Tuesday, June 30, 2009
DJ AS-1 : Ready for the World...
Dj AS-One is one of my friends from Dj Geometrix's message board. He's from the DMV metroplex, he's a kung fu expert, he's got a fiance', he's a fan of the peace sign, he's a Skateboard Magazine packrat, he's an XBOX LIVE junkie, and he's one helluva battle dj. He won the first heat of this years DMCs in Fairfax. I thought it only fitting to feature him in the DMC New Orleans blog... Here is the interview, check it:
T5: So, where you from? And How'd you get into djing??
AS: I grew up in the DC suburbs, 15-20 minutes outside of the district. MD pretty much. I currently reside in rockville MD.
I met this dude one day in the late 90's, around 96-97' or so while skateboarding at the elementary school half a block up the street from my home. I was 15. he was an older cat, prolly 19 or so then and apparently just moved back into the neighborhood a block 1/2 up the street back in with his peeps. long story short, we became good friends and would hang out, write graffiti and skate all over the place. one night we ended up in Georgetown at a record shop named yoshi toshi's(?) i believe and although i didnt even have TT's yet, somehow he convinced me to buy my first slab of vinyl. it was a record by DJ Assault, "Dis bitch."
Anyhoo, being a skate video fanatic, the 98' DMC World Finals video caught my eye sitting in the glass counter. so i bought it! we watched it later on that night and i remember him commenting about craze's routine and was like, "ehhh. he's aight"(!) I on the other hand was pretty much blown away by what these guys were doing and I new then and there that i was gonna have to somehow get me some decks!
Coming from playing the alto sax since fifth grade, jazz band in middle school then picking up guitar and percussion instruments the summer before high school, i saw the turntables as an "instrument" first(.), as opposed to tools for mixing music with. which could be a good or a bad thing depending how you look at it...
I feel that in the beginning, for me, i lacked in basic mixing skills and jumped right into "turntablism" without realizing the amount of heart and dedication that it takes to get on the level of these guys i watched in the 98' DMC World tape. funny thing is, im that guy now that laughs at the dude who can do 3 click combo-variation-integration-flotation-scratches but cant 'mix' for SHiiiT. go figure...
AS-One and GW Theodore
T5: Dude, I jumped right into scratching and juggling too. I also had no concern for mixing in the beginning, crazy... So what was your first battle, and how did you place??
AS: yeah man, im sure there were a grip of heads who started out that way as well. i mean, these dudes on the world stage in 98 were killin it, it was impossible (4me) to at least not want to 'try it'.
My first battle was in 2002 for the Rockville store Guitar Center Spin-offs, winner goes to ATL for regionals. I actually won it, although I shouldn't have. I went up against this guy named RUIN (aka Donnie Darko [spankrock]) and i thought he killed it. he had a juggle with M.O.P's Anti Up that i thought was dope. anywho, I knew that i obviously lacked in skills/technique compared to him but i was told (by one of the judges) that my overall set, attitude and showmanship was what brought me the W (whatever that means.!?).
If I hadn't have won, i would have never went to ATL and gotten the opportunity to meet Mike Brie (aka Mr. Fred Funk) and Geo (the godfather himself)! not to mention DJ Smalls, Machette X and DJ Lord...
So while down there, Geo tells me about this session at some kids house a couple weeks away in VA that i should come to. turns out to be at I-Dee's crib and thats where i ended up meeting a lot of the DMV fam like Ty Handswell, Fernie, Fein, Oz, Waheed and others! It was pretty much a wrap from there...
T5: That guy you beat I believe goes by the name Lord Darko now. That's dope the way that works out, it's like had you not won that battle, you might not have ever met Geo and you might not be sitting here with a ticket to the US Finals.
You mentioned skateboarding earlier... Still skating?? What role did the skate culture have on your development as a Championship dj??
AS: Pardon me, LORD Darko. i stand corrected! But yeah, I'd be lying if i said that i still skated-skated. i dont think 3-5 times a year counts. does it? I do however keep up with the scene for sure. Transworld Skateboard Mag has been my most beloved toilet reader for just over 10 years now! I have pretty much every issue since 98'. I'm not a hoarder or anything either I swear. I just cant find it in my heart to let them go... Nowadays, I get to live out my fantasy pro SB career through EA's Skate2 on xbox360, Gamertag: DJAS1, whats good!?
