Hip Hop & Global Bass: An Interview With DJ LOKASH

DJ LOKASH

HSM’s Mizeyesis caught up with DJ LOKASH recently in a rare interview with the New England Hip Hop legend, who also blessed us with an exclusive mix!
 
Connecticut, although a very small state with a history or perception to many of not being a hub of entertainment is in fact the opposite as I often feel that boredom or the mundane day-to- day life can often breed intense creativity, or rather is one recipe for such. Then add a dash of multiculturalism, artistic innovation, and you have peeps crop up everywhere djing. I originally met DJ LOKASH when I got back from an extended trip to the UK in 2007 in New Haven. The one thing I remember was he as a sick hip hop dj, who could scratch very well, and had a secret love for drum & bass and house music. Fast forward to last year, he and I reconnected and, not only does he spin drum & bass, and house, even produces it, and still is up on his hip hop game, but has been pushing this sound “Global Bass” hardcore in these parts, and people are listening. I caught up with DJ LOKASH to get some insights for Hipstep Magazine on who he is, how did this happen, and what can we all expect!

HSM: DJ LOKASH, you started playing out ten years ago, gigging. Can you give us all an idea of your first booking?

DJ LOKASH: Hmmm… damn, it’s been 10 years already? My first “booking” if you could call it that was in Queens at this bar on Broadway & 45th St. called NUA. I used to live close by at the time and would spin on Tuesdays or Wednesdays once or twice a week. It was generally pretty empty and looking back at it, I was probably pretty horrible, but I gotta give Patrick (the owner) love for having patience and giving the kid a shot. I was playing a lot of 90′s hip-hop, dancehall, and funk/soul type stuff with maybe some reggaeton thrown in here and there.

 

HSM: You were a strict hip hop dj, turntablist at one point. What was it that made you want to play with the sounds of global bass and really push it out there?

DJ LOKASH: That’s kind of a misconception a lot of people have from my involvement with radio over the years. Even though I’ve spent a lot of time in hip-hop land, I was into dancehall, ska, reggaeton, salsa, merengue and music from everywhere else in the world from young. It just so happened I was most visible doing hip-hop for mad long.

Around ’06 I went through a short production phase where I was experimenting with remixing a lot of North African sounds/rhythms and making blends and stuff. I made some remixes that never really got out, but overall it was a response to all of the stagnation in hip-hop and everything else that gets lumped into the “urban radio” category. We get fed so much unimaginative crap on a day-to-day basis, that it’s easy to yearn for something else. How motivated you are to make the effort to look is the question though.

It just seemed like a natural progression. I like sounds from around the world, I like bass and sub-bass and dancing, therefore I’m going to play music with bass that makes me dance. I have blood from too many different places running through my veins to be complacent with one type of sound.

 

HSM: Were you always closed off to any sort of electronic dance music before you started djing a lot of it? What were some of the things you listened to, and also did you buy any records?

DJ LOKASH: My experience with dance music has been weird. I used to skate with the homey Bamboo from Swing Kids back in the day and he put me on to techno/house when I was mad young through the tapes he would lend me. So since I was 12 or whatever, I’ve been open to electronic music, but I had primarily encountered crappy records in life which is probably why I never really cared for commercial/prog house.

I’ve always listened to everything though because of skateboarding. I got to witness a lot of cool stuff in the 90′s first hand being a little skate rat. I started buying records way before I started dj’ing even though they were mostly HC/metal 7″s. My first 12″ singles were jungle records I got from Breakbeat Science and Satellite years before I ever got to touch my first dj set up. I think Super Sharp Shooter by DJ Zinc was my first non-hardcore/punk record I bought.

 

HSM: What was your first sort of electronic dance music show?

DJ LOKASH: I want to say this past winter at Afterlife [laughs], but that can’t be right. Maybe a couple of years ago at one of Deph’s Transmission parties? A middle school art show (shrug) I don’t know, I never really categorized my gigs like that.

 

HSM: Tell us how you got involved with 88.1, and what kinds of doors have opened as a result?

DJ LOKASH: Rick from Redscroll Records used to work at WNHU 88.7FM in the New Haven area when I was still in college and has been at WESU since even before that. Bassment Beats joined AllHipHopRadio in 2009, but unfortunately they went off the air in the beginning of 2010. One day Rick hit me up about a late night slot that opened up in the Fall of 2010 on WESU and I’ve been there ever since.

This year both Bassment Beats and New World Show were made available on the Pacifica Radio Network so that was pretty cool. They are the first ever music offerings from WESU on the 160+ station network which is the oldest public radio network in the US. So now the show is available to Pacifica affiliates right alongside The Gary Null Show, Democracy Now and other legit badass programming that wins awards. The internet is a powerful tool, but there’s still something to be said for being able to touch your local community on the FM airwaves.

 

HSM: You travel quite a bit to South America. When & how did this happen?

DJ LOKASH: A few years ago I realized I hadn’t really been abroad much in life and wanted to change that. Maybe it’s the law of positive attraction or something, but bonds were forged over the years and just like with anything, your network grows. I’ve been blessed to encounter good people who have grown into friends and familia.

 

HSM: Do you feel that this exposure will help benefit the “global bass” movement up here? And for clarification, what exactly is “global bass”?

DJ LOKASH: Oh geez, I don’t know, what’s your readership lookin like these days? [laughs] Of course. Any time someone is willing to include it in the conversation with everything else that’s going on in the music world, I think it’s a win.

