"If You Call Yourself A DJ, You Gotta Be Able To Rock."
Flash back to the days of vinyl, before laptops and CD spinners overtook the dance clubs and airwaves. DJs thrived on LPs. Some still do. One standout, LA-based maverick Z-Trip, incorporates everything from Top 40 to heavy metal into his mixes. Trip is featured in Scratch, the new documentary (www.scratchmovie.com) that traces the genre's 27-year history, showcasing old-school spin doctors like GrandWizzard Theodore, Mix Master Mike, and Afrika Bambaataa. Wired tracked down Trip for his take on the movie and turntablism at large. We found him in Colorado, diggin' for LPs with Theodore and Jazzy Jay.
How has the DJ scene changed since Scratch was filmed?
Z-trip: Two years ago, people had seen DJing here and there, but now it's going mainstream. Look at the climate of music these days - it's getting more electronic. Guitars are matched by turntables, keyboards, and samplers.
What about using software or CDs to DJ?
Z-trip: Nothing replaces vinyl. Even though they've developed the right kind of shit so you can sound good without records, it just isn't as cool. There's something very sexy about spinning records. Each has its own feel and sounds and pops - no two are identical. Whether or not you know it, your ear picks up on those nuances. That's the thing about records: You couldn't find certain beats if you were a digital guy. The rarest and the funkiest breaks come from records.
There are kids who'll just buy a few records made specifically for DJing, then call themselves DJs. What do you make of them?
Z-trip: I think DJ Shadow said it best in the movie when he talks about how going out and digging for records is not going to make a bad DJ good, but it'll make a good DJ better. Qbert said having more records is like having a larger vocabulary, which is so true. It makes me want to go up to those kids just starting out and smack them in the head, tell them that they really need to get over the whole hype of learning how to scratch and get into the art of being a DJ.
Will Scratch help the masses better understand DJ culture?
Z-trip: I think all those amateurs who've been calling themselves DJs will see this and think, "I had no idea. This is bigger than what I thought it was about."