TERNTABLE JEDIZ – INTERVIEW
DJ Sheep, Finatik, Damage by: G-Force – March 2004
G-FORCE [G]: Alright for those who do not know, who are the Terntable Jediz, where are you from, and what is your cause?
SHEEP [S]: The Terntable Jediz are a crew consisting of DJs Finatik, Damage, Sheep, Kenny and Krypton. We are all from Brisbane with the exception of Finatik, who hails from Perth. Our cause is to slaughter wack Australian DJs in battles, stay dope on the cut and keep our fingers dusty.
G: How did you guys form the crew and how long have you been together?
S: Krypton & I formed the crew in January 1998, when we each bought our first set of decks. Damage was always an inspiration to us and a good mate, so he naturally became a part of the crew the following year. I’ve known Kenny since the late-90s, and I didn’t even know he cut, then I seen him at local battle I won in 2001, he was killing it on the cut, so we asked him to be down. We witnessed Finatik’s amazing scratching skills at the DMC Studio’s in Melbourne before the Australian Finals in 2002. We made sure he was cool and he joined the night before the finals, he went into that battle as a Jedi, at 15 years of age! So, that’s the final line-up, no more members. We’re all good mates, the crew is secondary, it’s helped guarantee our longevity.
G: To be an avid DJ, one would expect a very passionate love for hip-hop and the art of DJing itself, how and when did your passions develop?
S: I grew up during the first wave of breakdancing, in primary school throughout the early-80s. I attended high school with Lazy Grey, he and his brother exposed me to the true hip-hop culture between 1988-1990. Magazines like Vapours and Hype. Books like Subway Art and Spraycan Art. Hip-Hop groups like Def Wish Cast, EPMD, N.W.A., Public Enemy, Ice-T, Too $hort, Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane, etc. I used to spin out on DJs like Jam Master Jay, Jazzy Jeff and Terminator X (even though I later found out that it was Johnny Juice cuttin’ on their first 2 albums!). I remember hiring Krush Groove out at the local video store and the cover was all tagged up by some of Brissie’s finest writers…. ahhhh, the memories…. Anyhow, shit just cruised along for a few years, and then through an advertisement in the Source Magazine in 1994, I got in contact with the Bomb Hip-Hop Magazine outta San Francisco. I started writing for the magazine and ran their hip-hop mail-order at my house; we even did an Australian special in that magazine in the mid-90s! The editor, David Paul put me up on a lot of scratch/mixtapes from DJs like the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Babu, Roc Raida, etc. I was instantly a huge fan of scratching & battle DJing (later referred to as “turntablism”). It was also that year that I started buying ALL my hip-hop music on vinyl (no turntable, just a component system). Bomb eventually turned into a record label, which released the Return of the DJ albums. From 1996-1999 I flew out DJ Q-Bert, Disk, Craze and A-Trak to do shows around Australia. Before that point, I honestly didn’t think that I would become a DJ, but witnessing all those incredible DJs first hand and inspired me! So yeah, as I said before, I got my first set of decks and mixer in 1988, learned how to DJ myself, practiced, started the website turntablism.com, sold it to 75ark Records, travelled the world, jammed, won local battles/DMCs, and the rest is history… I used to love H.E.R.
FINATIK [F]: I got interested back in ‘99 when Mixmaster Mike came out with the Beastie Boys, and being exposed to the skills of someone like Mixmaster Mike just spun me out. But I was into hip-hop before then but I never really knew anything about DJing, so then I worked at my mums café during the school holidays and saved up to get some cheap Citronic turntables and a Citronic mixer and then I started practicing. I entered my first DMC battle back in 2001 and ended up placing 3rd. I finally bought a Vestax mixer and 2 x Technics 1200’s and kept going with the battles. Then I finally saved up and bought myself an MPC2000 last year which has led me to bang out beats, dig for my samples and work hard on my production.
DAMAGE [D]: I first got into hip hop culture back in ‘83 through breaking and started buying wax around the same time. My best friend had two belt drives and a mixer which I'd be on every chance i got. Back in those days you didn't have battle videos and instructional DVD’s or whatever so I never really learnt shit. I was hooked from the first time I used them though and ended up dropping out of uni ten years later to get a job so i could buy a pair. I quit that job about a year and half ago to DJ full time even though there were limited opportunities to play in clubs. Personally, I don't care whether I'm successful at it as long as I can get up and scratch every day and drop beats for a crowd every now and then. I think that's been the attitude of a lot of the crew I've hung with over the years no matter what element they've pursued.
