5 Questions with Rags #69 - DJ All Good

Have you ever walked into a place completely foreign to you and just felt wholly and completely welcome? One of the few times as an adult I've felt that was the first time I walked into the Turntemple. A true monument of Hip-Hop, The Turntemple (A travelling DJ school housed in a 26-foot U-Haul) is unlike anything I had ever seen; a place where one of the pillars of Hip-Hop is tended and shared. The incredible human at the head of this low-key important space is DJ All Good (aka Peter Poole), Western Canada DMC Champion, Redbull Thre3style Finalist and human beam of Love. It didn't take more than a few seconds of me being in the Turntemple for him to come up to me, welcome me and notice my eyes on those turntables. Despite my crucial error in my first minute of touching them (“As long as you don't hit the needle, you're golden...” BAM! Right away, needle off the record.) he encouraged me to stay on and try it more, get closer to this foundation of the Hip-Hop that I love so much. Everyone I know who has crossed paths with the homie (This is a very high number of people) has glowing things to say about him and for good reason. His passion for music and willingness to share his vast reservoirs of knowledge – and his straight-up phenomenal skills – have made him a staple of West Coast festivals, strengthening the deep bonds between hip-hop and modern bass music whenever he sets up shop.

Finally getting a chance to do this interview thing proper with All Good was a thrill and I couldn't just pass up the opportunity to pick the brain of such an incredible DJ about all things scratchy and turny. So, in addition to the usual nonsense, we've mixed in a generous helping of queries about the Turntemple and the Art of Scratching.

Recently the U-Haul truck that housed the original Turntemple drove its final roads and breathed its final gasps of life. If you dig the noble mission of preserving the Art of Djing, check out the Turntemple's GoFundMe page and considering supporting the cause with a donation to help cover the costs of getting this educational beast back on the road.

1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

It was one of those 1 penny for 10 albums things. I got 10 cassette tapes. I remember in that collection there was Pearl Jam Ten, INXS Kick, The Cure Greatest Hits, The Doors Greatest Hits, the Jimi Hendrix Experience Greatest Hits. Don't remember all of them but those were in there. As I matured I was a little bit ashamed I had so many Greatest Hits albums. There was Kids in the Hall skit where Bruce McDonald is running a record store and the guy comes in, “Hey, I'm looking to buy some Doors.” And Bruce says, “I'm not selling you any Doors! Greatest Hits albums are for grandmas!”

1a. How'd you get into the whole DJing thing?

Jam Master Jay...hearing “Peter Piper.” That song totally blew my mind. That and “Rocket” by Herbie Hancock. A lot of scratch DJs credit that song with being the song that got them into DJing because it's the first song that highlighted the turntable as an instrument. I'm talking turntablism here, not just DJing. I remember walking to school and air-scratching on my zipper, pulling it up and down. Hearing those songs really got me into it. Then I started making mixtapes for friends and house parties and stuff. I think if you're making a mix cassette tape it's a form of DJing – you're taking the time to curate and compile music for other peoples' listening experience, creating a journey.

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5 Questions with Rags #68 - Rags

When Rags Blake was born, signs and auspices graced the world like none before. The sun composed a song to celebrate the occasion, the four winds conspired to whisper a secret recipe for excellence in his ear, and beneath his crib was found a pair of golden headphones. And from these humble beginnings, he has grown into the man of humble legend we know today: thoughtful and gracious in his friendship, fierce in his scorn of jabronis and pylons alike, blessed with an ear for music most tuneful, and generous in his sharing of said musics. It was with great delight that I recently turned the spotlight of 5 Questions with Rags upon his noble personage, whiling away a pleasant hour gathering the fruits of his wisdom on many a topic, for the personal edification of us all.

