Dopez Interview

What’s up?!

I thought it would be fun to do an interview series.

The aim is to give us an insight into how other DJs approach scratching currently and when they first started out, so that it inspires us with our own scratch practice.

First up, I’d like to introduce…

Dopez

dopez

Cutting it up:

Tell us a bit about yourself, and where you are from.

Hello! My name is David Lopez, I’m a 19 year old college freshman and I’m from San Antonio, Texas!

When did you start scratching?

I started scratching once I got my very first pair of turntables, a pair of Stanton belt-driven decks with a matching Stanton mixer my sophomore year of highschool.

How did you get into scratching and why?

I got into scratching after I learned how to beatmatch because when I first got turntables, all I wanted to do was make dance music mashups and pretty much be a “club-rocking” DJ. Once I learned how to beatmatch, it was then I found it kind of easy and I wanted to make that “wicky-wicky” sound I had heard on Hip-Hop songs. I learned to scratch all with YouTube tutorials, notably DJ Angelo’s turntable tutorials which basically taught me all of the basics. I felt that his tutorials really made sense and made scratching really easy for me to understand and grasp.

Which hand do you use on the record / fader and why?

I primarily scratch with my dominant (right) hand on the fader and the other non dominant hand (left) on the record. I felt this most preferable because I felt that I could move my fingers on my right hand very much faster than on my left hand. The left hand on the record was a little awkward at first, but I eventually got the hang of it. As of now, I have been dabbling into scratching with my dominant hand on the record and my non dominant on the record because that way, I feel very much record control but my fader hand is a little slow and cumbersome. Practice makes perfect!

How did you / do you approach learning?

I approached learning at first by trying to learn every single scratch I could. I remember once I could nail the fast two click flare orbit, I thought I was on top of the world and I could out cut anyway (haha). It wasn’t until I lost many online scratch battles on DJ forums I realized I completely neglected flow and musically in my scratching. Now I approach learning from a questioning manner like asking, “why does this sound good?” or “what in particular is this DJ doing in their cuts to sound different?” I found asking that really helps me learn how properly articulate how I’m feeling in my cuts.

Can you remember the first scratch techniques you learnt?

The first scratch I learned (besides the baby) was a simple chirp! I remember when I got the chirp down, I was doing some baby chirp combos just thinking, “Oh my God! This sounds just like scratching in hip-hop songs – I’m actually doing it!”

What were the challenges you faced when first starting out?

Biggest challenges I faced learning was just trying to learn everything I could technically and just being the fastest scratcher I could be. That and I felt pretty egotistical because I remember after one year of scratching, I posted a file to a scratch forum and everyone was like “Wow, only a year!? You’re killing it!” which really got to my head hahaha.

How about current challenges?

Right now, just trying to get equally as clean with my right hand on the record and left hand on the fader. It’s frustrating because I know I can do a scratch perfectly left handed but when I switch hands, it’s very sloppy and awkward. Practice!

How do you practice?

Usually, I’ll just throw on a looper and just cut with different samples at different BPMs trying to get that “funk” out. I found that using lots of silence in scratching makes those little clips of sampled come through a lot more dynamic and pronounced. Some days I’ll cut for hours if I’m done with all my schoolwork and somedays just a quick thirty minutes. Also when I get bored, I’ll switch hands and try cutting like that for some time until I get bored. Also when scratching in general is getting dull, I’ll throw on some doubles and practice my beat juggling as well as general mixing ability. I want to be as well rounded (as a DJ) as I can. ;)

Favourite Scratch Technique?

Favorite scratch would have to be anything with a tear on the record, like a regular two click flare sounds great but if you do a tear backwards while doing the two clicks on the fader, it enhances the dynamics of the scratch that much more. Even just doing chirp flares with a tear in the record movement sounds so good.

Any techniques you don’t like doing or don’t use that much (and why)?

Hmmm tough one, but anything that involves forward tears like the Prizm by DJ Qbert because my forward tears are not as clean as I’d like them to be. ;)

Who are your inspirations?

For inspiration, I look up to DJs like Enfoe, Vekked, Ritchie Ruftone, Dwells and many many other DJs that have helped me become a better DJ and person in general.

Favourite Scratch DJs?

Any DJ who has a really significant record hand style like Enfoe, D-Styles, IQ, Tigerstyle, Nick Nack, Muzzell, Toadstyle, Ricci Rucker along with many other come to mind.

Favourite beats or beat style to scratch over?

