DJ PLUS ONE (Scratch Perverts)
INTERVIEW WITH DJ PLUS ONE
DJ Plus One is the 2000 Vestax World DJ Champion, and also the 2001 Technics/ DMC World Champion. We were honoured to have him Lecture at the United DJ Mixing School before he left back to the UK to win the 2001 DMC World DJ Championships.
Before his lecture, we pulled him aside for a brief interview.
DJ Plus One has been on the decks for approximately six years and has been scratching for most of that time but “didn’t really know what to do.” When he was asked if that meant he had been into Turntablism during that time, Plus One explained,“ Sort of speaking,……. Six years ago there wasn’t turntablism, …… I’m just a DJ, I still now just consider myself as just a DJ. The turntablism thing is all good, but yeah, I’m just still a DJ. I started off with back to back with records, and that to me is you know, is one stage down from (turntablism).”
Plus One saw his early inspirations as being radio tapes from New York by Funkmaster Flex, video of Shortkut, Q-Bert and Mix Master Mike, one of the DMC vids and Tony Vegas. His first battle was in a DJ competition at a club called ‘Scene’. He won the first battle but came third in the second because he “f*cked up”.
The style of music that he is currently playing is Hip-Hop music. He considers himself to be a Hip-Hop DJ although he plays Drum and Bass as well. He always plays “exclusively Hip-Hop to begin with”. He elaborated “I have always liked Hip-Hop, just listen to it and all that. Before he developed a taste for Hip-Hop, he used to be into “all types of music”. He explained,“ when I was younger, I use to be like into rock and techno stuff ”
When we questioned whether he played anything like breakbeats he answered, “Yeah, if I feel it I’ll play it, or I’ll try it, some stuff I like, stuff that you can play at clubs, club music but basically if I feel it’s right for a club, yeh I’ll play it.
Plus One’s main income comes from doing about three club sets a week in the U.K. This is his “bread and butter” and he hopes that it will continue in the future. He enjoys doing club sets as much as he enjoys doing showcases. He thinks that you don’t get as many opportunities to showcase in big competitions because they are not 'every week'. When describing showcasing, he says that it nice because is has “a little edge” on it. He also likes showcasing because there is “that adrenaline if you’ve got a big crowd.” He said that “Specially coming out somewhere like here, you want to do a good show, you want people to be like shit!”.
He added “But equally saying that, I played at the Blue Room last night and there was a lot of crazy model girls, I had a great time” (laughs). It’s just a different crowd, and they want different things and I kind of warmed them up with a bit of drum & bass and some other shit. It’s just good fun, I love it. As long as people enjoy what I do I enjoy it back, that’s the relationship”
We then directed the questioning toward the Scratch Perverts. He asked about the group and find out how they eventually split up. Plus One also discussed the original and different style of the Perverts and his own personal style and its origins.
On the subject of the Scratch Perverts and their split up, DJ Plus One commented that “basically the Scratch Pervert thing was something that started for all the right reasons…. not saying that its not for the right reasons anymore.” Apparently, “everyone that was doing it was doing it for fun.” He went on to say that “it was always a good thing. Everyone’s love for it was massive” so they were able to “build it into something” and “it became something huge”. He explained that “like everyone man, people start going in their own directions and shit.”
We then asked if it stopped being about the music. He responded, “it never did but, it probably could have done”. He believes that in some ways it was a good thing that it came to a close. As for the way in which it finished, he said “I’m not gonna say for a minute that the way it stopped was right.” Tony and Prime Cuts were responsible for changing it into the “way it was”. DJ Plus One had been in the “Crew” for 7 months and said that, “for me to be in an outfit really didn’t change much.” He also thought “it would be a frustrating thing if you’d been in it for two years and you’d won the world championship.”
“ So for them its like….I thought you know? He believed that there was something a “bit harsh” about being asked to leave but realizes that “at the same time there wouldn’t have been an easier way to do it.”