1. What's something you wish you'd had growing up?

Wow, that's a good question. Huh, that's hard. I had a really happy childhood. I had parents who loved me, I had friends and grandparents. I had pets. You know what? I used to really resent my mom for not letting us have a computer in the house. I didn't get a computer in the house until I was nearly graduated from high school. I was so jealous of all the kids with computers in there house, talking on ICQ and shit. But in retrospect, I'm really happy that I wasn't allowed to have a computer around all the time until I was 18. I don't think having unfettered access to the internet as a teenager would have been a good idea. I honestly don't know how young people today deal with anything. So yeah, a computer. It seems really superficial, but I was really lucky to have a lot of love in my life as a kid and that was pretty awesome, so it's going to be something like that.

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5 Questions with Rags #67 - Neil James Cooke-Dallin (Astrocolor, Stray Cougar, Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness)

A musical pillar of Victoria unto himself, James Cooke and his many projects – Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness, Stray Cougar and Astrocolor, my obsession of 2017 (into 2018, apparently) – have been helping keep my hometown way groovy and just a little bit more weird for some time now. It's actually kind of staggering the amount of creative energy this one human being seems to not only contain, but is able to harness and use effectively. “It's just what I love to do. They're all quite different, in terms of what I'm getting out of them. It's feeding a different part of my soul with each project.” It must be a pretty ravenous musical soul inside his body, because the homie never stops. A captivating performer, you should always take the chance to see Cooke playing/mixing his music live, in the flesh, because it's always guaranteed to be high-creativity and high-accessibility, the hardest things to balance in music.

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1. Do you remember the first album that you bought with your own money?

<laughs> Yeah, I do. <more laughing> It was Quiet Riot Mental Health. My buddy's brother ended up getting two copies of it for Christmas one year, so he was selling one of them and I was in grade 2 and I bought a copy of Quiet Riot on the school playground from him.

I remember being weirded out as a kid the first time I saw that cover. Made me feel kinda funny.

I think I was pretty normalized to it by then. I'd been around metal and rock a lot just by virtue of having friends with older brothers and some of my parents' friends. I had Ozzy Osbourne Bark at the Moon on 12 inch already and I don't know if there's a weirder album cover than that. Things were getting a lot more gentrified by the time I purchased Quiet Riot.

When's the last time you listened to Quiet Riot?

<laugh> That's a good question. I'm pretty sure I pulled out “Cum on Feel the Noise” or “Mental Health” sometime in the last year and a half.

Come on, it was definitely only “Cum On Feel The Noise.”
Ahh, I was pretty into “Bang Your Head.”

2. What's your favourite household chore?

I would say I enjoy doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. I really enjoy seeing how nice it looks when everything's cleaned up. Have my girlfriend come home and see it and have her evening be that much better.

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5 Questions with Rags #65 - Grieves

I first saw Grieves here in my hometown Victoria in 2014. I was on assignment for a now defunct website, sent because I was the resident hip-hop guy on staff. I didn't know anything about him other than his affiliation with the legendary Rhymesayers, but I left a fan. I got home and right away I dug into Winter & The Wolves, the album he was touring at the time, and found someone with a respect for the craft of rapping – deft, nimble rapping with dense lyricism that revealed a deep intelligence and emotional knowledge. This was smart, affective rapping. But then things went pretty quiet and I heard very little from the Grieves camp until last year when he released the fucking phenomenal Running Wild. A snapshot of personal evolution, Running Wild finds Grieves' sound evolved and grown into new places while at the same time being stripped down to an ultra-personal core.

A birthday is a perfect time for a little reflection and I linked up with Grieves for a 5 Questions shortly after his 34th birthday, and he was gracious enough to let me pick his brain as to what he learned over his last complete orbit of the Earth. “The years go faster every year, it's hard to take a lesson from each one. Last year I focused more on not giving a shit about what other people expect of me and just do the things that my heart requires. It took awhile to actually do that. An album like Running Wild is definitely a prime example of me just going with what I wanted to as opposed to sticking to my same formula. It goes beyond that to the stuff I make for myself in the studio, the work that I do for others in the studio and what I'd like to release to the world in the future. Where I'm going creatively...I feel like I've been hung up trying to follow in the footsteps of what got me where I'm at as opposed to creating new roads to create new steps.” Thankfully for me, and hip-hop heads everywhere, these new steps still include releasing dope music and touring. And now, more than three years after I saw him that first time he returns to Victoria (Thursday, April 5, Capital Ballroom) in support of this record that you should definitely listen to if you haven't already. Or if you're not in Victoria, check his tour schedule and figure it out.

