Taking a turn with DJ QBert
DUBBED THE "Undisputed King of Turntablism," part-time Hawaii resident DJ QBert returns to the islands this weekend to headline "Skillz" at Lotus Soundbar on Saturday.
With special guest DJ QBert
Place: Lotus Soundbar
Time: 9 p.m. Saturday
Born Richard Quitevis, QBert is a product of the Bay Area, with more than 20 years of experience on the decks. After being recruited into the world-famous Rock Steady Crew in the early '90s, he joined forces with DJs Mix Master Mike and Apollo as the Invisibl Skratch Piklz to dominate at the DMC World DJ Championships.
QBert continues to tour the world in support of turntablism, but has also expanded his legacy to include the QFO, a turntable-mixer combo. The Star-Bulletin spoke to him last week to talk about his success with the product, the importance of DJs in hip-hop, and QBert's plans for the future.
QUESTION: Do you still live on Oahu?
ANSWER: I'm in California right now. I go out there to re-energize ... and then I can come back here and do a lot of business. My father is from Hilo, on the Big Island, so I've got a lot of relatives out there.
Q: Why is the role of the DJ so important to hip-hop music?
A: Well, I think the root of it is the music. The music and the drums are what drives the spirit, and the DJs are in control. They move people and make them want to dance.
Q: What is the biggest difference between a scratch DJ and the guy who spins at a club a couple of times per week?
A: There's a difference in skill. It's like chess players, (there are) guys who play the long games and guys who play the quick, one-minute games.
There are scratch DJs, and then there's also guys who produce. And then there are guys who produce and scratch, and guys who produce and scratch and mix in the club.
Q: You introduced the QFO (a stand-alone turntable/mixer combo) four years ago. Has that piece of equipment lived up to expectations?
A: Actually, it has. I look online, on MySpace, and there are tons of guys with QFOs.
When I was living in Hawaii, I would go to the beach ... hook up my turntable and mixers to my car, then ... look at the waves and scratch over there. The whole QFO idea came about because of Sandy Beach.
Q: What's up with your company, Thud Rumble?
A: Google approached us and gave us our own channel on YouTube, so we're making all these stupid videos. Actually, half of it is stupid and half of it is serious. We've got a bunch of cool scratching and performers on there. And then the other half is stupid stuff, like the old 'Turntable TV.' Just really random stuff.
Q: So it's an extension of the old 'Turntable TV' videos?
A: It still is 'Turntable TV.' It's just on YouTube now. It's knowledge for everyone, and we just finished another video that took about a year to make ... called 'Scratchlopedia Breaktanicca.' It's a huge dictionary with almost every scratch that we've come up with over the past 20 years.
Q: Are you still touring on a regular basis?
A: Sometimes we have big tours. A few weeks ago, we just got off a tour that was, like, two months long. We were all over South Africa and Europe. We just got back from Japan for a week, and now we're going to Hawaii and some shows in the U.S. It's very random.