His B-boy days came to an end after graduating from high school, when he enrolled in Manhattan's School Of Visual Art to pursue a career in graphic design and advertising. He quit six months later, however, citing New York's underground rave scene as a major distraction. "I was tripping my ass off and going to raves all over the city instead of being concerned with classes," says Daniel, who had by now been deeply influenced by another musical subculture. So, he decided to go west.
While living in West Hollywood with a roomate who owned a deejay set, Daniel got his first driving lessons on the 'wheels of steel.' Inspired by the DIY spirit of rave culture, he started buying vinyl and spinning jungle, hip-hop and experimental sounds at house parties in L.A. With his skills sharpened, Daniel returned to New York a year and half later on a new mission. He immediately started making a name for himself deejaying at loft parties, art shows, and local bars and lounges in the East Village. He took the name Mentol Nomad because he explains, "I zone out so much and think about so many things at one time." Of this time, Daniel recalls, "I used to get mad gigs especially in the L.E.S., where there was a cool, struggling underground artist scene.
I made mad contacts." One of these contacts landed him a gig at the Fin De Siecle Festival in Nantes, France in 1999, where he ran into WordSound head Skiz Fernando. "Mentol impressed me as someone who was committed to his creativity," says Skiz, "Not like a lot of these people on the scene who just want to blow up." The two stayed in contact back in New York, and when it came time for Skiz to put together the compilation The Ill Saint Presents Subterranean Hitz, Vol. 3 (WSCD036), he asked Daniel to contribute a track. That contribution, "Sensationz of the Mynd" is featured on the Crooked soundtrack.
Ever since then, Daniel has become an active member of the WordSound massive spinning at shows and events, doing street promotions, and all the while producing--either his own music or collaborating with other WordSound artists. Upon hearing of the concept for Crooked, he immediately started campaigning for the lead role of "Xane," despite having had no acting experience. After hearing him read for the part, though, Skiz says, "I liked the air of cool, calm, collectedness that Mentol approached everything with. He didn't really have to act the part of Xane because he became Xane in my m ind." As Daniel says of the role, "He's [Xane] pretty close to what I am anyway.
I could really relate to him." During the month of April 2001, Daniel quit his day job in the shipping/receiving room of a clothing warehouse to work on Crooked, which shot for 25 days. On off days, when he wasn't acting, he rolled up his sleeves and became a PA on the set, helping out in any capacity he could. "It was hectic, and a lot of patience had to be exercised, but it was also rewarding and challenging," says Daniel. "I dig the whole low-budget, underground approach.
I don't think you need a big budget to make a big impact on people." With his interest in acting piqued, he hopes to play a "mentally deranged character" next time around. But until then, Daniel Dejesus a.k.a. the Mentol Nomad is working on his first full-length release for WordSound, tentatively titled Mentallica, dropping in early 2002. Read more on Last.fm.
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