Since you have been playing music since the age of nine and you also play a variety of instruments – drums, guitars, keyboards, and percussion – which instrument was your first love?
Well, when I was nine years old, I started playing guitar, and I took classical guitar lessons and studied music theory. And played jazz for a while. And then when I was around fourteen years old, I discovered punk rock. And so I then tried to unlearn everything I had learned in classical music and jazz so I could play in punk rock bands. When I was in high school, I played in two different bands. One was a hard core punk band called the Vatican Commandos and the other was a sort of very depressing Gothic band called AWOL. But luckily, during those first five years, I was studying music formally, and music theory is still in my brain, which can actually be really nice if I'm trying to write string arrangements or write more melodic piano lines. I can hearken back to sitting in music class when I was ten years old.
Over the years, have you found your classical training to have any influence on your deejaying style or techniques?
It's an interesting question, the correlation between deejaying and classical music. I think the biggest correlation is just the drama, like the impact and the drama. I mean, the same way like when you have a big orchestra can get very, very quiet and then get very loud, and when they get loud, it's really powerful. The same way when a deejay, whether they're house music deejay or hip-hop deejay, when a track gets really quiet and then all of a sudden everything comes back in, it's sort of the same impact that a classical orchestra would have, except a lot louder. I don't deejay that often, but for me deejaying is fun, because I get to play other people's records and take credit for them! [laughing] I saw that you are affiliated with AllHipHop.com. Want to hear an interesting story?
Of course! [laughing]
Because I have a really odd background with hip-hop that for the most part that people don't know about.
In the early to mid-eighties, when I first started deejaying, I was predominantly a hip-hop deejay. So I deejayed a lot of different hip-hop clubs around the city. My mainstay was a club called Mars, which is over on the Westside Highway. And it was where all the emcees and all the deejays used to hang out. So I kept a mic with me when I deejayed and, I mean, everybody would get drunk and just start rapping to impress their girlfriends – from Big Daddy Kane to Run-D.M.C. to Ultramagnetics and 3rd Bass and some of the guys from Stetsasonic. And I think for them, there was sort of a novelty in having like a skinny white kid from the suburbs playing hip-hop instrumentals while they rapped over them. I still encounter people who I knew back then, like Funkmaster Flex, Kool Keith and Stretch Armstrong, and I think they all still think of me as a hip-hop deejay.