ArtistWorks Blog

The DJ IQ Interview

dj iq and qbert

The 2012 QSU Valedictorian DJ IQ gets into the history of The Handroidz, how he got started, advice for beginners, what he's working on, and much more in another exclusive QSU Interview! 

How's it feel to be the 2012 Valedictorian?

IQ: I'm really honored. I feel blessed and grateful to be recognized by the turntablist community.

How / when did you first get into skratching?

IQ: I first got into skratching when I was around 8 and had a Fisher Price kid's turntable that me and my bro used to use for playing records that had read-along stories. My bro Konfusion and I started skratching on it because we were influenced by our older brother, who was a DJ.

It had a rotary volume fader and a 45 (7inch) sized platter (even though we used some 12 inch records on it), but we managed to cut on it on our laps like a mini QFO and surprisingly it didn't skip that much but the needle did eat away our records because it obviously wasn't made for skratching. After that we inherited our brother's old Radio Shack mixer and Onyko belt drive turntable.

DJ IQ and DJ Konfusion

The mixer had no crossfader but had upfaders and push button lever switches that would turn the sound on and off (like a tranformer switch but more difficult to use) on each channel. The turntable was belt driven and the motor was weak so it would slow down if you applied too much pressure on the platter. Although it was a crappy setup, we were fortunate to have it and i think it helped us build a strong foundation by learning hand control and simplicity of skratching.

Then in '90s, Konfusion, our friend Ollie (Oligee), and I started getting into the Hip-Hop scene and Ollie bought a beginner Gemini DJ set (2 belt drive turntables and a "Scratchmaster" mixer) and we really started to get more serious with it.

Do you play other instruments? How has that helped you with skratching?

IQ: I play other instruments but can only just get by on them, nothing on a pro level. I play keys, bass, drums, and percussion instruments. I think it has helped me understand musical concepts such as timing and timing signatures, rhythm, phrasing and melodies.

Tell us some of the history of the Handroidz.

DJ IQ and DJ Konfusion

IQ: It started in '92. The founding members were Oligee, Konfusion, and I. When we started the crew it was meant to be more instrumental, focusing on beats and skratches. All three of us were on the cuts, but only Oligee and I were on production. In addition to music, Konfusion and Oligee were also into the graff/street art scene and they would always be working on art in their piecebooks and on the walls. In the mid to late 90's we added MC Abnormal and producer/DJ One-3 (now known as Computer Jay), which gave us a lyricist element as well as another producer element. We did live shows throughout L.A. incorporating turntables, drum machines, an MC, a live drummer, a Fender Rhodes piano, and various analog synths. I think we were one of the first crews to fuse Hip-Hop/turntablism with electro-funk instruments and drum machines.

I entered numerous DJ battles around that time and in 2004 we released an album entitled, “Six Billion Dollar Hand” produced by Oligee, myself, One-3, and additional production by up-and-coming producer Artik, who is the younger brother of Oligee. Years later, we slowly disbanded. Oligee moved on to join Ima Robot and pursue more production outlets (currently one half of the group Oliver), One-3 pursued a new identity as Computer Jay, and Abnormal pursued other projects.

DJ IQ and DJ Konfusion

After many years of doing shows and going thru the trials and tribulations of being a Hip-Hop group, Konfusion and I decided that we would return to our roots by focusing on just beats and skratches. The core brothers, which were Konfusion and I remained as the official Handroidz. So to state who exactly is the "Handroidz", it's strictly Konfusion and I but we have an extended family called the HDfamtree which consists of Oligee, Artik, AJ, Prefyx, Computer Jay, Abnormal, and The Lady Tigra.

Who's older, you or your brother DJ Konfusion? 

IQ: Konfusion's actually my older brother but sometimes people think he's the younger one. People sometimes think that we're not really related but we are. When we started skratching we skratched together all the time since we had to share our equipment. As we progressed and got more equipment we started to train more individually but still would critique each other every now and then to make sure our skills were on point. This helped us develop our own individual styles.

Handroidz

Are there any official Handroidz releases?

IQ:  Our 2004 album "Six Billion Dollar Hand" (free download here), and there is a limited edition 7 inch vinyl we put out on a independent over seas label called Apeman Records but i'm not sure it's available anymore.

Who else do you practice with?

IQ: When we started, we only cut with our crew which I think is what made our style unique. We did that for a long time just cause that's what we felt like doing. But lately since Skratchpad LA started and various open turntable venues have been poppin up we have been able to cut with most of the Southern Cali turntablists. Mainly I just cut with Konfusion and my girlfriend DJ Eri from SpinCycle LA when I practice and I also do a lot of solo training. I get my group training at Skratchpad LA. Recently we've also been cutting with D-Styles as well.

