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Yoda, Woody and Cheeba: The DJ Interview

| Culture, Music | 01/10/2013

DJ Triumvirate: Yoda, Woody, Cheeba
DJ Triumvirate: Yoda, Woody, Cheeba

Whats on London recently got the chance to catch up with three of the world’s leading DJs ahead of their appearance at Videocrash.

DJ Yoda rose to prominence with the seminal ‘How to Cut and Paste’ series, going onto release a string of successful mixtapes and albums. In 2010 he collected an Independent Music Award for his work with the Heritage Orchestra and is known to find inspiration in an eclectic range of music – including tunes by the one and only Rick Astley.

DJ Woody is a two-time world turntable champion with a penchant for pushing boundaries. Described as the “future” by Tony Prince, Woody definitely likes to experiment with his music and visuals. In 2011 he hit the headlines for the now infamous Anne Hathaway Paparazzi remix.

Soundcrash regular, DJ Cheeba, has spent the last few years touring, thrilling audiences at some the world’s most famous festivals whilst sharing the stage with a string of respected artists. Described by Yoda as “one super-creative dude”, Cheeba can fashion a set using anything from beer taps to Led Zeppelin’s back catalogue.

The DJs go onto discuss their differing styles as well as the perks of the job…

How does your approach differ between crafting an ordinary music set and an AV set?

Yoda: As time goes on and technology advances, the difference between these two things gets smaller and smaller. I used to have an AV “show” – in other words the order of music and videos were set in stone. These days it’s a lot more like a DJ set; I’m free to take the videos in any direction I feel like on the night. That said, when I’m just DJing, the flow of the music is more important. In an AV show, there’s a screen making sense of the experience in a different way.

Woody: For the AV shows I’ve always liked to work with a concept or a narrative so that essentially I’m telling a story over the course of the set. Coming from a background in graphic design and TV, the aesthetics of the show are very important to me. I like to take as much care with how the visual elements mix as I do with the musical elements. There’s a lot of pre-production involved for the AV sets so it takes a lot of time for me to do all the video editing, graphics and animations.

The AV sets are very much a set piece like going to a theatre show whereas my regular DJ sets are much more intuitive; I have free reign to go where the vibe and crowd take me. I love both but they are definitely very different experiences as a DJ.

Cheeba: Adding video to the mix gives me the ability to talk to my audience in a way unlike a normal DJ or performer can. I can tap into their nostalgia, talk to them using wordplay from movie and TV clips and use these sources to interact in a way that can be both entertaining and thought provoking. Mixing both audio and video obviously adds another level of concentration during a performance as I’m thinking about things like how the content and colours of the videos blend together with what style of transition while also considering if my beats are matched and melodies are in key. It can be a bit of a head fuck.

What song/sample can you never afford to leave out of a set? And Why?

Yoda: As a hip-hop DJ, I wouldn’t dream of arriving at a gig without my trusty air horn sample! It would be sacrilege!

Woody: I probably couldn’t pick one song but you’re more than likely to hear a Beastie Boys, Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul song find its way into pretty much any set that I do. Why? Because they’re bloody ace.

Cheeba: I definitely have a few things that never leave my crates. Music wise, I nearly always play something by Dutch producers Noisia. Their productions are just so powerful and amazingly mastered; it’s tricky to find anything to play after them though as it will usually sound flat and weak in comparison. Video samples I always return to are the obvious “Cheeba” quotes from films like Half Baked as well as a pool of a few ending montages I like to wrap things up with.

Best thing about being a DJ?

Yoda: There are loads of great things about being a DJ. I’m truly blessed to be in this line of work. For me personally though, it’s the travel. I love that I’ll be in Manchester and Ibiza this weekend, and China next week – I never stop being amazed about the places I get to go.

Woody: A “career” as a DJ certainly wasn’t planned but I’m lucky enough to be doing the very thing I love to do as a job – what more could I ask for?

I’ve seen so much more of the World than I would have otherwise, had so many interesting and sometimes random experiences. I’ve met, performed and collaborated with some amazingly talented people including some of my musical heroes. Since becoming a dad it’s also enabled me to be flexible enough to be at home more of the time with my daughter, which I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Cheeba: I’d say just being my own boss but at the same time that is probably one of the hardest things about doing it too. I’m not a fan of travelling on my own but I really enjoy the buzz of connecting with an audience and getting a big reaction. I guess just seeing all the hard work and preparation pay off is the biggest buzz.

In 3 words, what can we expect from your Videocrash set?

Yoda: Loads of stuff.

Woody: Knowledge, nostalgia and fun.

Cheeba: Big fucking trip.

Videocrash takes place on Friday 01 November at Village Underground.

You can find Yoda’s retreat at www.djyoda.co.uk, Woody’s ranch at www.djwoody.tv, and Cheeba at www.djcheeba.com.

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