We appreciate the work you have put into the scene over the years and we think it is about time the community got to know more about you.
1. How did it all begin and what inspired you to become a fully-fledged DJ?
My grandmother owns her own carnival band (Flamingo Carnival Arts) which I was born into and started playing mas at the young age of 2. Growing up in the band I was heavily involved in not just the costumes but the music too as my dad was the band DJ, so I would regularly go with him down to the sound shops to research and buy soca music. Like most babies born in the 80’s/90’s, I was exposed to a lot of the music our parents would listen to such as, calypso, soca, reggae, lovers rock, swing etc. Getting dragged to house parties and family gatherings really matured my interest in music and vibes.
My first taste for DJ’ing was at the age of 14, at carnival my dad asked me to come on the truck and play music. I had never touched decks before so had no idea what I was doing but he handed me the CD case and said try it. I did and although the mixing was dreadful the song selection was good, people were dancing and having a good time. That got me interested enough to go down to the local car boot sale and purchase a pair of Wembley 400 speakers and a Numark CDN22 with matching mixer for £150 to learn how to DJ.
Obviously the basic Numark decks was never going to be enough for me to really learn how to DJ but at the time I knew no better till I got home and realised that it wasn’t going to work. So I took some vinyls from my parents and hit the technics! I spent hours in front of the turntables mixing the same 2 songs back and forth till I got the hang of it and slowly I moved onto more songs till I could fluently mix a collection of songs. Once I felt confident on the decks I went back to the CDs and was able to complete my first bedroom set with only minor mistakes. I would take my equipment out to house parties and small carnivals to gain experience. Earning the odd £10 here and there meant that by the following carnival year (at the age of 15) I was able to earn my own denon DN-S1200’s pro decks which I still use today. I practiced often, became better and that got me more bookings.
2. Where did your DJ name come from?
I have yet to get a DJ (stage) name. I think because my name starts with Dj its not that easy to make a DJ name. I used to be called “grandad” because I acted so mature when I was young, but it didn’t stick, could you really imagine an event with DJ Grandad, no one would attend. So I thought just use my real name, it’s unique enough.
3. What was the first record you ever bought?
Oh gosh! My first and only tape I ever bought was Craig David – Rewind lol since then I’ve never bought a record, I’m guilty of asking for a copy or download.
4. What kind of equipment do you work with?
I work with CDJ’s which I use and is inclusive in all my sound hire equipment. For my sound hire I mainly have sound suitable for outdoors as I find outdoor speaker systems are more flexible to application and when used indoors can provide great quality at low volume. I used to have a custom system of various boxes, scoops mid ranges and tweeter boxes, but felt that presentation lacked. So in 2011 I upgraded my whole system to a more tighter better looking sound system.
5. Vinyl, CD or MP3?
I have a huge like and respect for vinyl DJs and as much as they are outdated and impractical for today’s use, I still can’t get rid of my technics and records. At the moment I’m converting from CD to laptop, for years I’ve been a CD DJ with usb MP3 use for alternative music to soca. I hate the laptop as its just not the same as a CD and does take a lot of getting used to, you have to have the right balance of organisation with your music which I’m not used to. I’m used to a huge CD case with pages and just know if I’m looking for a song where it is for example Kim would be page 9 disc 4 track 3.
6. What sets you apart from other DJs?
This is a topic I often get involved in with friends and I find it hard to find an answer. I’ve come to think that you can really only compare against DJs of your own style, for example a scratch DJ and a sample DJ are too different to compare, however a DJ with a variety of styles definitely has the advantage. Djs of their own style really aren’t that much different. What I would say for myself is that I can and have done so many times in the past live mixed up to 4 and 6 decks at one time for example my mix soulful soca was a live recording of 4-5 decks at one time. I’m not afraid to experiment live and create live remixes, through samples, loops and song selections. A safe DJ will never be any different than any other DJ.
