America’s DJ Vajra takes the DMC World DJ Champion’s crown for 2011
How does it feel to be DMC World Champion and the first DJ to win the one of a kind GOLD RANE 68 Mixer?
“It feels incredible! I had the time of my life in London last weekend. That gold mixer is truly a thing of beauty!”
What did you think of the other DJs and the standard of DJ at this years World Finals?
“The competition was at an amazingly high level this year. Nelson was amazing in the Supremacy Battle. Kireek gave me chills during their set in the Team Battle! Everyone brought their ‘A’ game and put on a great show for the crowd.”
How did you celebrate?
“By scratching even more! I hosted a cut session at my hotel room after the competition. The next day I had an incredible session with Tigerstyle and his pal Rich. Now that I’m back home, I’m just trying to get caught up on work.”
What has been the reception like from your friends back in America – has the phone stopped?
“I could not put my phone down at all yesterday! It’s overwhelming (in a good way) how people are so excited about this. All my friends and supporters are going crazy right now!”
Were you nervous beforehand?
“I was nervous, but mostly excited to get out there and do the set that I put so much time effort and energy into.”
Who did you most fear?
“I had no fears really. I made a point this year to only think positively, so worrying and fear were completely shut out of my mind.”
Did you watch the UK and Japanese sets before you took to the stage?
“I did watch them. Izoh was AMAZING. I was really getting into his set, especially his Soldier Boy juggle. I loved what JFB and Co-Ma brought to the table as well.”
Were you happy with your set?
“For the most part. There were a couple of parts that I wasn’t happy about, but it turned out ok. Over all, I hit it about 85% the way I wanted to.”
Did you know you had won when you finished your electrifying set?
“My first reaction was that Izoh was going to win. But I knew it could go wither way depending on the judges.”
What did you think or the judges voting now that they have been released?
“There were a lot of friendly faces on the panel, so i knew that if I deserved first place votes, I would get them. There was a guy from Italy who didn’t have me in his top 3, which I was a little surprised by, but everyone has their own opinion.”
Are you going to defend in 2012?
“I would say with about 80% certainty that I will not, but you never know. The whole experience was so much fun, I might have to give it another go.”
How did you first get into DJing?
“It was back when Yo! MTV Raps first came on the air (’88?). That was the first time I saw someone put their hand on a record and scratch.
Who were your early turntablist heroes and why?
“Jazzy Jeff was a big one. I had the ‘He’s The DJ…’ album on cassette. I had to buy it 3 times because the tape kept snapping I would listen to it so much. Also, I would pretend to scratch the solo from ‘Paid In Full’ on the dashboard of my mom’s station wagon (the kind with the wood panelling on the side). Those were the days!”
You live in Denver, Colorado. Tell us about your environment?
“There is actually a great DJ scene in Denver. We always have the best attended DMC battles out here. I think we had 20+ competitors enter this year as well. DJ Chonz is a local legend and really inspired me when I was getting started. One of my favorite scratchers in the world, Fast4Wrd, moved out here from Houston Texas 7 or 8 years ago and has helped shape my style quite a bit into what it is today. I like it here!”
What are your ambitions from now outside of competing?
“I would love to get out and perform more! I hope DMC will use me as an ambassador to their brand and get me involved with as many of their battles worldwide as possible. I’m going to get serious about production again as well, and I hope to have a new album out in the near future.”
You could have been in the ONLINE DMC DJ Championship having been voted into the Top 10. Why did you decide not to enter at that final stage?
“My main motivation entering the online battle was to make it to the World Finals. After winning the USA finals, I didn’t have enough time to make a new set for the online comp. They were only a few days apart.”
With all the technology available and an expanding art, do you think the turntablist will be the club DJs of the future?
“The art is expanding, so I think everyone will have different interpretations of how they want to “DJ”. I like that less people are scratching now, because it stands out more when it does happen.”
Were you sorry to see pure vinyl mixing get eclipsed by new playback technology?
“Nope. I think DVS is better in almost every way. No skips, no feedback. You can do 90% of the same things you can do with vinyl, and with the addition of cue points, loops and effects, the creative possibilities are ever expanding.”
Le Jad has played a big role in purpose made individual pressed vinyl, what do you think of DJs preconceiving their own vinyl? – It seemed to dominate the DMC 2011 Finals?
“I like what Le Jad does, and would like to work with him on a routine in the future! I edited my own tracks for the finals this year. I even went to the studio with guitarist Andy Gurrero (aka Andy Rok) and put together a backing track for my drum routine.”
Where to beyond pressed vinyl? Can the art continue to expand?
“Absolutely. As long as people continue to be creative and experiment with cool new sounds, the possibilities are endless. I am still surprised when I meet people who are closed off to the idea of using new technology in their sets. If it sounds good, do it.”
Apart from winning, what are your best memories of your visit to the DMC Championships 2011?
“Making so many new friends from different places and cultures from all over the world. Those are relationships that will last a long time. I remember every detail from the whole weekend. It was an amazing experience.”