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DJ Ichy the Killer Makes the DMC Online Finals

In Clubs
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Last May, local DJ Ichy the Killer competed in the semi-finals of the DMC online DJ battle, scoring 7th place, which was just high enough to advance him to the final round of the online portion of the competition.

The winner of the finals will advance to the DMC Word finals, where they will compete against 16 other DJs who have won the in-person DJ competition in their particular region. Voting for the online finals ends on August 27th. The 10 DJs with the most votes will go before the DMC panel of judges, who will decide who has the skills to advance to the world finals.

We sat down with Ichy the Killer and asked his about his history as a DJ, his thoughts on the art of spinning records and the new routine he’s worked out for the finals. To Vote for Ichy the Killer. go HERE.

Tell me about your history with the turntables. What was it that interested you enough to go out and buy a set of your own?

In high school I had some classes with this kid named Greg, I started hearing rumors that he was a DJ, so I started asking him stuff about it and eventually annoyed him enough that he let me come by his house and check out his gear. From the moment I saw his setup, it was on. The wall of records, the futuristic looking mixer and turntables drew me in instantly.

I’ve never had the desire to learn an instrument or be particularly good at any sport, but this was something I needed. I was obsessed.

How long have you been spinning records? How have you seen the art form change since you first started?

I’ve been DJing for 16 years, s0 I’ve seen the scene change a lot. The obvious change has been the analog to digital shift, which has changed the business model for damn near everything. It’s one of those things that won’t make a bad DJ good but can make a good DJ better. When I first started, I remember getting the question “What genre do you spin?” And there would be a plethora of obscure sub genres you would go through to try and make yourself sound original. “I spin tribal progressive deep house transient dolphin fusion music.”

I think that nowadays you have to be able to spin everything, and be able to do everything. When I think of the best DJs in our scene—like Goldenchyld, Cutso, Traps—these guys are balanced. They battle and scratch and they can kill a club full of drunken people who know nothing about the art. You cannot be a one trick pony anymore.

Who is your favorite DJ and biggest influence? How do you feel he approaches the turntables differently than anyone else?

The list really is too long for this one, partially because a lot of people that influence me aren’t DJs. Even more aren’t even musicians. Martial artist Bruce Lee taught me how to be passive when I play, baseball player Suzuki Ichiro taught me how to get in the zone when I work by creating repetition. Leonardo da Vinci teaches me how to think outside the box. My influences give me the potential to be myself when I create. I’m inspired by life, as cliché as it sounds it’s the only way I can describe it.

You DJ in bands that play lots of different musical styles: rap, metal, etc. How does the approach to spinning records differ when played in different musical genres? How has playing in different kinds of bands shaped your solo work?

Playing in bands was the best decision I’ve made to this date. Scratching is very percussive, but when I’m playing with a band I had to be a lot more melodic and it had to fit with what the other five members of the band were playing. Producing and recording songs in general really helped me in how I write my routines. I’ve kind of developed a rep as being more melodic when I scratch, which is great since I have no real musical training.

What do you think makes for a truly good solo DJ track? What is required of the DJ when playing solo that isn’t needed when playing with other musicians?

A good solo routine should sound like song. Traditional battle routines consist of scratching and beat juggling. I’ve tried to add a third element which is a melodic element, something that draws people emotionally to the routine so you can end strong and leave the people wanting more. Build up build up, and then right when you’re at the peak just stop. That’s how you get’ um.

When DJs are playing in a band it’s less about technique and more about filling the gaps. I think battle DJs have a tendency to want to constantly solo, but no one’s trying to listen to a DJ in a band solo for 45 minutes.

What new ideas have you got planned for the second DMC round to really up the ante and make it to the London competition?

I feel like my first round was strong but didn’t represent my style as well as would have liked. I use a Skrillex track for my routine. There are a lot of DJs that use all dubstep in their routines and I think I might have came off to the judges as a guy that jumps on trends. The routine had good beat juggling and melodic elements, but I didn’t scratch as much as I should of.

My second round has a lot more scratching in it because I think that’s my strongest element and it’s a side of me the judges haven’t seen yet. My big ender is a cover I do of Masta Ace’s track “Born to Roll.” I’m really proud of that piece and think it’s a pretty original concept, hopefully the judges feel the same.

What do you think sets you apart from your competition?

I think I’m a better producer than most battle DJs. I have more experience writing tracks, and that carries over into my routines. Also I’m the first person to criticize myself, I am always looking for ways to improve my style. I’ve come a long way but I know that there is tons of room for improvement and that’s comforting to me. I’m glad that I can be doing something for 16 years and still not be able to call myself a master. I can’t say I know where I’m going, but I can say I’m going to try new things, some will be good, others will suck, but It’ll be my journey and I am proud of that.

Ichy the Killer performs at Johnny V’s on Tuesday, August 21st.

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