Canadian DJ, turtablist and owner of record label, Fool’s Gold, A-Trak recently took to Instagram to discuss his perspective on the current state of of DJing, accompanied by the tag #RealDJing. A-Trak addressed the topic of what real DJing is, what DJing has evolved into today and broke down his own viewpoint on how he came to see the art of DJing fitting into the bigger picture of electronic music.
“There’s a lot of talk lately about what DJing is becoming. I’ve seen it evolve a lot over the years. I started DJing when I was 13, scratching vinyl and playing strictly hip hop, winning championships. The DMC judges thought I was pretty good at it, but think my definition was narrow back then. I remember when my aunts and uncles found out I was a DJ they assumed I was the guy talking on the radio. So to define who we were, we called ourselves turntablists. We wanted legitimacy. As I grew up I got into more sides of the craft. Party-rocking and mastering different musical genres. In the early 2000′s I was Serato’s very first endorsee.
I remember talking to Jazzy Jeff and AM about Serato: was it stable enough? We also had to convert all our music. DJing was becoming digital. Then Kanye hired me to tour with him, because he learned how to perform from Common and Kweli who had real DJs too – shout out to Dummy & Ruckus. We went on an Usher tour and Kanye wanted me to bust solos. My routines were too specialized so I had to make new ones that this new audience would understand. I started seeing the bigger picture. Then I got into electronic music. I remember seeing Mehdi, Boys Noize, Feadz playing on CDJs and thinking: these guys are turntablists too. Surkin was the first guy I saw DJ on Ableton in a way that felt like true DJing too. Now there’s a whole new cast in electronic music, and it’s still exciting to me. I’ve seen a lot of fads come and go over the years. And I don’t think my way of DJing is the only way. I wish I could also play like Carl Cox and DJ Harvey too. But I have my style and it’s my passion. I love standing for something that means something, as Pharcyde would say. When you come to my show you know you’ll see me cut. And take risks. DJing is about taking risks. I represent #RealDJing #YouKnowTheDifference”
A-Trak was the first DJ to win all three major DJ competition titles (DMC, ITF, and Vestax) as well as being the first DJ to win five World Championships. He has also given lectures about scratching and published an article in Tablist Magazine. Having the voice of someone who has been behind the tables since the early 90s perfecting and developing his craft as a DJ to an expert level is a gift the EDM community, offering a wealth of knowledge and background on an art form that millions are familiar with today. With so many DJs being questioned and ridiculed for “just pressing play” while performing on stage, it is refreshing and necessary to hear the voice of a master DJ on the subject matter to remind music lovers how much skill and effort it takes to DJ. If anyone’s voice in the EDM world should be heard and respected when it comes to critical discussions on the art of DJing, it’s definitely his.