagram: Themanstanjuzwiak) December 11, 2020.
Though you said you’ve always loved music, do you remember the moment that first inspired you to create your own?
Believe it or not, it was an old Martin Garrix music video of him mixing in an actual studio. At that moment it was like a lightbulb in my head; a switch flipped where it hit me that making music was something that people actually do! That’s when everything changed. I was really into EDM for a while so at first, I was experimenting with that; but once I started listening to Hip-Hop, I knew that I wanted to make Trap Beats.
Going back to your early days, how did you evaluate your own sound?
Early on, I would lose motivation because I would compare my work to professionals. However, what I started doing instead is I would compare whatever project I just finished to my own previous work; once I started doing that, I hit a groove. Because of that switch in mentality, I’m to the point now where I’m confident enough to compare my work to professionals. It’s a matter of realizing that you really are your only competition.
What would you say to someone who ‘doesn’t know where to start’?
I would say that only you know when you’re ready. Starting is always the hardest part. Even now, it takes me at least half an hour into making beats or editing before I really fall into it; It’s all about getting into that flow state. I’ve found that for me, action almost always comes before motivation. It’s the same for those people who’re still waiting to start their careers until they get the ‘spark’. You are the spark!
What role, if any, does fear play in the creative process?
Fear only really comes in when I’m making something in front of people. I think there’s something beautiful about not fearing and being okay with making ‘garbage’ because you may make something different or unique
that otherwise wouldn’t have existed if you’d put so much pressure on yourself to make only ‘quality’ work.
What’s been your favorite project so far?
Definitely the video I just shot with JUGO. Being that it’s my most recent project, I’m as confident in it from a professional level as I’ve been on any video up to this point.
What’s your ideal creative setup?
Honestly, I work better when I’m uncomfortable. I used to have this great setup at my farm where I had everything I could want: Two monitors, my keyboard, laptop, all my instruments, etc. However, ultimately, I just wasn’t inspired. It didn’t feel spontaneous. I thrive in discomfort; it just brings something out of me that I don't have in ‘perfect’ conditions. Even for videos, I do my best work lying on the floor editing.
What role would you say that your people skills have played in your success?
Half the way to get to where you want to be is through people. I think one of the most underrated things you can do is to just smile. Positivity radiates; It makes you more approachable in that a genuine smile is like a magnet to the right people. Even for me though, it was definitely something I had to figure out over time. A lot of people romanticize the moody, ego-driven artist who sulks in the corner; that guy’s time is limited. Just crack a smile, man. Life’s not that serious!
What’s your dream collaboration?
For filmmaking, Cole Bennett for sure. Production wise, some sort of Dreamville-type retreat. There’s something about being surrounded by a pool of other creatives in close quarters that really excites me; even if I was just there to observe, the energy in an environment like that would be unreal.
What’s the best advice you've received?
Don’t be afraid to make bad stuff; Everybody does. The more time you put in, the quicker you’ll end up creating that ‘quality’ work. Believe it or not, even the most experienced artists are never exempt from a wack song or a sh***y album. Who cares? Just make something, refine it, release it, then make something else. Quality is subjective anyway, so just say ‘f**k it’ and create the stuff that you want to see.
Which artists have influenced your own style the most?
In producing, definitely Metro Boomin and Kenny Beats. In filmmaking, obviously Cole Bennett. I also really love what Omar Jones does in terms of camera movement and effects. Also, I think Travis Scott’s really unique in that he pulls off really weird concepts and ideas in his videos that really resonate with me. All those guys are huge in terms of helping me form my own unique taste.
What role do you feel that ‘filling the tank’ plays in the creative process?
Sometimes I’ll just take a week off where I won’t make anything. In that time away, I start to develop this crazy itch to get back at it; it’s like reloading. In that time, I’m not stepping away from music entirely; but it’s much more passive like watching Youtube videos like ‘Genius Deconstructed’, ‘Behind the Beat', or just listening to music. During that period, I’ll always end up seeing or hearing something cool and think, “Hey, I want to try that”. For me, that process of kindling my ‘inspirational fire’ is a creative act in its own right.
What is your least favorite trend in today’s Hip-Hop Culture?
No melody beats were big last year. Part of me, because I’m so focused on melodies, think it’s less musical; but some of them for sure slap. Also, some BPMs are turning up. Like you see it a lot in Detroit Hip-Hop; and listen, if that’s what you wanna do, go for it. Personally, I prefer the space between kicks, snares, high-hats, etc. because songs are all about tension and release. Though everyone has different tastes, I tend to prioritize melody and space in my music because simply put, that’s my taste.
Who was the first real music connection you made?
