Since the dawn of time, sight and sound have been intrinsically connected. From the paint, colour and costumes used in ancient ceremonial dances, through to MTV and the music video; what you hear and what you see combine as one to create the ultimate audio visual experience. The power of the image in music is unquestionable. Imagine the Rolling Stones without the snake-hipped swagger of Mick Jagger, imagine Queen without the flamboyance of Freddie Mercury, imagine MJ without the moonwalk. Our eyes and our ears aren’t just linked – they are united.
Step forward DJ Cheeba, a man who knows how to make sense of the senses with a groundbreaking performance mixing not just the music you hear but the visuals you see. Like many of us DJ Cheeba, aka Simon Luscombe had an in-house source of musical inspiration when he was growing up. “A major influence on me when I was growing up was my brother,” he says. “Obviously when I was 10 years old, I didn’t have any money to buy music so I was pretty much at the mercy of the radio and whatever my brother decided to buy at the time. So I’d listen to a lot of the cure and the police then moved onto Nirvana and Mudhoney and more grungy sounds. I was probably about 15 when I first listened to Orbital and things like that and that led me towards electronica. Then the leftfield hip-hop thing took off when I was about 17 or 18 when my brother slung me some Warp stuff.’ Map out this musical path and you’ll come to a fairly good understanding of where his music sits today, although head along to any of the shows on this, his first Australian tour and you can expect to hear numerous other bits and pieces in one continuous collage of sounds. ‘It’s eclectic, it really is”, he says of his own style. “It’s probably more based in hip hop than anything else with a lot of turntablism, scratching and juggling. It can go from everything from 70bm beats all the way to tear-out Jungle and everything in between.” The breadth of his musical reach was one of the reasons he was picked up by Ninja Tunes, the well respected record label and artist collective that has been leading the field when it comes to leftfield hiphop inspired music.
Having established what you’ll hear, lets move on to have a look at what you’ll see. Until recently club music and DJs in particular had an embarrassingly poor visual representation, which more often than not amounted to a moody looking bloke hunched over a pair of decks. There are, of course exceptions with acts like the Cold Cut and Hexstatic (both on the Ninja Tunes rosta) having been pioneers in the field of VJing. However, DJ Cheeba is part of a growing number of DJs who are utilising new technologies, which allow you to place a control signal to vinyl. The signal is then read by a computer which applies an MP3 or and MP4 to it. It’s a mind boggling concept that most of us will struggle to comprehend but thankfully Luscombe is on hand to spell it out for the technofobes, “It’s hard thing to try explain because its not that simple, but once you see it working it is. Imagine having two DVD player and being able to control them with turntables. It basically means I can treat videos as if it’s vinyl”, he explains. For this tour he’s bring over a new video show which he’s just about to launch so expect to see a whole new selection of old films, TV series, cartoons, music videos, stuff he’s filmed himself and a varied mix of visual randomness. Prick up your ears and open your eyes to what will no doubt be a growing trend in the future thanks to trailblazers like DJ Cheeba.