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The DMC World DJ Championships is an annual turntablist competition organised by Disco Mix Club (DMC). It began in 1986 in the United Kingdom and was founded by the entrepreneurial Tony Prince, who hosts the World Final every year.

The Australian chapter of DMC was established by Stewart Hannah in the late 1980s. Stewart is a charismatic guy who runs DMC Records in Melbourne and helped build turntablism in Australia. He was generous and took care of State champions in the competition, usually flying DJs down a day or two before the battle to appear on radio as well as providing a space to practice.

The 2000s were a good time for turntablism and battle DJing — people were really on point. The judging panels were always solid, sometimes running with ten experienced, Australian DJs along with, usually, an international guest (past judges have included: A-Trak, Roc Raida, DJ Craze, DJ Noize).

In 2003, judges were given personal monitors to watch the action close up… another year hydraulic tables were built so that a DJ’s preferred table height could be catered for instantly. In hindsight, it’s crazy how solid ‘turntablism’ was in the early-mid 2000s, especially when you see how much it’s waned since and returned to where it started — the bedroom. But a resurgence, similar to that of breakdancing is about to happen.

2002 was an exciting year in Australia, as it was the first and only year that DMC in Australia introduced the 'Battle For World Supremacy'; a head-to-head competition. In Queensland, this saw Da Masta and I battle out years of animosity about 'who was the best'. I won that battle, however Da Masta put on a great entertaining performance.

I was heavily involved with the competition in the early ’00s when I won three state titles back-to-back. In those years, DJ Dexter (The Avalanches) had withdrawn from the spotlight, with Staen-1 (from Adelaide) stepping up to the plate to win three Australian titles back-to-back.

In 2003, the trusty crew of the 2002/ 2003 state champions bid farewell. It was like a little community — we’d look forward to meeting up in Melbourne each year, full of laughs and friendly competition.

DJ Finatik and I decided to step away from battling at that time and others followed suit. In many ways things were never going to be the same; gradually the skill level decreased, DJ Perplex pressed up custom records and the rest was history.

On one hand, the challenge of diggin’ up records to use in a routine was gone, on the other, pressing up a custom piece of vinyl gave Perplex his own material to work with. Most people viewed it as a negative, but some people latched onto the idea and I think that deterred a lot of people from the competition — there were purists as well as progressive thinkers.

After I returned from a working holiday in the UK for two years in 2008 and saw the state DMC was in, it was no wonder that Stewart Hannah decided not to continue with the competition — there was no competition! It seemed like people went back to ‘Captain Caveman’ styles.

However, in 2012, with the advent of technology and a change in the format of the competition allowing Digital Vinyl Systems (DVS) like Serato, a new beast has been born. Now there are two camps: devout vinyl-only turntablists (Nikk-C and myself for example) and others, who opt to use DVS. The DJs of old are hungry, networking and practicing like madmen, while there’s a new evolution of DJs emerging from their bedrooms.

Nikk-C is the reigning Queensland champion. This year he’s defending his title. I am also contemplating coming out of retirement after nine years to have a stab at it. Considering we're in a crew together, Dirty Diggaz, this is going to be either fun or painful, as we've actually never battled in our many years of being friends/ DJs. Though we are friends, as soon as you hit that stage, you are enemies. Nothing more. Nothing less. Your weapons are your routine — crafted, created and perfected over months, using nothing but records and a stock standard mixer.

The announcement of the 2012 DMCs returning to Brisbane has kicked everyone’s ass into practice mode. This year will be interesting, as Brisbane seems to have seen a turntablist resurgence, with the Queensland title up for grabs at this point. Good luck to all the competitors and see you on the battlefield!

(DJ Sheep is a 3x Queensland DMC DJ Champion.)

The Queensland State Final takes place at Coniston Lane on Saturday July 21 FEAT. A PERFORMANCE FROM DJ DEXTER
www.dmcdjchamps.com
Tuesday, 12 June 2012 12:02

Live Review: Def Wish Cast

Def Wish Cast hit Brisbane on their ‘Evolution Machine’ tour last Thursday, and BOY what a show.

