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As a spectator, it’s easy to find yourself enraptured by the work of today’s DJs spinning behind the decks. These modern-day rock stars mold and manipulate the dancefloor, seamlessly dictating their crowds to become one with the sounds seeping from the speakers and permeating the air.
These moments spent in unspoken linkage with the DJ may be fleeting, a mere distraction from the hustle and bustle of the mundane nine-to-five life. But for the artist, those interconnected moments are often reproduced in many cities across multiple languages, and at times come with sacrifices of which spectators may never be aware.
For ZEKE BEATS, those sacrifices were put to the test in December 2022. The Australian electronic music virtuoso was in the middle of a year-end West Coast tour when he received news that his mother, Barbara, had been hospitalized with sepsis and was in grave condition.
Being over 9,000 miles away from home, the DJ, whose real name is Zeke Ugle, had been residing in America with an expired visa. Although he had already been approved for renewal, getting the physical paperwork required to travel would still require a lengthy and arduous process.
“I was living in Portland at the time and my father had called me and told me that mom was really sick… they ended up having to sedate mom because she was going through so much pain and they were trying to figure out what was wrong with her,” Ugle tells EDM.com. “They knew it had something to do with her liver or gallbladder or pancreas around there but they didn’t have a pinpoint on what was going on.”
Unfortunately for Ugle’s family, their hometown regional hospital would not be able to provide the care needed not only to diagnose her ailments, but also receive proper treatment. So it was decided that Barbara would be flown over two hundred miles away to a better-equipped hospital in the capital city of Perth.
“As soon as that happened, I was like, I can’t stay in America,” he explained, knowing he would have a difficult time returning to the U.S. at the time due to his expired visa.
Due to the severity of his mother’s declining health, Ugle made his way home and canceled a noteworthy appearance at Insomniac Events’ 2022 Countdown NYE festival, where he was scheduled to perform alongside the revered turntablist DJ Craze.
“Obviously that was such a huge thing to me because Craze is a world champion in scratching. He’s a grandmaster,” Ugle continued. “He was always one of my biggest idols and to be asked to do a back-to-back DJ set with him, to be collaborating with him was a massive thing to me. But family trumps all and I would never let anything come between my family and I.”
Upon arriving in Perth, Barbara had been placed in a coma and put on life support. Surrounded by family, she awoke 10 days later before beginning a lengthy recovery period that included a stint in the intensive care unit and a round of dialysis.
Fast-forward a year later, and Momma Beats is fully recovered with a clean bill of health. In a full-circle moment, she has found herself sharing her story halfway across the globe and eager to see her son perform at the very festival from which he walked away 12 months earlier.
Having heard her son’s renouncements and all the gigs he canceled to be by her side, Barbara tears up as she recounts her oblivious state.
“I never knew any of this,” she says with a sniffle. “Aw love, you really had to? I didn’t know that.”
After wiping away tears, she recalls the moments before her hospitalization.
“Well, all I knew is I was good one day,” Barbara said. “I had been to badminton, I had been to the gym, went to bed that night, and all of a sudden I was getting pains.”
“I said to [my husband Stanley], ‘I think I might have to go to the hospital,'” she added. “From there I was just delirious. I was talking rubbish and that’s all I can remember to be honest.”
Barbara continued to disclose the severity of her condition and how she found herself unable to talk properly and having to ease into walking again. She remained resilient through it all, but it was her tenacity that aided her the most.
“It was a really bad time,” Barbara continues. “I think it was worse for them because I didn’t know what was going on… but I was determined. I knew I could do it. I just kept going.”
Barbara’s perseverance enabled her to recover quickly. So quickly, in fact, that within two months, she was back on the courts playing her favorite sport, badminton.
For Ugle, his mom’s swift rehabilitation has allowed him to reflect on the real-life trials and tribulations that come from choosing a career in music.
“I’ve been in America now for six years and in that time it was so hard to be away from family because of Covid and all the visa complications,” he explains. “For them to be here now and have the opportunity to have some good one-on-one time with mom and dad, and also show them the things that I’ve talked about so much about America.”
Ugle says that along with teasing his crowd with unreleased music, he planned on bringing his parents up onstage during his performance at Countdown.
However, Barbara’s excitement laid elsewhere. Although she was elated to be watching her son perform in front of thousands, she had her eyes set on the next stop of her first American trip.
With a smile on her face and her eyes still welling up, she exclaimed, “We’re going to Vegas tomorrow!”
Written by: 98bpm Radio
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