& Henry Chalfant
Grand Wizard Theodore
DJ Cue and DJ Marz
Sacramento Rap History
Lesson by X-Raided
He's The King
of The Smut... On Two Turntables: The Porn / Turntablism Connection
Part 3 DJ Relm and DJ Streak Interview
Just Whatever Rocks:
The World Famous Beat Junkies
Wax: The Porn / Turntablism Connection Part 2 D-Styles
Thriftin' For a Scratch:
The Hella Broke-Ass
Style of DJ'ing
DJ Pone Reports
from the 2002 Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas
DJ Apollo Receives
"Hip Hop Slam Hall of Fame Award"
A Scratch Odyssey:
Year in Review
QBert Receives "Hip
Hop Slam Hall of Fame Award"
How to Manufacture
Your Own CD, Record, or Tape
Oakland's New Underground'
BEATS TO GO:
Filipino American DJs of the Bay Area
at the DMC American Battleground
From rocking house parties as a mobile DJ back in the day, to
battling sucker DJs in competitions, DJ Quest has always come
correct. Now, with his ever evolving crew, the Bullet Proof Space
Travelers, and his collaborative band, Live Human, DJ Quest continues
to push the boundaries of music and sound itself, tearing shit
up all along the way....
DJ Quest first came into notoriety at the beginning of the 90s
when he, along with DJ Cue and Eddie Def, released their first
record, Hamster Breaks Vol. 1. "Basically, we werent
even thinking about what kind of record we wanted to make, we
just wanted to record some music and have a record that had our
own sound, so then Hamster Breaks came about," explains
Quest. "It was actually the first record to come out, at
least out of San Francisco, that was straight up for DJs, like
for battle motherfuckers, for people who like to cut it up."
It came to be a battle record; back when there was no such category.
It was just another record.
Nowadays, when you hit up vinyl shops, the quantity of records
is overwhelming. It seems that every week someone is releasing
some new battle application on wax. But are they really new or
is it just more of the same old shit?
DJs Quest and Eddie Def
of Bullet Proof Space Travelers.
"Fools are making break records with recycled sounds!"
exclaims a disgusted Quest. "One of the things that we tried
to do, and I think to this point were very successful in
doing them on Volume 3 1/2 of Hamster Breaks, was that
we used hip-hop sounds, but shit that fools hadnt used before.
It wasnt like the shit that youd hear on Shampoo
Breaks. A lot of that shit came from Hamster Breaks.
A lot of the shit we use comes from hip-hop records, but were
not trying to find the shit thats already there. Youve
got to do your homework. Dig a little deeper instead of using
another break record. Theres so much shit that you could
do that I dont even think theres an excuse for taking
shit thats been used. At the very least, you could fucking
take a snare and reverse it and it will sound different. Its
just laziness, I guess."
Although DJ Quest holds several production credits to his name,
he remains wary of straying too far from his musical roots at
the expense of his skills. "I just dont want any of
these things that I do to take over me completely," says
Quest. " I dont want to become a full-time producer.
Im really just in the learning steps of producing. I dont
really think of myself as a producer. I know a lot of producers
now; they started out DJing and they moved on to producing. Thats
fucking cool. I wish I could do that, but I still have that fire
to be on stage. I dont know how long its going to
last. Hopefully I can keep playing till I get to be 50 or 60 years
old. DJing is something I would do regardless as a hobby but when
youve got a family, youve got to pay bills youve
got to try to make it all work. You have to do shit thats
going to pay the bills. Im not saying sell out. Do not sell
out. But youve got to deal with the shit, yknow what
I mean? For that reason, I havent been able to spend as
much time practicing just DJing. If I were a little rich fucker,
Id be set. Id be just fuck it. Im just going
to fucking practice and maybe enter a DMC again and some shit
but I dont really see myself doing that because I have responsibilities,
yknow what I mean, and youve got to take care of it
all and balance it out. Producing is one thing that could definitely
pay your bills in the long run. But if I was to go straight into
that, Id be thinking, Damn, what happened to me? What
happened to my scratching skills? Even if Im not the
best, I still want to know that I could do it."
On the battle circuit, DJ Quest was not only able to hone his
scratching skills, but also develop as a performer as well. "I
think I got a lot of what I do for my live shows now with Live
Human or just any live show, I think I get a lot of that from
battling," says Quest. "It prepared me for becoming
a showman. Youve got to put yourself in a whole other mental
stage before a battle. Its definitely like going into the
Olympics, yknow what I mean? You just go mental. You become
like a mad scientist. You lock yourself up everyday and just scratch.
Thats still burning in me. Its part of me. You just
got to represent. I dont look at it in the aspect that I
have to battle other people anymore, but I always feel like, fuck,
if youre going to get on stage youve got to be the
fucking baddest you can be. At least, rock it as hard as you can.
Do the best you can."
Indeed, DJ Quest has represented well, as anyone who has seen
him in action behind the wheels of steel can testify. But then
again, what did you expect from one of the "Old School"
originators? Hell, he was one of the early people who inadvertently
started scratching "Hamster" style.
