-By Mike Gehrig
What happens when you throw four DJs, a vocalist, live instruments and a set of turntables on stage together at the same time?
Well, what might sound like the beginning of a bad joke is actually something far more, as DJs The Scumfrog, D:Fuse, DJ Skribble and Static Revenger have combined their music talents with those of vocalist Kristine W to form a new collective project called DJs Are Alive.
Formed on the fly during a Wet Grooves tour stop in Dallas, Texas, when D:Fuse, The Scumfrog and Skribble decided to merge their shortened DJ sets into an electronic jam session, the project has morphed into something different and stimulating for dance music.
“It's exciting because it is new and because I have this great team of very talented artists to do this with,” said The Scumfrog, an Amsterdam native who today lives New York City and is know for his dark house sounds. “As a DJ, I'm pretty much used to always rolling solo, but this is really a team effort.”
“The great thing about this group is that everyone is truly multi talented” he added. “We all do vocals, we all play drums, percussion or efx and we all DJ.”
So how does it work?
As a band of DJs playing music that sounds like a DJ set, on stage the group rotates behind the decks, with those not on the turntables taking turns playing live instruments.
“Everyone brings so much to the group,” said New York’s DJ Skribble. “Everyone knows Kristine’s voice is amazing, but you’ll be surprised when you hear some of the guys take the mic. Also, The Scumfrog’s a great DJ, but he can also tear up on the guitar.”
After the unique experience together playing in Texas, The Scumfrog recruited Kristine W and Static Revenger to join the group. The five met up at Kristine W’s ranch in Vegas during December and began rehearsing, yet any like any new undertaking it wasn’t all smooth sailing at first.
“The first day was difficult because we all needed to grow into this new concept,” said The Scumfrog. “Fortunately we were all extremely motivated by the huge amounts of gear and instruments to our disposal. Pioneer had sent us all the DJ gear that we needed and then some, so we all felt like kids in a candy store.”
“When the boxes started arriving, they were piled up next to the door,” added Washington’s Kristine W, a recording artist who owns the record for the most consecutive number one Club Play Hits. “I remember calling my sound engineer to the studio, telling him we were going to have a serious set-up party, and that I hope he had a lot of time, and that I had enough cords.”
With so many diverse talents, the group says playing together has been an inspirational experience.
“I think everyone in this group values the interaction with the others and has missed that aspect from their solo careers,” The Scumfrog. “However hard it may be to get all these big names on one stage, there is also a big upside to our busy individual careers; we all save our egos for our solo careers and we can really focus on the group effort in this band. This is not about who the best DJ is, or who gets the most time on the microphone, this is about creating something that didn't exist yet.”
“I love all these guys and appreciate their talents,” added Skribble. “They're true artists and they inspire me to perform in ways I likely wouldn't perform on my own. I love collaborating with extraordinarily talented artists. It keeps me at the top of my game. Working with top talent inspires you to play at the top of your game. It’s fueled my creativity. I’m able to go outside of my box and do crazy things I wouldn’t be able to do at my own shows.”
Just last week the group finally made their debut at New York’s Canal Room to a roaring response.
“The try-out gig in New York last Thursday was great,” said The Scumfrog. “Everyone who is anybody in our scene was there and the energy was amazing. Of course a lot of things went wrong, but I think we managed to hide most of the screw-ups and get the general concept across with all its unique elements.”
“(The crowd was) nuts,” said Skribble. “They wouldn’t let us off the stage which was fine because none of us wanted to leave. The crowd was a huge part of the show. They fed off our playing and we fed off their energy.”
“New York industry crowds are usually the toughest to play for because they all tend to make an effort to be more jaded than the person standing next to them,” added The Scumfrog. “So the fact that we got the majority to dance and scream was an amazing feeling.”
Unique undertakings such as this are often looked at with a skeptical eye, but the group says that the reaction from their peers has been equally enthusiastic.
“All reaction has been great,” said Skribble. “People appreciate that we’re doing something new and different, something that’s really never been done before.
“They're very happy that we're collectively putting faces to dance music,” added Kristine W. “That's a long time overdue.”
Yet even with all the great feedback and creative benefits, the project hasn’t been with out its challenges – mainly trying to coordinate the schedules of five very busy people.
“Our schedules are all crazy,” added Skribble. “It’s hard to get us all in the same city at the same time.”
“The biggest challenge is to get everyone together in one room; for rehearsals, but especially for weekend gigs where everyone has to give up their solo opportunities,” said The Scumfrog. “At times it can feel like this project is just a little too much to handle in terms of how difficult it is to coordinate everyone's schedules and how many unexpected costs we encounter, but then there will always be someone in the group that motivates the others.”
Currently, the group is finalizing their first single, Gimme Some Love and preparing for their upcoming series of gigs during the Winter Music Conference. They plan to release a live album, as The Scumfrog says “a studio album with all original material is still only a fantasy.”
For more info on the DJs Are Alive, check out www.myspace.com/djsarealive