You come from an artistic family; how much of this influence would you say led you down the path you are on?
I’ve thought about it many times, and I always wondered if my dad wasn’t a DJ and mum a fashion designer, where I would have landed. I think it would be something close to that effect, just maybe not music. For sure though, it wouldn’t be anything to do with numbers or something boring — I love creating, and I believe no matter where fate took me, I would still be driving the wheel in the creatives world. My old man was one of the first DJs in Israel and a proud owner of a charming and one of a kind record store from the early 80s. I was raised there, so music, and especially vinyl, have surrounded me for as long as I can remember.
Over the years, you’ve successfully branded yourself as a freestyle DJ and can play eight different styles in a night. This is quite a game changer compared to other mainstream DJs out there.
I love a lot of the genres — hip-hop, oldschool, newschool, funk, motown, sometimes with the African touch of soul, riddims, electronic, trap, dubstep; I can never know what I’m gonna play. My musical versatility makes me a great choice for all sorts of events. Once I understand the needs and conditions, I adapt and perform! This is me, this is my ideology. I love to think and search for the creative sides in me. At the end of the night, the best feedback is when someone turns around and asks: “Who is this DJ?!”
Alongside being a DJ, you’re also a turntablist and a scratch artiste. Could you talk to us a bit about this.
The Beastie Boys got me into the art of scratching. When I was green in the craft, I tried scratching on a hip-hop track, it didn’t go so well. Years later, I went to New York to study hip-hop and scratching at the DJ Scratch Academy alongside some of the best DJs in the world such as Jam Master Jay of the influential hip-hop, group Run–DMC and others.
Breakdown scratching for us.
Scratching is a technique of moving a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable to produce percussive or rhythmic sounds.
So how did a scratch artiste and DJ end up in the Israeli army?
Everyone one joins the army in Israel — it’s like a right of passage of sorts. And I think everyone should enlist. It makes you a real man — not because you get behind the gun, no. It makes you a better person, gives you ambition. You learn how to take orders, have discipline; it is a wholesome experience. I was with the air force, and funny enough, had time to deejay. Next to the base was a club, I’d to sneak out, scale the fence and hit the decks. I didn’t do it often, the army is quite taxing, and when my three years came to a close, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I relocated to the Big Apple, hit DJ Scratch Academy and never looked back. It was amazing learning from the greats; it gave me the basics I needed.
No wonder you were such a big shot when you went back home.
Laughs. I had the honour of working with some of the most popular hip-hop artistes in the Israeli music industry. I was also the resident DJ of Subliminal (rapper), The Tact Family, Shabak Samech and others.
How’s the scene in Tel Aviv?
Tel Aviv is a party town. The nightlife is vibrant, especially in underground circles — trap, hip-hop, techno. We also have a lot of dancehall artistes — check out rapper Nechi Nech. You’ll love his work.
I’ll take your word for it. I was expecting you’d come with the family and enjoy 254 a while longer after the show.
Sadly, that was not to be. The Mrs went to Berlin to see Beyoncé. I think it’s cool to see Beyoncé, instead of watching your husband deejaying (laughs). I think it’s better, no? I would be with her if I wasn’t deejaying. The new album, The
Carters, is crazy! I’ll play some during the set.
It can’t be easy though travelling all over the world, especially as a family man.
Ya, it’s hard, but we try to always find time for each other. My wife, she’s expecting our firstborn, a boy, due in December. Maybe he’s gonna be a deejay (laughs). It’s hard, but it’s all about trust — you never get used to it though, the distance; it’s always hard.
Biggest crowd you’ve played for?
Sometime back, I played in Los Angeles for over 60,000 people. It was Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
The year 2018 has been a hard. We’ve lost many talented acts (Avicii, Chester Bennington) to suicide. What, in your opinion is ailing the entertainment scene?
The pressure. Many turn to drugs when they can’t handle the pressure; they try to escape. It’s like the 27 Club (a term invented to categorise the unsettling trend of famous celebrities who died at that age, such as Amy Winehouse).