A-Trak: "I'm Happy to See DJs Make Weird Music"
One of the most viscerally exciting things in life is competition, and music is no exception. While we are more apt to talk about battling in terms of MCs, it's just as important when it comes to DJ culture.
Fools Gold Records
Friday night Red Bull Thre3style Massive brings some of the rising stars in the competitive DJ community to town for a night of beats and party-rocking, all while raising money for Girls Rock Camp Houston.
Headlining the show is a legend when it comes to the world of competitive DJing: A-Trak. Back in '97 he won his first world championship at the age of 15, the first of five world championships he'd collect. Since then he's collaborated with Kanye West and Armand Van Helden, started his own record label (Fool's Gold), and fused the sounds of hip hop and dance music to craft original tracks and remixes that have made him a star in both communities.
While battling may be half a lifetime ago, A-Trak is still a DJ at heart. We caught up with him talk about the past both distant and recent.
Rocks Off: Early in your career you won your share of DJ championships. Do you ever miss the battles?
A-Trak: A little bit, but that scene is not what it was ten or 12 years ago when I was doing battles. It's not even something I could go back to because it was a whole nother time. That was a slice of time where turntablism was thriving and those battles were the center of a whole explosion.
Do I miss parts of it? Sure, but what I miss is the fuel and motivation I got from the battles and the camaraderie with the other DJs. So I just try and transfer that elsewhere. I try to get my fuel from other things. I befriend DJs in other ways, and that's fine with me.
RO: Do you still see yourself as a DJ first/producer second or do you even worry about labels?
AT: What keeps me excited and stimulated and I think what defines what I stand for as an artist is the balancing act of everything. I couldn't see myself as only a DJ. I do think DJing is the nucleus of what I do but I love making tracks and that fulfills another part of my brain.
Even running a record label and getting involved in the artwork to the videos -- it's that full picture that's interesting to me.