INNA CITY RIDDIMS - Q's with SCHMEE-J
07 July 2016 by Sancho Murphy
It's just over a week until INNA CITY RIDDIMS hits Lobrow Gallery & Bar. The event brought to you by RELOAD SYD introduces local and interstate DJs & Producers who were hand picked to showcase warm bass-lines and Reggae riddims from Digital Dub & Grime to Future Bass & Deep Dubstep/House.
We caught up with DJ SCHMEE-J who's been pushing these nights to get an insight from the perspective of an individual who's been, gone and coming back to the gentle call of the nation's capital.
Have a peep below.
What is RELOAD?
RELOAD was an idea my brother (JUZLO) had in 2010, born from his love of Grime music. The idea became a conversation and the conversation became a reality. Basically the idea to host talented DJs in good underground venues and warehouses to people who could appreciate bass heavy UK influenced electronic music. I came on board in late 2013 after moving to Sydney having just moved back from London and sharing a love for Grime, Deep Dubstep and Dancehall music.
We hosted some very talented producers like Swindle and Toddla T as well as many local well known Sydney/Melbourne DJs and Producers. One of those guys is a very talented scratch, bass line heavy DJ MIGZ from Canada who’s playing at our next event.
Tell us who you got lined up for your next party at Lobrow?
I am so excited to see these guys all playing on one night and it’s FREE ENTRY!!!
I have basically searched out some of Canberra's best underground DJs & Producers. The talent in this group is amazing. This really is Inna City Riddims and you can expect anything from grime, deep dubstep, dancehall, deep house, UK bass, garage, future bass and hip hop.
DYP was picked to play not one but two BOILER ROOM live DJ sets in Adelaide and with his warm vocals and bouncy bass liners its no wonder the kid was picked twice. He has a keen ear for good music and I’m looking forward to 'shazamming' half his set.
MANLIKEHOSHO has more rhythm in his heart then he can contain. I first spotted him MCing around Canberra years ago at the popular Good Foot parties where he literally dropped bars for hours and he has been busy producing and selecting good music from his travels in Africa where he’s been based as a DJ for the last 3yrs. He’s a got a bag of tracks that you can’t help but move to and one of the nicest guys you’ll meet.
MIGHTY MORFIN is super keen to showcase what he’s been working on production wise over the last few years in Canberra before he heads off to the UK to hone in on his already awesome skills having been signed with LA music label Straight up! Music amongst other interesting projects, if you haven’t heard of him yet you better come and meet him before he becomes the next Flume!
SCHMEE-J. Well, I’ll probably just get drunk and enjoy the music from these guys. Can’t wait.
What single night out has been the most memorable for you? As a DJ? As an attendee?
As a DJ ..wow. That's a tough one to answer. I'd have to say one of my most memorable nights was playing back to back records with one of my favourite DJs -Freq Nasty in front of 2000 people on NYE’s in Cairns 2008... I was so nervous and he kept saying “Yeah, lets kill’em man” in his hippy dread-lock English accent. I was blown away when he asked if he could join me (as he’d just finished a 2 hour set himself which was very inspiring).
As a punter, when I was 19 I moved to London with a good friend and I remember going to Ministry of Sound back in 1998 for the first time and I’ll never forget when the DJ did a rewind and double dropped Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You... It was the first time I’d heard it and the club went mental. I spent months trying to find out what the track was.
What do you think about the Canberra ‘scene’, Where do you think the ‘scene’ is headed? One year from now? Five years from now?
This is a very interesting question and coming from a guy who’s moved back and forth from Canberra for most of my adult life I have to say, sadly I feel the scene is now dominated by a few key venue owners who think commercial music is the only way to pull a crowd here. Even some busy venues known for alternative music seemed to have moved that way. I walked past 3 venues all playing Niggaz in Paris one night in Civic.
For anyone who is old enough to remember places like - Heaven night club, La Grange and Lot 33 you will also recall that they were far from commercial Top 40/R&B and every weekend they were full of punters.
Five years from now, I’d like to see that scene come back thanks.
If you could eternally be stuck in one year's music scene, which year would it be?
Music is always changing and growing that’s why we love it. If I was stuck in the 1970’s I’d be happy, but then I’d never know what that 'Amen Break' in Jungle music was, just the 70’s funk track Amen Brother, where the loop originally came from and who knows what music we will be exposed to next year!
