DJ Yoda: The Wheel Still Turns

DJ Yoda
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

We’re a long way from turntablism’s halcyon days in the late '90s, when the sub-genre’s stars used to scratch and pick their way across the globe. Now you hardly hear about turntablism, and that’s if it actually exists at all.

Ask England’s DJ Yoda and he’s in no doubt. “It’s virtually dead,” he says plainly. “It kind of killed itself. It just got to this ridiculously technical level. I lost interest in it. It was no longer about entertaining people. And for me, the reason I love DJing is that it’s something that’s fun, and I think that level of scratch nerdiness lost the fun.”

It’s a frank epitaph for a movement that once seemed on the verge of taking over hip hop entirely. And even the turntable itself is slowing dying, with less and less clubs supporting the Technics SL-1200s on which Yoda and his peers made their names.

“There are a few venues I turn up at where the people are like, ‘I can’t believe you need to use a turntable’. I feel like the last guy out there who’s still using them, which also adds this weird relevance to the name DJ Yoda – I’m the last person left,” he laughs.

Not that Yoda is living in the past – far from it. Indeed, it says plenty about the skills the turntablism movement encouraged that many of its finest practitioners – Mix Master Mike, QBert and A-Trak – have gone onto vibrant careers in other sub-genres. Yoda himself has just released a new album, ‘Chop Suey’ – one that took him six years to make simply because he was so busy with other projects.

“I was touring the whole time, I was releasing mix CDs the whole time,” he explains, exasperated. “I had all these different collaborative projects going on, so really I was getting one day a week to work on the album, which is not really a good way to get into the flow of it. I think I learned a lot of lessons; there’s absolutely no way the next album will take that long. The flipside of it taking so long, though, is that I’m really happy with it. I’ve got no regrets and I’m really pleased with how it sounds right now.

“But at the end of the day, I wanted to make an album that doesn’t sound bang on trend to the point where it’s irrelevant in a year’s time. And I think I got away with that. It sounds like something you could return to in five or ten years’ time. There are all these sub-genres of dance music that come and go, year by year, and although I like a lot of them they haven’t necessarily had that much lastability.”

Yoda may have shifted away from pure turntablism, but he certainly hasn’t turned his back on hip hop. Particularly at the moment: the United States seems on the verge of a new golden era of rap music, with numerous underground artists breaking through to both mainstream and indie acclaim. Yoda’s not immune. Get him talking about the state of hip hop and he quickly becomes animated.

“Oh man, it’s exploded. I love it. I could play an all hip hop set now,” he says. “Guys like Action Bronson obviously, because he’s on ‘Chop Suey’, but also Roc Marciano, Evidence and Alchemist and that sort of sound. Also, I really like the commercial, proper American sound: Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar’s amazing. There’s tonnes of stuff, man. Five years ago, I couldn’t count on one hand the number of good hip hop artists who were around, and certainly ten years ago there was just nothing.”

Yoda’s talking to me on a chilly London morning, so it seems only fair to ask whether he’s looking forward to getting down to Australia early next month. “Oh man, I’m counting down the days,” he laughs. “The awesome thing is that every year I tour Australia, and every year the tour gets longer and longer. This year, it’s longer than ever. I’m there for over two months.”

DJ Yoda Australia Tour

Tue Dec 25 — Sunburnt Christmas @ Bondi Beach (DJ Set)
Wed Dec 26 — Breakfest @ Belvoir Amphitheatre (Perth) (AV Show)
Sat Dec 29 — Rhythm & Alps (Christchurch) (AV Show)
Sun Dec 30 — Pyramid Rock @ Philip Island (AV Show)

Mon Dec 31 — Rhythm & Vines @ Gisborne (AV Show)
Tue Jan 01 — The Espy (Melbourne) (AV Show)
Fri Jan 04 — Bassic @ Coniston Lane (Brisbane) (AV Show)
Sat Jan 26 — The Espy (Melbourne) (DJ Set)
Sat Feb 02 — Oxford Art Factory (Sydney) (AV Show)
Sat Feb 16 — Cassette Nine (Auckland) (AV Show)
Fri Feb 22 — Villa (Perth) (DJ Set)
Sat Feb 23 — Syrup (Hobart) (AV Show)

Let's Socialise

Facebook pink circle    Instagram pink circle    YouTube pink circle    YouTube pink circle

 OG    NAT

Twitter pink circle    Twitter pink circle