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Q-bert - Itchy and Scratchy

Author: Carlisle Rogers
Friday, 14 December 2007
Q-bert is unequivocally the best scratch DJ in the world. He has constantly innovated the backbone of hip hop into an art form all its own, and shows no signs of stopping soon. As he sees it, he'll be doing it until the day he dies, getting better every year. 3D's Carlisle Rogers dropped a few Qs to Q.

Headed to Australia this month, Q-bert reckons he's bringing a few new tricks and of course all the old ones that have made him a household name.

“It's never ending, always steady. I've known that there are infinite possibilities since I was young and it keeps getting crazier everyday. Throughout the years I've been doing very fast scratching, and then in another set I'd do a lot of slow scratching, but now I'm incorporating both those styles at once and it sounds a lot better. The beauty of that balance is really amazing. A lot of DJs have known about that secret, but I was just like, ah, I get it now, and it made my sound a lot better.”

Q-bert describes achieving that perfect zen balance between scratching the fuck out of some vinyl with just letting the music play as breathing. “As we breathe the music is breathing as well and even the universe breathes. I found out that there are days when you can ask the universe for things, it's like a breath in and on other days, the universe breathes out and you can receive things. I have applied that to music as well.”

With the new Scratchlopedia Breaktanicca project completed, a DVD dictionary of breaks, Q-bert says he can now move back into making fresh tunes, maybe even another concept album in the tradition of his WaveTwisters LP. “Scratchlopedia Breaktanicca features over 120 scratches in alphabetical order on video with a definition. It just came out about a month ago. Now that that project is done, I'm back working on music. I've made a few tracks and getting an album together so I can make another film. WaveTwisters is an old movie I made around 2000, it's my first album and every chapter was a piece in the story and I added animated video to it and it was really crazy. I want to make another one, another concept album. As far as concept goes, I'm working on a few things, but we'll see. You can twist and turn it into something totally different.”

So what kind of physical training do the hands of someone constantly fading and scratching have to go through to stay healthy- Does Q-bert have to wear oven mitts like George Costanza when he's a hand model- Not exactly. “I get cramps, or my hands become messed up when I don't practise. But when I'm always practising, my hands are very nimble and agile. If I stop, that's when I get rigid hands.

“I was talking to Zakir Hussein, he's like the top Indian tabla drum master, and asked him if he gets cramps in his hands, and he said, only if I stop playing. It's like a good curse, which keeps us practising all the time. I get massages all the time and I stretch. I don't overdo it when I'm practising. I do use some organic cream on my hands.”

WHO: Q-bert
WHAT: Plays with Blackilicious and People Under The Stairs at the Forum
WHEN: Friday 28 December