When I was growing up, this was the holy grail of hip hop shows; a Def Wish Cast show.

They three MCs hit the stage with a god like presence, like the old school pioneers they are, gear blue tracksuit tops, matched, fly kicks in check.

def-wish-cast-02

They trio looked more like Run-D.M.C. or the Beastie Boys in their fine form from the ‘80s than your cliche ‘Aussie hip hop’.

Running through their early material like A.U.S.T. and then their separate incarnations as ‘Celcius’ (Sereck’s solo project) and ‘Killawatz’ (Die C and MC Def Wish's old crew), they gave the crowd some rarities from their extensive catalogs.

Then the evolution began.

def-wish-cast-01

Thomas Rock
and DJ Murda-1 hit the stage and performed a good portion of their album.

‘Dun Proppa’ is a sure favourite and an anthem already having the crowd going wild. It’s definitely a show you have the see live.

These guys have it down pat so well, it's not funny. Three MCs working well on stage is a hard feat, throw in a vocoder and DJ, and visuals… making it work could be a nightmare, but Def Wish Cast leave it feeling surreal and somewhat nostalgic.

I spoke to MC Def Wish after the show, it was a mediocre turn out being a Thursday night, smack band in exams, but he said verbatim: "you know, we'd rather perform for ten REAL heads that thousands of fake ones".

def-wish-cast-04

Word to that. Staying as true to the game as they ever have. Sharp tidy show!

NO EXCUSES next time they are in town!

Click here for more images from the night.

Photos: Lachlan Douglas
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 14:09

DJ Krush

Till I Die

One of the most influential instrumental hip hop producers of all time, DJ Krush is no stranger to Australian shores, having first toured here for the Vibes On A Summer Day touring festival in 1995.

“I enjoy playing in Australia very much as I can get very different reactions from the audience to the ones I get in Europe or America.” As technology continually changes the way producers work, Krush reaffirms that he was spawned from “a generation of analogue techniques”. But while some DJs are apprehensive to embrace programs like Serato, Krush isn’t.

“It’s been so much easier to respond to an audience’s needs instantly, for example, I can play records that haven’t been released, and I can play everything in a DJ set when I feel that’s what an audience wants. Another big advantage is that even while touring I can start writing new music and when I come up with great ideas I can play it that day or night at the event.”

Krush is also celebrating 20 years in the industry. “As time passes, things accumulate and you let it out and you keep moving forward, then you get new inspirations and new experiences and again there are a few accumulated things you need to let out. Now that I’ve realised it’s been 20 years, I have a feeling that I will keep doing this till I die, it’s more like a road that never ends.” Krush will be releasing a new single digitally every month, into the new year, as part of his 20th anniversary project; this marketing method is to let people feel “current” with his music, but he’s quick to say there will be analogue recordings released next year.

Reflecting on his music and goals he cites that the “challenge is whether I can express the scenery I have pictured in my mind with just sound”. His parting words to his fans in Australia are: “I can’t wait for the summer in Australia, I will be there with great spirit, so let’s have some fun!”

DJ Krush plays the Hi-Fi on Saturday November 19.

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 13:59

The Family Stone

Good Music Is Good Music

Greg Errico is the legendary, original drummer for Sly & The Family Stone who played at Woodstock. I’m lucky enough to have had a chance to catch up with him and talk about Sly, the newly reformed Family Stone, and his views on sampling.

Can you explain the difference between a ‘Family Stone’ experience today without Sly? Do you play the songs you recorded together?
There’s three original members: myself, Jerry Martini and Cynthia Robinson. The rest of the band is from Las Vegas. The chemistry is fantastic, it’s really good. I mean, obviously Sly’s not going to be there. But we’re doing all the music that we created back 40-something years ago. It’s true to the spirit of the music and the energy I gotta say. I got back involved around February 2011 or something. This is the most pleased I’ve been, after several attempts to put the band back together, in a long time. It’s been very well received everywhere we go, and I’m very happy with it and I feel really good about it. As far as Sly goes, we wish he was in health that he could come out and perform again. But right now he’s working on that. Short of that, I think anybody that is into the music or not even into the music will thoroughly enjoy what we’re going to bring down there.