1. What was the first album you bought with your own money?

I actually bought three in the first go. I was mowing lawns and whatever else knucklehead kids do to get money and I bought Green Day Dookie, Offspring Smash and, for some fucking reason I don't know why, Aerosmith Get A Grip. They had a bunch of curse words and I was like, “Ooooh shit.” It was my dirty secret, that there was a bunch of cuss words. In 5th grade.

I remember I was in this camp in Chicago before I moved, I think it was called Chandler Sports Camp, and pretty much parents just dumped their kids off so they can get shit done in the summertime. There was this older camp counsellor I remember sitting with on the bus and he was like, “What do you know about Green Day? Offspring?” And he put the headphones on my head and was like, “Whaaaaat?!” It changed my perspective on cool music. I was listening to my dad's music – soul, blues and a lot of folk. I just kind of thought that's what it was. I didn't really challenge it. I didn't dislike it but I hadn't experienced something I liked for my own. Still to this day I feel like I could recite Dookie from front to back, from when I was in 5th grade.

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5 Questions with Rags #64 - The Leg-Up Program

This is a long one, because this is a genuinely huge band (In number and sound), so I'm going to try to keep this intro thing short. If you aren't lucky enough to live on Vancouver Island, maybe you haven't heard of the Leg-Up Program. And if you are on the Island and still haven't heard The Leg-Up Program, what are you doing with your life? And lastly, if you have heard or seen The Leg-Up Program, good work. For real though, The Leg-Up Program is one of the raddest bands rocking these parts right now. With a staggering number of musicians at any given show (I think I've seen them with up to 16 people, in various configurations) the music they make – soul, funk, hip-hop, gospel, jazz – hits with an incredible energy. Watching such a large group of people up on a stage, all working together towards that common goal, is really something to behold. Every time I see them perform I am filled with the kind of joy that reminds me of what starting making me love music in the first place. It's warm, fun, communal. I hear that there's an album in the works somewhere, due at some time in the future, but until then you have to venture out into the world and find them. But at the end of your journey, rich aural gifts await! Nailing such a large band down all at once is, for all intents and purposes in regards to interviewing, impossible, but I was lucky enough to catch 10 of them in a room at once, so 10 members is what you get for the biggest round of the 5 Questions yet. (On the docket, David – Trombone, Nick – Trumpet, Ashley – Drums, Greg – Guitar/making the trains run on time a day late, Daniela – Vocals, Kady – Vocals, Fred – Bass, Stevie – Raps, Sean – Keyboard, Simon - Percussion)

1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

David: Oh yeah. It was “Geist” by Smashing Pumpkins. I got it at a Walmart in California. I still dig it a lot.

Nick: I think it might have been Five Alarm Funk's first album. It was very informative to see that kind of music rather than what was on the radio. Instrumental music.

Daniela: Yes. I bought two at the same time. One was Boys II Men and the other was...uuhhh...Two boys and two girls from Sweden...What were they called?
Random voice from somewhere in the room: ABBA?

Rags: Ace of Bass?

Daniela: Ace of Bass! Yes!

Kady: Mine's not nearly as cool. <Don't know where Kady got the idea that Boys II Men or Ace of Bass is cool> I bought Backstreet Boys, because that was the thing back then. It was Backstreet Boys or the Spice Girls. Then also, Loretta Lynn. I saw “Coal Miner's Daughter” when I was about 6 and that's one of the things that made me want to start singing.

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