Exclusive! Turntablist Tuesdays #2 – Q & A w/ the 2012 DMC Supremacy Champion: DJ Vekked-Canada
We have another champion amongst us! Joining the elite ranks of previous DMC champions DJ Nelson and DJ Vajra, QSU student Vekked has just won the DMC Battle for World Supremacy.
Vekked was kind enough to answer some questions for us in this exclusive interview. So without further ado, here are The Questions:
QSU: How long have you been DJing?
Vekked: Scratching 8 years, juggling 6.
QSU: How did you get into turntablism?
Vekked: Long story shortish, I got into production randomly with really cheap programs when I about 12, making mostly house or something. When I went to high school a lot of my friends started b-boying and I tried but really sucked. I was getting into hip-hop and wanted to be involved, so my background of making beats/music and new interest in hip-hop lead me to wanting to be a DJ. Right around the same time when I was looking into it, I saw 2 videos only, 1 of Qbert and MMM showcasing in 1995 I think, and Qbert cutting over Superduck Breaks with “all that scratchin’ is making me itch”… those blew my mind and definitely drove home my decision to get into the turntablism end of it.
QSU: What year did you first enter DMC?
Vekked: I entered a couple regionals back in like 06/07 but wasn’t very good, didn’t have any real results, I didn’t really “get” it yet… it wasn’t until talking to DJ Wundrkut before he won Canada in 2006 that I realized you don’t just make a 6 minute in 2 weeks and do it… he had his routine finished months ahead, and then I started to get how much it actually took to make a routine.
I took 08 off to sharpen my skills, but then in 2009/2010 DMC left Canada, which really sucked for me because I think I would’ve gained a lot of experience in those years.
In 2011 the Canadian DMC was announced about 3 months ahead of the battles or so. I put together the best routine I could, and entered the local regional and won, then ended up winning the nationals. I was probably the least experience national champion ever, lol, those were the first 2 times doing routines in front of people in about 4 years. This year was the first year I took it seriously and got to spend an entire year working on my routines.
QSU: How did you prepare for this battle? Anything different than other battles?
For the most part I think I stay prepared… most of my major preparation is long finished before I enter a battle, it’s just changing things for the format/time limits, or working on transitions/intros/outros, etc. Most of my actual juggles/scratch routines are done because I make routines all the time, and keep trying to replace the weakest ones. Pretty much the same for this… I guess sending videos of my routines and getting feedback from Jon1st, DJ Brace, Droppin’ Dave, Sporadik and a few other DJ buddies is my main preparation. That’s usually how I get an idea of which routines are my strongest or weakest… getting feedback I trust. I usually like all my routines so it’s hard for me to choose one over another a lot, haha.
QSU: Did QSU help you prepare?
Vekked: Honestly I wish QSU was around when I started, most of the stuff would have been really helpful, but I’m at the point where I know most of the techniques that I want to know, and usually only look at the technique videos for sort of a check up or for inspiration rather than learning new scratches, since I accomplished most of that with DIY 1 and Skratchlopedia before QSU.
For me right now the most valuable part, and the part that helped me prepare for the battles (not just supremacy, in general) is the master class part… I think getting guaranteed feedback from Qbert is probably worth the price right there. I try not to bug him too much but the little bits of feedback I have gotten I’ve taken to heart.
QSU: Hamster or regular?
Vekked: SUPER hamster, haha. I actually swap my channel faders as well, so my left upfader cuts my right deck and vise-versa… as if you plugged your decks into the opposite sides of your mixer.
QSU: How did it feel to win?
Vekked: Crazy. Pretty surreal… I went in without any real expectations, my goal was just to be clean… I feel better after having a clean performance and losing than I do being sloppy and winning. I think I got pretty lucky, there’s quite a bit of luck in the Supremacy depending on who you draw and in what order. I drew 3 of the guys I thought would be the toughest in the battle (as well as Erick Jay, a great juggler from Brazil), but the order was kind of good because I got to save what I felt were my strongest routines for the end… I think that was the only shot I had at beating Ruftone on his own turf. It just worked out to be my day.
QSU: Any advice for someone just getting into battling?
Don’t battle to win. Battle to be different and to bring something new to the art form. Too many battlers are just trying to win, and it shows in their sets that they’re doing something they’re not really passionate about. They beat juggle only because they feel they have to in order to win, or scratch only because they have to in order to win… you can tell that if there wasn’t any battles they wouldn’t be doing it. Do what you really like to do, and try to highlight the things you think you’re doing that are different. To me that’s what it’s about more than anything… do it for yourself, and if you win then great, don’t try and pick songs/routines based on what you think the judges will like, or what’s the new trend or something.
Also, everyone gets nervous. Even when I don’t seem nervous, I am, and you will be too. It’s better to just know that it’s normal and not a bad thing, rather than try to fight it or think something’s wrong with you. If you embrace it you can control it a bit better and not let it ruin your sets. Luckily I found that out somewhere between the Canadian finals and the world finals haha.
QSU: Where can we find you (websites, twitter, etc)
Vekked: @Vekked on Twitter, Vekked on facebook (search Vekked, it’s my middle name there), Vekked on YouTube. Very soon my new website for Canadian turntablists is coming up on www.tablist.ca (right now there’s just a temporary page, a proper forum and such will be up this month). I’m hoping to use it to bring the Canadian scene together a bit online and build the scene up some more here.
QSU: What’s next now that you’ve won?
Vekked: Hard to say, haha, definitely more battling! I’m just getting started. Hopefully going to work on some turntablism related side projects/events that I’ve been thinking about for a while that might be easier to pull off now. I really would just like to do what I can to help strengthen the scene however I can (battling and otherwise)… I don’t wanna just be a guy who won a battle.
QSU: Anything you want to say to all the DJs out there?
Vekked: Hope you guys dig my routines, there’ll be more to come for sure! Keep track of me on the sites up there, I’ll have plenty of stuff happening in the months to come.
QSU: Thanks Vekked, keep us posted!
– DJ Fatfingaz