5 Questions with Rags #31 - DJ Roast Beatz

Ghetto Funk was my way into the vast world of electronic music. A few years in and I’m still sold on the easy grooving sounds that the label/genre has spawned. You can imagine my giddiness when the Ghetto Funk Podcast started showing up on their soundcloud page early last year. In this case, a podcast worked like it was supposed to and I sought out the maker of the ‘cast. Well, the man behind that wonderful funky document is DJ Roast Beatz and man, this guy knows what’s up. Steeped in hip-hop goodness, Roast Beatz’ mixes and tracks reside in that lovely middle-ground that all party-goers can agree on. It’s taken nearly a year for this little chat to see the light of day, but now, I present to you dear friends, DJ ROAST BEATZ.

“The only thing I’d say about any music is just keep it funky, with meaning. That’s what makes us dance, nod our heads, learn things about life, come to terms with things and sing the tune the next day. Whether your using a drum kit or a drum machine, synth or trumpet, if it’s funky people will get down to it.”

Keep up with the homey Roast Beatz and his goings on over at his Facebook page.

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Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money? Fav track? Does it still hold up?

With my own money? Either a Jacko album or 3 Feet High and Rising. They were both on tape. My first vinyl was Fugees’ The Score. Favourite track is a tough one. I haven’t bumped much Jacko lately, would either be “Smooth Criminal” or “Bille Jean.” These days I’m more of a Jackson 5 kind of guy! 3 Feet High and Rising, too hard to pick. De La had a massive impact on my life, especially De La Soul is Dead. That album got me through some really hard times as a kid. I’ve only just started to grasp the albums importance in my life as I’ve got older and faced a lot of shit from the past. 

Favourite from 3 Feet though? Either “Buddy,” “Change in Speak,” “Eye know” or “Say No Go.” “Buddy” is more for the remix, “Change in Speak” for the Cymande sample. “Eye Know” always reminds me of Daewon songs skate section in World Industries New World order. And “Say No Go” is just an absolute banger! I still play all the De La songs regularly in my sets.

2. If the world was ending and you got to escape and take with you one piece of culture, from anywhere in the world, to preserve for future generations, what would you take and why?

Would have to be the original Hip-Hop culture. It’s had a hugely positive impact on my life. It made me extremely passionate about music (even though I’d class myself as multi-genre these days). It’s assisted me to travel the world playing music, meet so many amazing people. Plus it’s so varied, you can break, graffiti, MC or DJ. In the past I was involved in youth workshops where we’d teach kids the 4 Elements. I was the DJ element and it was really rewarding. My 4 year old son has recently started breaking so it’s filtering down the generations!

I’d recommend listening to a Killer Mike interview with Bill Maher. He breaks down how kids in the Ghetto used street jams as an alternative to violence in the late 60’s helping give birth to the Zulu Nation. It’s a dope interview, touches on why Hip-Hop culture is so important and erases the bullshit mentality that it causes violence.

3. Do you think technology has the ability to set us free to some kind of sci-fi techno-utopia?

What a question. God knows. It definitely seems the limits to technology are endless and there’s a lot that’s kept from us. I guess it’s human nature to always screw things up due to greed. I’m a firm believer in certain spiritual qualities. Being at one with yourself and distancing yourself from the things in this world that cause issues like greed and money. Being part of a community where people rely on skills for skills, a favour for a favour, meaning money never exchanges hands in my eyes would be utopia. Not destroying nature, living alongside it with total respect. Reaching a higher place through natural medicine and meditation. The world we live in is a messed up place and technology is a big part of that. Weapons, bombs war etc. 

However I’m being the biggest hypocrite. I have this idealistic view of the non materialistic utopia I mentioned above, I’m a sucker for apple products (I’m an Apple engineer for my 9-5). I have over 30 pairs of trainers, always buy new designer threads, own over 20 caps. I always want the latest studio and DJ equipment. Plus let’s not forget it’s technology that made it possible for me to DJ and make music, so hopefully that let's me off the hook!