What is your opinion regarding the difference between old school DJing where everything was restricted to vinyl and modern DJing where most tracks are never put on any physical medium before or after release?
You know, it’s sad that so many artists these days will never know the buzz that comes from having a track pressed to vinyl and played by a DJ for the first time in a club or through a good analogue stereo in someone's house. There’s just something so lasting and preserved about records. Last year records out sold CD’s so maybe theres still hope for us.
But on the flip side, for so many producers now it’s never been easier or quicker to make a track and have it distributed globally in such a cheap and efficient way. Not only that but you can cut out so many ‘middle men' - so it’s also never been cheaper to buy and sell music.
Plus I can finally find and play tracks that would have taken me years to hunt down and find, especially old Dub, Funk and Disco/House tracks that are now super rare and fetching astronomically high prices on vinyl.
What is one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you hear it?
Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You (again)!!!
Music has this gift of taking you back to moment in time and when that track came out, my eyes and ears where open to so much good music. I guess it just takes me back to when I was young and full of hope, plus that guitar rhythm taken from Chaka Khan - Fate never grows old.
I also still listen to a lot of Hip hHp from the early 90’s and for many years I walked around with head phones playing DAS EFX - They want EFX in my youth, so that album also means a lot to me.
If you could stage a rave / party anywhere, where would you choose?
Lobrow in Canberra! Haha... Why not. It’s as good a place as any. If the music is good I don’t care where I am.
If you had the power to erase & abolish one musical genre - which one would you abolish for all eternity?
I would never take anything away. Music is only what it means to the listener. If someone gets the same buzz listening to pan pipes that I get from a dirty bass line roller, then it’s all love man.
Who’s throwing the best parties at the moment?
Me. Next question.
Out of all the tunes you have, which one ‘never fails?’
In Canberra - Pony by Ginuwine. Don’t get me started man.
I guess it really depends where I’m playing. What I loved about living in the UK was the English know their music. I could drop some very rare old skool garage track at a backyard party and guaranteed some geezer would roll up to me and tell me who produced it, where and how they used to play it on some pirate radio station in Brixton back in the day.
Funniest and worst thing that ever happened at an event?
I remember playing a Global Underground party once in Perth and prior to the night, the DJ playing before me had organised a “move” with the lighting guy (who was his mate), to turn off all the lights and then when the tune drops, turn a massive white spot light on him, while he did the “Jesus” hands out move.
I was behind him with local drum and bass producer, Brett - Jerry Mane, who also had no idea this was about to happen, bitching about how cheesy this (well known Aussie) DJ currently playing a dance version of AC/DC’s -Thunder Struck was.
Needless to say as the lights came on nobody reacted. Everyone (including us) just stood there stunned and the two of us looked at each other and pissed ourselves laughing and had to run off the stage.
I think the lesson here is, don’t try and be bigger then Jesus or you might get...wait of it ...Thunder Struck!
FAST 5 WITH HOUL:
You’re self taught. How would you compare your approach and style as opposed to someone who has been taught by someone else? Is there a noticeable difference?
That’s a good question..hmm.. It probably comes down to the individual. When I started it literally took years and years to get anywhere. Now with the internet its never been easier to learn and for free! Plus the amount of DJ/Production gear around now is pretty amazing and cheaper then ever before. I don’t take any of that for granted.
I can definitely spot the differences between people who did the hard yards compared to someone who’s just doing what they think is cool. I think most peeps can spot the difference. Personally I feel self taught learners have more individual style about them, more soul...not just in DJing or producing music but in any skill set.
Can you explain the origins SCHMEE-J? I can understand some of the logic behind some of the nom de plumes adopted by graff artists and the like, choosing words that are short and direct, using particular letters, to facilitate tagging, and the connections of letters for bigger pieces, but I imagine the process for choosing a name for a performance artist is different. Where does this come from? As a side-note, I went to school with a guy who went by DJ Shit Fuck. Amazing. (Shout out to DJ ShitFuck)
Yeah right! Haha ...What’s in a name after all. It’s all about being different I guess, standing out and being memorable.
