After his smashing success at the Lebanese edition of Redbull’s 3Style champion, we sat with DJ Beats to learn more about his music, his influences and how he came to be the winner of the competition. As we wait for his participation in the world championship, here’s everything you need to know for when he comes back home with the trophy:
You’ve quite the knack for mixing. How do you go about choosing the tracks you mix?
No specific way really. It depends on the gig and the response of the crowd on songs I’ve played. I try to cover as many genres as possible in open format gigs.
In the fewest words possible, how would you describe your sound? Where do you see it going?
People always tell me what genre I play and I always answer with everything that sounds good to my ears. I’ve always been into hiphop music but I don’t mind playing any other genre as long as it sounds good. I see it going more towards 3style mentality. Same sounds but presented in a better and newer way that the Lebanese scene has not heard before.
During the competition, you mixed a lot of different genres. What type of music do you listen to? What artists have inspired you?
Anything that has lyrics in them and my ears are fine with listening to. I was a die hard fan of Akon during my teens. Too bad he is more into production now. As a DJ I didn’t have any inspirations at first until I came across Lethal Skillz doing his ninja moves on the turntables. Then in 2013 I came across a video of eskei83 in the 3style 2013 finals and it blew my mind. Last year as well a DJ that goes by the name of 69Beats, the polish champ of 3style was also inspiration to do even more.
So as an artist I would say Akon and as DJs who got me where I am today; Lethal Skillz, eskei83 and 69Beats
Tell us how a software engineer became the winner of RedBull 3Style Championship.
That’s a hard one. The fact that 3style came to Lebanon in the first place is a miracle. It’s a long story but the main people behind it were Lethal Skillz and the good friends at DJ Lab Lebanon. We did lots of work together to do workshops and it got the recognition of Red Bull to come to Beirut. Now for the technical part, I would say it’s passion to what I do. I love 3style, I love what they do and how they appreciate talent and give it exposure. It was also a chance for me to show the scene in Lebanon that DJs don’t only mix 2 songs and hopefully elevate the incomplete DJ scene in country. This was the fuel for me to do lots of preparations and practice almost daily. Coming back home and practice after 10 hours behind a laptop writing code is not easy so I really needed this extra boost.
You’ve been DJing for 9 years, what’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned throughout the process?
Not giving up on what you love and keep practicing. I’ve started DJing using a software and I didn’t know anything. My mixes where horrible. At some point I gave up for almost a year. Then I came back and started learning basics from youtube. That’s where it really started. Then when mixing tracks became easy, scratching and turntablism stepped in. It also felt impossible and I gave up on it for good. Up until last year, after a few workshops around turntablism and a decent amount of practice I can say I can do intermediate scratching and turntablism.
How did you prepare for the Beirut finale? How are you preparing for the world championship?
For 3style it’s continuous preparation even when you are not behind the decks. It’s a mentality you carry with you all the time. When you listen to a song on the radio while you drive you link it to something else. You watch something on youtube and you notice you can use it to build a story in your set. And there is when you are behind the decks just playing around with songs and trying to come up with ideas. The only difference between the Beirut Finals and the world championship is that for Beirut I had some content already. I’ve had some routines prepared, I had things I used to have pre-recorded years ago and performed them live so some pieces of my 3style puzzle were For the world finals I have nothing. I’m starting from scratch. I need to build a new set that takes into account the feedback from the judges on my national set, represent our Lebanese culture and present it in a way everyone would enjoy.
What’s one challenge you’re proud to have overcome as a DJ?
I think I would say scratching and doing turntablism. I really thought I could never be able to do that given how hard it is. It was just really about practice and patience.
How often do you improvise? Tell us about the impact of the audience on your sets.
Always. I can’t remember a time I’ve had a pre-prepared set. I just carry my music and do what I do on the fly. I think in a few occasions I would prepare a few tracks I want to play just so that I don’t forget about them but that’s about it. It becomes really boring when you are just going to play this list of songs in this order. Improvising helps the set adapt to the crowd which makes the crowd enjoy the music more.