Search

 


SYS RADIO


 

 

 

 

 

Events
Search
Interviews

Entries in dmc (3)

Wednesday
Oct112017

DMC World DJ Championship Final 2017

Twenty-seventeen was the 32nd year of the infamous DMC World DJ Championships, and my third year in a row attending the final. It rolled around at a strange time in my life, I had just packed my bags ready to leave London for good and return home to Australia. My practical mind was telling me no but my musical heart got the better of me.

This year saw a change in venue for the championships, moving from the Forum in Kentish Town just down the road to KOKO Camden.

Luckily the organisers hadn't lost the vibe of the day in the venue relocation. The DMC's have become somewhat of a pilgrimage for lovers of hip hop culture and as I enter the multi-tier theatre the now familiar items that make up this great day are still present. Thumping hip hop comes from the warm up DJ, kids in hoodies chat best gigs with older kids in snap backs, judges mix in with fans, dudes pay for beers with loose change, gold plated prizes take centre stage, baggy tees and slip mats are on sale at the merch stand.

17 DJs’ from all corners of the globe had flown in to compete. After setting in to a prime balcony spot with my mates the MC's on stage remind us that everyone we were about to see is already a champ for winning their own national comps. Ahh, I think this is going to be a great break from seriousness on a Sunday evening, 'Yeah I'll have another beer.

The USA entrant DJ Perly is up first, unbelievably the first female DJ to make it to the finals. For any newcomers or sceptics in the crowd, this set showed just what the DMC's are about. Perly delivered a solid six minute set, and to my untrained eyes and ears a pretty technically sound one at that. Already I'm thinking this will be hard to beat! 

Next up was the New Zealand entrant DJ Gooda who was a tad jittery at the start but his set was full of fun so the crowd got on side. Featuring old tracks from all genres and the first 'trick' of the evening - pressing the middle of his back onto the record to hold it just before the beat dropped. But full points from our section of the audience when he whipped out an actual basketball and proceeded to spin it on one finger, all while beat juggling 'Skee-lo - I wish.’ Sorry USA, maybe next year… 

The DJs' keep coming, and this competition is seriously the highlight of a full day event. 

I'm sorry to say that Australian entrant DJ Osyris just wasn't quite up to scratch (ha get it). His set, along with Brazil and Denmark just seemed like nothing new, a bit too safe for a world final. Some decent tracks and a lot of beat juggling but no real wow moments. Have we already seen the winner? 

French DJ Skillz was up next and as my friend said at the time 'fast movement is so much more impressive when it sounds this good.’ He was right! After a few intense scratches and beat juggles from the guys before him, Skillz just seemed to have that bit extra. He stood at the perfect height for the decks. Moved easy from mixer to vinyl and back again, a bit like a cat. He also whipped out a back hold move. 

DJ Spell has been a favourite of mine since I first caught him live in 2015. Already taking out the online championship for this year, he gained an automatic entry into the world final. I think it's his music selection and enthusiasm that makes him stand out, and I was excited to see what he had in store. The six minutes delivers again with tracks like 'Dr Funkenstein' and xx. But this time it's the tricks that get everyone talking. The MC gave us a little heads up before the set to 'watch the screens' and as we see an overhead view I can see a pen blu-tacced to a filter nob. He also holds up a 7inch record to the crowd before blu-taccing this to another filter, and yep he's just created a new instrument, scratching the 7inch like it was any other vinyl while moving the pen on the filter like a fader. You've got to see it for yourself.

Japan's DJ Rena was the final DJ of the day, have they saved the best until last? Starting his set with funky cold medina, it doesn't take Rena long to win over the crowd. He shows some incredible skills, moving the fader quicker than any other DJ I've seen. Thankfully the accuracy is there as well, and this set is as much a feast for the ears as it is visually entertaining. Not to be outdone by his older peers (Rena is just 12-years-old), he throws in some tricks like mixing his back and using the turntables speed control to create a new beat. This kid must have known he did well as he finishes the set by walking out in front of the decks to soak up the roar from the crowd. Will it be Japan crowned champions for the second year in a row? Judge for yourself below

While the judges compiled their results we were treated to a rare performance from London Posse along with a special tribute to DJ Daredevil from eight UK turntablists. 