I really like all styles of beat to scratch with but what really hits my sweet spot is that 80ish BPM D-Styles slow, hypnotic head-nod type of production where you’re really feeling the beat and it’s slow enough to really flow/funk over.

Favourite scratch records or samples to cut with?

I love to cut Scratch Science records when I have an ultrapitch turntable to use but when I don’t, just a “bust this bust that ahhhh” sentence is good enough ;) Really any good, loud multi-syllable sample like “Cut Like A Guillotine” is my favorite. D-Styles break records are grand because of how many samples are on there that are perfect for spacing apart and breaking down.

What do you do when you are uninspired to scratch?

I just practice my mixing, beat juggling and if that’s all wack, then I just pull out my MPC2000XL and make beats, haha.

What’s your top tip for anyone just starting out?

Practice and know all of your basic scratches and get comfortable with them (chirps, transforms, one-click flares) as well as make sure you’re pitching the record with drags, reverses, and other record techniques to really vary the sound and give it some depth, don’t always end a cut with a release. I recommend practicing with the platter off and making you move the record/pitch it.

What’s your top tip for intermediates that might feel a bit stuck or need a fresh perspective?

Listen to Toadstyle – Switchblade Sermons! Whenever I feel that my cuts aren’t too fresh, I listen to Toadstyle’s scratches and and I’m awe at how clean and funky he is. Listening to him really helped me realize how importance silence really is in scratching and music in general.

You recently competed and placed second in the Texas DMC 2014 Regional, congrats! How was the experience?

It was great!! Christie from DMC USA is a wonderful person who really does this for the love of the artform and Mia from San Antonio DMC is an absolute sweetheart (and really kicked me into competing this year :) ) Really nice people and it was great meeting the other DJs and actually being recognized! Hahaha but it was a wonderful experience and now I know what little more I need to do to (hopefully) get a first place next year.

What’s next for you?

Honestly, just trying to keep my head above water and do well in University to hopefully get that degree! I’ll never stop scratching/turntablism and I’ll always have a pair of 1200s on/near me to keep my skills sharp. :) Again, continue in school but also keep practicing my scratching/juggling and beat making because besides this, there isn’t much to me. ;)

Who do you think we should interview next, if they are up for it?

DJ Dwells! The now 14 year old who won the DMC NY Regional. The whole turntablism scene has been on fire with him and I speak to him often, he’s really mature for his age and an all around nice dude – he’s very humble and I hope he does well at the US Finals.

Where should we go to keep up with your scratch adventures?

Follow my twitter / instagram / soundcloud @dopez1200 where I post quite a bit of scratch related media (along with perhaps one too many selfies) :P

Social Links

Anything else you would like to say?

Nothing much other than thank you for having me on here!! You’re really doing a wonder for turntablism especially with Studio Scratches and all the media you offer. I’m honestly quite humbled to be given to chance to share a little bit about myself with you because I think you’re a legend! Again, keep doing what you’re doing – it really is awesome. Also I can’t help but think you’re hand-lettering is beautiful! I really wish I had that talent, sure would beat moving a record back and forth. :)

(Awww shucks! – Short-E)

Summary

I hope you enjoyed this interview and that it gave you some insights and inspiration to help you practice your scratching.

Big thanks to David.

Happy Scratching! :D

P.S. If you would like to suggest a DJ to interview, please leave a comment!

Scratch Speed Booster

Hey guys and girls.

I am pleased to present my new Scratch Speed Booster training tool. Scroll down for product details, but first let me explain what it is and show you it in action…

The Speed Booster features two audio tracks which start off at an 80 bpm tempo and increase by 1 bpm every 8 bars all the way up to 120 bpm.

You can use them to practice new scratches to, or for working on speeding up your existing scratches.

Video Example

Here is a video example of how I use it to train. I’m doing the boomerang scratch over the “Mellow Forever” speed booster:

I hope it gives you an idea of how it can be used.

Product Details & Preview

Scratch Speed Booster

Provided in 3 flavas:

1 – Regular speed loop (as in the audio preview).

2 – Gradual speed booster where the speed gradually and constantly increases by 1 bpm every 8 bars

3 – Step speed booster – which jumps up 1 bpm every 8 bars so you have 8 bars at a constant speed rather than a gradual increase.

If you end up using it in a video, link to it in the comments below.

Happy Scratching! :D

- Emma Short-E

How to Find Your Own Scratching Style

scratching style

Hey folks!

