DJ Brand: Accomplished, intelligent and always rocking the party

DJing parties in grade school with two double deck boom boxes and making pause tapes to get cash instead of a paper route’ this is type of artist who definately had fisher price turntables as a baby. But now DJ Brand is all grown up and he’s taking Hip Hop to the next level. As a Deejay, Media Mogul, Event Organiser and general support to the Australian Hip Hop scene.

He has supported some of the finest mc’s and deejays from all over the world, including; Ugly Duckling, Foreign Legion, Cash Money, Hilltop Hoods, Downsyde, Hyjack & DJ Bonez, Lyrical Commision, DJ Shortkut & Rodney P & Skitz. You can catch him at his weekly residency at Madizms with the dirty duo’s J-Red, and at various melbourne clubs such as Dexploitation, TheSpot, Beats Working, Fractured Funk & Destroyer. Accomplished, intelligent and always rocking the party, meet DJ Brand.

How did you make the transition from being involved in the scene as a deejay to handling the Australian arm of the ITF, writing for numerous publications and websites and producing your own events?
I think it’s a natural progression for people who love the work they do. People are in this business for different reasons. Some do it for money, drugs, or just ego and they come and go every day. Others do it for the love and they want to see the people around them succeed. I try to be the latter. The ITF is a competition i’ve always respected. My partner Flagrant came to me with the idea after we had done a
couple shows together and after the controversy of the last few Australian competitions I thought it would be a great idea. The response has been overwhelming and we’ll be doing it for a lot of years to come.

Have you been hanging out in the Studio lately? Any releases or production work we can look forward to?
Things have slowed to a halt for me on that side for the moment. I’m still sitting on an intrumental EP that fingers crossed will be released before my first grandchild. I’ve got a mix cd that’s waiting on a few bits and bobs and i’ll be doing some work on A-Love’s new record, and with young up and comer Surreal.

What are some of your favorites in the Record Box at the moment?
So many, and all from this country. Im bored shitless with American releases at the moment aside from the new foreign legion and a few 12”s from Apathy/Black Attack/Dilated Peoples. The new Hilltop Hoods in one of the best records I’ve heard in years and the new Funkoars, Bliss N Eso, Clandestein are all getting heavy rotation.

In terms of Australian Hip Hop, in particularly the role DJs play, what do you see for the future?
More dj’s need to take chances and play Australian releases in their sets. This is the best way for the scene to continue to grow. If I drop a downsyde cut at a Fraktured party and 8 people ask me “What the FUCK” that’s 8 more people with their eyes opened. On the turntablist side of things, it won’t be many years till we have a world champ there’s just way too much talent and innovation in this part of the world. Outside the role Dj’s play, Australian Hip-Hop is ready for the
world now, releases are strong enough to compete with anything out there at this point.

The term Hip Hop is often misused and confused with other genres. What is true Hip Hop to you?
I don’t know how to answer that so how about this. Hip Hop isn’t McDonalds, Tampax or General Pants. Hip Hop isn’t mesh back hats and a dmc ticket. Hip Hop isn’t 50 cent or Sprayin the joint hahahahah.

Working in such a male dominated subculture as well as working closely with female MC A-Love, do you think it is difficult for Female MCs and DJs to break into the spotlight?
Hell no. C’mon seriously if the audience is 90% male who do you think they would rather look at , Maya Jupiter or Me? THe opportunity is definetly there for Female’s Mcs and DJs to be a strong part of the scene much like Kowhai, Layla, Maya and DJs like Krisy. Krisy was a foremother of this shit.

What hip hop artists would you classify as the most influencial to today’s scene and why?
Well unfortunately the most “influential” artists are people like 50 cent and Nelly. Look at the way kids dress and act a fool, the media has grabbed onto every single cliche’ and drilled it into the impressionable minds of the kids. Whoever makes those kinds of advertising and marketing decisions needs to take a long walk off a short pier. As far as influencing aspiring kids, definetly crews likeThe Hoods and Downsyde. Crews who rap in their natural accents and
make the music the want to without compromise to sell records. If these types of acts continue to get airplay and support I see a bright future for the hip-hop scene here.

When most people talk about their influences seem to quote artists from the 80’s and 90’s, who are some new schoolers that have influenced you or that you admire?
I don’t know that I draw influence from artists particularly. I
definetly respect the ethos of people involved within the scene like Mark Pollard of Stealth Magazine, and Prowla of Nuff Said Records they are the type of people i respect. I’ve lost respect for dozens of artists who are jammed to the rim with hypocrisy from every decade.

I’ve heard you say that ‘Mix Tapes are one of the foundations of Hip-Hop’, what do you see as the future for mixtapes and demos, in light of copyrighting and legal issues that are becoming more apparent?
People definetly have to seek more clearance, and as the labels make that more and more expensive it fucks with the creativity of things. The best place to hear a good mix these days is free promotional mixes done by DJs to promote tours. If you give it away it falls under less scrutiny. But on the upside more dj’s look to independants to work with on their mixes and lesser known artists win out. The majors are
for the most part too ignorant to realise that jacking up the costs to people who were essentially promoting their music is shooting themselves in the foot.

Who are some Aussie artists that you would like to work with?
All of them, and we’re getting there slowly but surely.

How did the Fresh Produce Idea come about? What can we look forward to on Friday night?
Produce is the brainchild of Ben Shepherd and Flagrant. They wanted to do a Hip-Hop festival incorporating all the facets of Australian Hip-Hop. We put the two together to bring an unprecedented show to Melbourne. The lineup of Mc’s is strong on it’s own, and we’re talking about the FINEST scratch DJs in the country figthing it out. There’s more
controversy and revenge than afternoon telly. Seriously alot of clubs charge what we’re charging for a regular entrance fee, this lineup is a 75 dollar ticket but we’re not those promoters.

Catch DJ Brand rockin it with A-Love at the Fresh Produce Hip Hop Festival this Friday 31st October @ the HI FI bar.

Here is the running order for the Fresh Produce Festival.

8PM – DJ Jez Roc
9 – ITF Beat Juggling – First Round
9:20 – A-Love & DJ Brand LIVE
9:40 – ITF Beat Juggling – FINAL
10 – Untouchables (5 decks)
10:15 – DJ Jez Roc & B-Boys
10:30 – ITF Scratching – First Round
10:50 – Reason & DJ Vame LIVE
11:05 – ITF Scratching – FINAL
11:25 – Pegz w/ Plutonic Lab and DJ Selekt LIVE
11:50 – ITF Advancement – first round
12:10AM – Bretheren LIVE
12:30 – DJ Samrai and DJ Bonez showcase
12:40 – Maya Jupiter LIVE
12:55 – ITF Advancement FINAL
1:10 – Funkoars LIVE
2:00 – Close