Interview: DJ Craze on turntablism "We represent the art"

In age of the CDJ and the auto-sync, DJ Craze is one of the few natural DJ's, who like A-Trak, still operates heavily on turntables. Having been DJing most of his life, he is currently the only solo DJ in history to claim the DMC World DJ Championships trophy three times in consecutive years. Since then DJ Craze has gone on to release multiple albums, became Kanye West's tour DJ, and most recently start up Slow Roast Records, a record label with fellow DJ and friend Kill The Noise. For over 15 years DJ Craze has adapted to, and even innovated the changing landscape of DJing with the rise of EDM and the evolution of technology. His label, Slow Roast Records is currently celebrating its 5 th birthday boasts a roster of highly respected artists with cult followers, like Astronomar, Brillz, Kill The Noise and Ape Drums (who will also be visiting Australia this month).

Touring the country next week, we had a chat with DJ Craze about the art of turntablism, his record label and what it was like being Kanye West's tour DJ.

Check out the full tour dates for the DJ Craze and Ape Drums Australian tour below and listen to the 5 Years of Slow Roast Records mix here.

Tell us how your record label Slowroast came to life?
Slow Roast Records began about 6 years ago when me and Jake (Kill The Noise) decided to join forces to put out forward thinking music and to give us an outlet to put out our homies music that we believed in.

What does the label represent? What is the ethos of the label?
For me the label represents cool, fresh new music and forward thinking producers. We were the first label outlet for people like Brillz, Ape Drums, Loudpvck, Milo & Otis, & Codes.

You guys can put on one hell of a party…
For me it says it all in the name ... Slow Roast ... we take our time finding new music and talent that will last the test of time .... we're not interested in fast food music that's here today and gone tomorrow.

We know you won't play favourites on any Slowroast bro's, but which artists do you think are 'about to blow up'?
I think all the new cats we've been working with have a good future. Durkin has a fresh new vibe to him which is not EDM but not "heady" .... he's funky and original and I love his music. Also Suddenbeatz ... he's a Russian kid who's production keeps getting better and better and is always on point with new vibes.

You spent a bit of time DJing for Kanye West on tour, tell us a little bit about that?
I DJ'ed for Kanye for 1 year on the Glow In The Dark Tour. It was dope experience but honestly wasn't for me. I didn't get time to shine like A-trak and barely did anything. It was awesome seeing that side of the entertainment business though. The scale of everything was big and it was amazing to see that man work and to see his work ethic. I'm still the biggest Kanye fan and kind of miss being on the road with him.

Considering you have so many other projects and have achieved so much on your own accord, Do you ever get tired of being referred to as 'a DJ for Kanye West'?
I actually don't though hahahahaha. Only people who still refer me as that are top 40 clubs who have no idea what I do other than when the go to my agencies roster and see that on my bio and think its a good way to get people thru the door.

You're one of the biggest turntablists going around and have won multiple DMC championships, what is your take on the state of DJing. Is the art of turntablism gone?
I think turntablism is really important to the culture of djing. We are the purist and we represent the art. It's a shame that the scene doesn't appreciate it more.

In the past you have ventured from Hip-Hop to DnB To EDM, How do you describe your musical style and how does that translate into your club shows?

My musical style is basically whatever I'm into at the moment. I'm a dj first and foremost and will always follow whats hot in the club but I will also follow what I think is the hot new shit. Thats the only reason why Im still djing. I love new sounds and new genres. You can see it in my sets. I'm one of those guys that just won't play what people know .... I love playing new music for people so they get a different experience from my sets.

What advice do you have for any upcoming turntablists? Can you still make a career from a pure DJing background?

My advice to turntablists is keep doing you .... If you love the art keep following your heart and don't be discouraged by what everybody else is doing. If you're good at what you do and are passionate money and career will follow no matter what you do. Great djs will forever have a place in the club scene.
Who have you been working with at the moment?

At the moment I'm working on a special project that's gonna be released as a series. Don't wanna spill the beans but the people I'm gonna be working with are all people that I'm a fan of and are the best at what they do ;) .... gonna be special .... trust!!!

Craze and Ape Drums Australia/NZ Tour
Fri 24th July - Chinese Laundry - Sydney - Tickets
Sat 25th July - The Met - Brisbane
Sun 26th July - Zhivago - Adelaide
Fri 31st July - Villa - Perth
Sat 1st August - Neck Of The Woods - Auckland
Sun 2nd August - The Grand - Wellington
Mon 3rd August - Access - Queenstown