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DJ Yoda Interview

January 22, 2011

DJ Yoda, aka Duncan Beiny, is a hip-hop DJ, producer and master turntablist from London. Famed for his How to Cut and Paste mixtape series of cheeky mash-ups, as well as his own artist album The Amazing Adventures of DJ Yoda, Duncan is a founding member of legendary rap-zine Fat Lace with long-time collaborator Dan Greenpeace. He has even performed on the decks with composer Gabriel Prokofiev and a full live orchestra. We caught him between feeding his daughter and working on his new album to tell us about his upcoming show at Nottingham’s Gatecrasher and spill the beans on his guilty cereal pleasure.

What can we expect from the Gatecrasher gig? Is it going to be different to your other shows?
Well, about half my shows are straight DJ sets and half of them are video shows, and this is going to be my brand new video show. The technology I’m using to do these shows is changing all the time and this will be the first time I’ve done it with my new set-up. It’s no longer with DVDs, it’s all controlled with vinyl and two turntables so it’s a lot more like traditional DJing.

DJ Yoda - at Gatecrasher Nottingham this weekend
DJ Yoda – at Gatecrasher
Nottingham this weekend!

So you’ll be incorporating lots of old movies into the set?
Yeh, well my sample source is just about anything I think is cool, so a lot of it comes from YouTube but a lot of it is movie samples and also TV programmes and animations. I guess, a lot of people are in the office every day and send each other funny YouTube clips and when I get sent that stuff I try to figure out a way I can DJ with it.

That’s why you’ve called it Stop, Look and Listen then?
That’s right, it’s to get across to people that what I’m doing is a bit more of a show than just DJing. Obviously you can ignore the screen if you want and just dance, but I’ve designed it so you would also be able to sit down in the cinema, eat popcorn and watch it like a film. The whole tour is leading towards the London dates at the IMAX in a few weeks.

Yoda in 3D?
Haha. I don’t think the 3D thing is realistically going to happen in a club. I’ve looked into it and it’s do-able but I think the problem is expecting people to keep their 3D specs on while they’re out on a Friday night and trying to order drinks and stuff. It just doesn’t really work!

Read more from DJ Yoda after the jump!

You’ve done quite a lot of shows in Nottingham in the past few years. What keeps you coming back?
Nottingham’s got a really good music scene, actually. People seem to be quite clued up there, compared with other cities. It’s always a good vibe and I’ve always had good gigs in Nottingham. In fact, I did one of my first ever video shows there at Stealth and the fact it went down well that time is testament to the fact that Notts people have got an open mind about music.  When I was growing up, rap music was literally all I’d listen to and Nottingham’s always had a really good scene with people like Pitman, Cappo and Mr 45 so there’s quite a lot of hip-hop heads there.

You’ve also branched out from the purely hip-hop gig and been doing some festivals. What’s been your festival highlight of 2010?
Probably Bestival this year because it was a really massive crowd and I was closing the festival and came on after the Prodigy which meant there were about 14,000 people which was pretty awesome. It’s always a really good one, Bestival. And getting to travel all over and do stuff outside the UK has been amazing. I feel really blessed by the number of places I have travelled in the past few years because of my job.

The kind of shows you do now started off with your How to… series which have taken in everything from 80s music to country and western. Where do you plan to take them next?
Oh, there’s tonnes I’ve left uncovered and I think I’ll always do those mixes. Even if I didn’t have a record deal, I’d be making those mixes – I was making those mixes before I had a record deal, just for myself and my mates. These days it’s just more about what I can fit in, time-wise. Like, at the moment, I’m working really hard when I’m not travelling to finish up my new artist album. When that’s out of the way, I can turn my attention to a new mixtape.

Ok. So your new EP Yoda and Friends is coming out. Is that a taster of the album?
Yeh, in fact, to tell you the truth, nothing on it will be on the album. It’s stuff that I’ve done recently and pulled together and maybe didn’t feel was right to go on the album. A lot of it is a bit more clubby than something last-able that you can play at home. It’s called Yoda and Friends because it’s just collaborations I’ve had with other producers. There’s one on there that I did with Herve, one that I did with A-Skillz, one with Nick Thayer, one with an Irish guy called Cormac.

But there will be MCs on the new album?
There will be MCs on it but I guess it will just be more informed by things like dubstep and Baltimore club and that kind of stuff that I play when I DJ. I’m not going to say who’s on it yet, though. I’m going to wait until the album’s a bit more finished otherwise I just have people holding out for songs that might take ages to appear.

Who’s been your favourite artist to collaborate with in the past?
Getting to do tracks with Biz Markie was a dream come true because he’s always been my favourite rapper, even from when I was like 14 years old.

So would you prefer breakfast with Biz or watching cartoons with Akinyele?
Hahaha, I’d like to do both of those. I mean, Biz collects breakfast cereals and I do as well, so it’s something we’ve both got in common.

As a top globe trotting DJ, you must have built up some sizable crates. But do you have one prized record that you could never sell?
Oh wow, well I’d say my favourite hip-hop tune of all time is probably ’93 til Infinity by Souls of Mischief. I’ve got a 12” of that signed by all four of them, so for me that’s the one I would never give up.

Brilliant tune. One last question – if you’re Yoda, is Dan Greenpeace your Luke Skywalker?
If anything, it would be the other way round! He’s an older dude than me and he kind of took me under his wing when we were working at Fat Lace magazine and I was putting mixtapes about. I saw him this week actually. He came and saw my new show because I wanted feedback from someone, so I still hook up with him. I speak to the other Fat Lace guys too, but it’s just a time issue these days, between travelling and recording.

DJ Yoda website
Gatecrasher Nottingham website
Originally published on LeftLion.co.uk, October 18, 2010.

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