"I always wanted to know about weird music on the planet," says Q-Bert. "I
definitely wanted to
know what weird music was for other civilisations out
there. It inspires my creativity to imagine what type of music they
When it comes to manipulating vinyl on turntables it could be argued that
the San Francisco
resident possesses some otherworldly skills himself.
Breaking into the turntablist battle scene in the late 90ıs Q-Bert
partner Mixmaster Mike (who now spins for the Beastie Boys) changed the face
of competitive turntablism when
they took out the DMC World DJ Mixing
Championships three years running. Such was their innovation and domination
the event rumour has it the duo were asked to retire, judging the event
Not having DJıed competitively
for quite some time now does he miss the
battle style? "The whole energy of being a battle DJ is still with me," says
"Iım always trying to learn and better myself everyday. I think that
element will always be in my heart, to keep progressing
After hanging up his battle turntables Q-Bert formed seminal turntable music
group, the Invisbl Skratch
Piklz in 1994 with Mixmaster Mike and a host of
other likeminded DJs. Essentially they used turntables as instruments,
pieces of music with elements of hip hop, jazz, funk, r&b and
The group has since disbanded but Q-Bert
has still found many different
outlets for his turntable energies animation, film, instructional videos,
games, even soundtracks to childrenıs books.
His latest foray is the invention of a new turntable and mixer combination
the Vestax company. By no means a standard set-up the rig is set to
change the face of busking.
"Itıs made for portable
scratching," says Q-Bert. "Musicians, like
guitarists or a violin guy, can go anywhere out in the jungle, a mountain
or anywhere inspiring. DJs canıt do that, theyıre stuck wherever they
have their turntables, just looking at a wall all
day. I decided to make
something portable. You bring your solar powered battery pack, take it
outdoors, bring a boom
box or headphones and you can scratch wherever you
While DJing on a mountain top would make for some interesting
portable DJ set-up is still in its prototype stage meaning Q-Bert is still
working off his standard influences.
jazz musicians, thatıs what I listen to most of the time," he
says. "Also a lot of singing. I like the ways singers create
a sonic dance
with their vocals. I love watching breakdancers, the moves they do and how
they play with the eye and
Thereıs no denying a Q-Bert performance is as visually engaging as it is
aurally. His range and skill to
succinctly manipulate different breaks is
astounding. Itıs almost like a sixth sense.
"For some reason it just goes
into my brain and I can just pull it out,"
says Q-Bert. "Every technique I learn it becomes like a little toy and I can
pull out all these toys that are in my head and play with them at will.
Itıs a like a wrestler grappling or something,
they can pull out different
moves at will. Itıs like how Iım talking right now, I have all these words
and they just
come out as I speak."