Well, it’s that time. The anticipation has come to a hilt and preparations have begun. Mojostock is here! While this may be the last Dj showcase you may read before you set foot on Sleepybear Campground, it is most certainly not the least. You can consider me extremely bias, quite frankly because Brian Scavo aka. Dj What the Bleep spins my favorite genre; ragga jungle. He is on the forefront of the battle to resurrect a “forgotten” genre in the states. What the Bleep is battle ready and he’s got Zion on his side.
…What was your first exposure to the electronic world, and what made you want to be a DJ?
“I was first exposed to electronic music in 2003. My sister had just moved back to Bowling Green, OH from Vancouver, B.C. where there is a very strong and diverse rave scene and she brought along an extensive music collection as a result. I got into it on my own and became interested in the culture over the next year or so. Then it all blew up when on May 28th, 2004 I got my dreadlocks put in and then I went to my first party, a happy hardcore Detroit Electronic Music Festival after party.”
“It was actually at that party that I met some of the most influential people in all of my rave experiences. Most notably, I was introduced to Corey aka Coleco aka foi oi oi at that party; that night happened to be his first gig. I ended up hanging out with him and a lot of the Columbus ravers, instantly surrounded by DJs in this new social experience. I can definitely attribute a lot of my interest and passion for DJing at the start to Corey, and I continue to be inspired by him when we work together. I loved many things about rave culture as soon as I walked through the doors of the venue for my first party, and so it isn’t too much of a stretch to say it was inevitable I was going to become a DJ, and eventually, a promoter.”
“I may have become a DJ because it was in my nature, but what’s more interesting is why I remain a DJ. Though I usually don’t hear people openly admit it, I know that way too many DJs love being DJs because of the perks (status, fame, attention, access, etc.). We are all human and it feels great to be treated well, but there’s a lot of responsibility doing what we do. I believe there is a very important sense of purpose we have to carry with us whenever we perform. In one way or another, we’re responsible for people’s emotions when they hear our music, so we have to maintain our integrity and to be very humble about our role. I embrace the responsibility of DJing as a way to better myself. The truth is, it’s not about me in the least bit. It’s about inspiring others, delivering a positive message, creating a sense of community, and taking people to new places. I have maintained my passion for mixing over all these years because I know that what I do behind the decks is an opportunity to providing an uplifting musical experience for others to enjoy.”
…What are some of the things you’re doing in your scene?
“My involvement in electronic music culture has almost never been just limited to DJing. Within a year of playing out for the first time I was experimenting with production with the likes of Reason 3.0. By that time I had also formed a crew (Electronic Enlightenment) with fellow DJs and good friends in the scene. Within two years I was already learning the ropes of event promotion and had begun networking heavily via forums and Internet radio. After several years, my focus has turned to hosting events and promoting (which now is on par with my passion for DJing).”
“Electronic Enlightenment has made a presence for itself as our DJs travel, but most importantly we have hosted numerous events over the last few years. Most notably, I started a monthly event last August at the beautiful Clazel Theater in Bowling Green. It launched as Beatday 5, my birthday bash, but it wasn’t so much a celebration of my birthday as it was the beginning of something of serious caliber in Bowling Green. The events immediately took on the Konkrete Jungle name, becoming the newest chapter of the international brand of bass culture events (started in NYC, still carrying the title of “longest running drum & bass weekly in the world”). We’ve since done 8 events and the monthly has taken off as Konkrete Jungle Bowling Green. I am the event host and also a resident DJ (playing once a semester).”
“Most of the remainder of my DJ bookings varies from gig to gig, so I wouldn’t call anything else I do a residency, with one exception: my show on jungletrain.net. I’ve been playing a show on that station for over four and a half years. I broadcast it from my home, but my audience hails from the US to Europe and beyond, bringing in hundreds of listeners each show. Right now I play weekly on Sunday from 5 to 7pm.”
…Why have you chosen ragga jungle, or did it pick you?
