DJ Fib Interview
When did you first become a DJ and at that time which other DJs and artists inspired you?
I first started DJing around 1985. That’s when I first met my homie DJ Bribe (Angus) and started going to clubs in Brisbane Australia when we were 15. Australian radio at the time was cool but it wasn’t telling the full story of music. Besides some of the big worldwide hits from the Jacksons, Earth Wind and Fire or some breakthrough rap like Uprock by Rock Steady Crew and Buffalo Girls the radio hardly even scratched the surface of Funk Soul or Hip Hop – all that stuff was mostly underground in Australia. So in Brisbane at this time, we started to find more of this music in some of the clubs, and once we cottoned onto what the DJ’s were doing we wanted to explore this world more and more so started digging. We were already into breaking so would be up on the early Hip Hop and electro jams but mostly bumping cassettes in ghetto blasters. Right at this time Hip Hop was evolving rapidly and scratching and beat juggling were catching more of our attention. So next step we bought proper club turntables specifically two Technics 1200’s that we’d see DJ’s tear it up on in DMC and New Music Seminar routines we’d get on video. The mixers we were using started with Realistic then changed up to Gemini’s which were even more tailored to scratching with better cross faders and back then even rocker switches for transforming. Then we would just practice a lot jugging two copies, getting that timing down real precise, and learning the cuts and transforming from these DJ competition videos and getting inspired by some of the scratching coming out on records released around then by some of these same DJ competition champions like Jazzy Jeff and DJ Aladdin then Cash money and DJ Scratch and UK cats like CutMaster Swift and DJ Pogo. We loved some of the awesome Hip Hop DJ’s in crews too like Duece Ace Detonator Too Tuff from Tuff Crew and faster styles from Mixmaster Ice from UTFO, DJ Man on tracks like Bust This from MC Shy D and DJ Devastate from Demon Boyz and of course DJ Premier cutting up funky phrases in Gangstarr was a massive inspiration. And as much as these DJ’s inspired scratching and juggling, DJ/Producers like Primo and artists like Schoolly D, KRS ONE and QTip were inspirations for digging and sampling. I was in a crew of mostly DJ’s and we would play our favourite records and DJ live on the radio and in clubs and parties so nothing has changed really.
Thank you for your mix for the show. Can you tell us about some of the 45s and why you chose them for the mix.
Yeah, well you said play something you wouldn’t normally play. I partly met this criteria by playing some of the 45’s I’ve most recently purchased and haven’t played out or used in any mixes yet.
The records I used in this mix were bought from three different record stores that I like to support. The first was a batch of 45’s from my first online order from Dr Diggins out of Melbourne Australia. I bought some classic drum break heavy library records, cuts from the mid-seventies recently issued on 45’s. Also from the Dr I picked up some tasty re-edits of classics Hip Hop and funk joints and reissues of some drum heavy jazz and funk cuts which I sneaked onto this mix. I also snapped up some test pressings from Roy Budd 45 reissues – I always loved those groovy sound scapes recorded so well by Roy Budd with all those musicians for those UK soundtracks from the 70’s like The Black Windmill and Diamonds.
I rounded up the mix with a few fab funk finds from 1978 from Catalog records in Brisbane – Freaky Deaky by Roy Ayers and Thank You For Funking Up My Life by Donald Byrd. And in the middle somewhere a tasty grab from Butter Beats Records – Fat Time by Miles Davis with that Marcus Miller bassline and Miles trumpet snippet sampled and cut up by Digital Underground on Nuttin’ Nis Funky. There were some cuts on there from a 45 release by another fave record store out of Brisbane as well – Monster Robot Breaks – shout out Jing. I think those records blended really well together – connected by heavy drums breaks, fat basslines and jazzy soul.
You very kindly invited me to put together a 45s mix for volume 45 of your Oblivion Funk series. How and when did you start the series, what does it promote and which other DJs have been part of it?
Oblivion Funk is a fortnightly Mix series on RapTz Radio based in Paris, France. Loki from RapTz hit me up a few years ago after hearing some of my Mixcloud mixes and asked if I’d be interested in doing a show on his radio. I checked the website out and loved the whole vibe of it. The shows were fresh with DJ’s from across the world and the imagery was very appealing. I liked the spirit behind Raptz which promotes Beats Media and Culture – music and a message, so I was down. I first started doing a show called Groove Me where I did hour long mixes of plush funky disco tracks from the late 70’s early 80’s, just bangers. I loved the sounds but they weren’t getting a lot of plays so I had a chat with Loki and he suggest I change up the format. I ended up putting the Oblivion Funk theme together because I was truly concerned with the problems I was seeing in the world, particularly with climate change but also political unrest, discrimination, corruption or even just apathy towards identifying and acknowledging the problems. I realised that this was a theme that should be explored with fresh eyes when digging. It opened up the crates wider than just a focus on party music. There was an edginess to the show’s theme but there were also opportunities for playing songs of hope, freedom and passion so that the mixes have this ying and yang balance. I come from a background spinning on community radio and bringing in guest DJ’s is always a great way to keep the content fresh. There have been so many outstanding guest mixes on this series from legendary DJ’s I won’t be able to name them all unfortunately, but to give some context there are guest mixes from some foundational DJ’s in Australian Hip Hop Katch, Blaze, Ransom, Frenzie, Jigzaw and some legendary MC’s who are also producers and DJ’s like Delta and Calski and DJ/Producers like Sandro and Bacon. There are members of the Wax On Crew out of Brisbane Toby G, Get Sum, Scrillahands, Lexicon and more to come. Exceptional DJ’s like Sydney’s DJ D and Mathematics and Melbourne’s Obliveus, Mz Rizk and Ghostnotes. Many 45 Kings affiliates in here too including Mr Lob himself, and of course yourself repping 45 Day. There are mixes for this series lined up well into next year as well – we just dropped the 50th show in September. All these shows are posted on my mixcloud page – https://www.mixcloud.com/leehardwickartsound/
Lockdown has been very hard for most people and in Australia where you are based there is still currently a severe lockdown in place. How has that affected you and your creative output?
I live in Brisbane and for the most part we have had it way better than Melbourne or Sydney. We are mostly free to go about our business in a Covid free environment, but can’t always leave the state, but at this point in time that suits me just fine. If there is a lockdown, which has happened here and there, I get to work from home still so I just listen to records while I work. Can’t complain about that.
What has been the proudest moments in your career to date and what plans do you have going forwards.