Come to think of it, skating has taught me so much about myself. about passion, about pain, about limits... sounds corny, I know but like if I had never been so passionate about skateboarding, I would have never known what it actually felt like to be that passionate about something or anything in the first place! did that make sense? Skating, like DJing, like Golf even, for the most part is basically a single person, focused on one particular thing, at one particular time. like a constant battle between you and yourself. crowd or no crowd, its just you and your tools, doin what it do.
The competitive side of me, however, is safe to say came from my martial arts backround. I trained in a couple different northern shaolin kung fu forms for about 5 years with my cousin and his friends. from age 10-15 actually. We were pretty hardcore. it was to the point where my grand father (r.i.p) would drive a bunch of us from the academy up and down the east coast as far down from FL, all the way up to Boston for these martial arts tournaments. EVERY WEEKEND during the summer for 3 consecutive years. Sparring, forms, weapons forms, you name it, we entered it. With some of these dudes i used to train with, we literally were like the real life cobra kai! My short arse actually had about twelve 1st place trophies that would literally tower over me, it was friggin ricokulous to say the least. my cousin actually just opened up his own Jiu-Jitsu academy in DC a couple months ago, shouts to him.
Dj AS-1 The man behind the myth
T5: Note to self: Don't piss Dj AS1 off, he can kill me. Battling isn't for everyone. I guess that's why I hold Battle Djs in such high regard. Any memorable battle experiences you'd like to share?
AS: hahaha. nah man, that's the thing, I am so not that guy. never really was... I just really enjoyed the actually art of it I guess.
I'd say my first battle for sure. the 2004 and 2005 DMC Delaware Regionals and definitely the 2005 DMC and Guitar Center Nationals. The GC battle was craaazy man, I mean 5k+ at the Wiltern theater in LA. Kanye, Talib, Common and Madlib on the bill. Half of the Beat Junkies and Revolution on the judging panel. Not to mention Illtrax VS I Emerge! They had us up in there like some straight rock stars or some shit! oh yeah, i cant forget the 2003 DMC US Finals at Nations in DC! Best battle i've ever been to! hands down.
T5: The GC Nat'ls with Kanye, that was way before he became a gay fish. Playing in front of 5k ppl is craaaazy, and I remember the 2003 DMCs, that was the year Fernie won... Good times!
What djs/musicians do you admire and why??
AS: Good times for sure!
I have a huge amount of respect for a group of guys i used to play in a band with named Saint Jude. most talented and passionate group of musicians I've ever been close to, period. we were so close to getting signed i could taste it. Although things have been on hiatus for a hot minute now, I really hope that one day we can still officially put out the music that we created when we were doing are thing. it was truly beautiful... Steve, John, Ed, Julian. If your reading this, I love you guys (no homo)!
T5: No homo indeed... I hope I hear more from Saint Jude. I'm sure y'all will work it out once you win the US Finals on Aug 1st.
Any projects on the horizon? Where can we catch you on the regular?? And any shout outs to the world?
AS: I've been mostly workin on my DMC routine since January. It's a custom...
Funny story is, I slacked a bit on getting them pressed up and by the time I heard about the Fairfax Regional, I still hadn't ordered them yet. long story short, I ended up receiving the records through the mail the DAY AFTER the battle. so I literally ended up putting my routine together the night prior within like 2 1/2 hours. I used a couple routines I've done before and a couple new routines that i've never done in public. then i brought my tables to my work the next day, went through the routine about 4 solid times and then realized that I had to hit the road!
In between working full time, spending time with my fiance and practicing, I spend free time trying to use and learn Ableton Live. The performance aspect of the program really is what makes it a ton of fun for me. setting up the program to act how you want it to act in a live situation however, can be a huge pain in the ass! I use it in a similar way that DJ Enferno or Kid Beyond would maybe use it, like a third turntable, sampler or a glorified looper even. latley, since the DMC regional I've been in the lab trying to put together a show called The Audio Circus that I could maybe get gigs with at some point. some of the progress that I've made since i began the project can be viewed on my youtube page! yay.
Don't get it twisted though, I'll be reppin that hardcore ishhh this time around the finals. DJ's BEWARE!
You can catch up with AS One through his myspace, myspace.com/djas1 Also follow him on twitter @djas1. He plays XBOX 360, so his gamer tag... DjAS1... Hit dude up. He'll destroy you in Skate 2 and Street Fighter 4.