16 May 2011
Behind the Beats: Dj Grazzhoppa
Dj Grazzhoppa is a dj/beatmaker from...
Bruges, Belgium. Living in Ghent.
Describe your first exposure to hip-hop music and how did the experience reel you in?
I was really intrigued by the movies “Beat Street” and “Breakdance” when I first saw them. It was like being infected by a virus with no cure, been ill ever since.
What do you enjoy better, making a beat or the live show experience?
See I’m a Gemini so I’m always busy with different things at once. I enjoy both. When I make a beat I wonder how it will bang live and when I’m playing out I hear bits in tracks I want to loop up and use for beats. It's all connected, I have no preference.
How long have you been making beats for?
Mid 90's; Blade (UK rapper) got me my first s950 Akai and SP12 for touring and recording with him. Also got to say wassup to my homie Sparky Ski (prod. for London Posse, MC Mell'o') and No Sleep Nigel (UK engineer). These people have taught me a lot.
I first linked up with you when I heard Bekay's remix to "Brain Tumors." How long have you been immersed in hip-hop culture?
My first time on wax was on the b-side of Blade's 12" Clear The Way called “They Ain't Shit To Me” back in '92. I started dj'ing around '85. Bigup to Reef Ali, that Bekay joint was one of the first in our many collabs.
Your wife is also an accomplished singer and together you make up Mo & Grazz. Describe the working relationship that you two share. Is it easy to work with her?
My wife's vocal skills are amazing. She sang with Jill Scott, Zap Mama and more. When we make music it's all very natural and real life lyrics and topics. It's our story. We did two albums so far and thinking about doing a third album after we release the Gemini Remix Album . Since we both work with so many different people and bands on the side we really enjoy doing our thing when we get together.
You are also the creator of Dj Grazzhoppa's Dj Big Band. Could you please give the audience a brief history of the collective?
I think it was 2003 when we started this great project with 6 dj's and sax player/composer Fabrizio Cassol (from the group AKA Moon). We soon added Monique to the mix and once we saw this formula worked we expanded to 12 dj's + sax and vocals. Later on we added bass and drums. The next project we added a 3 piece horn section and another singer. We now went back to 6dj's + Mo to make it more affordable for promoters in this time of crisis. How it works is every Dj does one part (bass, drums, keys, etc) and all together it makes the music. We mainly start from improvisations in rehearsals that we polish up to tracks for stage, it's a blast!
You have worked with a plethora of artists and you have a signature sound in regards to your scratch hooks. Where does the inspiration come from and who inspired you growing up?
When I was growing up I was really checkin out Dj's like: Tat Money, Cash Money, Jazzy Jeff, Alladin, Cheese, Miz, Cutmaster Swift, Pogo, Undercover and Supreme (Hijack). Later it was Q Bert, Mixmaster Mike, D-Styles, Executioners, Scratch Perverts and Dj Premier. Musically I must say that Ultramagnetic Mc's really left a big mark on me. When Critical Beatdown came out that's all I was listening too.
What are some of your interests outside of hip-hop?
Everything is hip-hop lol.
Have you ever thought about embarking on an American tour with your wife or Dj Big Band?
We would love to come out there and rock. We are ready for it too. It's just not easy and expensive to get us all there. Anyone interested in setting up a tour contact me. We would be honored.
What are you currently working on?
Finishing of Mo & Grazz remix album, doing a scratch album for Chess Move that should be distributed thru Defjam/Island. Finishing an EP with my homie Smimooz as Solid vs. Green. Doing cuts and beats for various artists.
Who would you like to work with in the future?
Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Qbert the list is endless really. I just like to add my 2cents to the hip-hop universe.
How can the masses stay in touch with you?
Dj Grazzhoppa on Bandcamp
Dj Big Band
Dj Grazzhoppa on SoundCloud
Any final thoughts?
Thanks for this interview P. Really enjoyed doing the Brainstormers Ep with you. I noticed in Europe that the new generation coming up is really cool and open minded! The future should be awesome.