DJ SP - WATCH THE SOUND INTERVIEW

Ahead of the Watch The Sound video mixtape screening and afterparty on Friday June 29th at Sexyland, we sat down with friend of the brand DJ SP and Patta Soundsystem’s Vic Crezee, to speak about the craft of the DJ, being a video collector, street fashion, 90s Hip Hop and much more.

So how long have you been doing this video thing?
SP: For quite a while actually, like 8 years? I made a video mix in 2010, you know, like Flexican does every year. A year mix but with videos. That was well received. The problem with video mixes is that when you upload them, chances are they won’t be online for very long. You can’t just go uploading them to Youtube, unless you really select rights-free music only. Vimeo kept my stuff up fo a while but a few years ago my account got deleted because of too many copyright infringements.

Ah that sucks. Soundcloud has a deal now, right? Meaning that your mix won’t be deleted if you really edit and turn it into something new. Like you actually do.

Vic Crezee: Is that the reason you haven’t put out any mixes for a while?
Yeah, mix-wise yeah. I’ve done mini-mixes and edits of tracks with acapellas. But the other stuff is just too much of a hassle, and then as soon as you have it online it gets taken down, or sometimes even while still uploading you’ll get that notice. Your mix is still up on Vimeo right? Maybe they’ve updated their policies.. Let’s just upload it and see what happens.

I really want everyone to be able to download it for a while, so that it stays alive and people can have it without it disappearing. Let’s put it up on Wetransfer or something.

VIC: how did you start doing this? I remember being a kid at Fatbeats and there being a video mixtape. VHS! I bought it and played it to death.
And it was a mix??

VIC: Yeah, it was mixed. The dope thing about it was that it had all these videos we’d never seen before. So you don’t remember it? I’ll bring you the tape. How did you get involved with the video mixing?
Well, it was because I started DJ’ing digitally. Did the Serato thing for a while, it was easy and it showed a lot of potential. It had all these tricks that made certain sets easier, loops and such.

Vic: Yes.
Yeah I switched to CDs like everyone else, in about 2005 everybody switched to CDJs. I did that for about a year or two but I wasn’t happy ‘cause I just wanted to feel vinyl. And then a while after that came the possibility to DJ videos. I really didn’t understand it yet. In general, the whole spinning digitally is weird, cause you’re working with a needle and a vinyl record but it plays WAV and mp3 files. And then it works with mp4 as well? Everything is MIDI and everything moves with your mixers and your fader? CRAZY!

The guys from Off The Wall really spun with DVD CDJs, they had every video on an individual DVD, so they’d have to take out and put in a DVD at a time. They had folders and folders full of videos.

Vic: But you could pitch them already?
Yeah, it was the same as with CDJs. I thought it was dope what they did but I wasn’t about to start burning all those DVDs and DJ with them. I had already moved on to Serato, with vinyl. And then the video option was added and I decided to just try it. I went looking for videos. That was a problem too.

Yeah, where do you find those things?
You can’t just start downloading Youtube videos. I found all these message boards and there were people who offered archives of videos. Pop, Hip Hop, 70s, 80s, 90s shit. Collector’s shit. I found a lot of videos through that but you’d have to convert them first. So I had to learn to do that well first. How do you convert the file so that it plays well, that your computer will be able to process it etc..

.. I bet you’d have to edit out the logos of some Latvian or Estonian music video channel too.
Yeah. So then came the video pools. Like audio pools.. It was a few of them but most them were garbage. Low quality and bad audio. A lot of old videos were not of the highest quality and the colors all dull. Audio just has to be good, ‘cause you’re spinning it in the club. So again, you’d have to convert it and that was so much work. And on top of that: pricing. It’s still like buying records, a video will run you one Euro. So then if you have about 20.000 of them it’s insane.

So how big is your collection now?
I have more than 15000 videos. Not all Hip Hop.