G: Do you find that having a crew of DJ’s you guys are exposed to a large and varying amount of music that a lot of people may not hear?
D: I think that's true anywhere cause most hip hop DJ's are beat diggers and any half serious beat digger can tell you that there's some pretty good sounds, loops and drum breaks to be found in all sorts of obscure styles of music. I think it's especially true living in a smaller city like Brisbane where you have to be musically versatile if you want regular work. S: My collection’s about 6,000 records deep. The ratio would be about 70% hip-hop and 30% jazz/funk/samples. I carry 1-2 bags per gig, which is about 50-80 records. So yeah, there’s another 99% of my collection that people will never hearL. It used to piss me off that DJing became such a dancefloor orientated thing. There’s a lot of DJs out there that don’t know shit about music, just the dancefloor. No individuality, these robots buy records based on what the radio or TV feeds them. I never have been like that, and I’ve always been more interested in paying to see someone spin a unique set, so I can appreciate their selection of music. It’s better than hearing some robot spinnin’ the same shit every other Tom, Dick & Harry is. That’s why touring international hip-hop DJs are getting boring, 7/10 of them play the same ‘ol shit, the same way. One of the more memorable local sets that I can remember was at Dedlee’s launch in Melbourne. Dedlee himself stepped up and just played classic after classic: O.C., Lord Finesse, Organized Konfusion, etc. And he ain’t even a full-time DJ! I’d pay $50 to see Dedlee on the decks over these other ROBOTS…
G: On the search for music, Sheep, combined with your work for CheckoutWax and personal digging, how often do you head out and just what exactly do you look for? Also on that, Finatik, being a young cat, do you search for the same or varying things?
S: I dig at least once or twice a week, mainly for sample material, breaks, funk, soundtracks, etc. I get a lot of my hip-hop at work. I hit up Rocking Horse Records when I’m in the city. I also go on eBay and get things I can’t find in stores, plus I trade a lot of records to overseas and interstate beat heads. I know what I’m looking out for, but occasionally someone puts me onto some shit.
F: I like to dig for a lot of Soul and Jazz, mainly 70s shit, it’s my favourite shit to sample.
G: Finatik, being 16 years old, have you found it hard at times to do what you do whilst continuing to lead the life of a 16 year old, school, lack of cash etc?
F: I think back to when I was about 13, it was harder as I just started out (DJing) and I was spending all my money on wax, but now I work more so I have enough money to feed my vinyl addiction! (laughs) but you can never have enough money for vinyl! When I started out I wasn’t really getting as much as support as I do now. Dudes would give me shit for being a DJ!. These days those same guys come up to and are like “Hey can you teach me how to DJ?”
G: Onto battling, Sheep you have taken out the Queensland DMC twice now, not to mention a swag of other titles and Finatik the WA ITF’s, however you have taken some time away from the circuit. Is this purely to focus on the new album or other reasons?
S: Honestly, I feel that a huge part of turntablism is dead. I personally don’t feel the same enthusiasm that I once did for it back in the mid-late 90s. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the current battle scene bores me. There’s no dude like Craze, A-Trak or even Dexta, just killin’ it, CLEARLY taking titles, getting’ me hyped and enthusiastic… There are some underrated DJs that I really dig from Australia: Jizz, Prowla and Devist8. See, there are three ill DJs that didn’t win titles or even enter battles!!! Finatik and I have retired from battling as of last year. I think we proved our point. If I wanted to take out the local DMC, I would, but it doesn’t interest me anymore. That’s not saying I don’t have any new routines, I’ve just defended the title from wack DJs for too long 😉 if another wack dude wins it, I’m coming outta retirement ;). Maybe you can still catch me at the battle on the judging panel, or doing a showcase or something. Before I bounce, I have gotta give props to Stewart at DMC for getting shit straight for these past two years I’ve entered, he takes care of business well. F: Most definitely, battling takes up soooo much time and it’s a good experience but it got to the point were I was like ok I want to settle down and make music. Battling is definitely a nice way to make a little name for yourself and have fun but then there’s some drama between DJs, etc. It’s just like, O.K. it’s a battle, we’re here to have fun, and at the end of the day whoever wins, wins – Don’t cry about it…
G: Onto the album, the line up is looking quite impressive from the listings on your site (www.djsheep.com). How did this all come about and what role are each of the Jediz playing on the album?