DJ Plus One believes that the “upshot” of leaving the Perverts was that it gave him “that fire again to really just get on with things.” He thinks that he has in fact done “better without the crew” than he did wilst in the crew.
“With the crew.” The positive thing about being in the crew was that it essentially got him “in the circles.” He said that “I owe so much to them for that”. He acknowledged that the Perverts helped him out. He also believes that since being in the Perverts, he has done “even better.”
DJ Plus One then talked about the fact that everyone “in the crew” are still friends. When describing working with Tony (back in Scotland), DJ Plus One said, “we’re just friends and we just get along and stuff.” We “make music together, scratch…just have fun man”. The friendship that he had with Tony has remained the same. No matter what happened in the crew, Tony would always look after him and has continued to do that. This friendship was the same for most of the other guys in the crew as well. Plus One added “its all good man.”
We asked about the original and different style of the Perverts and asked DJ Plus One to describe his style and explain its origins.
DJ Plus One’s thoughts on style were that it is “really all about one thing and that’s originality and I guess that’s what style is.” He said that “at the end of the day if you create style and have style it tends to be because you’ve managed to find something that separates you from other people.”
He thinks that the Pervert’s style is achieved through their look or by a having a certain presence but rather through their originality. They try to “approach things in different ways” by using their equipment differently to other people. They like to “mess around with things” and “change things up.” He doesn’t like things to be strictly done according to one method. Every time he reaches a point with something that feels formulated, he sees this as an indication to stop.
The Pervert’s style “wasn’t so much about being incredible at scratching, it was more about actually being able to stand there and deliver something different, even if your head was down just doing something ridiculous.” The Perverts have also managed to catch up with the “whole funky thing now” and have been using it in some of their work.
Back in the day the Perverts Style was “much more about ideas and making things”. “Just having ideas and battling” along with having confidence was mainly what took Tony Vegas to New York. The Perverts were a battle crew and according to Plus One, “to battle you’ve got to have confidence, to stand there and be like ‘I’m the best’ even if your not.”
We then moved on to the subject of battles. We asked about the preference of the style of battle that he prefers, his thoughts on the DMC finals last year, who to watch out for in this years DMC and what it takes to become a world champion.
Plus One does all of the styles of battle that DMC, ITF and Vestax have to offer. He sees the ITF as being a battle and the DMC as being more like a showcase. He explained that when you go to the DMC and you “do your thing and manage to pull it off tight”, you have then got the best set. “You have six minutes to construct a routine that is basically you”. He further added “Hypothetically speaking if everyone pulls off the shit perfect, who ever has the best sets gonna win it”.
According to Plus One, a major contrast between the DMC and ITF is that at the ITF “you got tables like this basically, you got one there and one on the other, and your head to head.” You also have to have a “bag of routines and you have to pick one that’s suitable and you might not pick the right one, whatever or you might fuck up, but there’s a lot more energy in that.” “In all respect to everybody”, Plus One believes that it is “f*ck’n harder to win there than everywhere else.” He attributes this level of difficulty to being the amount of “consistency you have to be able to keep going.”
He sees the ITF Championship as being a lot more impulsive and says “you have to be able to go with the flow, go with it, like in moments so to speak.” He also respects A Track for winning it twice because “it takes a lot out of you to actually go through that battle again and again till the end.”
When we asked about what he thought of the DMC finals last year, he said “they were pretty good man”. He saw the Championships as being a “kind of a turning point”. He recalls that “Craze came in pretty much the favorite and he didn’t have that much competition, their wasn’t really anyone who came that close.” Plus One loves what he does although his opinion was that “he didn’t really do that much, he kinda came on and styled it.” He had “every right” to have a confident attitude and “was just like I’m the man”. He finished off by saying that he had a good idea, “ presses on record to do it on and he just fucked people’s heads up man.”
When asked if he thought that the crowd had a lot to do with it he responded by saying “Yes and no, he won it fair and square man no one came close to it, no one came at all close to it.” He then went on to explain the differences in ability between Craze and Dexta.
