Features

Alphabet Head

When the name Alphabethead was billed on the 2002 Vestax Invitation Australia/New Zealand DJ competition, heads were wondering who this mysterious Wellington based cat was. He’d managed to beat NZ’s hip-hop icon P-Money to take out the DMC title, which was no mean feat considering Money’s stature and 3rd in the world ranking, and had come to Australia for the first time to showcase his individual and unique turntablist style.

During the night he won more fans than most 2002 visitors with routines that mashed together Deep Purple, Michael Jackson, Peanut Butter Wolf and whatever else he felt like experimenting with at the time. He placed third in the Vestax comp and followed it up the next Monday with a head turning set at Madizms that had the scratch nerds in awe.

This Saturday he steps up to the plate at Beatbox to show his Tasman neighbours what new tricks he has up his sleeve. Tyrese St. Croix spoke to him.

How did you start DJing? What’s inspired it?

Actually it was the scratching/creation of music that attracted me to the tables rather than DJing clubs. I used to always have the radio on – this exposed to the funnyunny sound, which I liked and later found, was the art form of scratching.

Your approach to turntablism is quite individual – what is your creative process?

In the past it was strictly jamming/experimenting – coming up with movements by accident. Now though I think more when away from the tables and then try and find a suitable record(s) to carry the idea. Recently I’ve been mixing a lot of old records and through combing/cutting the tips and tails of songs have found a few new things. Often a cup of tea by my side whilst spinning helps…

You’ve played here once before – what were your impressions of Australia and its scene?

Well everyone was crazy kind and loving. As far as the scratch scene goes it was large in comparison to Wellington – the gentlemen I jammed with were all dope. Unfortunately I didn’t see much graff but Prowla and J-Red, Obese Records and some others gave me some local music which has been really growing on me since I got back to New Zealand.

How was the NZ and world DMC’s for you in 2002? How was it beating P-Money?

NZ DMC was ridiculous – the event was held in Auckland, about 7 hours drive. Myself, and the two other contenders from Wellington drove up at 11pm the night before. When we finally got there the sun was coming up – the city had dramatically changed since I was there as a child (it has a great zoo) – tensions were high in the car we were all exhausted and just couldn’t find our beds. I was feeling under the weather, my sound check was abysmal – I thought this is going to be my worst show ever. For some strange reason that night the club was warm – good vibe – and I just decided to have fun with my set and so bumbled my way through. The trip to London was the time of my life – met, and jammed too, with DJs from all around the world. Personally I wasn’t over the moon with my performances but I learnt so much …

Musically you’re very diverse – what kind of stuff do you listen to across the board?

Recently Lord of the Rings Soundtrack, D-Styles album, Plutonic Lab/Prowla records I was given last time, also Diana Krall …

What do you have planned for your shows at Beatbox?

I’ve got compositions with some old, Deep Purple, Michael Jackson, ABC and some new records too. These will be the pieces making up my set, I’m not sure about the order yet – currently I’m working on open-ended transitions so I can be flexible. I’ve got I few new sets I haven’t actually done live before – fingers crossed.

Where do you feel turntablism is heading in 2003? What are you excited about?

I’m excited about a quite recent scratch music movement – the cutting and layering of real instruments thus making musical pieces – not sounding like the typical scratch song. This is being done with multitracking behind closed doors but also a think I a few turntable band doing this style live.

Alphabethead plays Beatbox this Saturday at Lounge alongside Brand, Boogs, Devistate and Dvise.