DJ Q-Bert Interview (by DJ Moneyshot)
After showcasing what can only be described as mind-boggling skills on two turntables and a mixer, DJ Moneyshot caught up with the man considered to be the most talented DJ ever. Sit back, eat a sandwich and peer into the manywinding corridors of DJ Q-Bert’s wonderful mind.
Right, let’s start this geographically. You’ve got the East Coast as a jumping off point for Hip-Hop and DJing, but the West Coast cultivated its own style of B-Boying. Break that down a little if you please.
Q-B: Sure. Its that whole “well that’s the East coast, lets take that shit :but we want to do something different too”. Were from a whole Electro era as well. We love the slow New York stuff, but Bammbatta played, you know fast, and that’s Hip-Hop too. We combined both and made our own style.
Have any, lets say, non-prescription drugs helped you to develop your own personal style?
Q-B: Sure, sure when I was a kid you fuck around : it’s more of a high school/college thing, experimenting with things. I don’t regret it. Everything that happens is meant to be. It’s like a stepping stone to where I am now. I’m totally into destiny and spiritual shit. I’m always learning. Music and art is very spiritual..
People say that you can tell how a person lives by the way they play chess. Can the same be said of scratching?
Q-B: Yeah totally. It’s your personality, the way you flare the way you think, how spontaneous you are, your understanding of life. I love chess, all I do is play chess, every fucking day.
Do you meditate?
Q-B: Scratching is meditation. When your in the zone you think of nothing but the fucking flow, it’s like surfing the sound and being one with your spirit and mind and body all together at once at that exact moment. Conscious stops and all you are is that scratch.
Does your vegetarianism and the like help you stay clean and focused?
Q-B: They say that when you eat animals you also eat their personality. So say you want to learn how to meditate, don’t eat meat, ‘cos it covers your mind with all types of shit :also all the chemicals and steroids they put in cows and shit.
You’re part of a community of scratch DJ’s. What if you were the only person in the world to have invented Turntablism. Would you have got to this point?
Q-B: Yeah I’d totally do it for myself. Say when you die and go to heaven like you can review your life and check out your scratching. You’re performing for someone, people can check out your life too, like say you’re in the spirit world : “yeah like lets check out Q-Bert on July fucking 17th 1987.”
O.K, on the bugged out tip. If aliens came to Earth and only spoke in scratching, would you step forward to be the Planets ambassador?
Q-B: Yeah, sure : music is a universal language.
The pay would be good.
Q-B: I don’t really trip off money, because money’s energy. You only get what you deserve in life. You can give away money or take it but you only end up with what God gives you.
If you could go back in time and teach one DJ one trick years before any one had thought of it, who would it be?
Q-B: Fuck : I would probably go back to Cash Money or Jazzy Jeff, Joe Cooley, one of those guys. “Hey I’m from the future, keep fucking with this”. Those guys are very creative.
On the subject of techniques do you think that the decline in body-tricks has switched the emphasis from needless showboating to concentrating on the actual sonic artistry that can be found in Turntablism?
Q-B: Yeah, in the beginning of the 90’s people were starting to get the idea that, yes it is a musical instrument. Now it’s ridiculous to even do a body trick :but I love it still. I love to see the X-men and people do body tricks, it’s so beautiful. It’s still art, it’s creative and personal.
The turntable as instrument argument is getting tired, do you approach the decks as someone other than a musician?
Q-B: I look at everyone, like Michael Jordan and his practice schedule and Picasso : the way he paints cartoons and then turned to African art then painted weird ass African cartoons. I look at anyone who was great at what they did. Bob Marley.
Jackson Pollock :
(The tour manager explains that he’s the guy who drips the paint.)
Q-B: Yeah : I’m gonna check him out too. Like when people tell me things, I go check them out.
Do you think you’re a naturally gifted DJ, or has it been a slog of patience and imagination that got you to where you are today?
Q-B: I think everyone is talented in their own way. It’s just they have to reach for it. Every day I always think of myself like ‘fuck, shit I can’t get what I want out’. I learnt something from this one director that made Chinese films. I asked him what life was about and he said ‘if you think your good then you’re not good’. You’ve always got to keep reaching, and that’s what I try to do.
How famous are you?
Q-B: Some musicians and people when they get famous think tothemselves “Aww I’m fucking God” or some shit. I consider myself as being a slave, you know. We’re here to serve people, to give them entertainment. That’s just my thing in life, to help people : Err, (laughing) I don’t think I even answered your question!
Well that’s Q-Bert for you. And if it weren’t for such detours of imagination and deviations on logic, I’d imagine he’d be one more bog standard DJ. So I thank any little round pills or bumps on the head he’s had as a child, because it must have been these which have triggered such invention. So excuse me now as I drink this bottle of cough syrup and bang my head savagely on the door-frame, in a vain hope that my slumbering muse finally wakes up and gets that flare down the way he makes it sound.