7. How would you describe your style of playing?
I like long mixes, so almost remix a style such as one song with a different instrumental. I find it makes things a bit more interesting when you can hear something different, fresh and new. I also like a clean mix and blend, a smooth transition between songs can really help maintain a vibe and is just pleasant in the ear. I’m not a fan of cutting and chopping as I feel it’s more for scratch which I’m not that good at. But above all I like a long mix, interesting combination, with a nice blend
8. Tell us how do you unwind after each gig?
Go straight to sleep lol. On the drive home I like to either think about how I can improve, what feedbackI heard from others that I like, or simply get a clear mind with a silent drive home.
9. What are your thoughts on the soca scene at the moment and what would you like to see improve?
Oh gosh that’s a big question. My thoughts on the soca scene is that it’s very bias which I hate to see especially when people want to talk about unity. Pioneers of the soca scene only attend and promote their own events and those of which they are friends with which doesn’t show unity or help the soca scene as a whole to grow. There is a lot of back stabbing and selfishness with a lot of promoters where they make it almost impossible for many DJs to grow, by sticking to the same DJs for every event or promising things and not delivering. At the end of the day if we are all one family shouldn’t we be helping each other for the greater good? We can see this in the crowd too, some people only go to certain events, and as much as other events are appealing they will refuse, there’s followers and this and that.
Example: I’ve been advertising to use my sound system to hold a free event to show appreciation to the soca scene, and although I know or am known by almost everyone in the scene, till yet no one has even offered to take on that help. The variety of soca events are limited and have lack of imagination, so it’s no wonder many people get bored of the same old same old and stop going to soca events, myself being one of them. I don’t think that the soca scene is respected as it should/could be in the UK and I think a big part of that is that it’s not being marketed in a way that is appealing to the UK market and investors.
UK soca scene as a product has no substance, we can see this by lack of investment and interest in carnival over the years, bars and clubs will reject soca events, and radios too. Can you really blame them, I say no not really. Some products are cash cows and some need work to make someone want to buy it. It’s been done with funky house, Afro beats, and bashment, so why is it soca can’t seem to do so in the UK.
I once said that we need to grow up, and how we present ourselves could have an impact on how we are perceived in the UK, many agreed, many said its very true but people don’t like to accept it so I should say it, and many got upset and felt like “carrying on bad is we ting, who don’t like it can…” Well there’s no wonder why we are where we are.
I’d like to see more REAL unity between events, promoters, DJs, and the people. I’d like more imaginative events with a difference and an edge. A combination and variety of events that don’t exclude UK trends but use it to its benefit. As ghetto as some bashment may be it is still commercially accepted in UK clubs and radio, yet soca is not, not much will change.
10. What advice would you give to up and coming DJs hoping to break it out on the UK scene?
Loool (I actually laughed out loud) be patient, work hard and if you don’t mind sucking up to a lot of people, DJ’ing for free and befriending everyone no matter what. You’ll make it in a few years.
11. What is your favourite soca tune of all time?
That’s like an impossible question but I think I’d say Krosfyah – She body in control. Just one of those songs that with a woman or even alone you can really get lost in.
12. Who is your musical soca icon?
I don’t have one.
13. Favourite 2013 soca lyric and why?
Oh gosh none. Soca has turned into something completely different to what I grew up on, I find although some instrumentals are “LIVE YO” the lyrics are so lacking and unoriginal, or talking about jookin and bumpa’ or rum and gal. I’m so not impressed. Even the other day I noticed Machel Montano used the same lyrics from an old song in a 2013 song. Like did he really think people wouldn’t notice.
14. Where do you spin usually and where can music lovers find you?
Currently I’m resident to UCOM and hope to remain so till I get fired lol, so any UCOM event I will be there, also Sun Baliante events often rotate me with other UK DJs. I hope to be accepted into other soca events however I’ve yet to work out why I’m not, but that’s no different to any other DJ on the scene (see above comments about promoters) So who knows what the future may bring, maybe after this post things might change.
15. And last but not least 5 things that we didn’t know about you?
- I don’t have a middle name
- I’m from St Lucia & St. Vincent
- I DJ and sound hire not for popularity or money, but just for enjoyment
- I want 8 kids (4 girls, 4 boys) at the same time. I was told its called octuplets but as its probably never going to happen I guess it doesn’t matter.
- I once was blind for 24 hours, and I’m probably slightly deaf.