DJ VAJRA – 2011 DMC USA CHAMPION…
Well here he is. A DJ that has set his goal to become once and for all, the DMC World Champion. The stage beckons for one of America’s finest ever…
Well young man, what a few weeks for you. One minute you are through to the all new DMC Online Final and the next, you’ve bagged the 2011 USA Champion’s medal. You’ve opted out of the DMC Online Final to concentrate on the World Finals at Indigo2 in London on October 6th/7th – was that a tough decision, why did you decide to just go for the live…?
“Whilst I was practicing for the USA Finals, I decided to record the set. The plan was, if I didn’t win the USA title, I would upload that set, and if I didn’t win, I would drop out and save that set for London. It was a very tough decision. I REALLY wanted to participate in the Online battle, but winning a world title would mean a lot more.”
Did you know you’d won the Final after performing and seeing everyone’s set?
“Almost all the competitors were telling me I was going to win before they announced the winners, and I agreed with them. I didn’t allow myself to really believe it until they announced it, because in 2003 all the competitors were telling me the same thing, and I lost.”
What does it mean to win the DMC USA Final and represent your country?
“It means a whole lot to me. I feel very honored to finally represent the USA in the World Finals, and it feels even better knowing that everyone over here supports me and believes I am the right man for the job.”
What artists did you grow up listening to as a kid that got you into this crazy mixing world?
“Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, EPMD, and RUN DMC among others. I used to ride in my mom’s station wagon (with the wood paneling on the side) and pretend I was doing the scratch solo from ‘Paid In Full’ on the dashboard.”
If you had to pick one DJ, who is the best ever turntablist we’ve ever seen?
“The best all-around turntablist is Craze. He is an amazing scratcher, amazing juggler, and can throw down a club set like no other.”
What makes you a great turntablist?
“Mostly the amount of time, energy, and practice I have put into this over the years. I try to do things differently than everyone else, and constantly push myself to get better and faster.”
How old were you when you first took to the decks?
“I started experimenting with scratching at around 9 years old. I didn’t get my own decks and get serious about it until I was 17 (back in ’96).”
What one piece of vinyl in your collection would you never sell?
“I don’t want to sell any of them!!! But if I only had one copy of my own scratch record ‘Cuts & Drums’ left, I would never sell that.”
What did your parents think of your choice of career?
“My parents hated my musical tastes growing up, and tried everything they could to get me to stop listening to rap music. Now they are extremely proud and supportive of what I do.”
So, exciting times for DMC – the Online Championships has seen competitors from over 30 countries take part – where do you see this competiton going?
“I really love the DMC Online battle! I think the next step should be making everyone do their sets live via webcam in one take. That is the true test of a DJ.”
How many times did you film your entry that got you into the On Line champs…?
“Maybe 4-5 times, but that was after a few weeks of putting it together. The set I used for the 2 minute prelim was the same set I used for the Denver DMC prelims.”
What have been the best clubs you’ve ever been to over the years – who was on, where at, tunes of the time?
“Beta in Denver is pretty amazing. I saw Z-Trip play there a few times and he murdered the crowd. He played there on 4th of July one year, and this drunk US Marine in full uniform was throwing drinks, screaming and flipping him off for saying “George Bush is the worst president ever…EVER!!!” while playing Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name Of’. It was crazy!!!
Apart from winning the US Final, what has been your most memorable moment whilst DJing?
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of a lot of great and memorable shows over the years. One of the best was performing with the Procussions at the Mars Attacks festival in Marseille, France. 20,000+ people and we rocked it hard!!!
What advice can you give to aspiring, young turntablists around the world?
“Practice! Work hard, stay focused, have fun, and be different. Focus more on the sound coming out of the speaker and less on the clicks your fader hand is doing and you’ll be fine.”
Best live gig you have ever been to?
“Man, too many to think of. One that sticks out was seeing Common, Rhazel and the X-Ecutioners at the Fox Theatre in Boulder back in 1999. Amazing show for sure!!!”
Are you a superstitious guy when it comes to preparing to go on stage?
“I used to have a bunch of rituals and superstitions, but not really anymore. Mostly I just try to relax and have fun on stage.”
Okay – it’s your birthday. Money no object. Which live act do you book and why?
“Wow, these are tough questions!!! Hmmm…at this point in time I would have to say Skrillex. I have never heard him live and I LOVE his music.”
So London, October 6th/7th – who are you fearing, or do you think the title is in the bag?
“I don’t have either of those feelings. I have tremendous respect for the other competitors and what they do, but I am not going to waste energy worrying about any of them. My goals for London are to put on a show for the crowd, be loose and have fun. I was fortunate enough to judge out there in 2008, so I am definitely looking forward to being in a room full of DJs from around the world and making lots of new friends.”
What is the biggest compliment anyone who has seen you perform ever given you?
“The people who say “you’re not really doing that” or “he can’t do that, it’s fake” are giving me the biggest compliments. The fact that it’s so fast that they can’t believe it’s real tells me I am taking this thing to a whole different level.”
What would it mean to become the DMC World Champion following in such esteemed footsteps as A-Trak, Craze, Cash Money and Q-Bert?
“That would be all the validation I would ever need as a DJ. My peers have always told me that they consider me to be on their level, but without the title to back it up, it means nothing to the average fan. To be in the same world champion club as those guys would be a dream come true.
What are the 10 tunes you are spinning in the clubs right now?
“Dan – in no particular order…”
Nero – Crush On You (Knife Party Remix)
Craze & Heartbreak – Summer Riddim
Headnodic – The AM (featuring Othello, Aima the Dreamer, and…….yours truly)
Chiddy Bang – Mind Your Manners
Nas – Nasty
Red Cafe – Put It In The Air
Beastie Boys feat. Santigold – Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win (Major Lazr Remix)
Calvin Harris – Feel So Close (Nero Remix)
Lloyd ft Lil Wayne & Andre 3000 – Dedication to My Ex (Miss That)
Tech N9ne – Hes A Mental Giant
What are the best 10 Hip Hop Records of all time
Public Enemy – Fear of A Black Planet’ & It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back
Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders” & “The Low End Theory’
Roots – Do You Want More?!?!?!?
Madvillain – Madvillainy
People Under The Stairs – O.S.T.
Nas – Illmatic
Mobb Deep – The Infamous
Souls of Mischief – ’93 ’til Infinity
Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the 36 Chambers
Jurassic 5 – Power In Numbers
And finally, give the DMC World a message for what we are about to receive from DJ Vajra in London at the World Finals…
“Entertainment! They can expect that I will be pushing my mental and physical limits to their absolute extremes, while still being able to sound musical and funky. Most importantly though, I am going to HAVE FUN!!!”