DJ Hydra goes from making Coldplay remixes to releasing a new single, “Want Your Love”

Yvonne Pan, A&E Editor

What do a fourth-year computer science student and a nine-headed water snake have in common?

“The name Hydra came from a Greek mythology phase I went through as a kid,” Jeremy Novak, also known as DJ Hydra, said. “And when I started DJing, it stuck.”

Novak started producing music his sophomore year of high school. “My friend had just downloaded music software, so I got it too. I was trying to see if I could make a song,” the Reno native said. 

His first song was a remix of “Paradise” by Coldplay that he made in FL Studio. 

“I used the default drums, I didn’t add any other drums than the default,” Novak said. “And I used just the default synths like 12 times because I didn’t realize you could use other types … But after that, I stuck with it and kept making stuff, just because it was really cool to express myself that way,” Novak said.

 He always has one creative outlet at a time, having made 3-D renders in high school. 

“I feel like I see images and audio in the same way sometimes,” Novak said. “After I’d been producing music for a while, I came back to edit some photos and was Photoshopping something in and thought “that doesn’t look like it fits here, it needs some reverb,” which is an audio term, but what I mean is it needs some blur around it.”

Since he first played around with FL Studio, Novak has worked with other programs, including GarageBand, Logic and Ableton, Ableton being the one he currently uses to produce music.

Novak has been a staple in the CWRU music community for years, so it’s no surprise he made his DJ debut at the university, at a Sigma Psi formal. 

“DJing is super easy to get into, with a really high payoff,” he said. “You can become a decent DJ in like five hours.” 

He recommends people interested in DJing to start with Virtual DJ, a free software that you can use without a board.

Since that initial formal during his freshman year, Novak has DJ’d at several other formals, house parties, the past three Spartys, CWRUcio’s Yule Ball, Fiji events Howlfest, Owlfest and Islanderfest, University Program Board (UPB) events like Throwback Night with Jay Sean, Fall Concert with KYLE, Springfest and Cosmic Dave’s Rock Club almost every Thursday with DJ Denvver and Dr. H. He also had a show on WRUW for five semesters and two summers. 

Despite his vast amount of experience, Novak isn’t perfect. He remembers playing “Cupid Shuffle” at a formal and pressing the wrong button in the middle, interrupting the song and watched in dismay as people walked off the dance floor. 

“But I feel like I’ve gotten better at messing up because now I’m willing to admit that I messed up,” Novak said. 

He recalled a transition he had lined up at Sparty last year that he messed up and paused to redo the transition.

Novak leaves a great impression, with hundreds of students attending his sets, dancing around the stage and singing along to the songs. But, he has also developed relationships with half a dozen other solo artists, as evidenced by his set at the Fall Concert last November. 

At the concert, rappers A.N.I, 4upz and MIHA, who made his debut, performing the song “Light Show.” Novak met MIHA when they lived together last summer, working on some music together, and MIHA introduced him to A.N.I, who brought in 4upz, both staples at UPB concerts.

“Working with all of them was really cool, especially [A.N.I and 4upz] because they’re both so experienced,” Novak said. “I really liked 4upz’s hook on the song, it really pulled the whole song together.”

A.N.I shared similar sentiments.

 “Making music with [Novak] was great,” he said. “It was cool to work with and meet someone so easy to work with that has so much talent.”

Novak also collaborated with ЯIA, on songs “Blizzard” and “Fall Asleep.” The two had met in a first-year writing seminar about the history of bicycles. “We’re both into EDM…and I sent her a song I was working on,” Novak said. She then asked if she could sing over it.

At the time, Novak had never heard her sing, and had only worked with one other vocalist, in high school. 

“But I feel like it one of the best ways it could have worked out,” Novak said. “I’m really happy with ‘Fall Asleep’ [the first song we worked on together].”

Novak wrote the lyrics to the song, coming up with the lead vocal line and shaping the rest of the song around it. “Fall Asleep” shares his experience in an intense relationship.  

“It’s about us being together, not wanting to leave.” Novak said. “You have no sense of time when we’re here together.”

“Blizzard” was his final project for Introduction to Digital Music Production, and despite being the song he’s happiest with, it received a C, as he neglected to follow the requirements for the project.

Novak recalls it was snowing outside as he was writing “Blizzard.” “So I decided to write a song with weather metaphors for how you feel in a relationship,” he said. “There’s like a storm and you want to see the light shine through, stuff like that.”

Also featured in Novak’s set was Gwen, who performed “Want Your Love,” a song produced with electric guitar provided by fourth-year student Will Schmid. 

Novak met Gwen when he was producing Case in Point’s extended play (EP) “Momentum,” a project he was approached by third-year student Kiran Winemiller about. Novak had had access to a Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) recording studio as he had been taking a class at CIM at the time and the group spent three Sundays recording in October 2018.

Novak soon realized the project was more complex than he had imagined, with 18 different voices, beatboxing and drums. He estimates the project took 75 hours of recording and mixing, and the EP was released in May of 2019. 

In the process of producing the EP, Gwen asked to re-record a part, and when she came over, Novak suggested they work on music together.

“[Gwen] had solos in two of the songs and I was just blown away when I heard her,” Novak said. “I 100% see her going places if she [continues with music], there’s no way she’s not going to be successful.”

“Want Your Love” comes out on Friday, Jan. 17 on all platforms. Novak is also working on an EP that he hopes to finish by the end of this semester.