After saying “ Like respect to Dexta” He thought that “Dexta’s ability to structure things is wicked.” He thinks that Dexta incorporates an excellent level of musicality into his work. The material he used was “wicked” and “f*ckn fresh man.”
DJ Plus One explained that “on a battle level” ‘Craze’ was “a bit further along.” He thinks that Dexta would agree with him and does not mean his comments about Craze to be taken as a diss. Plus One thought that Dexta and Mr. Thing were both dope. He did have the opinion though that “Mr. Thing’s stuff technically was better than Dexta’s stuff” but that “Dexta just had that thing”. Overall DJ Plus one thought that “ It was an interesting competition, it wasn’t that great, but it was cool.”
When we asked who to watch out for in this years DMC, Plus One answered “me!” and then laughed. Apart from predicting himself as a possible winner, he thought that Cliff and Paul were also looking good. He thinks that “It’s gonna be a year that a lot of people to come through. I expected Dexta was gonna battle again, but he’s not, so that kind of shifts the goal posts. There’s no Craze, there’s no Dexta, Mr. Thing will defend Ireland, so the defending champion things not really going to be happening”
DJ One’s opinion on whether it is a good thing that the pool of competition is opening up was “it is and it isn’t. In a lot of respects the competitions smaller, cause there’s not so much to cover, there’s no three time winners…the kind of show business side of it might not be there this year. It will be interesting, I’ll be interested to see who ends up in that final.”
DJ Plus One’s opinion on the qualities needed to become a World Champion were originality, and “a bit of character for fun”. He also believes that a crucial ingredient is that you have to believe that you are going to win. He said that “all the times that I’ve done that I have won and the times I haven’t or I’ve been worried or nervous I didn’t”.
As well as being confident and practicing, DJ Plus One has also had to focus his efforts toward one championship when more than one championship is in close approximately. He recalls, “when I did Vestax and ITF they were a week apart, and that’s a lot of practice, and I sort of had to prioritize and say ‘I really want to win the Vestax’ ”. His reasons for wanting to win the Vestax were the prizes and the fact that Judges were people who he had meet like Mix Master Mike and “a lot of the peers of what I do”. Personally for DJ Plus One, “it’s a respect thing” and thought that it would be “dope to win.” DJ Plus One’s tactic proved to be successful and he gained first place in the Championship.
We rounded off the interview by asking about future directions of Turntablism, his current involvement in projects, his favorite tracks, his top battle records and his favorite Battle DJ’s.
When we asked where he thinks Turntablism is going to from now, Plus One replied, “I guess it’s just gonna keep going, its hard to say it changes all the time. We need more people though, we gotta start pushing the limits, cause the allies, after this year aren’t gonna be battling that much and scratch perverts being the same. Some other people need to come in and take handle of it. It will be countries like here and countries like Germany and stuff that really support.. Germany loves the ITF, they’ve got crazy sport over there. It needs to develop, here too the scene needs to develop. And someone like Dexta doing well from here is gonna make people aware.”Plus One’s current main recording projects include two twelve’s coming out, a “heavy” Drum and Bass project with Killa Kell and a “whole lot of various projects” with different people. He also added that “there’s a lot more good interesting shit on the way”. He would not pin down his all time five favorite tracks as he believes that “there’s so much shit”. He would rather give a list of about four thousand tracks.
He was equally undecided when asked to name his top 5 battle records. He replied, “I get a battle record to scratch with and that’s about it, I’m just destroying them all the time, some are better than others. But I think juggling battle records is played out.” He was finally asked to define his favorite Battle DJ’s that he looks up to he answered, “It’s hard…Q-Bert to begin with and Rok Raida, Rok Raidas presence and Q-Berts scratching. For inspiration, like Tony really, he’s the guy I spar with, he comes up with ideas that are interesting and that’s what I like. It changes but at the moment Tony Vegas is probably the person I look up to most.”
:: Click on the above picture to view his lecture (Real Video 56k) ::
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