Speaking more on Sly, did you guys stay in touch? He’s very recently checked into rehab…
Which is a good thing. Occasionally I speak to him, and it’s good that he’s finally openly announced that he needs to go do this. So I’m glad that it’s finally happened because time was running out. It’s good that he’s there. We’ve always made it public knowledge that his spot on the stage, the organ is sitting here running, the seat is paused waiting for him to come in and sit on it. He’s always welcome to come and do what he does.

Let’s talk about hip hop music. You must be familiar that a lot of the music you played in, not just the Family Stone stuff has been sampled in hip hop; how do you feel about that?
Yeah, it absolutely has. My drumbeat has been sampled hundreds and hundreds of times. And my music too. You know what? It’s an honour that the new and young creators, creative people come along to recognise it and be inspired by it to take it and make it part of their creation. It’s a good thing, it’s a good feeling. It keeps what you did alive. It validates what you did to new generations of people that come along. We did some of that music almost 50 years ago!

Various artists, and people have conflicting views sometimes about it — that’s a great outlook you’ve got.
I think so. People may be bitter, maybe because they didn’t get paid for it. That’s a business thing. There’s a lot of things that are wrong on the business side, but we’re doing more than business. It was music first and business came later. Whether that’s together or not, that’s an ongoing battle. The music is what touches people and brought people together worldwide, broke barriers down, and continues to. So that’s where the power is, not the business.

So let’s get back to the Family Stone. So for someone who isn’t versed in the group at all, what would you class your genre of music as?
You’re definitely going to hear funk. I guess you could best describe it as funk with the infusion and energy of rock with the attitude of rock and R&B. It’s music. My experiences with playing different genres of music; because maybe where I grew up, growing up in San Francisco, it’s an international city, so you got people and music and culture from all over the world. This gets infused in your soul. I like music. Good music is good music to me, you know. I guess that’s what’s afforded me and allowed me to take the opportunities that I had to play with different artists and different genres, a great experience. So I bring all that to the table. As far as the music that we created 48 years ago, you will definitely experience the spirit of that music and the energy of that music when we come down there, that’s what we’re going to bring. God willing, we can all still do it, and we are.

Catch The Family Stone at the Harvest Festival, at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, November 19.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 12:32

Trem One

On The Level

Melbourne MC Trem One is undoubtedly one of this country’s finest wordsmiths on the mic. His long-awaited solo debut album, ‘For The Term Of His Natural Life’, dropped last week exclusively to independent stores around the country.

One of the first things that sticks out about the album is the cohesiveness of it, from start to finish it sounds like a montage with a consistent sound, from the beats, lyrics and overall subject matter.
“Part of the reason 90 percent of releases don’t have that cohesiveness, coz they can’t be fucked ensuring that’s the case. Track orders are one thing, but actually identifying your style, what suits you and most importantly selecting what suits you along with a good working relationship with the beat-makers and producers/ engineers. It also comes down to the mix. I spent an incredible amount of time in the mix itself, ensuring each track was on par and had that continuous sound.”

A big highlight for us Brisbanites is the track ‘Vet Clinic’, which throws Lazy Grey and Trem together.
“I’ve always carefully selected my collabs. Lazy is someone who I have incredible respect for, we’ve both been involved in the game for a long period and we’ve both led different paths throughout, but I think there’s always been this level of respect there and the knowledge that we would eventually come together on something was inevitable.

Trem says he rates Lazy “incredibly highly as an MC in this country, top two or three no doubt. For many reasons too; consistency, longevity, originality, style, flow, delivery and presence; it’s undisputed he comes in at full marks on all these facets.”

The album takes a trip down memory lane, offering many stories from Trem’s youth.
“I always envisioned my solo to hold a lot of sentiment and reflection. I’ve been involved for a long time and although I only scratch the surface in the songs there’s so much to tell, a lot of cool history has taken place in our version of the culture, and if people like myself and others that have been here a while and been fortunate enough to experience it don’t tell these stories, they’ll be lost forever.”