While the tribute was fantastic - always great to see multiple DJs working together to form one sound, I do find it a bit strange that the finals were not the headliner today! Everything they bring sounds so fresh and the DJs' who entered are doing all they can to keep the crowd hyped. I guess it's just a necessity to fill in some time before the results, but London Posse didn't add much value for me. 

It's finally results time and at the end of the day it was 12 year old DJ Rena from Japan who took home the title, a well deserved win and probably the first of many for this young DJ! See the full list of results below, and don't forget to get out and support your local dmc comps in 2018!


Friday
Oct072016

DMC World DJ Championship Finals 2016 Review


The DMC World DJ Championship Finals is an annual event showcasing the most talented DJ's in the game. Although there are no real restrictions to genre, the event has become something of a holy land for fans of hip hop, including myself. In the months leading up to the event I kept a close eye on the announcements and was excited to find that the Invisibl Skratch Piklz (feat. DJ's Q-Bert, Shortkut and D-Styles) would be headlining in 2016!

I recall watching a documentary about scratching and turntablism in my youth and seeing a guy called Q-Bert interviewed. He had a turntable fitted to the middle console of his car so he could scratch records wherever he went. Although a little concerning that he spoke of channelling conversations with aliens when he put the needle to the vinyl, the documentary intrigued me and I've followed turntablism ever since. Q-Bert is a past winner of the DMC World DJ Championship and a true legend of the art, I couldn't wait to see him live with the Piklz. 

But first, I had a whole day of competition, guest performances and workshops!

WORKSHOPS

Having studied the program ahead of time, I arrived at the Forum in Kentish Town around 4pm and joined the workshops taking place upstairs. Popmaster Fabel of the Rock Steady Crew was back for another year, trying his best to turn some young (and not so young) hopefuls into fully fledged B-Boys and B-Girls with the popping and locking workshop. The workshops are definitely an integral part of the day, and watching the crowd get involved I felt that they are an important part of the whole hip hop scene. Handing down knowledge and skills to the next generation so that they can build on it and progress the genre.

My attempt at beatboxing probably didn't do the genre any favours however! Yep, the beatbox workshop was next, hosted by the beatbox collective. It was great to see these guys up close and they intertwined lessons and tips with full-blown performance. After teaching the whole room some basics, individuals from the crowd were invited up to take a mic and try out beatboxing solo. My partner pushed me up as an unwilling volunteer and I was given some simple instructions which helped form a basic beat. The rest of the collective then joined in to make me sound good! Highlight of the day number one.

 

BATTLE FOR SUPREMACY

After a brief stop at the bar and I made our way into the main auditorium for the first 'final' of the day. Erick Jay was one of my favourites from last years competition, so I was happy to see him back competing in the Battle for Supremacy. This competition is a bit like a rap battle for DJ's, with three rounds of 90 seconds for each DJ to outdo the other. Two DJ's compete in each round and the winners progress through semi finals and into the final. 

This years final saw DJ Fummy from Japan up against DJ Erick Jay from Brazil. The battle is as much about song selection and sample selection as it is about skill. The DJ's mime the words being uttered from the samples they choose, and getting the crowd on your side to go 'woah' at the right moment must feel like the battle DJ equivalent of a slam dunk. 

The final was tight, and I couldn't pick a winner after the rounds were complete but fingers were crossed for Erick Jay. The judges raised their score cards, and….

Runner Up - DJ Fummy (Japan)

Battle for Supremacy World Champion - Erick Jay (Brazil)

Being a near full day event, I took a quick break to grab some food from the local Kebab spot, as you do.

THE BEATBOX COLLECTIVE

The Beatbox Collective in full effect
When we returned to the Forum there was a definite heightened buzz from the additional punters who came along just for the main event. But, as I discovered, the DMC World DJ Championships are more than just a DJ competition. The crowd were treated to so much entertainment for their hard earned ticket, and the standard is high!

