Dubspot Podcast #17: DJ Excess – Our Way Disco Mix + Interview

Dubspot Podcast 017: DJ Excess – Our Way Disco Mix by Dubspot (tracklist below)

DJ Excess, a two-time International Turntablist Federation champion and a Dubspot instructor, provides this edition of the Dubspot Podcast series. It’s a mix made up mostly of his own disco edits plus a remix of his. Disco is just one of the many styles Excess is interested in though – he came up through house music, got deep into hip hop as a result of scratching, and also digs experimental music like Philip Glass and Steve Reich (often called the father of sampling). In December he’ll go on a European tour with members of his group Ned Hoddings. But enough from us, listen to what he has to say instead:

Tell us about your history as a DJ.

Started as a deejay in my later years of high school. I didn’t want to be in school any more so I interned through City As School at Logic Records. I learned a little about the music industry at that time and I was spinning house. At the label I started getting more into scratching. We watched a world final DMC video that Roc Raida won in Italy and I decided I wanted to compete more. I saw all these house deejays who were getting gigs but really sucked. I was like, I don’t want to be that type of deejay, I want to have skills. ’98 was my first competition and I placed 10th in the Eastern Hemisphere competition out of ten people. But in ’99 I won a regional Eastern competition for the International Turntables Federation advancement class championships. Then I lost to some kid from the West Coast in the finals. But in 2000 I won two championships. From scratching I started getting more into hip hop. From there I just kept on doing my thing.

What are some of your hip hop influences?

A lot of East Coast emcees like Nas and Biggie, but I definitely liked obscure hip hop like De La Soul, who weren’t that big at the time, or The Roots. Late ’90s underground stuff like Fondle ‘Em Records and Company Flow too.

How did you come to Dubspot?

I met Dan Giove [Dubspot's founder] at a DMC competition last year where I was performing. I was teaching at another school in the area. I wanted to push my teaching into more things like different Ableton levels and be in a more progressive environment, and Dan gave me that opportunity. I’m teaching DJing, turntablism, and the first three levels of Ableton.

Are you producing?

Yea, I started using Ableton for my live show, and I started using the program more for production and learned stuff on my own. I’m still always learning even while I’m teaching.

Tell us about the mix.

It’s mostly my own edits of disco tracks I like from the mid-’70s. There’s a lot of tracks I like – I’ll like the groove of the instrumental – but sometimes I just won’t feel the acapella or the lyrics or whatever. I would also use Ableton to maybe warp them a bit or put harder drums in the background and rearrange the instrumentals. And the last track is a remix I did off of Phoenix 1901. I downloaded the stems that they had put out from their album at that point and did a broken beat remix of it. You can be really creative with Ableton, but I wanted to keep the essence of mixing in there. But I’m still using some of the effects like delays.

A lot of deejays say to keep it real and stick to turntables. What do you think?

There’s a quote from this woman who did a lot of illustration for the NY Times and just had a book released. She said something to the effect of, “It doesn’t matter what medium you use to translate your idea as long as your idea is dope. That’s all that matters.” The journey and the process are great, but sometimes you need to just step back and listen to the end result. Being in a music school, you get caught up in the process of it and can get geeked out on what you used to make it. But at the end of the day, if doesn’t sound right, it doesn’t sound right.

You’ve been moving through musical genres and melting barriers. What are some of the unexpected genres you listen to now or in the past?

I still like a lot of experimental stuff. Being more of a sample based producer, I’m always digging for records. So a lot of Steve Reich, a lot of stuff on ECM, Philip Glass. Just really progressive artists from that era who are still relevant now. If you take a listen to their stuff now, it’s still progressive in the thought process. Maybe not in the way they were doing it but the concept. You can take a four bar Boney M loop and have it be an amazing, star-studded track and people won’t even know what it is. They think it’s all original but it’s just sampling. But that’s about knowing the history of where the music came from. And apparently the Boney M track is actually a cover of another song. It’s like a German classical song. That’s how all music started. That’s how dance music started.

Is your production getting out there?

I’m constantly trying to send beats to different artists. I did scratches on Fat Joe’s last album for a track called “Rappers Are In Danger”. And I’m going on a European tour in December, so I’m working on music for that. I had a group called Ned Hoddings but we disbanded, and its basically members from that. It includes Toadstyle from Chicago, D-Styles who was in Invisible Scratch Picklez, and our boy Dario who is in a group called Blah Blah Blah. It’s kind of a band with three turntablists.


DJ Excess – Our Way Disco Mix

Bombers – “Shake”
J.R. Funk And The Love Machine – “Feel Good Party Time”
Funkapolitan – “As The Time Goes By”
D.C. LaRue – “Cathedrals”
Charanga 76 – “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”
Golden Flamingo Orchestra Featuring Margo Williams – “The Guardian Angel Is Watching Over Us”
Bumblebee Unlimited – “Lady Bug” (John Morales Mix)
Voyage – “I Love You Dancer”
Light Of The World – “Time”
Cissy Houston – “Somebody Should Have Told Me”
Boney M. – “Felicidad” (Margherita)
Atmosfear – “Dancing In Outer Space”
Phoenix – “1901″ (DJ Excess Remix)