"When I started DJing, I was the only DJ I knew," says
Quest. Thats why I ended up hooking up my turntables reverse.
I didnt even hook it up backwards because I wanted to be
different When I started, I had little plastic, cheap turntables
and one of those old 4700 Pyramid mixers. I was clueless. I thought
scratching was made by some kind of effects processor that was
built inside the fader. I didnt know shit. I ended up hooking
it backwards. That was it. I learned to do everything backwards."
"Nowadays, kids are getting up on the tables and automatically
just wanting to crab or wanting to flare. That shit is cool. Id
rather see kids doing that than fucking hanging out on the corner.
If thats what you want to do, if you just want to do it
for fun, thats cool. But, I think if youre going to
get into hip-hop, if youre going to be a hip-hopper, you
have to earn it. You have to dig deep for the old school heads
just so you could hear their music and know what they were thinking
and I think that helps out letting you know where your next step
"I think if I was to start into hip-hop right now it would
be ridiculous because Id be trying to learn some shit thats
way too advanced for me. Hip-hop has advanced immensely in the
last 20 years. What I would recommend would to just go back and
listen to some of the more simple stuff: simpler drum patterns,
simpler scratches, feel what the patterns were like and what the
mood was like of the old school. It would just be an easier way
to learn hip-hop and be knowledgeable about everything instead
of just being out there doing one thing because its trendy."
There is no doubt that DJ Quest got into hip-hop during its height
when all of its elements were in full effect but he doesnt
wear it like a chip on his shoulder. Instead, Quest recognizes
how lucky he was to get involved with the then emerging culture.
"I just think it had to be the right time and right place
for me," says Quest. "Back then, when I started listening
to hip-hop, it was a lot simpler to listen to and to understand.
Shit is so complicated, I dont think I would begin to understand
Naturally, his honest appreciation for hip-hop influences his
approach to scratching. "I dont really like to be too
technical with it, says Quest. "I think its good to
be technical when youre doing exercises, just working your
fingers, or if theres this one pattern, you want to get
down. Its not necessary to label any of that shit. Its
audio. It doesnt need to be explained."
Just like his crews name implies, DJ Quest is a space traveler,
venturing into the outer regions of the musical landscape. His
band, Live Human, just happens to be another vehicle, another
"Its just an outlet, yknow what I mean? A lot
of heads are doing it because they feel the need for it. In my
case, I just felt the need to do something. It just kind of took
"I wanted to stand out from the shadows, yknow what
I mean? I wanted to have the turntable be more in the lead but
still do it with music that is somewhat dark because the Live
Human stuff is not pop. It will never be pop. Its still
dark and I can push it in a way that now some people consider
me a lead man. Ok, thats fucking cool."
"Im not saying that Live Human was the first group
to use a deejay in the band. That shits been done since
the 70s, the 60s. Who knows? Theres been cats
in the UK that would play records while bands were playing and
shit. Its nothing new."
This is true. Live Human isnt a new concept. Its
just that theyre so fucking good and have been able to achieve
a certain amount of success without losing a bit of credibility.
They are the real shit.
"It has a lot to do with the reasons why youre doing
it," proposes Quest. "From a DJ point of view, if you
feel that you need to get out there, I think its fine to
get out there and do whatever the fuck you want to do. Get yourself
with a group and do that shit. But, when you have a record company
with big bucks putting a group together with a deejay because
its the new sound, I think that shit sucks. Its bullshit.
They dont know what the fuck is going on. They usually end
up getting some weak-ass motherfucker behind the tables."
While content to simply brush off "trendy ass motherfuckers
that are just jumping on it because its the hip thing,"
he is a bit more agitated by the blatant commercialism of the
turntable art form. Some see it as the long-deserved acceptance
into the mainstream culture. DJ Quest on the other hand, is decidedly
"Fools want to make some money?" scathes Quest. "Well
fuck, then put an act together, take your ass on the road and
get paid. Commercials It will kill your career! My whole
thing is it didnt need to go there. DJs were fine. They
were well off doing the shit they were doing. I think it could
be done without having to fucking sell it out. It wasnt
necessary for DJs to have commercials in order for the DJ to get
recognition. Its bullshit."
DJ Quest is determined to keep it real. His aspirations are fueled
by his love for music, not fame. This holds especially true for
his band, Live Human. DJ Quest, along with drummer Albert Mathias
and bassist Andrew Kushin, are on a higher mission.
"I guess the thing that I want to eventually get to is being
able to call this 3-D effect that we get while we have the three
instruments playing, be able to call it more often than not. Be
able to say ok fuck were playing a show. We start playing
and then this fucking 3-D effect thing starts happening, some
shit that just makes you kind of lift. Its hard to explain.
But, it doesnt happen all the time. For me, thats
what makes me want to keep coming back and playing every time
and see what else is out there."
This interview took place on June 21, 2000
at the Albion in the Mission District of San Francisco.