Having attempted to beatbox with them earlier, I was keen to get a good view of the Beatbox Collective as they brought their full crew together for a showcase performance. We took a seat in the balcony section and watched in awe. These guys are current world beatboxing champs for a reason. Covering everything from hip hop to dub to drum and bass, it was an amazing set. I've still got a long way to go but I'll keep practicing!

WORLD DJ CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

Nine of the best DJ's from around the globe had made it through to the final. A little different to the supremacy competition earlier, this competition is anything goes, for 6 minutes. DJ's can use laptops, Serato, queued up samples along with stage presence and trick moves to impress the judges. This makes for straight up entertainment for those of us watching on.

Starting the show was DJ Ruse from New Zealand. His set was blistering and he got myself and the rest of the crowd on side scratching up a hip hop version of classic rock song 'War Pigs' by Black Sabbath. You've really got to hand it to these guys, so much has been done before them yet somehow they find a new and interesting way to get your head nodding.

DJ Traps of the USA was another highlight, with a more familiar hip hop classics set.  He got extra points from me when he dropped a perfect look-away beat-juggle. Flawless.

The runner up from 2015, DJ Spell was back. It must be something about New Zealand because he too opted to select some absolute classics and scratch them down to hip hop beats - Led Zepplin and Michael Jackson getting some airtime during his set.

Frenchman Dj Skillz took things in a different direction, using an almost haunted sounding sample to build up a trip hop beat. Reading the growing enthusiasm in the room well, his set sped up to be one of the most party-like so far, culminating in big bass drops that you might expect to hear in a different venue about 6 hours from now, but the crowd were up for it.

Brief disruption to address some technical issues didn't stop local lad Ritchie Ruftone from amping the crowd even further. Producing a mix of funk, dub and hip hop to bring the bar that little bit higher.

DJ Yuto of Japan was up next and his set was just next level! Man, it had everything and the precision was there to match. There was all types of music, technical skill, stage presence and tricks. There was even a scratched together version of the massive swedish house mafia club hit 'One' from a few years back. This guy has to win I think to myself as mini-dancefloors erupt around the room. I'm in awe!

DJ Yuto of Japan

SHOWCASES

As the all important decision is being made by the judges, I was entertained with back to back performances from DJ Fly and DJ Netik, King Kella and the Spitkingdom Soundsystem, and of course, Q-Bert and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz - just as good as I had hoped!

One more trip to the bar was denied when we got told the bar was no closed - no! I was so disappointed the day was drawing to a close. Do we really have to wait another year to do this again?

THE SHOWDOWN

Tony Prince, founder of the competition, loves this event. You can just tell he is immensely proud of what it has become, and no doubt he has been at every single one. It seems fitting then, that he should award multiple-time world champ DJ Q-Bert with a 'Legend' jacket at the pointy end of the proceedings. Once the obligatory photographs are out of the way, Mr Prince returns to the microphone to announce the final results!

Third Place - DJ Traps (USA)

Runner Up - DJ Brace (Canada)

World Champion for 2016 - DJ Yuto (Japan)

Hopes for an encore set were dashed when the big lights came on and we headed for the exit. Another World Finals had ended, but this year I was truly happy with the outcome.

Hats off to the people that make this competition happen, and if you haven't already, make sure you get along to the local heats and finals in your city! Real DJ's are so much more talented than 'look ma, no hands' super-celebs may have you think.

Words by Harry Upton.

Saturday
Oct172015

DMC WORLD DJ CHAMPIONSHIP LONDON 2015

Words by Harry Upton

I first heard about the DMC DJ Competition in the early 2000's, when The Beastie Boys were on high rotation in my multi-stacker CD player and the X-ecutioners were in the charts. Mixmaster Mike was a regular competitor in the early 90's and the event has hosted some of hip hop's best DJ's over it's 30 year history (Qbert, Apollo, Roc Raider and a 15 year old A-Trak!) My interest was heightened further after viewing online videos of DJ's scratching, cutting and beat juggling. This led to a brief obsession with scratching and the high school version of me spending all my pennies on turntables and vinyl. A hobby which was cut short far too early when my income had to be spent on real-world things like food and rent, rather than vinyl imports!

