Praise the lord for DJ Yoda. Here’s a man who values variety, digs diversity and revels in the absence of uniformity, monotony and the mundane. His unique sample-led hip hop, scoops up all that lays before him, splices and dices them into easy-to-manage, bite sized pieces and then goes back for seconds. Nothing is safe from his reach, if it’s not nailed down and heavily alarmed, then DJ Yoda will take it, size it up and insert it into the most appropriate space as a sample, sound clip, sound effect or other sonic randomness. In the past, both his live sets and his much loved mix series, ‘How to Cut & Paste’ have featured samples from film, TV, radio, advertising, stand up and anything else he can pull out the bag. It’s a potent musical cocktail of sorts and one that Yoda has managed to master to an incredibly effect, although he also highlights other artists who take a similar approach to performing. “The first artists that I recognised as sampling were Coldcut, Steinski and even Jive Bunny”, explains Yoda, real name Duncan Beiny. ”The style really appealed to me – the idea that you can take tiny bits of anything you like, and make something entirely new, personal and original with them – like a collage. To me, that’s what “true” hip-hop is – the re-inventing of old music into something new and exciting.
However, such a wide knowledge did not just happen overnight and Beiny put in the hard graft to get where he is today. “I grew up around music – literally”, he says. “My parents were in the music industry, and my dad kept his record collection in my bedroom. As a kid, I was into hip-hop and I used to pretend to scratch with my dad’s records. Eventually, I broke my parent’s record player, saved up and started learning to DJ for real.”
Today DJ Yoda is a global success, a name on any lien up that makes the ticket price worth coughing up for! His latest tour to Australia will see him bringing out his new toy, which allows him to manipulate and mix live visual images while he plays tracks and scratches. “I would always use audio samples from movies and TV shows in my DJ mixes, then the technology started arriving that allowed me to mix and scratch the actual movies and TV shows themselves,” says Beiny. “So it was a natural progression for me to start DJing like this. In this show, I’m using a lot of stuff that I’ve found on YouTube, and scratching it up ‘over’ a regular DJ set. It’s pretty hard to describe, but if you see it then I hope it makes sense! I use turntables, Serato, DVJs, an AV mixer –quite lot of equipment, but I think that there’s no-one out there doing something similar, so I hope it’s worth it. It’s funny, it’s really early days with all this technology, so those that are using it all seem to be doing something slightly different with it. Like some people use the visuals thing to show mainly psychedelic, swirly images and whatnot – I prefer scratching some Will Ferrell or Family Guy!’
Having mastered the balance between what you hear and what you see at a DJ Yoday gig, Beiny is walking into the future with his eyes and ears wide open. “It’s been an interesting decade for music – I wonder how people will look back at it many years from now? The decade of dubstep, baile funk, kwaito, cumbia and grime! And on a personal level there have been so many highlights – I’ve been lucky enough to perform everywhere from China to Brazil, but a highlight was getting to play in Malawi, Africa, as that felt really special. In the next decade I’d like to build up a hefty body of music production to leave behind me!”