I’m sitting here with the legend just before he goes on stage at Studio 54. I wouldn’t even call him a DJ, because he’s much more than a DJ – he’s a presenter, he’s the man who made it all happen. I’ve enjoyed listening to him for many years, and here he is, DJ Skribble.
Marc Jay: So, we’re here at Studio 54 which will be your new home in Vegas for a while now. Tell us a little bit about what’s going on.
DJ Skribble: Well, they’re calling it DJ Skribble’s “Freak Show” and it’s going to be just that. It’s going to be a Carnival-type theme, but a twisted Carnival-type theme – a lot of ear care, a lot of eye candy and me DJing and hopefully taking everybody on that musical ride as well as all the visual stuff that’s going to be going on around it. I’m not allowed to really let the details out of the bag because I want everyone to just see it. But it’s pretty cool – it’s not gross, but it’s twisted.
Marc Jay: I love all of your shows because the freaks do come out, hence the name “Freak Show.” Now, you’ve been DJing for many, many years, and I’ve known you for about 10, but what made you decide that you wanted to be a DJ?
DJ Skribble: I was coming home from school one day and I passed the park and they were throwing this Park Jam and this kid was playing music with two turntables and a mixer and I was like, “What the hell is that?” I was 11 years old and I was just drawn to it and watching this crowd just go absolutely nuts to every record he was playing and what he was doing. I was just hooked on it. So I saved up enough money to get turntables and my first set of turntables were SLB-100s with a belt-driven straight arm, you know, couldn’t do anything with them. I would just practice every day after school until the music got too loud in my house and my dad kicked me out into the garage. Then when it was too loud out in the garage, he would just cut the circuit breakers on me and pop me when I was making mix tapes. I kept going, got into college radio and then I became the DJ for the group Young Black Teenagers. That took me around the world for five years with Public Enemy, Anthrax, Sisters of Mercy, Primus, you know, so many different groups. That was like my college. That’s where I learned about the music game and the music business. Then I did Hot 97 with Dr. Dre and Ed Lover in New York on the morning show and then I started doing Yo! MTV Raps. I did Spring Break for MTV in ’98 and then they asked me to do a show called the Daily Burn which was this exercise show at the Jersey Shore – my first season was at the Jersey Shore, so I was like the original Jersey Shore cast member (laughs). So I was doing the show and my manager was like, “Yeah, they want you to DJ, but you have to do this exercise show,” and I looked at him like he was out of his mind. I thought my career was over, but I did it, and luckily I did, because after that summer I got MTV Jams, Sisqo’s Shakedown, The Grind, and pretty much any TV show that was on MTV at the time, and that took me to the world.
Marc Jay: Most people know you from your MTV days, but how did that all come about? You got to film in different locations and on beaches all around the world, so tell us a bit about that.
DJ Skribble: Global Groove was all around the world. We got to film in Australia, London, Japan, Italy, Spain – we filmed it all over. We actually shot most of it where I was, in New York, but I would send the music out to the different locations and then they would shoot it, and that’s how they did the split-screen, which made it look like it was live.
Marc Jay: Before those days the DJs were always sort of hidden, they were in the back of the scene. You were kind of like the first person to come forward and became everyone’s hero for being a DJ.
DJ Skribble: I’d definitely like to think that I opened up a bunch of doors and definitely put a face on the DJ. I was the first DJ to play live on television and show what we really do up there, not just like a disc jockey at a radio station or a wedding DJ that’s, you know, playing at a wedding – we perform. Guys like myself, Qbert, we were all coming up and finally showing the faces to everybody.
Marc Jay: Now I know you’re based on the East Coast, and you’re a family man now, so tell us a little about your family and your life there.
DJ Skribble: It’s cool. I have two little boys, ages five and three, and it gets a little rough now with the traveling because my son’s always waiting at the door like, “Can I come with you” and “Where are you going today,” but it’s cool because now he gets it. When he sees me on TV or he sees different things he’s like, “That’s my daddy,” so that’s pretty cool. The hardest part is leaving them, obviously, but it’s something that pays the bills. It has to be done.
