Having released new album Chop Suey yesterday (5 November), DJ Yoda - real name Duncan Beiny - has made good use of the old faithful record scratch. So much so the turntablists argues that scratching is as valid as a guitar solo or an orchestral movement (he's actually DJed alongside one). He explains why in this guest column.
The music that I first remember hearing as a kid was pop and hip-hop in the late 80s. Stuff like Coldcut, Paul Hardcastle, Salt'N'Pepa, and even hip-hop remixes of things like Climie Fisher. It all had scratching in it, and the sound just stood out to me. I was learning piano at school, but the sound of scratching was just so wildly different to any instruments anyone was playing at school.
Scratching started as a way to cue up records, but fast evolved into a creative artform in itself. By the early 90s, a whole scene of "turntablism" sprung up - jam sessions, entire mixtapes of DJs scratching like a jazz or rock jam session, ways to musically notate scratching, competitions, videos, and record releases that just contained sounds to scratch with.
It all got a bit too technical and nerdy, but underneath it all was a simple and powerful thing to me - that a brand new musical instrument had been created. To me, the thing that was so amazing about this instrument (and about hip-hop for that matter) was that it was built up out of other people's pre-recorded sounds. So if you wanted something to sound trumpet-like, you could scratch with a trumpet sound. If you wanted it to sound like a dog, you could use a dog sound. The possibilities are infinite - whereas you start playing a double bass, and you're only ever going to hear a double bass sound.
As time has gone on, the possibilities of scratching have only increased. The technology exists now to enable you to scratch with video, mp3s, YouTube clips - there's even a bongo-shaped "scratchophone" that hangs round your neck, so you can wander round the beach scratching.
Most of what I've tried to do, at least in a live performance capacity, is to take the turntables out of the predictable "bloke-behind-decks-in-a-club" scenario. I've scratched with a full orchestra, in cinemas with video (including the IMAX in London!), with avant-garde percussionists, with a Balkan brass band.
And I'd love to collaborate with a country'n'western or folk band. Anything to show that the Technics 1200 is as valid a musical instrument as a flute or a guitar, and if anything, more versatile.
DJ Yoda @DJYodaUK
For more head to DJyoda.co.uk.
11:55 AM | 06/11/2012
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