Q the music: DJ Qbert’s guide to being a DJ

ABOUT A BRO - Ralph Mendoza (The Philippine Star) - October 4, 2013 - 12:00am

If this was all a role-playing game, DJ Qbert would pretty much be the secret master of the secret master we would have to seek out in a deep sea cave past corals of giant evil fish and other mutated species in order to get to the next level. At almost the wise age of 44, Qbert—Richard Quitevis on his passport—holds the coveted and respected title of Grandmaster, which is only bestowed upon the most esteemed members of the hip-hop community. After over 20 years in the game and with performances at the DMC World Championships since the early ‘90s and collaborations with video games like Street Fighter 4 and Tony Hawk’s Underground, the name Qbert has easily become the byword for turntable greatness.

Just last week, the San Francisco-born Filipino DJ flew in Manila to introduce the Philippines to Red Bull Thre3style. We all know how rare his mix mastery is so we pulled him aside for a bit to talk life—life being 20 percent UFOs the government doesn’t want us to see, 20 percent Mars conspiracies (“no life on Mars is bullshit”), 40% coconut virgin oil versus canola oil, and—well, this is the point of this article anyway—20 percent DJing.

So here it is: nine golden tips from DJ Qbert. If you want to survive as a DJ in this day and age, you’ll need to take your cues from Q:

Practice. Always practice. Back in the day we didn’t have the Internet so we would just practice the whole day. It’s harder now but still possible.

Be original. You have to dig deep into your mind and find what talent God has given you. Close your eyes and meditate, and think of the craziest style ever and then you f****** make it—excuse my language. You have to pull out the stuff that’s inside your head and make it come to life.

You have to be a nerd. Study all the DJs and pick out everything good from them, and incorporate that into your styles and make those things you’ve learned even better and then take it further always. You have to study all of it, train hard, and again, practice. Stick with it and you’ll be rewarded.

The technical aspect becomes important when you start loving it. I started taking musical notes when I was about 19—three years into it.

Respect your art. I knew I could make the world a better place if I respected my art. I also realized that you can make people happy with your gift from God.

Music is also about being spiritual. We’re all spirits.  When I studied a lot about spirituality, I broke it down. The ultimate happiness is giving, the ultimate evil is selfishness, and that’s all you need to know. Give love all the time. If you want to go to church, go to church. Do what you want as long as you make the world a better place.

You have to know that there’s always another level after this level. You have to keep going. You have to be humble. You’ll always be a student.

The universe is not stupid. It knows when you’re doing good. “Okay, let’s give him some gigs and let’s bring some people in his way.” The whole universe is like clockwork. God knows everything that you do. He knows the movement on the rat’s ass hair.

Just have fun. Make up your own world.

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Just so you know, DJ Qbert’s setup includes the Traktor Z2 mixer and 2 Technics or Stanton STR8 turntables. Check out his site djqbert.com and follow him on Twitter @DJQbert. You can also check out redbullthre3style.com to know more about Red Bull Thre3style.

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