Freshman year of college, I met some people in my production classes and we’d meet up and crank out beats together in our dorm rooms. It was a great time, until we got noise complaints; which usually meant we just had to wait until the next night(laughs). Also, meeting the WaterWave crew was huge! I remember going to one of their shows as a freshman just to take pictures and network. Low and behold, I ended up meeting Vino and Reese, and immediately hit it off with them. Not long after that, I was at the WaterWave store all the time, downstairs in their studio, just making beats with all sorts of different artists, sometimes for hours on end. It was so rewarding to collaborate with a bunch of other young, like-minded creators who all share that same love of music that I have. Obviously, the rest is history!
Rapper Tae Supreme performing at a show on April 16, 2021. (Photo by Stan Juzwiak)
Though you began your career as a producer, you’ve recently added music videos to your repertoire. What spurred that decision?
When I started shooting videos, it had nothing to do with me knowing the craft or loving film or anything like that. In reality, I was making tons of beats at the time; but because the producer market was so oversaturated, I needed a way to provide more value. There just so happened to be a lot of artists who were looking for music videos, so I figured ‘let’s give it a try’ and just kinda jumped into the deep end. From there, I really fell into it! Film is such an infinitely creative medium, and I really appreciate the visual component it allows me to play with, whether on shoots or in the edit.
What was your learning approach to such an expansive craft like filmmaking?
For me, it was really just a ‘fake it til you make it’ approach. Pretend you know what you’re doing, and eventually you will. What’s great is that when you’re starting something new, you only ever have to focus on the very next step; and once you realize that the next step isn’t going to kill you, everything opens up.
What are the advantages to your run-and-gun style of shooting?
The biggest advantage is definitely the freedom that comes with just showing up at the location and not having to stick to any sort of set plan. Set-up usually only ever involves a quick location scout to scope out any interesting landmarks or shots ahead of time; but once I’ve got a few spots in mind, the rest is really just a feeling out process with the artist on the day of the shoot. I just love the agility and freedom that the run-and-gun style provides.
A disadvantage would probably be the lack of control over external factors like weather, spotty locations, etc. I remember when we were shooting the ‘No Hook’ video for Vino, we had a bunch of the WaterWave crew with us. Essentially, the idea was to have this big group fight scene in an ‘abandoned’ freight yard. As we’re shooting, probably because we’ve got a bunch of guys throwing ‘fake’ punches at each other, a security truck pulls up. It probably didn’t help that all of us were wearing ski-masks too! Our excuse to them was that we were shooting a video for a ‘class project’. They obviously called B.S. and made us leave anyway; I guess they just didn’t see our vision(laughs). So even though it was a little frustrating, we still got some dope footage and it makes for a funny story.
Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat.
What’s your mindset when it comes to your guerilla approach to filmmaking?
Roll until the cops come. You gotta keep in mind that we’re not causing actual trouble, fighting, vandalizing, etc; we’re creating. I think that sort of rebel mentality bleeds into the video in a really unique way; you can just feel the sort of raw passion and energy that comes along with that gritty, off-the-hip type of filmmaking. As of right now, it’s a style that I really f**k with and I’m excited to keep pushing further into it to see what I can create next.
As you continue to book work, how do you anticipate your creative vision sort of morphing as you elevate in your craft?
Though it’d be awesome to work on a more official set with higher production quality and a larger crew, there’s something about the run-and-gun style that you just can’t replicate when you go commercial. I’m definitely open to bigger, more calculated shoots, but I’ll always gravitate more towards the guerilla style I’ve developed up to this point. I really enjoy the raw discovery that comes along with it; it’s organic in a way you can’t get with a larger, more intricate setup.
Lastly, what’s an underrated piece of advice that you feel young artists need to hear?
That’s easy: Just. Make. Stuff. Make a lot of sh**. Eventually, something will be good. It’s like if you have an old water tap: When you first turn it on, it’ll run crappy, muddy sludge at the start. However, if you leave it on long enough, eventually, the clear water will begin to flow out. It’s also biased too; because you may grow tired of something that you’ve spent a lot of time on. However, because it’s brand new to them, someone else may really f**k with it. Just keep creating no matter what.
I appreciate you taking the time to sit down and talk today, but that next beat’s not gonna make itself…
(laughs)Good point, I’m really slacking out here. I’ll make two more to make up for it.
…And just like that, he’s back to work.
Without giving anything away, let’s just say the lifelong musician is excited to showcase one of his more ‘classical’ talents on the Hip-Hop stage very soon...
With local phenom Jake Giller set to headline, the show will also feature performances from Kelvino, Wilsun, Treyson Green, and many more of Minneapolis’ brightest young Hip-Hop artists, Juzwiak included.
Click the link below to secure your spot if you haven’t already, as tickets are nearly sold out!
Ticket Link: Jake Giller ★ 7th St Entry
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