DJ 2×4 is a DJ from from Liverpool who has been DJing for a couple of years now and has links with record labels, performs regularly and has his own radio show. We caught up with him and found out how he got into DJing, how he has progressed to date and what his plans are for the future.
Hi, can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about where you are from?
DJ 2×4: My name is Adam Birch and I am from Liverpool I first got into hip-hop a long time ago and ever since I have not looked back I love hip–hop and everything to with it at the age of 15 I decided that I wanted to become a DJ and I began reading books and also watching videos on the internet about DJ’ing. I got my first set of turntables for my sixteenth birthday and I was never apart from them, they were a part of my life like many people have pets or toys. I am part of many crews and also work for a record label and work with many promotional groups.
What is your name about?
DJ 2×4: Basically I wanted a name that I didn’t think anyone else would choose so after a week of thinking the name I thought of was DJ 2×4.
How old are you?
DJ 2×4: 17.
So, how long have you been into Hip Hop? What was it that made you turn to Hip Hop? What would you bump in your walkman?
DJ 2×4: I have been listening to hip hop all of my life from the first time I ever picked up a pair of headphones. Nothing really made me turn to hip hop it was just a natural thing for me, people are born into a family within a certain genre of music due to their parents preferences, but this for me was not the case my parents didn’t listen to hip-hop. But I still found my own way into the hip-hop world this was due to the type of people that I was hanging around with and also my love for other DJ’s out at the time E.G. DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Shadow.
I will listen to anything hip-hop or rnb related from the fast rapping style of Twista or slow tracks by Akon, it really just depends what kind of mood I am in but every track on my walkman always gets a listen.
Were there any particular DJs who inspired you, or whom you based your style on?
DJ 2×4: There were a lot of DJ’s who inspired me whilst I was becoming a DJ, a few of them from Liverpool in which I looked up to a lot more as I had more contact with them e.g. DJ Olabean, DJ 2Kind, DJ Ridge.
OK, so to give a bigger perspective are you affiliated with any MCs or are you part of a larger crew or collective?
DJ 2×4: I have many contacts within the music industry that are in crews or own record labels e.g. Young Kof from Urbeatz and Rage from Outrageous Muziq Group. I am also part of a crew called 4saken who are rap / rnb / grime and urban fusion group. I also help run a record label called ‘Turn Up Da Volume ENT. We focus on promotion for artists and have helped some big names get into the music world including working with Rage from Outrageous Muziq group.
What have you done together so far? Do you have any wax out?
DJ 2×4: We have recently played at the new Liverpool Echo arena in which we performed in front of 9,000 people. We also perform at many different events around not only Liverpool, but also the U.K. We work with a few promotion companies to gain the best quality for our group and we also strive to achieve new goals every day.
Right, so are there any plans for future releases from you lot? Are you signed to a label or looking for a deal or what?
DJ 2×4: At the moment we are not currently signed to a record label although I run a record label with one of the band members, ‘Kane Awork’. We have not signed ourselves as such, the reason we have not done this yet is because we would prefer to be signed to a record label that can take us outside of what we can do at the moment with our record label.
Let’s now talk about you as a DJ. Did you always know you were going to be a DJ, or did it take a while for you to decide or build up to it?
DJ 2×4: At first as I am sure many DJ’s start of in life I did not start knowing that I wanted to become a DJ it just grew on me as a whole. I first started off wanting to get into the production and running of a record label, but I knew friends who were DJs and once I played my first record I knew that I wanted to become a DJ. I mean I still loved the production and managerial side of the music industry but the thrill of being out with the crowd and making a crowd of people happy and have a good night out was, and always will be, one of the key factors in me staying a DJ.
So, when would it have been, that you started spinning records? Did you start as strictly a bedroom DJ?
DJ 2×4: Again as many other DJ’s I started of as a bedroom DJ and worked my way up from there I stayed a bedroom DJ for around 5 months until I was confident enough to mix hip hop. I then got in touch with Kane about his crew ‘4saken’ and we then decided to work with each other on many different projects as well as me becoming the official DJ of the group.
