Alien-Nation

Interview by Alan Ng & Jenkin Au
Words by Ryan Goldade
Photography by Jenkin Au

Despite the overwhelming lack of results with mankind’s search for life on places other than Earth, everyone’s journey through their own space path is never one of solitude. There are always people along someone’s side, directly or indirectly, helping them along with their mission. These ties and relationships need not to be significant and they do not need to be long lasting. This definitely holds true for Paul as the justalilhype! Crew had a conversation with him about his affiliations and the groups that he was part of, both long and short relations. Paul speaks to us about his first crews and the rejection that they faced because they were unconventional, and then speaks to his other affiliations such as Monkey Massive, Kut Co., No Luck Club, Boombox Saints, First Love, and recently Goons from the Moon. Each connection that Paul has made allowed him to expand his insight and knowledge as a musician. The various DJ crews that he has worked with allowed him to hone his skills with different types of turntablists. Joining No Luck Club and touring with them expanded his network vigorously across Canada. His creation of the Boombox Saints has transformed him from an amateur producer, to a full time manager and DJ for a while. His role within the 1st Love crew was pivotal as he was in charge of every event poster and was able to apply not just any his creative art onto them, but also bring out break-dance crews and scratch turntablists into the night. While all of these collaborations that Paul has been working with allowed him to grow and learn, his most recent project with Mike MSA is conceivably one of his most passionate ones, being able to create sounds that he has dreamt about in full color with a old high school pal and be able to truly utilize music as an expressional outlet.

Near the start of each artist’s career, especially as a DJ, there are a lot of partnerships and collaborations that go on. Tell a bit about the people and the initial partnerships you have sparked.

It started back in ‘95. It was with the guys that I went to high school with and back then we were called NRC (North Realm Crew). It was seven of us and we were the only hip-hop heads in my school back then. My high school was dominantly into rock music so just seeing people who dressed and acted hip-hop was alienating – they looked at us a different way. I started off with those guys, couple of them DJed for weddings and high school functions and what not. That’s how I got my first gig, doing stuff with those guys. The seven guys composed of Duncan “Esiks”, Rick “Rickashae”, Marvin “Eskimo Man”, Mike “MSA” , Malcolm “Qbase1” and Jeff “Omega Red”, he was just cool, he used to do our video. Back then DJing was all about recording and carrying the big camcorder.

Out of all the seven of you guys, whom were you most disappointed with that didn’t continue with DJing?

QBase, I grew up with that guy since we were one. We were close family friends and what not. I did everything that he did, and he did everything I did. What’s crazy is that he’s such an artistic musician that he can pick up any instrument and play with it. He’s wicked on the trumpet, and when he got turntables, he was naturally good with it. Then we had a falling, didn’t hang out for a long time. I heard he sold his turntables for a paintball gun. He really got into paint balling. Recently, about a month ago, he called me up. He was actually checking out our show online. He was like “Yea man I checked you guys out, you guys are still at it and I wish I was still doing it”. I told him that he could still do it. It’s like riding a bike. I’m really disappointed with the fact that guy has so much talent that he could use but decided not to do it.

From your high school group, it seems like your collective love of hip-hop has introduced you to DJing, which you have also messed around with the basics during your teenage years. Moving on, what really made you a full time DJ?

While everybody went to school, me, Mike and QBase would go to each other’s houses and practice. When we were back in school, I remember a bunch of Grade 12’s who were 2 years older than us all would call us monkey back packers.

How come?

Have you seen Higher Learning?

No.

It’s a pretty powerful movie; it’s about racism in university. Yeah it was like KKK dudes and he would call the black guys monkeys. It was really racist. I guess because the Grade 12 guys were into all into punk, rock whatnot and since we were hip-hop and that was minority. Asians were minority in high school at my high school. For us hearing them call us monkeys obviously that’s a racial thing. We were like “Why don’t we use the racial thing; turn the negative stuff into positive. So we called ourselves the Munkee Skratchers at that time, then it turned into Munkee Massv.

(Paul laughs)

After, it was the first time where you guys competed in the DMCs, correct?

Yea, so there were 3 of us and we were called Munkee Massv. Mike MSA, Qbase, and myself. A year after we started the crew, we met a guy called Gnius and  a guy named Wundrkut and that was our core crew. That’s when we started competitions and what not. We would never enter the same battle. We would step out for each other and wait our turn. A lot of other DJs would say shit and get mad.

There was always a time were you broke out to compete in DMC Vancouver,what did the guys have to say about that?

At that time, we weren’t even a crew anymore. We had a falling in 2000. I moved to Toronto. I decided to go separate. I forget what happened. I just remembered our whole crew had a falling, and I moved to Toronto and started hanging out with the Turntable Monks –  DJ Dopey, J-Tec, and Tantrum. I was in Toronto for a year and a half, almost two. When I came back to Vancouver, that’s when I competed by myself.

Looking back, do you think Munkee Massv have created a name in the scene or was it just a personal friendship crew?

We did. We used to do a lot of shows as a crew. If you were around when we were staring back in ‘98 until maybe 2002, you would know who Munkee Massv is. These guys are all DMC champions.

Other than the friendship that you have created with the DJs in Toronto and spinning with them, were there any further affiliations?

No they weren’t looking for any new members at that time. It was cool. Being a person that moved to a new city and didn’t know anybody, they actually hung out with me and showed me around. Even hanging out with them at scratch sessions and what not, I have learned a lot from watching them. Just being exposed to them, you can learn a lot.

After coming back to Vancouver from Toronto, did you scratch with anybody else closely?

No, I still did things on my own for maybe a year and a half. Then I started hanging out with Hedspin, and P-Luv. From there, I learned how to party rock and mix. Back then, all I did was compete, juggle, scratch and what not. Those guys, the way they play is amazing. Those guys are scratch and mix DJs. They incorporate everything when it comes to party rocking.

