DJ QBert delivers like no other DJ. His peers and the media call him the Greatest DJ in the World, one of the most influential DJs of all time. His long-standing career of innovating the DJ culture has set off a worldwide generation of DJs who are now regarded as musicians and not just DJs that play records, from A-Trak to Craze to C2C to Z-Trip; they would testify to DJ QBert’s influence in their sound and successful careers.
As a DMC World Champion, an original Rock Steady Crew DJ (along with Mix Master Mike), a founding member of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, and the focus of two major documentary films Scratch and Hang The DJ, both of which were selected at Cannes and Sundance Film Festival, Q bert doesn’t sit still.
We interviewed Qbert while on his way to pick up some cropped circle vinyl magic (you’ll have to check out his shop to see!). We spoke about his career, creative process, and tips for up and comers.
Tell us about how you got into DJing and how you linked up with Mix Master Mike
We knew each others names, passed each other in Burbank Middle School when I was 11 years old. A few years later we linked up on some music, he was already advanced and DJing. I learned the basics from him, and then he moved out of town. At that point I would think, “what would Mix Master Mike be thinking and inventing” and “what would a crazy dj be doing” and that helped motivate me to always push the craft. We always kept in touch, called ourselves space brothers cuz it felt like we knew each other from a different dimension. Then in 1991 we joined the Rock Steady Crew as the first rock city DJs, then other chapters in other cities started popping up so I started the Invisibl Skratch Piklz.
When did you start the Skratch University?
I started that in 2003 as online courses to teach people how to scratch. It was the next level of the ‘Do-It Yourself Scratching’ DVD I made in 2000 which covers beginner to advanced. I just launched my Complete Do-It Yourself Scratch Lessons as an App and am now doing new lessons that will be available on Youtube soon.
Do you have any tips for upcoming DJ / producers ?
Whatever you love to do, how to make a world with my calling, decorate the planet with love, we all have the gift to make the planet amazing, use it, it could take a long time or could be fast. When you plant the seed it takes time for it to blossom, have faith to use your God given talent, or you stuck in the matrix, not doing what should be doing.
What’s your next project?
The Wave Twisters movie, 20 year anniversary. We are launching the prequel to that with a new song every two weeks, each song represents a chapter in the film. The first one came out a week ago and the next one next week, you could check that out at thudrumble.com.
What’s your fav song that you mixed, written and/or produced?
“Invasion of the Octopus People” off Wave Twisters, the first scratch song. I was scratching every instrument.
Is that where the idea for Invisibl Skratch Piklz came from?
Yea, that was one of the seeds for band.
How do you stay focused and productive?
All about deadlines, it’s like, “oh shit, I gotta get that done”, that’s helped me the most, just needing to be done by this date or else.
Where do you get inspiration?
Everything. Right now driving, I’m seeing signs that make me think of ideas to use the internet to make scratch sharing easier, I’m about to launch the invader mixer which has a computer in your mixer, a sort of all in one.
Who are some of your biggest influences and why?
Anyone that scratches, I could learn from that, following dope people on instagram that I could learn from. I think meditating, getting into your mind to think of these great ideas is key. Everyone has the power to go deep into their brain and to the music in their head and to figure out ways to make that come alive.
What’s a crazy experience you’ve had in the industry or a writing session?
So many, the biggest is when you get bigheaded and don’t want to practice and you think its all good, that will mess you up, so i always practice. I’ve had bad experiences with not practicing, you always need to get ready for the moment. Other than that, I’m most glad to be doing what I’m doing without having to be a sell out, having to make music that has to be trendy. I’ve seen a lot of artist that go super creative and then a trend happens and they follow the trend and its like, “damn they suck now.”
Is there any artist you want to work with that you haven’t had an opportunity to yet?
Spielberg, George Lucas, David Wilcock and I love playing music with my girlfriend, she’s a classically trained pianist. You could hear us on instagram (her playing piano and me scratching drums).