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q-bert

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de-VICE #1

de-vice_qbert.jpg

text by the scintillating
mr. timothy colman, esq.

Let's face it - if extraterrestrial life were to ever land on Earth, it
probably wouldn't be fluent in any of the world's dialects.
 
While the question of alien language may plague the odd sci-fi-minded linguist, the question of alien music has been an inspiration to turntablist extraordinaire, Q-Bert.

"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 have on
other planets."

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 and DJ
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
of the event rumour has it the duo were asked to retire, judging the event
instead.

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
Q-Bert. "Iım always trying to learn and better myself everyday. I think that
element will always be in my heart, to keep progressing always."

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,
composing pieces of music with elements of hip hop, jazz, funk, r&b and
soul.

The group has since disbanded but Q-Bert has still found many different
outlets for his turntable energies ­ animation, film, instructional videos,
computer games, even soundtracks to childrenıs books.

His latest foray is the invention of a new turntable and mixer combination
with 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
cliff 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
want."

While DJing on a mountain top would make for some interesting sounds the
portable DJ set-up is still in its prototype stage meaning Q-Bert is still
working off his standard influences.

"Definitely 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 music."

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
just 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."

qbert.jpg
cue-bert...

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