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DJ Skribble, scratching the vinyl itch for more than 20 years

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Posted: Friday, December 11, 2009 5:38 pm | Updated: 12:47 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

FAIRBANKS - A club DJ needs to be more than just a pretty face to create a good party.

DJ Skribble is such a person, bringing a world-class approach to mixing a compelling club set.

The New York-native has performed with too many top hip-hop acts to name, mixed it up on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, then-anchored in Dubai, hosted several MTV shows, toured with rockers as diverse as Primus, Anthrax and Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro, and just returned from heading a USO tour in Iraq. All this then brings the question: With such formidable and widely recognized DJing skills, why come all the way up to Fairbanks instead of say, Ibiza or Tokyo?

“Why not? I have fans there too you know. I’ve been to 47 countries, but I’ve never been to Fairbanks, so why not go?” the easy-going Skribble explained. “There are people who want to dance and have a good time, so why not.

Look, just because I can sit there and do a party for Puffy (Combs) doesn’t mean I can’t come there and rock the club.”

DJ Skribble — the name comes from his early days as a graffiti artist — got his start in the late 1980s, just as hip-hop was beginning to receive more mainstream acceptance. He began with a Public Enemy sponsored group, the Young Black teenagers, but left himself open to every musical opportunity and style. Today, he is one of the few DJs out there who embraces almost every style of music.

“I wanted to be the first DJ to play it all, not just house, or hip-hop. I wanted to be that guy,” he said.

That said, he comes to the club armed with a terabit of sound (about 100,000 songs by his estimate), which allows him to go anywhere depending on the crowd. As for his starting point, Skribble said he researches the local market to see what’s hot on radio and starts there. After that, it’s wide open.

“It’s always different every night. Everyone right now is into the hip-hop and dance music, but it’s become a melting pot musically no matter where you go,” he said. “And with all the music I carry around in my hard drive, if something is not working, I can go anywhere.

If people are more into old school hip-hop, or house or even ’80s rock, I can go there and switch it up.”

Best of all, Skribble does it live — well, sort of. Yes, his music is housed on a hard drive (imagine trying to carry enough records, and the right records, all the way up here), but with a special computer program and “virtual turntables,” Skribble is able to do everything he would with a record.

The way it works is pretty straightforward. The virtual turntables feature physical turntable pads where a record would normally sit, but instead of holding a spinning record, the table “spins” a digital song.

Skribble then scratches, bumps, breaks and cools the song by manipulating the turntable as he would with an actual record. The result is the same.

“I don’t actually use vinyl any more, but I have to touch vinyl if you know what I mean. I use the computer for my music library, but I mix the music with turntables. It sounds like it’s coming out of a turntable,” he explained. “Everything I do with a record, I do with this: Scratching, the feel of it, the sound of it. If I slow it down, the music slows down. It does not sound digital at all. It sounds like playing records, which is why I use it.”

And should he make a mistake, there is no digital net to catch him.

“I don’t have those programs set up that mix everything for you,” he said. “If I make a mistake, you hear it.

It’s all live and real.”

Now, some 20 years after he began DJing, did Skribble still marvels at his success.

“Did I ever thing that playing 12-inch round pieces of plastic would be how I'd make a living?” he asked.

“Never in a million years.”

Contact features editor Glenn BurnSilver at 459-7510.

IF YOU GO

What: DJ Skribble

When: 10 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Blue Loon

Tickets: $15 advance at www.theblueloon.com, or $20 day of show

Information: www.djskribble.com

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