Fast forward 15 years and I find myself in London, home of the DMC World DJ Championship, the world's number 1 DJ competition. I've maintained an interest in the competition for several years now so could not pass up the opportunity to finally attend the event at The Forum in Kentish Town. 
After some pre-drinks in the sun at Camden's stable markets, we made our way over to Kentish Town in the early afternoon to make the most of the near-full day event. After getting patted down by the guards upon entry, we entered the massive theatre-style venue and watched the last of the DJ eliminations. Although winners from each country are flown over to London for the finals, only 9 DJ's made it through to the main event later this evening. Unfortunately Australia's DJ Broke didn't make the cut, so I jumped on the New Zealand bandwagon in support of DJ Spell.
This event, although there are no real rules, has been dominated by hip hop DJ's since the early years and the organisers have put a lot of effort into making this somewhat of a pilgrimage for fans of the genre. Mid afternoon was spent attending workshops in DJing, Beatboxing (not a natural) and Popping and Locking. It is really great the access general admit gets fans, rubbing shoulders with Popmaster Fabel of the Rock Steady Crew and official judge DJ Nelson.

 
Battle for Supremacy
First official business of the day was the Battle for Supremacy. A 'back to basics' style battle with competitors going head to head in 60 second and 90 second blocks, with no Serato or laptops allowed. A few of the main events competitors were also taking part in this battle. Erick Jay and DJ Precision gained the respect of the crowd and let their skills do the talking, rather than just dis-heavy samples like some of their rivals. These two DJ's progressed to the Supremacy final and in a very close final round it was DJ Precision who took the title.
The banter of the MC's was dragging a bit so with this being a full day activity, we popped out just before lock out (6pm) for some nearby fried chicken. Upon returning, there was a distinct change to the vibe, the venue was filling up and the crowd were ready to be entertained. Mr Switch was centre stage reminding everyone why he was the current crown holder with a blistering half hour set. 

 
Team Battles 
Next up was the team battles, and in an all new format for 2015 this saw the reigning champs of 2014 take on winners of an online DJ Team Comp with 6 minute sets each. The online team, Fresherthans, went first and although their set was technically good, you could kind of tell they had been practicing in their bedrooms more than performing on stage. Two-time winners of the team championship, 9 O'Clock, were just next level. The crowd and the judges quickly jumped on their side and they took it out 19 points to 14.

 
DJ Battle
Now we reach the real business end of the day, 9 of the world's best DJ's playing back to back 6 minute sets. The panel of judges includes former world champions, DJ Woody and the members of C2C - a French turntablist group who are closing out the event. I'm still backing the New Zealand representative, DJ Spell, who is up second. After the first 30 seconds, you just know this set is going to be good. The crowd is jumping, the judges can't contain their excitement and everyone is genuinely enjoying a near flawless display. A highlight of his set was a re-work of Steppenwolf's classic - Magic Carpet Ride
This will be hard to follow but the remaining DJ's give it a red hot crack! Another highlight was DJ Shota from Japan. Who blends hip hop, rock and even some dubstep into his set. I may have a new favourite.

 
The DJ's keep coming and although there is some impressive skills on display - did I mention one DJ played the slipmats? No vinyl required! I still think DJ Spell is in with a chance.

 
While the judges deliberate, the crowd is treated to a half hour set of crazy turntable skills and amazing lighting and video effects from four time champion team C2C. The ticket to this event could have been twice the price and still great value for money!

 
The final countdown
Finally, it is decision time. Third place is called and it’s DJ Precision, not a bad day at the office for him! Second place is DJ Spell! Congrats man, surely Shota has taken it out.

 
First place is called and it’s DJ Vekked (Canada), who is also the Online Champion for 2015! Ouch, there was a few boo's from the crowd and as I made my way out, lots of support for the New Zealander to be crowned champ.

 
So a bit of controversy to finish the night, but upon re-watching Vekked's set, the guy did scratch up some old video game sounds so props to that!