Q&A with the scathing savant, Diz Establishment

Irreverent and independent multi-instrumentalist and producer Diz Establishment (Ona Macha) has unleashed a new single and video, ‘We Live In A Stupid World’ – a satirical track that demands no more of the viewer than attention to the title. Inspired by Prince, Frank Zappa and Tyler, the Creator, this mischievous maestro creates a witch’s brew of genres and styles in his music: ‘We Live In A Stupid World’ combines techno-inspired drum loops, both slap and walking bass-lines, funk-fuelled guitar chops and 80s-inspired synths, featuring a face-melting Hendrix-inspired guitar solo to boot. The song is the lead single to a project titled Whatever Makes You Uncomfortable, released on the 26th of January 2024. The music video features Diz Establishment’s absurd antics as he performs amongst a field of sheep – the imagery is a playfully palatable middle finger to, well, the establishment.


Watch the video and read our interview with Diz Establishment below. 


Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

The initial desire was actually to be a truck driver, or to work in Morrisons. Though I guess I’ve always wanted to be a roadman. Or a lumberjack. Guess you could throw in working in the secret service. I was quite good at Maths and English in school too, so to be deadly honest I haven’t really a clue as to how I wound up becoming a musician.


Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

When I was 17, I was riding a BMX down a very steep, big hill in Lower Clapton called ‘Big Hill’. The brakes malfunctioned midway and I crashed. Passed out for 8 seconds. I immediately got up, went home, shaved off one of my eyebrows and realized that I’d spawned to alter the course of music history.   


Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Music’s pretty much just sound, right? But you can’t get sound without an idea? Well, physics. I mean you sort of hear the sound in your head first. But there’s clutter. There’s a weird ‘chicken or the egg’ tone to this question.


Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I like a good mosh, so I expect the same from my audience. Uninhibited rowdiness. Though to be honest I find my fans annoying so I just shut my eyes.


What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Honestly, I did list a bunch of techniques but I don’t trust anyone reading this to not steal my ideas. 


Take us through a day in the recording studio.  

I can obsessively record up to like, 80 takes of a bass-line. I tend to put a very strong emphasis on bass-lines. Equally with drums, song structure and chord progressions. I’ve recently given myself a ‘one-take’ guitar solo rule – the solo on ‘Trasna’ off Whatever Makes You Uncomfortable marked the beginning of this rule.

I experiment with using synth chord voicings that are as interesting as possible but without being clustered, or overusing ‘9’s or ‘#11’s, just for the sake of ‘harmonic richness’. The voicings are also very relative to the synth sound I decide to go for, which helps to manipulate colour. Still learning.

Vocals usually come last – there isn’t a need to be some amazing vocalist, but to know how to use one’s voice in an interesting enough manner that is effective in conveying the desired emotion. A lot of the time, this emotion is demonstrated within the first take, or during the ‘rough’ vocals – usually because the idea is raw. I tend to do anything I can to keep these takes in, as trying to replicate it rarely hits the same. Lots of delay, reverb and distortion. too. I prefer to record vocals in total isolation.    

I used to think 28 different tracks/layers on a song was a lot. Now this is just funny to me.


Walk us through the inspiration behind ‘We Live in a Stupid World’.

I recorded the song in March 2022. I remember at the time, really wanting to make something that infused the sound of ‘Rick James’ with the sound of ‘Death Grips’. Somehow, ‘We Live in a Stupid World’ was the end result. Whole thing’s pretty much just two chords over and over again with a bunch of really unnecessary noises and like, way too much repetition. Nevertheless, the message is fairly self-explanatory. And I do like the guitar solo. Although I didn’t one-take it, unfortunately. 

Though I’d say the music video is the cherry-on-top. 


Desert island scenario – you can only take three albums to listen to. What are they?

The soundtrack to ‘A Clockwork Orange’, a bumper collection of Lewis Capaldi’s entire discography and a 43-hour compilation of Andrew Tate speeches. 


What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

A glass of water. Usually gets hot on stage. 


Any emerging artists on your radar?

Montara, Sweet Mess, Ishroyale and The Military. All bands, all infuse various genres together, all objectively banging.  


What gets your creative juices flowing?

A cold shower, a can of Tizer and having as little clothes on whilst recording as possible.  


Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

I produce all songs on Logic Pro. I have 5 guitar pedals – delay, phaser, flanger, overdrive and wah-wah. On ‘We Live in a Stupid World’, I remember for some time playing around with my pedals, trying various things out. At some point, I sorta just lay it down and started hitting it, whilst playing around with the delay. I also use a Fender Squire Precision Bass and a Yamaha Reface Synth. My Guitar is called the ‘C**t’. It is brandless.  Though I guess it sorta looks like a Stratocaster. A distant cousin. 


Any side projects you’re working on?

The emphasis is on story-mode right now, though as I progress through story-mode, there’ll eventually be more room for side-missions. 


How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry? 

By ensuring that everything I make is one-up-a-notch from the last thing. Gotta challenge yourself.


Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?  

I mean, I’m not just gonna give anything away, that’s like, boring.




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