Don Krez Remembers Lil Peep: “I Saw Him Become a Rockstar”

The South Florida tour manager, producer, and A&R wants everyone to remember Lil Peep’s music as “medicine” for depression.
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Lil Peep’s spirit is undeniable. During his time with us, Peep’s prolific catalog touched lives and inspired a fresh sound in the emo-rap subgenre. South Florida’s Don Krez—tour manager, producer, A&R, and all-around music-head—remembers Lil Peep as a sweet soul. 

Approaching the release of his upcoming EP, The Don Krez Experience, Krez, 27, was kind enough to call me up and remember one of his best friends. He recalls Peep as a hard worker, someone who shone brightly no matter the circumstances. Krez, who is currently DJing for 88Rising's Joji and Rich Brian, and Smokepurpp, wants everyone to remember Peep’s music as “medicine” for depression. 

Lil Peep will go down in history for his healing ways. Lil Peep forever.

Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.

DJBooth: When did you first hear Lil Peep’s music?

Don Krez: I was in LA with Fat Nick, and then [he] played one of [Peep]’s rap songs, and it was kinda corny, but that’s what made me like him. Then he played, I think it was “Benz Truck,” and I’m like… Wow! This is different! I heard that rock sample in the background, and then it was trap! I thought, “This guy’s amazing.” I gave him a call and told him I’d fly him out to LA to live with me and start working.

Talk to me about the first time you met Peep.

It took a couple of months for him to come because he had to get his stuff ready. At the same time, I was working with Smokepurpp and Fat Nick, and I was thinking in my head: How about I just book a tour? This was a year before the tour happened. Finally, he gets to LA. He starts working on Hellboy. It was like we knew each other for a long time. We were similar in some way. We’d stay awake for days just listening to music, talking about the future. He had this great energy. He believed in what I believed in: The Law of Attraction. We would go hours, days, talking about it, and how we’re gonna take over the world. And then the tour [When The Lean Runs Out Tour] came. He dropped Hellboy. I saw him become a rockstar. From there, it was amazing. He was an amazing, beautiful soul.

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What struck you about him as a person?

How he never spoke negatively about anybody, even if they did wrong to him. That’s what struck me. Everybody gets angry… He would know when people would talk bad about him, and he would never talk down on anybody. That was the best thing about him.

How did your relationship evolve as you two lived together?

Damn, we evolved as a family, man. I’ll get mad at him for certain things, too, as a big brother, because I cared for him. LA is a dark place sometimes. Seeing him get to a place where his anxiety was coming up and me coming through and speaking to him—[he was] trying his hardest to [take my advice]... Every time I think about Lil Peep, I go in a trance. But, I mean, we just became family. Every day, we would wake up, go eat, talk about the same things: tour, drop this, drop that, make [the career] happen. Since the first day, we kinda knew each other already. I guess we knew each other in a past life.

What was it like working with Peep, and seeing him put together Hellboy?

Working with him was a different zone. When he wanted to work, it was work. Getting inside the booth, he would hear the song, and he’d start flowing. He’d look at you and wink, and start freestyling in his own way. The way he pieces it together is amazing because it was so simple but so relevant. To me, it was history in the making. Seeing the producers sampling old punk riffs, and seeing this beautiful person—this was my little brother—piece together the most simple things… I was a fan of it. It was like seeing my favorite artist in the studio, doing what he does.

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What’s your favorite memory with him?

Tour—spending every day with him. Me, Purpp, and him. We were not sleeping at all. I got plenty, so I’ll tell you three, ‘cause three’s my favorite number. One’s in the hotel room when we were touring on the When The Lean Runs Out Tour. We were talking about life and how much we appreciated each other, and how crazy it was that we three were touring independently. That tour was a turning point for everybody’s career. Purpp was shining. And Peep was the star. He was a rockstar.

The second one was after tour, just crying because of how happy we were. And the third memory was four days before he passed—we were talking about the same things we spoke of on the first tour. But this time, I was on my tour with Rich Brian and [Peep] was on his solo tour. Those are the three greatest memories.

How do you want Peep’s music to be remembered?

I want it to be remembered as a medicine for anxiety and depression. When you listen to it, you gotta get happy for the fact that a human being like that has lived and has music to leave behind for the kids. And for everybody else that loved him. He could be remembered forever. Energy never dies. He left music and memories we could cherish forever.

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