Monday 13 July 2015

(Recommended Mix Series) - "Golden" by DJ Bamboo plus Interview!

So happy to find this mix - DJ Bamboo comes more than correct with his ode to the Golden Era of Hip Hop in "Golden". Golden was made in 2013 and is one of those mixes that within seconds of hearing the intro you know you're in for a treat - Smart word play and clever use of samples sets the tone for a great mix incorporating skills and a top-choice selection.

Last week Kutclass blessed us with some knowledge on the UK scene, and I'm happy to say DJ Bamboo was kind enough to give us some deep insights into the US Scratch scene and some tips from a mixtape master! 

Hit play over at the Mixcrate link here and enjoy a good read below, and be sure to follow Bamboo (links at end)

I read that you’re a co-founder of Scratch Lounge and that it was founded in 2010…I’m sure that took a great deal of work on everyone’s part to keep growing. Can you give some lowdown about how that came about and where it’s at today/where do you hope to see it in the future?

Skratch Lounge started in April of 2010. I was visiting the Bay Area and a fellow DJ told me there were still events that focus just on scratching, and I thought it was the coolest idea that people were still keeping turntablism alive.  He sort of pushed me just to try something like it, so when I returned to Seattle, I spoke with my long time DJ homie, DJ Spinja, and we decided to give it a shot.  There was no one doing anything like it in the Seattle area at the time, and our hope was to preserve the aspects of DJing that turned us on to DJing in the first place.  Turned out to be way more successful than we ever planned. That’s the beauty of things like this – sometimes figuring things out as they come along leads to the most creative results, which to me is very hip-hop. 

Initially, we just setup a circle of decks and mixers, and Spinja and myself would be up top mixing instrumentals while folks cyphered.  We decided to hold it monthly, and by the time the next month came around, scratch DJ's were already getting word.  Our first showcase was DJ Mista-B, who happened to be visiting Seattle at the time, so we were extremely grateful he stopped by and dropped his funky juggles for us.  After that successful turnout, we had monthly showcases from battle vets, both locally and nationally.   Battlestar, Melo-D, Snaykeyez, Wundrkut, G-Nius, The Beat Molester, Waystyles, Wicked, Mr. Cerdan, PJilla, just to name a few (I swear I'm not name dropping!).  2 years later the DMC's returned to Seattle, hosted by Skratch Lounge. 

So that's where we're at right now.  The laid back cypher, humor, and camaraderie that we have monthly is very much a core of Skratch Lounge, and I don't see that going anywhere.  The DJ's that come month after month to Skratch Lounge are why we are still here (big ups fellas!).  We've moved venues once, and have since found a home at Trinity Nightclub, who have greatly supported us in the last 3-4 years.  In terms of the future, I'd love to get more showcases from tableists that we've looked up to that we haven't seen live.  Kurteek, D-Styles, Woody would be my top choices.  And perhaps hosting a local scratch battle.

What have been the highlights of these events you’ve put on or most memorable guest performances?

Oddly, the highlights of Skratch Lounge have been when folks in the cypher are feeling it, both with the scratches and the beats.  It truly is communicating with your hands.  At these moments, no one is power scratching and it feels like an amplified Q&A. Like a dope conversation a couple beers in.  I guess only tableists will understand this though.  One time, we went from 8PM to 1:30AM, and folks started grabbing stools to sit and cut.  It was like a Q-Bert cut session...pretty dope.

In terms of memorable guest performances, all were dope and I can't list them all, but if I have to list some, I would have to say it was Snaykeyez from the Bay for our 1-year anniversary, Battlestar's 2012 DMC Team routine, Wundrkut and G-Nius from Skratcher, and DJ Celsius from Portland for our 5th year anniversary.

Snaykeyez personalized a set for Seattle only, using Sir Mix-A-Lot's Square Dance Rap, and also did an experimental bit where he was cutting over Busta's fast rhymes in the same pattern.  It was pretty amazing:

Battlestar's Cwitch, Virusss, Rayted R, and IFTW came straight from the DMC finals in London to Skratch Lounge, and we were the first to see/hear their 2012 team routine.  Proud of them for reppin' the US!

Wundrkut and G-Nius straight murdered this set.  Not only was the set memorable, but it was super fun drinking with these guys that night:

DJ Celsius is a melodic master with the Vestax C1 turntable, and was doing some next level shit.  Very unique and memorable:

A big shout to everyone that has taken the time to prepare, travel, and showcase for us.  The inspiration it provides is priceless, and their efforts do not go unnoticed for the sake of the art.

Scratch wax, Scratch battles, people posting new routines, scratch collectives, scratch schools, DJ competitions etc all seem to be getting more light of day than ever before and it’s great for the fans.. Do you see this as a good thing for the art form as a whole or detrimental in any way?

I think it's a good thing amidst all the "producer" DJ's that are giving real DJ culture a bad name.  Publicity for technical skills is never a bad thing.  I know some tableists want it to stay underground or thrive upon that "no one gets it", but remember this, scratching and juggling a record has never been replaced by technology.  That is, no button push has ever simulated a live funky scratch.  To me it's like b-boying.  You can't pull a clean windmill without actually doing it.  It's raw, and the only way to get good at it is to physically do it.  No MIDI controller will create a windmill.

Getting more of this art form exposed allows more people to understand it - isn't that what we all want?   One big shout I have to give is to Battle Ave - it's for tableists run by tableists, and Antriks' marketing and business sense is extremely organized.  He is definitely one that is putting the raw scene on the map.  With that said, we are exposing only one element of DJing:  scratching.  Other DJ elements need to be exposed better and made more clear for the general to understand.  In my opinion, it's like the elements of hip-hop, but applied to DJing:  scratching, juggling, mixing, digging, blending, programming.  Those who can do these all well tend to be the ones all other DJ's look up to and aspire to, and there are a few (Skratch Bastid, Z-Trip, Jazzy Jeff, etc.).   I don't think exposure to any of these elements is detrimental in any way.