“The original collection of electronic music that I listened to had all sorts of genres in it, everything from Scooter to Basement Jaxx to Groove Armada. I soaked it all up like a sponge and was very open-minded, but there were indeed certain sounds that caught my attention. There was the “Downbeat in the Jungle” compilation CD that began with Shy FX feat. UK Apache – Original Nuttah. Then there was Aphrodite’s mix CD “Urban Jungle”. There was Soundmurderer’s famous “Wired for Sound” mixes. Those, among others, drove me to start listening to drum & bass internet radio, so I quickly start learning more and more about dnb and jungle of all types. And once I could afford turntables I went searching for records to buy. And lo’ and behold, what did I find? A drum & bass record lot with a bunch of early 2000s techstep being sold by hardcore legend, Cloudskipper (oddly enough). So, I grabbed those first 30 or so records on the cheap, and my junglist adventure began. Over time, my taste was refined and I started leaning more towards the ragga vocalism and raw jungle drums.”
“I’ve said it before: there really is something unique about jungle, ragga vocalists and MCs, and the spirit of Jamaica that attracts me. There’s the suffering, suppression, and corrupt governments. And there’s the path of rastafari and the positive messages it spreads about humanity. These things are fuel for a brilliant musical fire. And it all lends towards a very emotional style of music. Add in the infectious danceable beats, and you’ve really got something. It has sophistication and yet can have wide appeal. It can be very energetic and yet very soothing. It often carries very meaningful messages. There’s really not much more I can say: I love jungle music.”
…Do you feel that ragga jungle has a decent following or presence in electronic venues?
“Ragga Jungle has influenced many corners of electronic music. You’ll hear ragga remixes or samples from reggae. And then, of course, there’s the terminology and techniques that have carried over from the DJs at soundclashes in Jamaica and the junglist culture in England. You can’t really ignore how far-reaching the culture and music is. However, ragga jungle in itself isn’t always the most known genre. Because of the BPM and the complicated drum patterns, jungle can be an acquired taste for some, so the genre as a whole doesn’t always reach the broader audience that some genres do.”
“In some places in Europe ragga jungle is like bread and butter, but around the Midwest I only know a small handful of exclusively ragga jungle DJs. It’s a somewhat esoteric culture when you get down to it; I find that all of the producers and specialized DJs know each other online, but no single geographic location has a huge presence of it. It’s also pretty interesting how ragga jungle is in the grey area between rave culture and reggae culture, but that’s a whole different topic. Ragga jungle is definitely known to some who are knowledgeable of the different sides of dnb/jungle, but I’m very fortunate to be one of the few DJs in the area that can provide a complete snapshot of the many sides of the genre.”
…What are your expectations for Mojostock?
“I keep telling everyone: I expect Mojostock to be the highlight of my summer (out of many gigs, mind you). I first bumped into some of the G-9 Collective and IndyMojo in Muncie, IN last year and I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of character and talent, as well as the professionalism and high quality production. Indianapolis should feel very lucky to have such crews pushing their scene along. Mojostock is, without a doubt, going to be a very cozy festival. We all enjoy those large-scale festivals, but there is a *lot* to appreciate in a “just right”-sized experience like Mojostock. The lineup in itself is quite the collection of styles and backgrounds, so I’m very excited to just be hearing so many different things alongside so many friends (old friends and friends yet-to-be-made). This will be my second Indianapolis experience (the first was at the Mousetrap for Thursdaze last year), and I can’t wait.”
After you hear Brian’s set, I can guarantee you one of two things. First, you will have heard something that is entirely new to your ears or has changed your musical soul. Second, if you like drum n bass/jungle, you just became a fan of What the Bleep!
I’ll leave you with this:
“We all know that DJing as a performance technique has evolved tremendously in the last 5 to 10 years: time-encoded equipment and CDs, digital track distribution, etc. Alas, I haven’t been swept up by its instant-gratification and economical glory. I’m one of the rare (dying?) breed of vinyl enthusiasts, still laying down wax cut after wax cut. This isn’t to say that when Serato or CDJs are available at a show I won’t throw in some unreleased material, but my rule of thumb is simple: if it’s found on vinyl then I won’t play it digitally. This means that beyond my own vinyl collection, the only tracks you’ll hear me play are some of the exclusive digital “dubplates” given to me by producers worldwide or exclusively digital releases that I only wish were pressed into the vinyl grooves I could hold in my hand.”