I hit up Trem about the confounding support for anything released under the banner of  ‘Australian hip hop’.
“Unfortunately many moons ago it became a token phrase that seemed to become an excuse to make a sub-par attempt that was okayed and accepted under the all-encompassing Aussie hip hop banner. I’m not opposed to being proud of creating your own local version of a genre, but the term was misinterpreted and abused, and as I said became the banner in which rap music made in our country seemed to get lumped under be it good or atrocious, and somehow (it was) accepted.”
Elaborating, Trem says he’d label his music as: “always just rap or hip hop. The fact we were Australian or whatever, a nationality never needed to been announced. It was fairly obvious, to me it was just keeping it real.”

Fans currently have three options to purchase this album; in an independent record store, via Trem’s online stockists or hand-to-hand from his street team around the country.
“Giving this to the indies exclusively seems natural to me, there’s not many left and some are struggling big-time. The thing a lot of people forgot, and some don’t even realise, is that these (independent) stores supported us artists before any fucking major (label) realised rapping wasn’t a dance style. I couldn’t turn my back on those who gave to us before a skip-hop section was invented.”

Speaking of which, I hear a major chain is knocking on your door?
“Those heads who are true fans but are in areas that aren’t within a realistic travel distance to an indie or don’t use the net to cop hard copy’s can’t be dismissed. So that’s the hurdle I’ve got at the minute. I would never buckle to give my shit up to a conglomerate on their terms but if they wanna play ball in my court and it can service those who are fiending for it but haven’t yet tracked it down then it’s gotta be something to consider carefully.”

Trem One appears in Brisbane for his listening party this Saturday - from midday - at Crush City, Annerley. Free entry. The unedited version of this interview is on the Weird Gear blog: weirdgear.wordpress.com

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 12:54

Weird Gear

<< Patrice Rushen

Top 5

Here are the five records from my crates that are for sale at the Weird Gear record fair/ DJ extravaganza this weekend.

Kaji Meiko - Urami Bushi 7” This is the haunting song from ‘Kill Bill Vol. 2’ featuring the beautiful voice of Kaji Meiko, who was also the lead actress in the cult movie 'Lady Snowblood'. This was impossible to find in Japan when ‘Kill Bill’ came out; thankfully it's become a little easier after the movie’s hype died down.

Grover Washington Jr. - Reed Seed A non-CTI release from Grover that sees him in fine form. ‘Loran's Dance’ and ‘Maraca’s Beach’ are smooth, and will definitely keep you happy on a Sunday afternoon. One of the best jazz-fusion albums you could put in your collection, and not as common as you'd think considering it was released on Motown.

Frank Zappa - Hot Rats In my opinion, Mr. Zappa in his finest moment. This is my favourite album by the lad; everything from funk, samples, breaks, moog, psych, prog, jazz, weirdness… it's just a mish-mash of stuff that’s sublime. At moments it sounds like a proto hip hop album with sheer manic genius all the way through. Highly inspiring music. A semi-rarity at a very nice price.

Patrice Rushen - Straight From The Heart OK, all the girlies and metrosexuals run to the DJ box when I drop ‘Forget Me Nots’ thinking it's ‘Men In Black’. Sorry, it's not; it's the original sample! Patrice Rushen is one of the most beautiful singers out there. Part disco, part boogie, all soul, and a top album. The thing is a great listen from start to finish. Tons of hip hop samples. Definitely an essential crate staple.

MacGregor State High School – School Concert Band Live (1979) Well, this one was a surprise! Their cover version of ‘2001 Also Sprach Zarathustra’ is bloody out there, drum break intact! A little bit sloppy, but that adds to the charm. Pressed on the EMI Custom label, this must’ve been a small pressing of maybe about 50 or so? I found three copies down at the school fete a few weeks ago in the trash and treasure sale! I also bought some toffee apples, fudge and a Greedo figurine! #WINNING.

Weird Gear takes place at Rumpus Room on Sunday, May 29 - 1-7pm. weirdgear.wordpress.com

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