What set up did you start out with?
DJ 2×4: I started out with a small set up of Kam belt drive turntables and a small but basic Kam mixer. Obviously only just starting out in the music industry I was very grateful to have this set up and treated my decks like my wife, ha-ha.
Would you agree that starting out on shitty equipment would help a budding DJ learn light touch and stand them in good stead for the future, or would you recommend that they just get on a pro set up from day one?
DJ 2×4: Obviously if a beginner DJ can afford a pro set up then they should take that chance and get it, but for the DJ’s who are starting up and can only afford a cheap set up then this does stand them in good stead for the future as becoming a DJ as you can learn a lot more from a belt drive turntable as from a direct drive turntable, your technique will be different if you’ve started out a belt drive turntable because you don’t have to touch it as music and beat matching is always harder on belt dives as belt drives can slow and speed up unexpectedly, but once mastered it can be very easy and when you finally get a pro set up mixing will be so much easier for you.
So in the relatively short time you have been doing this have you had many different set ups or did you quickly settle on what you liked? Was it a money issue?
DJ 2×4: I have been DJing for around two years now and I have had many set ups. The set up I have stuck with is pioneer CDj’s because they are a lot easier to understand and also a lot better to mix on than anything else for me anyway, but I have had loads of set ups including e.g. (Kam, Numark, Stanton). Getting the right equipment was a money issue as at the start when I was learning I didn’t have loads of money to go out and buy a set of pioneer CDj’s so I stayed with what I could afford, but after learning and perfecting my skill, then getting some money I could then afford a better set up.
How would you best describe your style? Do you edge towards a particular style of scratching / cutting or mixing, or would you say that you don’t specialise and try to cover everything?
DJ 2×4: I try to cover everything. I don’t scratch as much when I’m performing live but in my opinion, I think I mix more than cut and drop as I believe it sounds a lot better if you are mixing commercial stuff, where as, if I was mixing mega mixes and stuff I’d be cutting and dropping.
To get to your level and keep it there do you find yourself practising all the time? How many hours per day would you be at your decks?
DJ 2×4: I am at my decks most of the day I think that you have to practice at least an hour or two a day to remain on top of your game, DJing is a competitive game and while you are taking time off other DJ’s are not, and getting out there taking slots that you could be having for yourself, so to make sure that you get the most out of your skills try practice as much as possible.
Do you get the chance to get on the radio? Are there slots on legal stations available to DJs like you, or if not is there a pirate radio ethic round your sides?
DJ 2×4: I DJ for an online grime radio station called Grime Online I have also worked for many other radio station including Shout Radio which is a student radio station in Liverpool.
How long would it take you to prepare and then get a routine down?
DJ 2×4: It takes me around a day or two to sort out my set list for a show that I have coming up; my shows are usually around 4-5 hours long.
What is the worst thing that has happened to you whilst DJing? Like playing the wrong record or something. Were you able to style it out and are you able to laugh about it now?
DJ 2×4: When I use to mix on vinyl all the time there was an event that I will never forget where I was mixing and the head shell for the stylus had not been put on correctly half way into the mix the record started to loop in places, thankfully I was also using sound effects at the time to mix from some tracks so I got out of it like that and with nobody any the wiser, but it was a very embarrassing moment which was due to lack of attention by me and rushing to set up.
Did you ever imagine that you would take it to the levels you have, you have to be serious about it don’t you?
DJ 2×4: I always had the determination to become a DJ and the love for music to make it, but never thought that I would, yes of course you have to be serious, although the job is fun and you enjoy what you are doing, at the end of the day it is still a job that many DJ’s look on for money to survive. If you are not taking it serious then there isn’t much point in you doing it.
Have you found that people are generally helpful and want to help you out, or is it more of a struggle getting over?