It’s tough to remain true to that ideology in this day and age. So realistically no, I don’t think we could live in a sci-fi techno utopia because it would some how be controlled by the people who invented the technology, meaning you’d have no control over things, much like the world we live in today! Recently UK started bombing Syria, which I was highly against. I wrote a letter to my MP pleading him to vote against, he voted for. That wasn’t my choice. London was full of people protesting against bombing, this wasn’t publicised in the Media and the vote still went for the bombing. A massive percentage of the country said no, and a whole load of private school idiots said yes. So I’m sure at some stage in this sci-fi utopia, the nerds who created it, would begin to make decisions for everyone in it.  

4. Can you think of a film that had a genuine effect on the way you saw the world?

Heavy question! I’ve seen my fair amount of flicks but not sure they’ve ever changed the way I see the world. I love fiction and horror so thankfully I can tell the difference between that and reality! I guess notable films that have made me look at the world differently would be the obvious ones like Matrix, Fight club and The Truman Show. Kids had a massive impact on me when I was younger. I guess it was all close to home being a skateboarder and the same age as the actors in the movie. Realising even though you’re a kid, you’re still susceptible to danger, diseases etc.

Old Boy was a crazy film and another film that hit hard was Fruitvale Station. Crazy how it was a true story, the guy had a kid, this shit is still going on and Police are getting away with killing people in the world. Since becoming a father I’ve grown very soft to any film where a son loses his Dad or concentrates on an emotional bond with a father and kid. It hits me hard and reminds me how important my role as pop dooks is.

Recently I checked a film called Timbuktu which again is probably a bit close to home with what’s going on in the world. It’s about a small peaceful village being repressed by Islamic militants. Captures perfectly how peaceful real Muslims are and how fucked the militants are. There’s a scene where people get captured and beaten for playing music. After my family and loved ones, music is the dearest thing to me. So for someone to take this away from me simply because it doesn’t fit in with their beliefs is crazy and I feel wholeheartedly for any one being suppressed like this. The film is beautifully shot, which is the least depressing thing about it!  

5. If you had to choose between keeping either of your sight or your hearing, which would you rather keep?

Very difficult to call this one. Could I keep one ear and one eye? If not my first reaction to this would be to keep my hearing. Like I said earlier, to have music taken away from me would be devastating, to not be able to hear my son and fiancés voice? However, not to be able to look at my son growing up, the man he turns in to. Kind of depressing. I’m sure which ever one I lost, my other senses would become more powerful and I’d adapt. As long as I’m alive, have other good health and the people I love in my life.

6. The Guest Question comes from the homey Jimi Needles. "What do you think the future of EDM looks like?”

Honestly, I haven’t a scooby. I would never really class myself as an EDM DJ/Producer. But I guess I use synths to create bass lines, play Ghetto Funk and Glitch Hop. So maybe I am! You’ll never find a track I’ve made with out a sample in it, for me that’s just what I like. It’s my hip hop roots. 

I can’t say I’m really in to cats like Skrillex. I used to love Diplo stuff but not sure about the direction he’s now taken. To me EDM kind of makes me think of those untalented DJ’s who just stand there and twiddle nobs that do nothing. My sets are always fast paced with doubles, live remixes and scratch routines. On the flip side, you’ve got some one like A-Trak who’s one of my favourite DJ’s. He’s embraced EDM and is one of the best DJ’s on the planet. 

For me it’s cool, do your thing, choose your genre. There will always be music I don’t like, that’s what makes us individual. The only thing I’d say about any music is just keep it funky, with meaning. That’s what makes us dance, nod our heads, learn things about life, come to terms with things and sing the tune the next day. Whether your using a drum kit or a drum machine, synth or trumpet, if it’s funky people will get down to it. 

I’d like to say the future of EDM will keep night clubs open and alive, keep breaking the boundaries of making dope sounds and get funkier. I’m just not educated enough on the genre to make the call and forecast correctly.