That’s what I was getting at. Cause you were one of THE DJs in the Fatbeats days, ran the shop. You must have a massive massive vinyl collection. Do you have all the corresponding videos?
Yeah, pretty much. I think I have 90% of that collection. But I’ll run into videos that I never
even knew about back then all the time. Sometimes I’ll run into mad under the radar TRACKS that I didnt even know about and on top of that then I find out it has a video too?!

Vic: Funny, cause there weren’t a lot of music videos being made back then.
Well, you’d think you’re limited to singles but it’s not that bad actually. I tried keeping the mix pretty balanced. I could’ve gone way more obscure with it but for an introduction it should have some familiarity. It definitely has shit that people won’t know about, a couple of surprises. Especially the younger crowd will be scratching their heads about some of the videos. I didn’t want to make a 90s party banger mix but it definitely has some 90s hits.

Vic: it flows really well. It’s not only a visual thing, you can just listen to it as well.
Yeah, that was my intention too. That it has dope images is extra nice, but it should also just be a tape you want to listen to now and in two years. I’m not concerned with the hype of the moment, I want people to want to listen to it in ten years still. At least, that’s what I want. I don’t want to listen to it twice and feel like “Aight, I’m done. Next!”

Vic: did you grow up in Amsterdam or in Purmerend?
Purmerend.

Vic: How did you end up at Fatbeats back then, it opened in ’96..
I used to frequent Rhythm Import, one of the first import vinyl stores. And Vibes, that was in the same building. Every week I’d save up some money and buy a bus pass to get to Amsterdam. That bus pass was valid for like 90 minutes, enough time to buy a couple records and get back to my hometown. I did it every week.

Rhythm Import would have stacks of every record but the other stores didn’t. You really had to know when they got the new boxes in, or you’d be assed out.

Vic: and you knew when that was exactly?
Yeah, every Thursday night and Saturday morning.

Vic: but you weren’t the only one that knew that. Is that where you met Ed [Edson, co-owner of Patta]?
Nah, that’s not what I know Ed from. But indeed, there were others that knew when the re-up was and the store staff would hold records behind for their buddies or the top DJs in Amsterdam. Back then I wasn’t a DJ in Amsterdam though, I just played in a youth rec center round my way.
Vic: .. so you’d see that new Skinny Boys in the back but that wasn’t for you.
Nah, I couldnt have it then. I didn’t meet Wix and Kees [KC The Funkaholic] until later. When Fatbeats opened I was there all the time. After a couple months they asked me to come work there.

Vic: and they made you store manager immediately, right?
Yeah, it wasn’t long after that.

That must’ve been heaven..
Yeah of course. Cause you go from being just a kid, watching them open the boxes, hoping they have something you want.. to opening them yourself. You still wouldn’t know what the boxes contained. They’d send the occasional fax with a packing list but usually not.

Vic: ..and you were in direct touch with the US, something really special back then.
True.

Vic: So you knew exactly what was up, what was hot.
Word. And whatever you needed, you could get. The lines were real short suddenly. If you needed a shoutout for a tape or something it was jut a phone call away and you’d get a verse.

Vic: Something that was impossible before. Pre-internet.
Yeah, the internet back then was a joke. Dial-up shit. You’d either have to get a tape or a record. A lot of promos, test pressings. Unreleased stuff..

Magazine ads were a thing too, often the first time hearing about stuff that would be soon released.
Yeah, you had to buy magazines to stay up to date. And listen to radio, we’d get the tapes the week after, so different back then. Now a video will be released and I’ll DJ it the same night.

Vic: might be a corny question but can you tell us a few of your favorite videos that always stuck with you? Or like, what’s the first video you ever saw?
Wow, I think the first I ever saw was Rapper’s Delight or The Message. Obviously that made a big impact on me cause I was so young. But I have to say one of the more timeless videos would be the Alkaholiks - Next Level. That one visually is so dope! Obviously the Pharcyde videos. Eric B & Rakim - I Ain’t No Joke.

Wasn’t there a Hip Hop video show on the TV in the mid 80s? With a female presenter?
Yeah, this is before YO! MTV Raps even, it was on like Sky Channel. You’d see these videos and it was weird, that was the only place you could see them.

