S & S sits down to talk tech with the man who'll be spinning the decks at this year's Red Bull BC ONE, DJ Renegade.
How many sets have you done in the UAE before? And how does the level of tech and equipment and production compare to Europe?
I have DJ’ed in the UAE about five times so far, the last time being for the Red Bull BC ONE UAE Cypher last year. It was actually the first time the competition took place in the Middle East and I was stoked to be part of it. Each time the production/equipment has been top notch. In many cases, it was better than what I typically encounter in Europe, where it’s often old tech.
What equipment will you be using at this year’s UAE CYPHER?
I will be using some Technics 1210 turntables, a Pioneer 1000 DJM with Serato, and my laptop. You can tell from that equipment list that I like to mix the old with the new.
I personally prefer using Vinyl to controllers - I just prefer the old school feel. Nothing against the new equipment, I think it’s great, but I’m not yet ready to go all the way yet and forget my roots. This is the equipment I grew up using and although I embrace progress, old habits die hard!
What DJ-ing style do you prefer? Old school vinyl or digital?
I have been DJ’ing for the past 26 years, and if that’s taught me one thing, it’s that you have to be adaptable.
I can use old or new tech but ultimately, it’s not about the medium. It’s all about the skills, and how you hone and develop it. In time, the world of DJ’ing will be dominated by controllers, and I do see this trend starting to take shape now.
A number of the venues I have performed in recently have phased out their turntables. We are certainly at a crossroads.
Do you think there is an absence of good DJ’s today?
In terms of my scene, which is the dance competition circuit, there is definitely an absence of good DJ’s. This is the case in the whole region, as a matter of fact. It’s a very niche market and depends a lot on a particular education which is lacking in many parts of the world.
I really think it all boils down to how developed the scene is and more importantly, how people in the scene share knowledge and use it to collectively to raise the bar, and define themselves as DJ’s in their own right.
How would you define being a DJ?
Being a DJ is not about playing the top 40. To me, being a DJ is more about being an educator, and the importance of schooling people on new music, expanding their musical horizons, and taking them on a journey during the night.
Not many DJ’s succeed in doing that as a pre-requisite, but I honestly believe it’s essential for a bona fide DJ to carve his or her own style.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Well it’s true that any artist loves to see the impact of his art on the audience. When I’m performing, I can virtually visualize my music through the B-Boys’ moves and I really appreciate this synergy.
Any tips for budding DJ’s?
I guess the two most important areas would be musical and technical self-development. By that I mean that aspiring DJ’s should start by educating themselves. Speak to other DJ’s you meet, share tips, ask questions, delve deep and enquire about what the driving force behind the music is. Learn the history of DJ’ing and explore various styles and niches. On a technical level, it is very important to learn the tools of the trade. Learn more about your equipment and how it can work for you and most crucially, you have to learn what to do when it doesn’t work for you!