DJ 2×4: I consider myself very lucky. I had a lot of help from other people to get my name out there; I had help from BBC 1Xtra’s DJ One Samurai and also DJ Poser. A lot of local and national MC’s and DJ’s also helped me during my early days as a DJ to the people that helped me I would like to thanks you all. But many DJ’s starting off don’t get the same amount of help that I got and find it very hard to come up in the music industry, but if you are determined then you will strive ahead to the top.
Where do you like to pick up your vinyl? Do you have a special shop that you frequent because it has good service or a special selection, do you shop around all over, or are you lucky enough to get it all sent directly to you?
DJ 2×4: I don’t play vinyl that much anymore but I have never lost the love for it, if I am buying new vinyl then I will pick it up from music retail shops e.g. ‘HMV’ or online.
Have you ever tried to DJ on those CD mixers? Or mp3 mixers? What do you make of that? Do you think that it is just something different and another tool to use? The Pioneer and new Tecnics CD decks are moving things along and are now much more prevalent, is this a good thing or to keep it real you still need to be using records?
DJ 2×4: I use CDj’s now to mix on in clubs as its much easier to mix with them but the love for vinyl wont go away its like having a very old car you will buy a newer one but you will always remember the first car you bought. So the love will always still be there just not every DJ likes to mix on vinyl as records are prone to accidents during shows such as skipping and knocking the tone arm.
Do you have any advice for kids starting out who might want to become DJs, or who have made the first steps and take it to the next level? Is there anywhere people can go to learn all about this stuff, or do they simply have to teach themselves? Would watching videos help, or should you develop your own styles?
DJ 2×4: Any good advice for young DJ’s starting up is watch as many videos as possible this worked for me and you can learn a lot from them, I learnt a lot of techniques on how to mix from watching videos and I believe that they can help every DJ in learning new skills. I also think that reading up on different styles of mixing can help a DJ become better in his / her field of DJing.
What do you make of the internet and what it can do for little known crews? Are you a technical bod, and are you gonna do your own website?
DJ 2×4: The internet can be good and also be bad, it gets good feedback from people and also bad feedback but that’s life, most things in life have a downside and the internet happens to be one of them, but if you are an artist who is trying to make it then the internet can be the most powerful source of promotion. Millions of people log onto the internet everyday so having a myspace page or website can dramatically help people hear you work as well as find out different information about you, I have a myspace page and believe that it has helped me a lot in the music industry and also has introduced me to many different artists local national and international.
What is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?
DJ 2×4: I am working on two new mixtapes this year, a slow jamz one and also a hip hop mixtape based on the best artists from the UK, I’m not going to give too much away about that now, but when there has been more planed I will let you know.
What are your plans for the longer term?
DJ 2×4: I plan on working on a few mixtapes this year and also working with different artists on new projects which you will hear more about very soon.
I ask everyone about politics, because I think it is important that we have knowledge of what is going on, but most current Hip Hop heads decline to answer. I guess they don’t want to upset anyone. Do you have anything to say on that? Any issues you think people need to open their eyes too?
DJ 2×4: Many people don’t like talking about politics as not to upset people yeah, but at the end of the day, in my opinion, hip-hop gets the blame for most things in life. I am not for a minute suggesting that what I am saying is correct, but its how I see things. People listen to heavy metal rock music with lyrics such as biting the heads of animals and also self harming, if a person tries to harm themselves after listening to that nothing gets said other than the child has had problems with bullying or other problems, however a rapper says the word gun on a track and the government have a lot to say about it, saying that hip-hop is the reason for many gang cultures nowadays when people who listen to other types of music are in the same gangs. So in my opinion the government are very stereotypical and tie each hip-hop head to the same brush.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
DJ 2×4: Just for people to check out my myspace page and also if anyone has any questions they would like to ask me then please feel free.
Thank you very much for finding the time to let the readers know a bit more about yourself. Best wishes and good luck for the future.