S: The album’s been a work-in-progress for two years (way too long). It was originally going to be a “turntablism” album, but those are boring to make and usually end up sounding like crap. So we decided to do a dope hip-hop album with us scratching on there and co-ordinating the tracks. More like a compilation. Finatik submitted some beats, Lazy Grey seemed interested, who knows, we’ll see what happens.
G: Any more names you would like to add to the list or anything else you can reveal about the album?
S: This is the final line-up of artists: Lyrical Commission, Trem, 360, Delta, Lazy Grey, J-Zone, Celph Titled, Arks, Bias B, Jon Doe, The Optimen. All tracks are recorded specifically for the album and conducted by the Terntable Jediz.
G: The album sounds like it is going to be a pretty top notch release, what are your aims for the release, any goals perhaps?
S: I think the line-up speaks for itself.
F: We always got goals, with this project our goal is just to feed the listeners and give them a good taste of that real shit!
G: Finatik, to be part of something as large as this at some a young age, must be pretty exciting. Have there been any sacrifices you have had to make to continue doing what you love?
F: I’d say not going out as much as I did before, but I can deal with that. I think if you want to get better at what you do, your gonna work so hard and it will get to the point where your learning some new shit and your gonna be like DAMN! I wanna learn more! So it’s an ongoing hunger.
G: Sheep, I believe you are heading to Japan to live for a while, is this business, personal or simply to track down Selekt and drag him back to our shores?
S: I’ve travelled to Japan numerous times before and I’ve always loved it. The opportunity arose for me to work out there, so I took it. I’ll be enjoying the culture and hip-hop scene out there. Not to mention diggin’ up some ill ass shit, and lettin’ the Japanese scene know what GOOD Australian hip-hop sounds like…
G: Speaking of travelling, Finatik, being from WA and reppin a Queensland based crew, how has it been travel wise, in making of the album, lots of stamps and phone calls?
F: It hasn’t been as hard as I expected, but it hasn’t been easy at the same time, especially with mailing shit over back and forth, but its definitely worth it. If you love what you do then your going to go out of your way just to do it.
G: So, what can people expect from the album as a package, what are you hoping to highlight to the people?
S: A SOLID ALBUM. We’ve assembled the cream-of-the-crop Australian hip-hop artists alongside some of the dopest US producers and MCs. Pick it up – you won’t need to filter through the album to pick 1 or 2 favourite tracks out of 26. It will be short, about 10 tracks and 100% quality. All killer, no filler. It’s coming out on “CLASS A RECORDS”, a local Brisbane label that everyone should be checking for in the future.
F: Expect a solid release with some top notch producers and MCs, a lot of variety in the tracks – there will be battle tracks and also tracks revolving around subjects. Expect dope cuts from all the crew!
G: Alright, any shout outs, thank-yous etc or additional info for the kiddies of oz hip hop land?
S: Thanks to anyone who has supported/supports me in the past, present and future. Peace to everyone who made noise at the DJ battles. Thanks to Caine and Ecko for sponsoring the me. Thanks in advance to everyone who buys this album. Thanks to my girlfriend for her patience. Thanks to the promoters that book me for shows. Thanks to everyone who’s helped me along this journey. Thanks to Class A Records for believing in our album. e-mail: email@example.com for bookings. Check www.djsheep.com for updates.
F: Thanks to everyone who has supported me from day one and thanks to the people who didn’t believe in me because that shit just makes me work harder! Check out my release not too long after the Jediz album, it’s a remix album showcasing all my production and beats with some dope hip-hop accapellas over the top!
D: Big shout out to Lyrical Commission for holdin' the torch, Brothers Stoney, Optimen, my brother Snax, DJ's Bribe and Freestyle. G
: Thanks for your time and good luck with the album.
S, F, D: Thanks for your support mate…