Spotlight: DJ Starting From Scratch
You listen to him on Flow 93.5, he is Russell Peters official tour DJ and he has been on tour with Usher. He is DJ Starting from Scratch. We find out how the Usher tour shaped his DJ career to how he became the official DJ of Russell Peters to his favourite spot to spin in Mississauga. Get to know Scratch like never before.
I gotta ask…what was the hit song you had when you went to TLK?
Ugh, lol....it was ‘PLAY THE MUSIC DJ’ by Simply Majestic feat Brothers From The Ghetto
What is your Mississauga connection?
No real ‘connection’...it was where we moved to when we came from Montreal in ‘87. I lived there for quite a few years then moved north to Brampton. It was the birthplace of my dj career, though.
Where/how/who/when did you get your dj name?
I got it from the tv guide (remember those ?!?!?!?!) I was racking my brain like crazy trying to think of something cool/clever and I started to look through the tv guide and there it was in bold letters. It was the name of a kids' tv special and just seemed to work for me..
Can you remember your first few vinyl purchases and from where?
My first few purchases were “It Takes Two” By Rob Base, “Big Fun” By Inner City and maybe “Strangelove” By Depeche Mode. Back then, I wasn’t venturing downtown yet, so I’d go to Records On Wheels, Music World and Hmv.
Either playing for parties or playing at a club, when was it that you realized that you wanted to dj for the masses?
I wouldn’t say that I ever thought of playing for the masses; I just wanted to play music. I never really catered the way I play music to fit a particular crowd, I just kinda did my thing and whoever liked it, liked it. I knew that as soon as I touched 1200’s for the first time that this was what I was going to do for a loooong time!
At what point did you realize that you can spin for a living?
Probably in the 90’s, but, it was a more jaded view at that point...thinking that you’re invincible and not really thinking about what you’re going to do when you reach 40. At that time, I knew that I would be doing this for as long as people wanted to listen to me.
Before you even touching a pair of decks, were you classically trained in music, such as piano lessons or drums?
I was never classically trained in anything (sigh)...I always dabbled in drums, but that was just kind of a pipe dream. No classes or training.
On the subject of turntablism, who were your mentors in your early days?
I have never been a turntablist (sigh again)...I always kind of knew my limits and I also wanted to just play music and make it sound as good as I could and try to incorporate as many different things, musically, as I could. So, with that being said, I just used to sit there mixing for hours and hours, never really focusing on scratching and trickery. My scratching is very basic, just kind of rhythm scratching. I’ll leave the craziness and tricks to the masters.
So how did you get hooked up with Russell Peters and tour with him?
I’ve known Russell since high school, so, over 20 years now. We met through dj’ing, as he’s always been one himself. He used to come to my house and we’d just play music and jam. Then, he got into comedy and took it more seriously and I stuck with the dj’ing thing. We kinda drifted apart for a bit because we were so engulfed in what we were doing. Then he hit me up in the early 2000’s and asked me to go on tour with him. Since then, it’s been an incredible journey! Now, with DJ Spinbad and I rocking 4 decks before he comes out onstage, it’s an unstoppable force.
I heard you also went on tour with Usher…how was that experience?
The Usher tour was a huge step for me. It happened by fluke and it really put me in an uncomfortable place that I really wasn’t ready for. He heard me playing at a wedding and asked me to open up for him on his upcoming tour, as it was a ladies only tour and he wanted me to ‘set the mood’ for the crowd before he came out. That was an instant "yes" for me. The first day we got to rehearsal he told me that he wanted me to be a part of the band instead. I said ‘ok’ (gulp). Then, the next day, he told me he wanted to do a solo in the show and rock the mic. This made me real nervous, as I’m not an mc and I have never been a fan of sole spotlight. I get very uncomfortable with that. It took me a while to adapt, and by the end of the tour, I was pretty good at it. I wish that I had more time on the tour to keep going; by the time I was extremely comfortable, the tour was over. It taught me to step up to the plate and take advantage of my opportunities. He basically pushed me to my limits and made me break my shell. I opened the show by myself, played during the songs, had 3 solos and a party break with just Usher and I. Pretty crazy.
What is the coolest place you have spun in the world?
Australia was amazing! I just loved the vibe and the way the crowd was just open to everything
Favourite place to spin in Mississauga, past and present?
All time favourite Mississauga spot has to be (drum roll)....Tweeds! (Where West 50 is now) We used to do it on Thursday nights in the early 90’s. It was on Burnhamthorpe, by Hurontario. It was really the spot that put me on the map. I used to just play the reggae there at first and then it grew from there. I have to give a close second place nod to Elbow Room, which Kid C and I used to do on Wednesday nights. Presently, in Mississauga, I like playing at the smaller spots like Fogos (technically Oakville, I guess), the Enfield Fox, & co, those kind of spots. I really love playing in sauga though, it always just feels right.
Best party your remember spinning in Mississauga?
There are too many to list. Mississauga was my stomping ground for so many years and I used to play everywhere. There are 2 spots that I regretfully never had a chance to play at though, and that’s "Changes’"and "Astralight." I wish that I could have those on my resume. My residencies back in the day were all successful and memorable (Tweeds, Birritz, Superstars, Dreams, Elbow Room, etc.). Those are all legendary Mississauga club nights and I’m proud to have been a part of them…
What is the most annoying thing anyone can ask when you are in the middle of spinning at a party? Anything anyone asks me when I’m working is annoying! lol
Is there that one song that you refuse to spin?
Oh yes, Mark Morrison's ‘Return Of The Mack’ is at the top of that list
Any advice to an up and coming dj? Or a kid that is thinking of getting into it?
Just practice and learn the craft as well as you can. Make sure to incorporate a little originality in what you do or else you will be like everyone else and go unnoticed.
Are there any collaborations that you are working on now or in the near future?
I’m always up to something and always looking for something new. I am going to expand my production catalogue and just do music that I like, which real music lovers will appreciate.
What high school did you go too? TLKennedy
Favourite food? Greek
Favourite place to eat in mississauga? Late nights at Tremendous!
Habs or Leafs? C'mon now, Habs for life!
Timmies or McD’s coffee? Don’t drink coffee
Iphone or Android? Iphone
Do you have a podcast? Yes, it’s going to be routed through the new website, but you can get some through Itunes as well.
Changes or Astralights? Changes
Mickey's or Silver Tips? Mickey’s
Traxx or Music World? Traxx
Bela Vista or 180's? 180’s
Technics or Vestax? Technics