ArtistWorks Blog

Spotlight on the Ukraine Skratch Scene

ukraine flagQbert had come back from his recent trip overseas and asked me to set up an account for the winner of the Ukraine Scratch Championship Online, which he had been a judge for. 

"They are the best in the Ukraine!" he told me. I was curious about the skratch scene over there, so Qbert put me in touch with the organizer of the competition, DJ Andrew. He got back to me right away, and hopefully we will be hearing more skratching coming from Ukraine in the future.

What can you tell us about the skratch scene in Ukraine?

Despite the fact that the scratch scene in Ukraine dates back to 2002, it is still underdeveloped and certainly can be considered as underground. But I noticed that after various significant events, such as the DMC & Red Bull Thre3style, that some quite experienced DJs have begun to pay attention to scratching. 

Who are some Ukrainian skratch pioneers?

When Ukrainian people first got interested in scratching, DJ Valik already was at a very good level and was definitively head and shoulders above. So it’s no wonder that he was the first Ukrainian who took part in the DMC.

Also I would like to mention DJ Nevidomy, Tonique, Shked – these were the ones who were spreading the love of scratching to our people.   

What can you tell us about the broader DJ culture in Ukraine?

In Ukraine, as in many countries, the only way to earn money is through popular commercial music. But there are popular rappers and bands with a scratch DJ as members. And it’s not a bad way of popularization and making money. Also the Breakdance scene is well-developed in Ukraine, where there are also vivid representatives (South DJs, for example).

skratch scene in ukraine

How long have you been skratching?

I began to scratch in 2002. One of my teachers, Woldmair, showed me the main elements and let me copy his Stanton VHS. It was copy protected and when I copied it, there were some interferences, but it was all the information I had at that time. That’s how I learned simple elements (chirp, chops, transformer, back cueing, beat chops), when my first mixer was a Behringer with an awful crossfader.        

What’s your ultimate goal with skratching?

For all the time that I have been doing this, there haven’t been any periods when I wasn’t always scratching. But indeed there were periods, when I wouldn’t learn anything new. I just love doing it. For me it’s like sports - it's my hobby, my leisure. I’ve been scratching for a couple of hours a day lately – I have gotten a second wind so to say.    

How do you feel about what ArtistWorks is doing with Qbert Skratch University?

This is really great that you share information with people. I like a lot that Qbert is constantly in the process of making up something and remaking. He makes you think differently in this way. There are a lot of tutorial videos on the Internet nowadays, but at QSU you can find detailed explanations up to the maximum extent all in one place.    

What was the skratch scene like over there before the Internet?

Before it became available to find everything in the Internet, my friends and I would share any information when seeing each other, and that sharing was indeed priceless! Also there were a few educational video cassettes, where one could watch the basics.   

What kind of resources were available back then?

Earlier there were almost no resources. But little by little videos began to show up in the Internet, where one could minimally watch something and learn. In 2006 I began teaching at one of the DJ schools, where there was already a course in Turntablism. We would teach basics to the guys who were interested. Some of them are still scratching and take part in our events. 

Crossfader preference - what would you say is more popular over there, hamster or regular?

For me, regular – just because I started to learn in such a way. Though we do have a lot of scratchers who use hamster style. To my mind it’s a matter of habit and nothing more than that.

Are you also into other elements of DJing like mixing, beat juggling, digging, etc?

Yes, I mix, moreover not only music, but video as well – I’m trying to promote this approach in Ukraine.

I love beat juggling and I include it periodically into my club sets. I do collect vinyl, but very rarely. I just try to buy it when there’s such a possibility. I love Reggae 7’’s. 

Let’s talk about the Ukrainian Scratch Championship Online battle.

Let’s start with the fact, that initially in 2010 when the scratch community appeared - Scratch Like This, the goal was to develop the culture. We conducted various seminars, master classes and have already conducted three championships with good guests from Baku and Saint Petersburg. As a matter of fact, this was the first year having the online championship.

scratch like this - ukraine

First meeting of the "Scratch Like This" community, 2010

The idea simply appeared – to do something what would stir our scratchers up. They are very lazy over here and until something gets organized – nothing happens.

How many entered and where did you promote it?

There were not so many participants – videos were sent by around 10 people. Some didn’t have enough time for it, even though there was a plenty of it, some didn’t want to - and so on. We promoted it on social networks – a place where we usually communicate with each other. I created a little video, in which I was scratching in various places in 2 minutes – at the studio, in the kitchen, on the roof of a mall, in the car, in the yard and so on. During some moments the equipment was even not plugged in – everything was being made for the shot. 