There are so many cool things happening all over the world and it’s rad to see it all coming together and manifesting bigger things. I mean you have Que Bajo about to go head to head at Redbull Soundclash in NYC vs. Trouble & Bass, Federation, and Just Blaze, that’s huge! Peligrosa, Moombahton Massive, AZ Gunslingaz are all doing big things in the US. El Freaky in Colombia, A Tribe Called Red & Dos Mundos in Canada, Bomb Diggy & Generation Bass in Europe, Midget Ninjas in Russia and that’s just a handful. There are a bunch of heads worldwide that see what’s happening and are following their hearts and cool stuff is happening as result.

I think everyone has their own idea of what global/transnational bass is. Tropical Bass was the buzzword for a while until people started throwing dem bow over Eastern European & Eurasian sounds and producers around the world started to run with the Digital Cumbia, Ku duro, Funk carioca (and whatever other sounds/sub-genres might fall under the tropical bass umbrella), and melding them with Dubstep, Drum & Bass, Trap, House and whatever else might be stereotypically labeled bass music. So I guess it’s based in trying to find a term that includes everyone without using the oppressive “World Music” label. Plus global is easier to say than transnational.

 

HSM: As you are a turntablist at heart, and come from a different school than most djs, what are your opinions on digital djing, pros & cons? And do you utilize digital components in your mixing? What are some of the advantages you think?

DJ LOKASH: Just like with all of the other media, the threshold is really being lowered when it comes to the power of the tools available at the consumer level. So it’s nice that there are things like Serato, but in the sense that it’s supposed to make a good DJ better. Unfortunately too many people are relying on the software to do the work for them and it’s really starting to dilute the world with a lack of emphasis on quality control of the final product made. Not to mention, people think it makes things easier, but there is so much more to know and organize with all of the music files and particulars of the software, that sometimes it’s nice to be able to just put a needle on a record and let it play without having to stare at a screen.

I still use two turntables and a mixer and record everything in one take since I don’t like to punch-in and punch-out of recordings. I incorporate a controller sometimes just because I avoid touching the computer as much as possible, but hopefully I’ll get one of those new mixers soon like Rane Sixty-Two and won’t need a controller at all.

 

HSM: Who are some of the well known artists that you’ve worked with in both hip hop and EDM worlds? And how do you combine the two worlds, or do you ever feel there’s ever a clash between them both?

DJ LOKASH: Well actually, I got this side project comin’ out wit Tuff-n-Stuff & Smokesalot and then I fux wit this ill emcee named Potato Meat… no sir. Um. Shit, I don’t know. Touring with Cannibal Ox earlier this year was pretty intense. I did some scratches on Sketch tha Cataclysms album last year (http://littleax.com/sketch-tha-cataclysm-indie-rappers-do-it-for-gas-money-vol-2/) DJUNYA who I actually met out West while with Can Ox was cool enough to bless me with an exclusive track for this mix. I used to rock with Blitz the Ambassador once upon a time.

I don’t know, in a lot of ways they’re already combined. Music is already one, it’s all just vibrations at different frequencies. Some of the Can Ox shows I would open with a hip-hop set and then close with a bass heavy set. Sometimes I’ll throw in a bass tune for someone to freestyle over in a cypher. In general I try to mix things up as much as possible without straying from the theme of whatever event I’m performing at. It all depends on the time and place, but they’re already connected.

I wouldn’t say there’s a clash so much in hip-hop, as there’s a clash between commercial rap/radio consumers and EDM (e.g. the folks who don’t know what dubstep is and just call it techno) or in fighting among the various sub-genres that fall under the EDM umbrella. It’s weird to me that all of a sudden people are talking about electronic music like we haven’t already had 20+ years of house, jungle, etc. immediately preceding it.

 

HSM: What are some of your upcoming projects for the remaining part of 2013? And where would you like to see yourself and your involvement music over the next 10 years?

DJ LOKASH: Well actually, I see my trajectory in the next 10 years to be very similar to Jay-Z’s… [laughs] Wow, there’s only part of 2013 left already huh? Continuing to develop the presence of Bassment Beats and New World Show worldwide sounds like a start. Getting them syndicated would be nice. I’m still pushin’ this Bumpahs mix that came out a couple of weeks ago that got some love from Generation Bass and Dos Mundos. Some tour plans with Cannibal Ox to support their new single “Gotham” on their new label IGC (Iron Galaxy Clik) over the summer with Crimson Godz and hopefully some more world travels to new places. Got new mixes coming out in the next few months.
The 2nd half of the roller derby season (go CT Rollergirls). Maybe an EP at the end of the year?In the next 10 years, I would like to be on some record mogul type steez. Maybe get my Rick Rubin on. [laughs] I should be a more polished performer and producer by that point so probably greater involvement in film and other media, since sight and sound and web are being merged anyway. Which reminds me that you should see ‘An Oversimplification of Her Beauty’ while it’s in theaters if you haven’t already.

Who knows maybe I’ll take bass to Mars or something. Whatever keeps the kids happy and makes the world a better place.

 

To connect with DJ LOKASH:
Visit: www.bassmentbeats.net
Bassment Beats || New World Show
Saturdays on WESU 88.1FM & The Pacifica Radio Network
Listen on iTunes or listen live on www.wesufm.org

 

Check out the Guest Mix by DJ LOKASH on Hipstep Magazine

Interview by: Mizeyesis

 

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