DJ SCHMEE-J started off as a poke at all the DJ's who took it so seriously. It’s like 'Pro-schmoe' or 'Dope-schmope', just a play on words. Everyone’s a DJ these days it’s lost it’s meaning. In a world wide exclusive I’ve actually decided to update my name very soon...just waiting for the right time to make my big move. Baby steps. (That’s not the name...or is it?!).
What is the whackest vinyl in your collection, assuming that ‘whack’ is still a word that the kids are using? I have a Don Spencer record myself which, while not particularly ‘whack’, is certainly out of place in the rest of my collection. Is there some Dolly Parton in amongst your King Tubby? A sneaky slice of Tiny Tim nestled between some Deep Medi tracks? A third objectively whack album placed sneakily behind a third example of a band in the genre in which you enjoy?
I went through a phase of collecting weird records that I could get odd samples from and scratch live during sets. One of my favourites is Eddy Murphy’s live stand up show - Delirious. So many good samples and the funniest stand up show ever performed in my humble opinion. Always get’s peoples attention when I scratch “and then a big brown shark came”. Hilltop Hoods kind of stole my thunder on that one haha.
I sort of gave up on crate diggin' years ago due to traveling around so much. Records are heavy as hell and very expensive to move and store in places. Plus they have a way of taking over your life if you get addicted to it.
I was hanging out with a good friend of mine, Matt, better known as the OZ Vinyl Junkie a few months ago at his place in Byron, and man, that guy has everything...I'm talking walls of records. When we walked into his garage, I openly wept and reconsidered my entire existence. He said I wasn’t the first person to do that.
What is it like having escaped Canberra? I mean, it’s clearly not a permanent solution, the thick, foggy tendrils have pulled you back in, the gentle throb of Lake Burley Griffin’s non-existent tide calling you like a sediment heavy siren song. How do you find the scene in Sydney as compared to Canberra?
I love escaping from here... but I also love coming back. Australia is a big place and there is so much going on all the time. It’s saddens me to think there are people out there that haven’t lived outside of where they grew up. That’s when you learn who you really are as a person.
It’s been cool to see how each city has it’s own vibe going on over the last decade. Melbourne to me always feels like the “live music” city, with pockets of good hidden bars and very talented DJ's and bands. Cairns has an amazingly open minded vibe, a lot like Byron, while Perth was very dominated by DnB when I lived there, mainly due to the success of the Pendulum boys and it’s strong English expat population that live there.
While Sydney being a major city, naturally there’s heaps going on and I try and get up to support the local scene when I can, which is hard these days as I play most weekends here. I recently managed to catch Thievery Corporation at the Enmore and was like a grinning like a little kid the whole time.
But sadly with the lock out laws in place it definitely feels like Sydney has lost a part of its soul and so many good venues have closed as a result.
Let’s try a question that may initially seem rather benign, but really is a way for the readers to understand more about you, offering an insight into your soul. Prepare to open yourself to me, SCHMEE-J, like so many dollar floozies before you, picked up at fabled truck-stops and late night diners, liquored up and searching for some sort of connection or friendship…. What was the first album you bought and the most recent?… What? You’re shy? Oh sweet angel, don’t be shy. Here, let me go first…
My first album was Elvis’ Greatest Hits from a $5 bargain bin, and my most recent was ‘3001: A Laced Odyssey’ by Flatbush Zombies.
Hahaha...wait, what was the question?
First album, was a cassette tape of Run DMC’s - Tougher than Leather album when it first came out! That was the first album I bought with my own monies. I actually got the tape stuck in my car stereo years later and that’s all I could listen to for like a year! I didn’t even care..I was rolling by in my 1980 Honda Civic, windows down yelling “Mary Mary, why ya buggin” !!!
Most recent album was Masta Ace - The Falling Season. Also I just got a copy of J-Dilla’s new album The Diary and I feel that’s also going to get stuck in the car stereo this year... hopefully.
Catch INNA CITY RIDDIMS at Lobrow Gallery & Bar on Friday 15th July - 7PM and it's FREE ENTRY.
No excuses Canberra, if you're one of those people that complains that there is nothing to do in the nation's capital ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ - this is but a small crumb from the awesome pie, get out, meet and support a local night, for locals by locals! Discover more!
Facebook Event for more details.