I find it helpful to draw inspiration from areas that are not scratch related. James Victore’s burning questions video series is one of them. James is an art director, designer, and author. His video series always inspires and encourages me to create and I thought it might do the same for you.

This is a truly great episode on finding your style, that we can apply to our scratching:

Video Highlights

I address finding your own style or voice. You can only find your own voice when you abandon what everyone else considers “good” and make the work YOU like.

  • 00:40 – How do you find your own style or voice?
  • 00:46 – How do you find your own style or voice when there is so much going on (Dribbble / Behance = portfolio sites)?
  • 01:03 – PROBLEM – You are looking around too much, you are not LISTENING.
  • 01:12 – Where to find your voice and signposts
  • 01:44 – Looking around at things that are fashionable and “success”.
  • 01:52 – Successes that don’t work for you.
  • 01:55 – Looking at other sites and other artist “copies”.
  • 02:13 – Success isn’t an auto trace!
  • 02:28 – 3 Things you need to do:
    1. learn everything
    2. forget it
    3. design
  • 03:23 – Do the work!
  • 03:33 – Wanting it and time.
  • 04:29 – The GREAT thing about finding your voice.

YEH!

How this relates to scratching

Here are the things I think that we can take from this video as they relate to scratching:

  • It’s easy to get overwhelmed watching other peoples scratch videos on YouTube and Facebook.
  • Why not stop copying other peoples scratches and learning their techniques?
  • At some point you have to cut off and get in the zone.
  • Turn off the internet.
  • By all means do learn all the scratch techniques, but then try and forget the technicalities and start coming up with your own versions and unique play on them.
  • Practice yo cuts! Yo meaning your cuts and not anyone else’s cuts.
  • Tune into your cuts and your own unique expression.
  • See what combinations you come up with when you are unhindered by what everyone else is doing.
  • Your scratching style is inside you and is unique to you. Embrace it!

Summary

It is very easy to get overwhelmed and distracted looking outside ourselves for a style, with scratch videos appearing on YouTube and Facebook on hand 24/7.

When that happens, why not switch it all off and go do your own scratch work?! That is where you will find your style.

Until next time…

Happy Scratching! :D

- Emma

Byone’s Speed Booster

Byone’s Speed Booster is a free automatic pitch shifter for Serato Scratch Live that also works with Traktor.

The application is made for DJs who are practicing scratch techniques and want to improve their speed.

speed booster frontspeed booster back

The user specifies a start pitch, an end pitch, and how much time they want Serato to transition from start to end.

See it in action

Download

Download Byone’s Speed Booster (links to his site).

How to Use

Speed boosters are super useful for practicing scratches that you have just started learning. The gradual build up of speed helps you get quicker, whilst you don’t really notice the speed increase. Before this app, you had to manually move the pitch slider on the turntable from -8 every all the way up to +8 in increments of 1, every 4 – 8 bars. Or create an audio file in an audio editor that did the same thing, which took a long time. This app makes it super easy and allows you stay focused on your cuts.

I’ve just finished trying it out and it’s seriously awesome!

I love that you can specify the range and how fast you want it to increase. Sometimes you might have a scratch which you can do quite well but not really fast, so you can start off at a midrange tempo then end at a much faster tempo. If you are just starting out learning a new technique, then starting at a slower speed and not having it increase too much is helpful whist you lock down the technique.

I use the booster with key lock turned on in Serato so the loop sounds the same melodically all the way through.

For those of you who haven’t got Serato or Traktor, I’m making some speed booster wavs / mp3s so that you can just play them in iTunes or from your phone / iPod etc so you can train in the same way. Stay tuned!

Big shout out to Byone for making this awesome tool!

Happy Speed Boosting Scratching! :D

- Short-E

How to Use Traktor to Create Freestyle Scratch Music

Friend of Studio Scratches DJ Brace recently put me in touch with Darcy from the ScratchMobile project.

Darcy is creating some interesting scratch music and kindly offered to create a video that shares how you can do this too.

In this post, Darcy shows you how you can use Traktor to create a freestyle scratch music session.

As a bonus we have included all the samples used so you can have a go at playing with this yourself!

I recommend watching the composition video a few times, then viewing the video breakdown tutorial, before finally checking out the written instructions to allow it to really sink in and get a good understanding of what is happening.

Part 1 – The Composition

Here is his composition that Darcy created exclusively for Studio Scratches:

So now let’s see how he does it!

