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Scratch, scratch. No, not your back, but the vinyl! Turntablism is the newest hero of the Calcutta party circuit, and revellers are lapping up the groovy tunes. International and national turntablists are breezing through town, and local DJs are turning to it, big time. t2 decodes the trend...

Born Sebastian Konig, German Eskei83 — the winner of Red Bull Thre3style World Championships and a regular at Beatport’s Top 100 — turnt up the party at Black lounge (Robinson Street) on November 8. The turntablist showed off his scratching skills and got the crowd tripping throughout his set. Hours later, t2 caught up with him for a quick chat! 

We were following you on Twitter and we spotted Barack Obama following you! Is he your fan?

From what I know, he’s a big music fan and he had booked DJs to the White House before. My friend DJ Jazzy Jeff was playing for him, so maybe he found out about me. I’m into politics, especially what is happening in the world, so I follow some of the world’s most influential people to be up to date.

What prompted you to be a turntablist? Who did you look up to when you were learning it?

When I started learning it, I was fascinated listening to DJs on the radio. It’s mainly the German hip-hop DJs who influenced me the most in the beginning. After I got my first club shows, I saw other DJs live and also more and more videos on the Internet. DJs like Z-Trip, AM, Craze, A-Trak & Jazzy Jeff influenced me the most.

What techniques do you follow in turntablism?

I’m a DJ for over 13 years now, so I started without computer or digital equipment. It was just a mixer, turntables and vinyl records. Scratching is a technique I’m using often, pushing the record back and forth to create new sounds. But with the new technology and a laptop, I also sample things and replay them live, creating an interesting mix out of well-known tracks.

What are the key tips you would like to give someone who wants to learn turntablism?

Nowadays you can find everything on YouTube or Facebook. My sets are there and many other good tutorials also, so you can see how DJs play on Boiler Room or Livestream. I would say it’s best to follow your idols but add your own touch to your sets. Don’t copy. And keep practising, it’s all about repetition. 

What does it take to be a good turntablist?

Turntablism is the art form of using the turntable as an instrument, so I would say a good turntablist needs to master the craft of his instrument. 

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What is the biggest difference between using turntables and a console?

I think it’s the way you can manipulate sounds that is different. And it looks cooler to me. But to be honest, the most important thing for me is if a DJ is rocking the crowd. I don’t care what equipment a DJ is using. If he’s good, plays an outstanding selection, I consider him a good DJ. 

How was it performing in Calcutta for the first time? The crowd was totally hooked!

I had a great time and didn’t expect such a positive reaction. It made me happy to connect with the people with my music right from the start. 

You are on your maiden trip to India, what has been the best moment and experience like?

So far the show at Black lounge for sure. But also the hospitality of the people. Everyone is so welcoming, showing us around and letting me and my photographer Benjamin Diedering have a great time. We went to Victoria Memorial and had a chat with some locals.

THE GROOVERS

Inez Jordan and Anish got grooving in the private section. “This was good and a different type of music that you don’t get to hear in Calcutta much. We love the old hip-hop music that has full power,” said Inez, cabin crew, spotted at Black lounge.
Hands in the air, sporting a man bun and dressed in athleisure, Prerna Chettri sure knew how to rock a hip-hop session. “I am so glad that I attended this gig. The energy was so high!” said the cabin crew.
Twerk, twerk twerk — Anna Gomes set the dance floor on fire on Wednesday. “I feel the energy of the music goes several notches higher when the DJ is using turntables. I had a super night dancing,” said the partygoer, at Black.

THE TURNTABLE... BROKEN DOWN

French turntablist and beatmaker Jean du Voyage — in town to play at Club Boudoir — decoded the basics of scratching 
for t2...

What is scratching?

It is the technique by which one uses one’s fingers on the moving vinyl record to produce distinct sounds; the sound depends on how you move your fingers. The sound that is produced is called ‘scratch’, the process is called ‘scratching’ and also ‘scrubbing’.

What equipment does one need for scratching?

Turntable, a mixer, vinyl record and speakers! The mixer has a fader and crossfader. The crossfader is tackled by using the thumb and one or two fingers, depending on the comfort of the person. It is like the thumb is always pushing and tapping, with small movements, maximum of 1mm.

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How different is it to scratch on a vinyl from a CD?

In vinyl the sound is more precise and different because the sounds are analogue and not digital, so it sounds better. The feeling of scratching on vinyl is very different from that on a CD.

What are the primary techniques of scratching?

Baby scratch, cut scratch, forward scratch and transformer scratch are the four techniques. Baby scratch is done using the palm but not without applying too much pressure. The vinyl is moved usually between 2’o clock and 3’o clock. The forward technique uses the vinyl and scratching, using the crossfader once; in the transformer, the crossfader is used twice or more.

Text: Pramita Ghosh
Pictures: Rashbehari Da


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