Music interview: DJ Yoda is blessed
DJ Yoda is an absolute legend. He’s a scratch DJ/VJ par excellence, mashing-up a wide genre of musical styles with classic and current visuals. In November he headlines Soundcrash’s Halloween Audio Visual Party. Somethingyousaid.com’s 25ThC caught up with him in advance of the show:
What was it that made you initially choose record decks to express your talent, as opposed to picking up the guitar or drums?
The music I was listening to as a kid had scratching in. I liked pop and hip-hop – and at that time you had artists like Coldcut, Bomb The Bass, Paul Hardcastle and S-Express who used samples and scratches as part of their production. I think that style just really jumped out to me.
You have been declared “one of the ten DJs to see before you die” and “one of the top three DJs in the world.” How does that make you feel and do you feel the pressure of such high accolades?
I can’t take that kind of thing too seriously – mainly because I used to be a music journalist and I understand the politics behind those kind of statements. And also because otherwise I would just have a really big head!
You have played across the world in all manner of venues performing genre-mashing collaborations, supporting huge music and comedy artists, and producing innovative music and visual mixes. If you could cut it down to one, what would be the absolute highlight of your career to date?
That’s so hard, because I’m lucky enough that amazing things happen to me all the time! I feel really blessed to have this job, as I know not many people get to indulge in their passion for a living. If I really had to pinpoint one thing, I’d say it was getting to record two tracks with Biz Markie a few years back, as he was always my favourite rapper when I was growing up.
I know from my own experience that video editing is very time consuming. How long does it take you to prepare the visuals for a show and then how long to put together your routines?
It’s time-consuming, but as a DJ you tend to be around in the day and this kind of thing can be done on a laptop on a plane or a train. But it’s also worth pointing out that the actual mixing and scratching of the video is all done live at a show – I’m not one of those DJs who pre-records a mix then stands there at a gig waving his hands in the air!
Your AV shows have reached legendary status now and I still watch your original “DJ Yoda goes to the movies” DVD. What do you have planned for your forthcoming show for Videocrash at Village Underground on the 1st November 2013?
I’m constantly working on new video material – and YouTube is such a rich source of material, so it just seems like there is infinite fresh stuff for me to bring to shows. I like using stuff that’s ridiculously current – that day’s news, or whatever viral videos have been floating around that week. So we’ll see!
With records, people go digging in record shops, charity shops and boot fairs for hard to find or obscure tracks. How do you go about sourcing unseen or classic videos for your shows?
I think I just answered that! YouTube! It’s amazing, I couldn’t do my work without it. I still dig for music and video anywhere and everywhere though – digitally and in “real life”! A lot of the time I discover my favourite stuff by accident with the TV or radio on in the background.
With quite a few AV DJ’s and artists now performing, is it a case of keeping secret any new clips or videos you find until the show so that you remain one step ahead?
I’m not too paranoid about that kind of thing, as I’ve got ideas for days. I’ve seen DJs rip off things that I’ve done in the past – I take it as a compliment and then find some new stuff!
You have been a pioneer in using cutting-edge visual manipulation hardware and software. Can you tell us a little bit about your current AV setup?
It’s getting simpler and simpler. Now I just use two turntables and a mixer, like a regular DJ set-up – with a laptop and the new Pioneer DDJ-SP1 with Serato. It’s just a little box with buttons to press.
You have worked with a range of artists on your albums including Jungle Brothers, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Roots Manuva. Who did you most enjoying working with and why?
What was fascinating to me was how differently all these different vocalists work. Some people took weeks to nail a verse, others got it in one take. I love working with Sway, because he’s super-focused and professional.
Will there be any more volumes in the “How to cut and paste series”? Are you working on any new material at present and if so are there any collaborations you can tell us about?
I just released “How To Cut & Paste: The Asian Edition”, and I’ve started work on a new artist album.
DJ Yoda headlines the Soundcrash Halloween Audio Visual Party on the 1st November 2013 at Village Underground, London 10pm-4am. The night also features DJ Woody and DJ Cheeba. Grab your tickets from here.
Interview by 25ThC