How would you describe your style?

IQ: Jazzy, funky, tight, laid back at times but also fierce when called for, using broken rhythm and an unorthodox style, yet able to adapt to any rhythm/beat.
 

When did you first hear about / meet Qbert? what about D-Styles?

IQ: Heard about Qbert in the mid 90's and met Qbert I think in the late 90's. I heard about D-Styles in late 90's and met D-Styles just last year at NAMM.

DJ IQ and D-Styles

What do you think about QSU? 

IQ: I think it's a great tool/forum for DJs to learn more about skratching(history, techniques, concepts and musical theory) and communicate with DJs all over the world. I've learned new techniques and it keeps me up to date with what's going on in the world of Turntablism. It hasn't really changed the way I practice or think about skratching but it has helped me to stay motivated and up to date with new techniques and information.

DJ IQ

How's the skratch scene in LA? How's it compare to the Bay? 

IQ: The scene in LA is really dope technically and musically as well as being tight as a community. In comparison to the Bay I can't really say cause i'm not too involved with the Bay scene but from what I've seen, it seems like the Bay scene is equally as dope and tight as well.

Ahhh or Freshhh?

IQ: Freshhh cause to quote Qbert, "it has 2 parts, the Fre and the Shhh so there's more variations".

Favorite sounds to skratch (besides Ahh or Fresh)? 

IQAaaah-Yeaahh...ummmm...all the stuff on the Dirt-Style/Super Seal records plus any classic Hip-Hop sounds and spacey/analog type sounds.

Have you entered many battles?

IQ:  I used to do a lot of battles in the mid to late 90s so i used to juggle more back then. Lately, I dont really do it cause for me it was kind of taxing on my eyes due to the constant/quick eye cueing movements, so i decided to take a rest on it. I still like to mess around every now and then.

I did DMC LA regionals in '98 and '99 and in '99 i made it to the finals but i dont think i placed, maybe got like 5th or 6th. I dont think I was prepared enough. I was never really into the whole structured side of battling. It's really exausting preparing for battles and after doing so many of them i knew it wasnt really my thing. I did a lot of local battles including those two DMC regionals but mainly I just did battles to get the Handroidz name out there regardless of the outcome.

Hamster or Regular?

IQ: Regular.

What do you like to listen to? 

IQ: 80's Hip-Hop, 90's Golden Era Hip-Hop, Jazz, Funk, Rock, Soul, Indian percussion (tabla rhythms that correlate to skratching). Musical influences are too many to name but off the top of my head I would say DJ Premier, Pete Rock, J Dilla, Herbie Hancock, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Qbert, D-styles, Aladdin, Richie Rich... Favorite albums are too many too name but off the top would be all the A Tribe Called Quest albums, Pete Rock albums, Herbie Hancock albums, Slum Village and Pharcyde albums...too many!!!

What are you working on? Any upcoming projects?

IQ: New Handroidz album, HDfamTree album, Handroidz break record, IQ instrumental album...

Handroidz

Where can we find you on the internet? 

IQ: Facebook: facebook.com/theHandroidz, Twitter: @handroidz, YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/HDfamtree, Bandcamp: http://handroidz.bandcamp.com/

Do you have any advice for beginners just starting out?

IQ: Study the history of skratching and know where it came from and how it evolved. I think that will give you a strong foundation to start off with mentally. Then learn basic techniques and hand control to the best of your ability and build a strong foundation physically. Don't get caught up trying to be the fastest because speed comes with time and if you learn techniques slowly they will sound better (more pronounced) once you gain speed. Don't forget that being funky is just as important.

Practice as much as you can because being good at anything requires a lot of repetition. Like the saying goes, "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration", not that you have to be a genius, but to be proficient in anything you have to put in the flight time. Be hard-working and dedicated but also have fun and be passionate about it if you truly love it and hopefully it will pay off.

Any words for all the DJs out there? 

IQ: Thank you to everyone who has supported The Handroidz over the years! Be humble, work hard, and stay dedicated no matter what in whatever you do. Handroidz til infinity! 1 love yall!

Any other shout outs?

IQ: My girlfriend DJ Eri, DJ Konfusion, Non-Typikal aka Type-Slickk, Mom and Dad, Luna family, Recipe Skate, Mastaplann, HDfamTree, DJ Qbert, DJ D-Styles, Skratchpad LA fam, Skratchpad SF, and all Skratchpad chapters, Thud Rumble, QSU, Beat Swap Meet LA

Check some of Konfusion's artwork here!

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DJ IQ

 

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