Would you record that show back then?
No, but I have a lot of DVDs with YO! MTV Raps shows, VHS tapes even. This I used to record and watch over and over, but tapes broke easily. And you’d record over old shows if you didn’t have any extra tape.

Try to use every last bit of your tape.
The stupid thing about it is.. we should’ve taped the whole show. You can find the actual music videos anywhere now, but all the bits in between, all the bullshit between the videos was the magic. Grand Puba with Mary J Blige, or the one in the studio with Pete Rock in the basement.

Yo, so do you always DJ video?
Basically, yes. I have so many videos, some edits.. So even if I’m not putting out the video I’m still playing the same files, the video bit is just not hooked up. It’s basically just a matter of plugging in an extra cord. Sometimes you don’t want to do it and not every party promoter is into it, some say video is too distracting. It’s best when it’s there but not too prominent. People will just stare at the screen and also it gives off too much light, and that takes away from the party atmosphere.

So how are we handling that on the 29th?
We’re screening the mix at 22h00, and after that we’ll take down the screens and it’s just a regular party where we’ll project the video on three small screens, so you could check it out, but nothing too intrusive.

Yo so how did Patta get involved in this actually?
I was busy working on this mix and told Ed about it. He told Gee about it, they liked it and said “yo, let’s get behind this.” That was about a year ago.

Vic: Also, about a year ago we had this night in Sexyland. Yamandú, you, me and Wix, who didn’t actually play. And you played with videos. Then about a month ago Ed approached me like “Yo, SP’s almost done with the video mix,” and I thought back to that night. It wasn’t packed but mad gezellig, good vibes. The video thing worked great, I got to see a couple of videos I had no idea existed. I was into it immediately. I had no clue you were still working on mixes. Also, the city could use a proper oldschool night. There’s plenty of ‘em but none that actually have any depth to them.
Yeah, it’s only the hits they play there. It’s done by kids that weren’t there, they really weren’t about that. The people that actually were, they aren’t doing putting on those nights. The shit is mad popular but it’s all the same, straightup mainstream 90s Hip Hop/R&B hits. Even when I heard throwback shit in my day I still wanted to hear tracks I wasn’t familiar with. To learn something.

Yeah, that’s not how people go clubbing nowadays. People are used to Spotify now. They want to hear what they know.

Vic: The dope thing about the Hip Hop videos is that the kids will see exactly why Patta even exists. It all follows from Hip Hop and the steez in the videos.
Yeah, I’ve noticed that. I made the mix starting with the audio and then when I went to apply the videos I saw just how much my and Gee and Ed’s generations were influenced by the Hip Hop videos back then. I see that in what Patta does now. The I Aint No Joke video for example, Eric B & Rakim in the FILA suits. You could release those today! It’s exactly the vibe, and the attitude.. it’s obvious how much that has influenced us. Especially the images, not just the music.

Vic: yeah, there was no such thing as a Hip Hop specialty store. For me, when I’d watch Wu-Tang videos, I’d have to decipher their lyrics to know what gear they were wearing. “Champion gear that I rock..” And then find out where to get that gear.
Yeah, it wasn’t even Hip Hop gear back then. They made it that. They owned it. Fastforward to now, there definitely is Hip Hop gear, streetwear.. inspired by that, it’s dope. Not only what you wear, also how you carry yourself, how you do business..

Yeah, the DIY mentality..
Yeah, like: “you don’t like it? fuck it, your loss.” I’m on my own shit, believe in my own strength.

That’s so good to see. The mix has an old Black Moon video.. The kids these days are dressed exactly like that.
Yeah, everything goes full circle. That’s why I think the kids are really gonna appreciate this mix.

Vic: Yeah, I also think the younger crowd would love it. Especially if you’re interested in muic and fashion.
And the mix is tight!

No doubt, you’re DJ SP!
True. I try to make timeless mixtapes that surprise even me. And that I want to re-listen myself.

To compliment SP’s Watch the Sound visual mixtape release we are releasing a limited Watch the Sound T-Shirt which will be available in store at Patta Amsterdam, London and online on Friday, June 29th.