I was really digging your “Golden” mix and I’ve got to say it was exceptionally well put-together. I’m sure it took a lot of time to finish as with any ‘themed" mix done well. What gave you the inspiration for the mix and how did it come together?

Thank you.  "Golden" came about because I was doing a night with Fever-One (Rock Steady Crew) called Golden, where we played Golden-Era joints on a Friday night.  I figured I would dust off my mix tape game and release a high-powered intro as a way to promote our night.  I only released the intro to create buzz - the only way to get the rest of the mix was to come to our night, where I handed out hard copies.  That was a dope night.  It was nice to see supporting hip-hop heads come through for that.

I'm also strongly attached to the Golden Era! Are there any modern artists that you look out for today or does Hip Hop of today not have the same appeal for you?

Love the Golden Era as well.  It's the reason I started DJing.  As for my interest in today's Hip-Hop, I have to admit I'm not as into it as much as I used to be.  This could be for many reasons:  the generation gap, not as much time to sort through music, too much bad music just to find gems.   The main reason though, goes back to why I got into it in the first place:  artists would paint a verbal city scape and create stories of their hood, and I was very intrigued by that.  Doesn't seem as street authentic today - it's like the bouncers of the real hip-hop club took a break and never came back.  Everyone got in with no cover.  Most of the hip-hop artists I listen today are ones that have that have that boom-bap soul.  I'm pretty much stuck on that vibe.  For modern artists, I like the Cool Kids, Giant Panda, Malcolm & Martin, but I'm not sure how modern they are considered.  That last hip-hop album I got was Sadat X's Never Left, but he's not modern.

What kind of setup do you use to create and edit your mixes?

Vinyl, Serato, Adobe Audition, Ableton.  As you can tell from my mixes, they are very intro heavy, and for those I usually like to get half a crate of my favorite hip-hop vinyl, especially ones with acapellas.  With that limited collection, you get more creative and utilize what you have.  It can be overwhelming when you have an unlimited amount of music these days.

Which of your collection of mixes are you most proud of?
Drunken Soul and Golden.

Do you think making a mix is now a forgotten art or is it still a good way for new DJ’s to get their name out there?

Yes, it's a forgotten art.  Anyone who has made an intricate mix tape with a multi-tracked intro knows how much work goes into it.  Those mixes used to be of the elite, but since Serato came out, so many mediocre mixes have been made in one-hour sessions.   These have drowned out the dope mixes that have theme and thought.  About 1 out of 20 mixes I come across on Mixcrate are dope, but I may be expecting too much.  I still think folks can tell a mediocre mix from a highly technical mix with scratches, samples, and creative transitions - it's just not as easy to find as before.  With that said, I think DJ's should always try and make quality mixes to showcase all aspects of their style and technical skill.  Even if you don't gain immediate online popularity, when someone asks you for a demo, you'll already be a step ahead of everyone else.

Was there a mixtape in particular you heard once upon a time that made you say “I wanna do that!” or any that really inspired you? For me it was Vinroc’s Audio Animation or Re-Construction tapes…

DJ Riz, DJ Rectangle, DJ Break, DJ Pump.  These guys changed the mixtape intro game for me.  DJ Riz's mixtape gave me the whole idea of finding individual letters to spell out your name.  Rectangle was the first time I heard a high-octane multi-track mix and I think my head exploded.  Break and Pump continued the trend.

What was the best advice you ever got as a DJ that helped you or might help someone starting out?

After I bombed one night, a friend suggested that I don't spin back-to-back songs that are too far apart in age.  Made a lot of sense to me at the time (vinyl), as it was a place where people were dancing.  The energies between rugged 90's and clean-produced 2000's didn't match so well, at least for the songs that I chose.

If I were to give general advice, I would say you have to love music.  You know that feeling you get when you first hear a dope joint and go "damn!"?  If you ever had that desire to want others to feel the same way you did when you first heard that song, then it'll never get old being a DJ.  
For technical advice, I would say learn how to count beats and understand the structure of songs.  Too many times I've heard DJ's mix out of a 8-bar chorus only 6 bars in.  Nails on a chalkboard. 

I read that you’ve been in the DJ scene since ’93. That’s probably more or less when I started too… Can you talk a little about how you’ve changed as a DJ over the years or how your musical styles might have changed and what can heads expect to see from a DJ Bamboo show?

I was all very much into Golden Era when I started.  When hip-hop changed in the early 2000's, I lost interest, and tried to find other music to get me going.  I was living in Philly at that time, and really got into Neo Soul.  That's why I made the Drunken Soul mix.  As time passed, I really got into Soul (Neo and Classic) and Funk.  Most of my music these days consists Soul/R&B/Funk, if not Golden Era.  I still like doing live blends and loops with some basic cutting, so you'll always see some of that when I spin.

And finally - Let's say you're at a jam session at Qbert's place... Who would be on the other decks?

DJ Woody and DJ D-Styles!  I'd stop scratching and watch them in awe.  Two of the most funkiest tableists for me right now.  Well, either that or DJ 3LAU :)

Where can people follow you or see you spin?

I'm not too active on Social Media these days, but if you'd like to follow me, here you go:

Twitter/Instagram:  djbamboo888

DJ Bamboo on Mixcrate

DJ Bamboo's Drunken Soul mix

For Skratch Lounge, please check out our website:

Or join our Facebook group


Massive thanks to DJ Bamboo for an awesome interview!!

No comments:

Post a Comment