He’s widely recognized as one of the best to ever do it. When I spoke with Automator years back, he touched on Qbert saying: “I’ll tell you this—Qbert is the best DJ in the world. Technically, that guy’s fucking untouchable.”
I caught up with Qbert real quick to see what he’s been doing and what his thoughts are on recent DJ news. From DJ Hero, to Shadow’s recent comments, to the passings of DJs AM and Roc Raida, we hear it from an OG’s perspective. For a seasoned vet, he isn’t at all salty, remaining remarkably positive, spiritual, and seemingly still a big fan of a genre that reveres him. Here’s our interview, done over the course of a couple phone calls and an email or two. Safe travels home Rich!
Where are you right now?
I’m in the Philippines doing a show where the proceeds go to the victims of the typhoon.
How often do you still practice?
Everyday, at least a few hours. I can’t miss a day!
Touch on Roc Raida and DJ AM.
God has a mysterious way of bringing souls back to heaven. Raida and AM are just there ahead of us all. I do think that it also exposes people to much of their great music and accomplishments though.
You think the constant strides in technology helps or hurts what DJs do?
No, I think it’s great! I use Serato in the studio to scratch some sounds too. But when it comes to hardcore scratching, nothing beats vinyl. But I do think it’s great that both worlds have come together now.
You think vinyl will ever completely be phased out?
No, it’s actually the most important for me. I love all the subtleties that you can’t do with digital scratching.
Have you “scratched” on DJ Hero? What do you think of the game?
I think it’s a great gateway drug to the real world of scratching!
What should every youngster with new turntables be aware of?
To practice a lot, and then practice again! They have to know that they are there to create beautiful creations, to be humble, and know we are all equal in the end.
And have you read DJ Shadow’s recent rant on his blog? How did it strike you?
Well, it looks like he is talking about the recession. But I think if he keeps making the dope music, then things will happen in a positive way. I think consumers should pay for things to help and support the work of artists they love. But even if they don’t, the artist will still get what’s coming to them in a different form of energy that may not be money. You always end up with what you deserve.
So you don’t have a problem with giving away your music?
I think giving stuff away for free returns like a boomerang, so I’m all about doing Youtube vids and sharing much of my knowledge and art with everyone for free. If people want to buy stuff from us, great, that’s their choice. Who knows, I could be wrong but I believe that there is a higher force out there that knows if we are naughty or nice.
What’s the scoop for 2010? Working on anything?
Working on a lot! I’m also practicing and recording lots for the next movie. It’ll be like Wave Twisters.
What do you think you’re best at as a DJ?
Playing the turntable like a musical instrument.
What DJs are you a fan of?
So many! Vajra, Mix Master Mike, Shortkut, Flare, Skratch Perverts, X-ecutioners, D-Styles, Yogafrog, Toadstyle, Excess, Teeko, Babu, Melo-d, J-rocc, Primo, Mike Boo, Disk, Traps and Zeke Ugle! Also, a lot of the dope DJs on QbertSkratchUniversity. I’m a fan of DJs so there’s a ton of others I just can’t remember right now.
You’re known for developing all kinds of new techniques. What new ones are you working on?
All kinds of techniques, many with no names yet! But we’ll post ’em all on the site for everyone to analyze, break down and combine with other combos. Actually, right before this interview I’m working on this combo scratch called the reverse quazar tip syncopated triplet aquaman on the upfaders.
Internationally, what are the main differences you see between DJs? Have you noticed a common thread?
The only difference is language. The level of scratching all over the world is actually at an all time high right now! And rising!
What direction do you think DJs and turntablism will move toward in the future?
Any way and in any direction your imagination can dream.