Part 2 – Video Breakdown Tutorial

This video breaks it down further:

Part 3 – Written Instructions

Introduction

I’m Darcy and I like to scratch.

Here is a simple article on how I lay out my freestyle music sessions using Traktor and a Mac. I got back into scratching 4+ years ago after a 10 year + break. At first all I wanted to do was Cut It Up Fresh, but after 4 years, I started to want to get away from the daily Ahhhhh/Fresh game, and start getting into playing around with Traktor and start using my own content.

Basic Assumptions

I’m going to make two basic assumptions in this article:

  1. You have a basic (like dead-easy basic) understanding of Traktor, which is all I really have anyway.
  2. You have a basic understanding of GarageBand (GB).

There are a thousand other ways you could get this done, I’m a pretty un-technologically advanced guy and I manage to get it done with these tools, so here we go…

1- Record Sounds

First thing I do is I record a bunch of content that I will then edit in GB…

darcy gb

…to get my scratch sentences or sample layouts I like. (Again, there are a thousand different ways you could do this, this is just mine.) As I don’t own a microphone, but still like to create speech content, I use TextEdit on my Mac. Just type the words/sentences/sounds you want to use on the pad that pops up when you open it. You can change the voice/speed in your System Preferences under the Dictation Speech function.

Once I have a bunch of content I think I like (I always record more than I think I want to use, because I will re-edit it in GB to my liking after. The point being, I don’t kill myself to get the stuff perfect, I just get a variety of sounds that I’ll edit later) I record in GB by opening up a new Loop Project. Using the + symbol in the bottom left hand corner, I add a few Real Instrument tracks. I do a sound check to make sure the recording levels are good, and then record it up (I am using two computers at this point, running the TextEdit on one and sending to GB on the other, which I am using to record).

The nice thing about GB is that you can also dump tracks in from iTunes. I use some of the other empty tracks I have opened up to drop in any other sounds from my iTunes that I might want to add to my final edit. For any software-created sounds like piano and organs from GB that you want to record, you will need to use a Software Instrument Track in GB. You can open one up using the + symbol in the bottom left hand corner.

2 – Edit Sounds

Once I have all the content recorded/created and added from iTunes, I get to editing. I will typically try to narrow it down to 8 sounds/sentences/items/words/piano notes/whatever that I want to use, as it’s easy to set cue points in Traktor on my Z2 later with 8 items. Then, with another empty track in GB, I copy and paste stuff till I have the sounds laid out.

3 – Send Sounds to Traktor

Next step is sending the content to Traktor. I’m sure there are a thousand different ways to do this, but I’ll share my way. In GB in the top header menu, there is a Share option, go to Send Song to iTunes. I shut Traktor down and start it up again after to update my iTunes folder within Traktor.

darcy gb itunes

Boom. Now you have the content in Traktor. For beats you can really do anything you want. I typically take simple drum lines I like from GB, then loop them up on my Traktor deck B, possibly set a few different loops, some with bass lines some without…. Whatever.

4 – Start Scratching!

Then I get going on the cut. My goal is to be able to do simple pieces that I can nod my head to and that retain a certain aspect of freestyle performance. I like the content of the track to always morph and change based on how I play it or what my fingers are telling me that day, but the main rule I have started using for myself is, less is more. I prefer clean and simple with interesting changes to wild and crazy and pre-rehearsed. Either way, whatever makes your head nod. I set my 8 cue points on deck A…

darcy traktor

…and now I’m all ready.

Recap

To re-cap, I’m really as close to as caveman as you can get about music, but I am determined, and not shy to try new stuff. This is my entry into getting where I want to be, and thought it would be dope if I shared it with you. Please get in touch if anything I’m saying requires some clarity, or if you have any good ways for me to improve upon what I’m up to. Cut It Up Fresh.

//

Download The Samples

Now it’s your turn!

Here are the samples for you to play with and see what you can come up with:

Download Darcy samples (right click > save as).

Summary

I hope that this gives you some ideas on how you can get away from scratching with ahhh and fresh and create something really musical.

Thanks Darcy for sharing your knowledge! I’d love to try this out on a z2!

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below and myself and Darcy will be monitoring them to give you answers.

About Darcy

Check out Darcy’s YouTube channel which is his online scratch journal that covers his progress over the last 4+ years.

The project that Darcy describes as putting his heart and soul into the most is his ScratchMobile project:

facebook.com/ScratchMobile

Cool stuff!

Happy Scratching!

- Emma Short-E