How are the winners decided? What do they win?

Out of all videos we selected 4 most worthy ones and I sent those links to Qbert – he determined the winner, who received a very useful prize – education in QSU. (For which I want to say a huge thanks!)

Scratch Like This Ukraine winner: Jacken

How did you get Qbert to judge the battle?

This year I worked as technical support for the Red Bull Thre3style in Ukraine, and Qbert was one of the judges. I got lucky to talk with him, and to show him our studio and our DJ school. The idea came up instantly and I offered it to Qbert at once, and he just said: “Cool, I like it, let’s do this.”

qbert with andrew scratch in the ukraine

Qbert meets DJ Andrew, Ukraine 2014

For our guys this is an extraordinary stimulus, since all of them started learning on the videos of Q, and here he is personally evaluating their abilities – to my mind what can be cooler than that? 

How can people watch the entries?

All the videos were uploaded to YouTube with the file names as follows: "[DJ Name] – Scratch Like This Ukraine" – this is how one could find all the videos. And we also posted them to our social networks.  

 
Do you think skratching is on the rise or decline in Ukraine?

I would like to believe that it’s on the rise. But the problem is that, there are not so many young DJs. Everybody wants to play commercial music, or doesn’t want to spend a lot of time on training. That’s why now we do everything possible to draw our old scratchers and to bring some change to the situation.

 

How important is it to educate young DJs about the fundamentals of skratching?        

This is very important, since scratching is a whole culture, which complements and embellishes DJing. The most important thing is to demonstrate that scratching is trendy, cool, to try to make them get interested. To all the students of my DJ school who just want to play breakbeat music – I obligatorily give them basic scratch lessons.

How often do you practice? 

After meeting with Qbert, I started scratching few hours every day.

With so many advanced skratchers around the world, where do you see the future of Turntablism going?

Turntablism has gone digital quite a long time ago and still it’s not known what can be expected in the near future. I like scratching in its classic way, somebody sticks to a super hard style, where the emphasis is being put on speed. The latest DJ who amazed me was DJ Fly in 2008, and before him there were C2C in 2004. Nowadays there is not a lot of genuine scratching – but there’s plenty of stuff going with different gadgets and controllers.

How can we evolve to from being seen as Skratch DJs to Skratch Musicians?

On the one hand it’s a sport, where everyone tries to scratch faster and more precise. For some people, it’s a music first of all. To my mind one should listen to different music of various nations and try to develop themselves. A turntable is a musical instrument not without a reason.

What would you like to see happen in the skratch scene going forward?

Speaking about Ukraine, I want more competitions to be conducted – it’s these type of things that spur growth. The Internet is well-developed nowadays, but I’d rather see battles take place in the classic way live on stage. I’d also like to see the DMC have the competitors as they used to – and the DJs who competed in ITF, Vestax, etc.

dj craze with andrew scratch in the ukraine

DJ Craze meets DJ Andrew, Ukraine 2014

Do you think skratching has the potential to bring on more positive change in the world?

Of course, scratching leads only to positive changes, and so does creativity in its every demonstration. 

How can we use this music and this culture to promote peace and positivity?

DJs, musicians, especially if they are public people, can lead by example. During my performance at the Red Bull Thre3style this year, for my final track I used a song from one of our extremely popular bands – a song with a peace plea, an appeal stating that we don’t have to give up and that everything is going to be fine. I went on the stage with a flag – that was the message of my performance.

How can we keep up with skratching in Ukraine?

Our main communication takes place in our studio PRODJ School. We have a popular social network “vk.com” – all the videos and other materials are there. If you will be visiting Kyiv, Ukraine – you can always contact with me (facebook.com/andrewscratch or iMessage [email protected]) and we will do some scratching. 

skratch scene in the ukraine

What's coming up in Ukraine skratchwise?

Now some good scratch DJs have walked this off, but there promising guys. I would outline Jeremy Star – he, unfortunately, didn’t take part in our online championship, but he is the guy of promise in music.

Any final words to all the people reading this?

To everyone reading this I want to say that the scratch scene does exist in Ukraine, and there are people, who are really doing their best. So I hope that Ukraine will prove itself! Also, I've also started a new Ukrainian online TV Show called "Scratch Like This." Each week we discuss turntablism, equipment, show some helpful tricks. We talk with guests about competitions and other interesting facts. And of course - scratching. 

ukraine skratch scene

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