Eskei83 is a German DJ and producer that was the winner of 2014 Red Bull Thre3style World Championship. His victory has catapulted him to the upper echelons of the DJ game which sees him tour the world doing what he loves. This week we were fortunate enough to ask him a few questions about his DJ journey, touring the world and get insight into what inspires him creatively.
Your hometown is Dresden, Germany. Tell us about the city and how it shaped you musically?
I started my club DJ career in a local club in Dresden. At this time it was the only club for hip hop, RnB, funk, soul, etc. I came there with just Rap records to play my first show, but the manager said I won’t need my records – they had a whole collection built in the DJ booth. I discovered a lot new music, new & old. I learned about the history of the music and about the tracks that made this club so popular. They had some tracks that nobody else in the city played. I learned a lot about selection, building a night & became creative because I was DJing Friday & Saturday each and every week for 4-5 hours straight. I tried to come up with a different set every week. All on vinyl records.
What made you want to become a DJ? Was it a particular moment,artist or song etc? How old were you?
I started getting interested in Hip Hop culture & Rap music when I was 14 and wanted to become part of it when German Rap got popular. I wanted to be part of the movement and was impressed by the DJs for each group. So I made my own beats and got turntables to record scratches on my beats.
What was the first DJ equipment you ever bought? What equipment are you using now for your live sets?
I started with belt driven Turntables and a 2 channel mixer with no EQ, only 2 up faders & 1 crossfader. That’s it. After my first gig on Technics 1210 turntables I knew I had to get them. I also got a Cassette deck to record my mixes.
What was the hardest thing about learning to become a DJ when you started out?
Bringing records from A to BBut honestly it is to stay focused and rock the party no matter what. You’ll never have a crowd in front of you, where everyone knows you. So it’s about making people happy and showing them your way of putting songs together. I like to catch their interest with interesting songs, new techniques and live performances. Staying motivated every night, even when you play for a half empty club or your equipment is not working – That’s the hardest.
You won the RedBull Thre3style in 2014 in Baku! Your winning performance had everything from Kanye West to Lenny Kravitz and even a shout out from Grand Master Flash. How long did it take to build that set and what is your process when creating your DJ performances?
I didn’t create a specific set for Thre3style in 2014. I learned the hard way in 2013 what happens when you are stuck in your set and not able to react to the crowd/venue/judges. Everything I had for Thre3style 2014 were routines that I had been playing in my previous shows. Some of them I had been playing for years already. In regards to my winning set I decided to put it together in Baku after watching the other DJs & judges playing and made last minute changes after soundcheck. I had my bits & pieces ready and just had to squeeze it into 15 min. And that’s the way I prepare my sets all the time. Also when I come across new ideas while improvising during my shows & live streams I try to perfect them in the studio later.
Describe what winning the 2014 Red Bull Thre3style felt like.
I’m very happy about the title. I’m even more happy about all the interest I have received since entering the competition. It opened many doors internationally and it helped a lot with promoting myself as a live performing turntable act than a regular DJ just playing tracks. They book me on stages now, give me space to do my little tricks here and there. The promoters that book me, know what they will get and its cool to get booked for this type of DJing.
How did you hear about Melodics? What did you like most about the program?
I know Sam Gribben from back in the day when I was working for Serato on trade shows like Namm & Musik Messe. We stayed in touch and I was really excited to see what he will come up. Last year he wrote to me about his new app a couple of weeks before the launch to get my feedback on it. I think this way of learning is awesome. I’m a big fan of the DJ Hero game, that is similar to Melodics – however Melodics is more professional. More about learning. In my first few sessions with the software I became better at finger drumming and had so much fun learning. Some people say I’m good at this – Melodics showed me that I’ve still got a lot to learn. And to practice on Melodics with the hardware you’re also performing on stage with is awesome. You learn new patterns daily and can practice them to internalize them. The cue point drumming lessons teach how other DJs flip classic drum loops. The lessons from DJ Day introduced me to a new way of breaking down a loop. Really dope.
How do you use cue point drumming in your live sets? How do you see this skill evolving in the future?
I use it very often to create surprise rhythm changes to popular tracks, do tone play or just jump through the track. People love it when they can see what you’re doing. I like creating something with the sounds they just heard before and understand easily. Plus it’s a dope visual element too, easier for them to understand: you hitting a pad and a sound comes out the speaker.
Scratching is more complex to understand for the regular viewer/listener, because you are moving records & fader. I love both techniques though.
I think Finger Drumming is famous already and people are interested in learning it. There are big names like Araab Muzik that made it to festival stages “just” with finger drumming. That’s amazing. To incorporate a simpler style of finger drumming into my Dj set makes it more unique and I think more & more DJs are catching on.
You have released a set of cue point drumming lessons this week for all Melodics Users. Can you give a bit of background about these lessons and what users can expect?
These lessons are actually the rhythms that I use when I play live. In these lessons I use a track from Elènne who is on my label Crispy Crust Records. The song came out late 2015. The patterns work with all kind of tracks and I use them couple of times in my sets with different tunes on all kind of tempos.
If you could give advice to a DJ just starting out what would it be?
Have fun learning and don’t get distracted when some techniques you’re trying are not working. Sometimes it takes repetitive learning to master a new finger drumming or scratching technique. I’m learning all day and try to get at least 10 minutes practice a day.
You perform over 150 shows a year all around the world. However you have previously said that you ‘rarely get to see the city you are playing in’. Is this one of the hardest parts of being a world famous DJ? Are there any other downsides?
I travel a lot and I have so much fun doing what I do. I’m blessed to be able to go and party with crowds from all over the world. The positive feedback on my shows is what keep me going. But yeah – it’s sad not having enough time to catch up with friends in the city or do exploring/sight seeing. I’m at the airport in Vancouver at the moment and didn’t managed to see my Thre3style family Kenny MacIntire & FlipOut. Another downer is to not being at home with your family. I wasn’t home to spend Valentine’s Day with my girls this year. But I’m on the way home now and happy to see them soon.
What is the most rewarding part of being a world famous DJ and touring?
Going to places you never been to before and realising that people already know who you are and who love what you’re doing. Also to inspire people and get a positive reaction is what really keeps me going. If I’m down & exhausted from touring I need just one cool track, idea, inspiring video, or positive email/post from fans to go back to being creative. It’s cool to see that I can give something back to the scene and keep people inspired.
Tell us about your label ‘Crispy Crust’.
Crispy Crust is the label I founded end of 2014 with the Drunken Masters from Munich. We met each other in 2013 and had the same vision. I’m a big fan of them as DJs but also as producers. It was logical to team up and to create an outlet for the music we make, love and want to support. That’s Crispy Crust.
Final question. If you were stranded on a desert island for a year and could only bring three records what would they be?
I think it would be a Q-Bert Super Seal scratch record and two J Dilla instrumental sampler to cut over it. After a year practicing I think I would be a lot better than I am now.