A-Trak: "Let your ears guide you"

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Of all the ABDJ nominees, A-Trak has made the most of his hustle. His blog, providing insight to the whirlwind life of a traveling DJ, is a must-read. When he graced the cover of DJ Times a couple years ago, he hinted at his career track: “If you’re strictly a scratch DJ, then shows, mixtapes and battle records are probably your quickest way of making money, but you probably want to build a musical identity to ensure you have longevity in the music scene as well. That’s how you can transcend the turntablist scene. It’s time for turntablism to grow past the purely technical form and grow into DJing styles that are pertinent today. But that doesn’t mean giving up scratching! Some turntablists battle for a few years and then give it up to become club DJs that don’t use their skills at all. I don’t really understand that—your skills should give you an edge. I love seeing turntablists build creative DJ sets, make scratch music or work with a MC to build a really interactive show. I feel like it’s up to us to define those paths; there’s still so much that hasn’t been done.”

A-Trak has certainly created a musical identity for himself, keeping busy this summer on the festival circuit, some shows with Blink 182’s Travis Barker, a few choice Duck Sauce sets, as well. He recently told DJ Roam about his musical evolution. “I started getting into dance music about 5 years ago, progressively, just going up in tempos and infusing different sounds into my sets. At first I would just mix up a whole bunch of genres at a common tempo and eventually I got more and more into electronic music. But I still mix those tracks like a Hip Hop DJ. I scratch a lot and I switch songs up pretty fast.

“It’s funny because now the whole rap world is fixated with dance music. That’s part of the reason why I decided to make this 2nd installment of the mixtape: to reinstate that this fusion of sounds is something that I’ve been doing for many years and it feels like my backyard. There are tons of new electro-rap songs that I really dislike nowadays, they’re so cheesy. So this mixtape was a way for me to express how I would like to hear music. It’s kind of like ‘the world according to Trizzy’, I let my ears guide me.”