DMC World Champion and now Mr Superstar
Alain, in a word wow. One of the most talented DJs/Producers the world has ever seen, good to have you back in the DMC fold…
“Hello Disco Mix Club – who would have thought that I’d be making disco a dozen or so years after winning the DMC?”
Who were the artists you were listening to growing up in Montreal?
“I went through a couple different phases. I grew up very close to my older brother Dave and I generally listened to the same stuff as him and his friends. I’d say before the age of 11, I was listening to classic rock; Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Who, Cream…stuff like that. I also really liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers when ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ came out. Then, through bands like the Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill, I got into hip hop. I was a huge Beastie Boys fan. Then I got into the Pharcyde’s first album, Tribe’s ‘Midnight Marauders’, Pete Rock & CL Smooth ‘The Main Ingredient’, a bunch of DJ Premier stuff…and I was hooked. I was also listening to some older hip hop stuff like Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince ‘He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper’ and I had this Biz Markie compilation that I listened to all the time.”
The DMC Championships have been taking place since 1983, who were the champions that you gave props to over the years before you graced the hallowed SL’s on our stage?
“Mainly Q-Bert, Mixmaster Mike and Roc Raida. Among the previous DMC champions those guys were definitely my biggest influences.”
So, the youngest ever winner of the Technics/DMC World Championships at the age of 15 – what first got you into the world of turntablism?
“I tried scratching at the age of 13 and got hooked. All I wanted to do after that was master every technique. Two years later I was the World Champion.”
You studied Biology at University. Can you name two proteins in plasma?
“Like serum? Immunoglobulin and stuff? I haven’t studied in years and years, I get scared when I realized how distant all that has become in my mind. I need to freshen up.”
What did your parents think about your career choice?
“They’re supportive. My dad listens to my remixes. My mom’s been going to my shows since the DMC days! There was a point where I quit school to pursue DJing full-time when I think my dad was a bit nervous, because I was always into school. But he got over it.”
What did your school friends think of you winning such a prestigious prize at the age of 15 – was there any resentment or were they all proud of you?
“At first they didn’t even know. I kept it relatively secret. But then I started getting write-ups in the paper and they would ask me what was going on. They were all cool about it.
So your band Duck Sauce. How did the amalgamation with Armand Van Helden happen in the place? One minute you are scratching your way to glory, the next storming dancefloors worldwide with house beats…
“After I got out of battling in 2001, I spent a couple years mastering the craft of a club DJ. Around 2006 or so, I got into electronic music and eventually house. I made a bunch of remixes starting in 2007, in 2009 Duck Sauce released its first EP and ‘Barbra Streisand’ came the next year.”
‘Barbra Streisand’ is without doubt one of the catchiest dance records in recent years – tell us the story about this track.
“Thanks! There isn’t really much of a story aside from Armand and I cracking up in the studio. It’s about the “did we really just make this?” moment. Then it caught on and became much bigger than we anticipated.”
Your new tune ‘Big Bad Wolf’ – Radio 1 all over it already, it’s a tune that has raised a few eyebrows over here – what’s the story behind this future number 1?
“Man I’d be very surprised if we topped the charts with this one, it 100 times stranger than ‘Barbra Streisand’. That’s what I like about it though, it’s got people scratching their heads. There’s never much of a story behind our tracks though. It’s just Armand and I having a laugh in the studio and making tracks that we want to play in our sets. If it appeals to more people, then great!”
What’s next from the Duck Sauce studio?
DMC have launched a new competition this year, the DMC World Online Championships with entrants coming in from as far afield as Vietnam, China, Bulgaria and South Africa – what is your opinion on this new comp?
“I’m glad it’s giving a chance to even more people around the world. I don’t think it could ever replace the traditional DMC battle in live venues because DJing will always be a live thing first and foremost, but for those who can’t make it to an event this is a great alternative.”
You toured the world as Kanye West’s DJ – some amazing shows looking back..
“Too many to name – honestly! I’m always looking forward anyway, seldom looking back on past stuff. But the Kanye tours were awesome.”
What are the big tunes you are playing in the clubs at the moment?
“Listen to my ‘Fool’s Gold Radio’ podcasts, you’ll see what I’m up to!”
What artist would you really like to make some music with in the studio?
London loves you, where are your favourite clubs and hangouts in our capital?
“I love London too. I haven’t gone out clubbing there in a while though. My last two gigs in London were at XOYO and I enjoyed them. I usually stay in Shoreditch, I like East London in general, even though I know it’s the obvious area where everyone is moving now. It’s like Williamsburg in New York, everyone goes there but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.”
What is the best club you have played at in 2011?
“Zouk in Singapore or Voyeur in San Diego.”
What piece of equipment could you not do without in the studio?
“I produce on the computer so it’s all pretty simple. I use Logic. I like good monitors though. My ears are used to the Yamaha HS10’s, I like to do mixdowns on them. I just follow my ears for everything, I don’t think it matters much what kind of equipment you use.”
What is the best album ever made?
“Stevie Wonder ‘Songs In The Key Of Life”.
What is the best and worst thing about living in New York?
Best thing about living in New York is the pulse of the city, it’s unlike anywhere else in the world. There’s always something going on, you never feel like you’ve seen everything. Worse thing is that it can get hectic…
What are your thoughts on the current state of Hip Hop? Who do you rate out there?
“I love it. Tonnes of new talent like Danny Brown, Action Bronson, ASAP Rocky, Meek Mill and more.”
And finally, can you send some advice out to the hundreds of competitors around the world hoping to one daywin the DMC World Finals?
“First of all make sure your routines are tight. Second, you need to stand out. There’s a lot of good turntablists nowadays so ask yourself, what makes me different? And try to be well-rounded, cover a lot of ground. Come up with some clever routines, play with some references that people know, subvert them. And have fun with it!”
Photo :: Terry Richardson