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.
2. When is the last time you did something for the first time?
I've learned that discipline is a way of managing stress. When we went to pack up the Turntemple after Electric Love, I was smiling because I was so happy to pack up. My road manager and buddy Todd said, “This is unusual. You're usually moaning and groaning.” But what happened is that our operation is getting more and more streamlined. Instead of it being a huge motherfuckin' effort to pack up – because we put in this in this effort to refine the whole process and leave behind the unnecessary, packing up was easy. So, it's the first time I packed up the Turntemple without crying.
2b. What skills that you've developed DJ ing apply to other areas of your life?
When you see the discipline in one thing, you'll see the discipline in everything. When I do competition sets for the DMC or RedBull Thre3style, if I put that level of care and attention into everything I did...Oh my god. That applies to everything. It's also really taught about me working with a team in the Turntemple now. Sharing the load and stresses with Todd and Stacey. I can focus on being a good facilitator and DJ, while they cover other stuff and I don't have to worry about everything.
3. If you could spend the day with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
Albert Einstein. Recently there were some letters released that he wrote to his daughter. He said to his daughter, “The world's not ready for this yet but I'm going to tell you because I love you...” He wrote to his daughter that his belief was love is the ultimate energy. And if you put love into E=Mc2, it's this energy that continues to multiply and multiply and becomes this most powerful thing. I've come to the conclusion that Love is the supreme energy, so when I read that letter I was like, “Holy fuck!” People believe Einstein and they'll buy into his stuff. I'd love to spend a day learning about that and how to implement that. If Love is this ultimate energy then I'd want to get that information from him.
3b. Who's on your Mount Rushmore of DJs?
Jam Master Jay. Roc Raida. QBert. And uhhhhh, there's four faces on Rushmore, right? Hmmmmm. Ahhhhhh. Craze. It has to be Craze. We got a badass party rocker, the best scratcher, the best juggler and fucking Craze.
4. What's your favourite household chore?
The hallmark chore for me is doing dishes. Dishes like a disc jockey, know what I'm saying? This is another thing I learned from packing up with Todd and complaining. Complaining about shit you don't wanna do doesn't make it easier; it just makes it harder. Looking at the dishes and complaining...Man, there's only one way they're going to get done and that's me doing them. After I do the dishes and I wipe down the counters...Oh man! It feels so good. After that I always have my best jams too.
4a. Who's someone that came through the Turntemple that surprised you and blew you away with the chops they had?
I don't know his DJ name. But his name is David Falloon. It was at Bass Coast in 2015. Every year when I'm doing the Turntemple there's going to somebody coming around just as I'm shutting down or hosting or whatever. Once person comes around over and over and I keep denying and the fourth time they come around I'm like, “There's no way I can so 'no' again.” Even if I need to be somewhere else, I have to be in there with this person. And it just happened to be at that time Om Unit, a legend, was in there. Dave Falloon came in and Dave hopped on the cut. I thought he had never done it before, he was so soft spoken and his body language wasn't that of someone who was going to come in and fucking rip the whole place apart. And he ripped shit up. To this day, he's a friend of mine, he'll come through and help teach. There's a legend from the Anishinaabe First Nations in Manitoba. They talk of a trickster chief who can take the form of anyone. And as part of their culture you show respect to anyone, because it could be him. That person who looks like they don't know what the fuck they're doing could be him. If was to tell a story about an unassuming hero, it would be Dave.
5. What's the best memory you have of a school teacher growing up?
In grade 6 I had a teacher named Mr. Pagan. He knew how to tell a story. This was in a neighbourhood with a lot of single parents and whatnot. The guy kept teaching in the 'hood for all these years, up until last year when he retired from the school my son goes to. When I walked into the school I was like, “Mr. Pagan?” and he said, “Peter Poole!” Like, wow! So yeah, that happening recently is probably my best memory of a teaher.
5b. Who was the first person where you were like, “Holy shit, this person is in the Turntemple!”?
Oh man, there's been so many. Uhhhhh
Ahahaha. Okay, when's the last time?
Last time Craze was in was bananas. There's been many world champions come through. We've had Woody, Shiftee, Craze, Brace...There's been literally A to Z. A Skillz and Z-Trip. Zeke Beats, JFB. All the best. The guys with this insane scratch vocabulary. They just know how to speak in the language of Scratch.
6. The guest question comes from Neil from Righteous Rainbows...What's been the greatest “Eureka moment” that you've had regarding your craft in the past year?
When I share this thing that I love with other people, it enhances my experience. If I'm doing it from an authentic place...Like, today I was on the reservation, jamming with these little kids, they'd never done it before and they were so thrilled. When I do that, I know that without fail I'm going to be on the receiving end of some high-level professional satisfaction. When I share with other people, it makes this better.
6b. Finally, what does the Turntemple mean to you?
The Turntemple is an authentic place for me to share my love with other people, my love of turntablism. It's a place where the preservation of the language of vinyl-based DJing can live. If people don't practice language, it dies. The Turntemple is a place where people can come in and actually practice the language. They can get their hands on some turntables and see the relevance. “If there's so many ways to DJ, why do we keep doing it this way?” It's a place to share and celebrate the culture.