Marc Jay: This show, The Jersey Shore, which is obviously a phenomenon all around America at the moment, is sort of like your home; you’re an East Coast boy. Do you watch the show? What do you think of the cast?
DJ Skribble: I think they’re great. They couldn’t have picked a better cast and, you know, it started out to be a bunch of meathead guidos and guidettes but they’ve grown so much as a cast and are doing so many things now. I mean, Pauly was always a DJ and a lot of people are hating on him, but he’s got a lot to learn and he’s still coming out, and he’s getting that experience from the show. It’s like I say in every interview, it’s like being on the farm leagues in baseball and then being put on the Yankees in 24 hours. I mean, that’s kind of the success that they’ve had. You know, I’ve had a steady ascent, but they just shot up like rocket ships. It’s a lot to take in all at once.
Marc Jay: I remember my first time coming to meet you. I was picking up you and your tour manager and we had a limo and a big van. I was like, “Why are there two cars for two people?” I think you came off the plane with 16 bags of records.
DJ Skribble: Yeah, 13 record boxes.
Marc Jay: I was like, “This guy is playing for five or six hours, how does he have so many records?”
DJ Skribble: I was playing house music before it was cool to play house music, so I would have six boxes of hip hop and six boxes of dance music with me at all times. It’s not like now when you have Serato and everything’s on a little hard drive. I mean, I still use the vinyl versions of the programs that I use, but it’s all on the computer now.
Marc Jay: So now you only have to travel with one bag.
DJ Skribble: That’s it. It’s amazing.
Marc Jay: It’s great, but do you ever miss the days of going to the stores and swapping records?
DJ Skribble: Oh, absolutely. When you went to the stores you would always see other DJs there, you would talk, and it was so funny sometimes because some of the records at that time were so hard to get. You know, music is so accessible now because of the internet, but if you didn’t get to the record store when those shipments came in and there were only three or four of that import that was so hot, then you missed it and that was it. Even then there was no CD burning, so it was like you had to be at the record store. It was kind of where everybody congregated and hung out.
Marc Jay: On average, how many shows do you do in a year?
DJ Skribble: Around two and change, something like that.
Marc Jay: What was the most memorable show that you’ve done?
DJ Skribble: The most memorable show, hands down, was when I went to Iraq in November and I was the first DJ to headline a USO tour along with Naughty by Nature and I got to play for the troops. That was the most gratifying, memorable show. I mean, I’ve played everything from the NFL to Disney to the World Series, but that one, to go over and play for them, was incredible. The last show that we did was in Saddam Hussein’s old soccer stadium in his hometown of Tikrit, the one he used to execute people in. We were performing in front of this huge 300-foot American flag and we’re looking around and just seeing all these kids’ faces – and that’s what they are, kids, they’re like 18, 19 years old kids over there for us. It was so gratifying.
Marc Jay: What do you have coming up in the future? And what is your website, where can people find you and track what you’re up to?
DJ Skribble: The new album is out in stores now, Dance Nation, on Thrive/Def Jam and you can obviously come see me every week here in Las Vegas at Studio 54. You could also check me out at DJskribble.com, at DJskribble on Twitter, DJ Skribble on Facebook… what else do I have? Oh, DJskribble.tv. Yeah, I’m a media whore.
Marc Jay: Also, your great agent, Sujit, who I love to pieces, is over at Skam Artist. How long have you been with them now?
DJ Skribble: It was a year in January and it was the best move and decision I’ve made in my entire life.
Marc Jay: He has a team of beautiful ladies who look after you.
DJ Skribble: Yes he does, “Skam Moms” we call them. They take good care of us but we drive them crazy (laughs). Especially me, I know I drive everybody nuts.
Marc Jay: I know you’ve got to rush to the booth now. I appreciate it and I know it’s going to be a crazy night and thank you again.
DJ Skribble: Thanks for having me, man. I’ve been looking forward to this. This has been something that I’ve been gearing up to and I have a home now every week. It’s just awesome. Every Saturday night, Studio 54, MGM Grand, DJ Skribble’s Freak Show. Please come out, you’re not going to be sorry.
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