What about your creations of the Boombox Saints, when was that?

First, it was Munkee Massv, the turntablist crew. During Munkee Massv, I DJed for a crew called Brougham Camp. That was the first rap group that I ever DJed for. They had a radio show on 96.1 Planet AAJ on Fairchild. That was back in ‘99. This was even before I went to Toronto. Those were the guys that brought me into the hip-hop scene. That’s why I know guys like Edge and Jaykin. Brougham Camp was the bridge to the hip-hop scene. I was part of Munkee Massv at the same time as trying to become a turntablist, a better battle DJ, a mix radio DJ for a hip- hop group, working two jobs, and going to school at the same time. It was pretty rough. After that, that’s when I moved to Toronto. I came back and started hanging out with Hedspin and P-Luv, thus started a group called Kut Co. It was pretty funny. It was P-Luv, Hedspin, Wundrkut, Astrix, Relik, Marvel, Bles-sed, Grasshopper and myself. It was like a bunch of collective DJs. It wasn’t even like we were going to start doing gigs or competing together. We all hung out with each other, that’s why. Then No Luck Club came. I met Matt, one of the brothers through Fairchild. He used to DJ with me on “The Primetime Show” 96.1. He told me that he was a turntablist too. My brother and I did a demo tape for a bunch of record companies back in 2000, 2001. Four years later, we hooked up again and he asked me if I wanted to come down and scratch. In 2004, they were already signed to two labels. They were URB’s next 100 new artists to come out. I mean if you were in that you were the next to blow up. They got that. We started scratching and later they would ask me about joining the group. I was like, “Really?” “Yea, I would do some stuff with you guys”. One of my good friends, Sean La La (he was working with Universal, at the time, now working with Roc Nation), was telling me that it was the best career move that I could do as a turntablist. I was sold to that and started touring with them, and did an album. As a turntablist, that was probably the best thing that had happened to me. Doing work with those guys made me learn a lot, musically, the music business and what not.

Are you still affiliated with No Luck Club currently? What are they up to now?

I don’t know if this is supposed to be top secret. Sorry guys, but they moved to Toronto, and they are working on the third and last album as No Luck Club. They have a whole different direction now. From what they have been telling me, it’s going to sound so crazy. Before they moved, we hooked up and Trevor was showing me all the stuff he was using. He would use all these gear to trigger MIDI’s while me and Matt would scratch. The gear he has now is insane! They have been working on the back end for video games, for Microsoft and CBC in Toronto.

Tell us a bit about your involvement and role of Boombox Saints?

Then it was Boombox Saints. It started out with me and my cousin Rob Palacol. He’s actually from Saskatoon and was signed to a record label from there, Five Star Records. He’s a singer, songwriter. I laughed just because my cousin, being Asian from Saskatoon is a singer and songwriter. That’s just pretty funny. We started a production group called the Boombox Saints. The whole idea of it was we were going to produce and make beats for people. Make beats and sign artists independently. Rob and I had a fascination of the movie “Boondock Saints”, and that’s where our name derived from. Two years down the road, Adlib came along. He use to see me at the clubs, at the end of the night, he would come up to me and rap. I’m like, I hate this shit. I can’t stand MCs coming up to me spitting bars. You can’t really hear him out in the club. I’d rather have it on tape or maybe link up and do a studio session, not somebody coming up to you and rapping in your ear at a noisy environment. He kept on doing it almost every week. Every time I see him, he would do it. I was like wow, this guy’s persistent. I think I can work with this guy, but really, what can I do for this guy? I don’t have a marketing background. I passed him along to my cousin to meet. My cousin wanted to work with him and said he sounded good. He told me he could also sing. I was like what? I thought all he could do is rap. Adlib had a good voice, that’s one thing he should focus on. I mean he could rap and what not but that’s what drew my attention to him, he could sing. It totally worked out with my cousin because he had a rock based vocal background and then add an R&B/Soul sound, combining them together, you get this crazy texture.

Then, I left again because I concentrated back to No Luck Club. That’s when I started touring heavily. Two years later. Maybe, this is 2006 now. Boombox Saints decided to do stuff again. This time it wasn’t just two guys singing and one guitar. They have a drummer now, a guy playing bass, lead guitar, another rapper and two singers. It was a full band. I love playing with live bands after doing folk fest. I was like maybe I could do stuff with these guys again. That’s when I started doing stuff with those guys again.

How did that relationship turn out?

I took the role as the manager. Not just being the DJ and the guy who does the graphics and photos for them. I turned out to be the manager and the guy behind all the marketing for them. At that time, I was trying to shop them for shows and rehearsal spots for them to practice. Even write music with them. It got heavy, I was doing that, No Luck Club stuff and trying to be a DJ and designer. We went through so many drummers and different bass guitar players. Everyone had the same direction. We all wanted to become a successful group except one guy wanted to do it all hip-hop, one guy wanted to do it all R&B and one guy wanted to do it all experimental (that was me). It was a bunch of talented musicians, but there was no chemistry and the falling happened between my cousin and us. My cousin Rob didn’t like the idea of turning it into a hip-hop band. We were one of the first in Vancouver to do the hip-hop band thing and doing covers and what not. I think that was our strong point, we did covers like from The Neptune’s, etc., pretty much whatever was hot at that time. We had a falling with my cousin and once he left, there goes all the live instrument stuff. Then that was when I picked up the production side, making beats for the guys. The guys were like “Let’s do a mixtape”. I told them I could only do so much. I threw down my beats that I did, and we jacked a few beats that existed already and pretty much spat on it and made a mixtape. We needed a place to record it. That’s when Mike “Windo” jumped on. He was our sound engineer then jumped on as our manager, which helped out a lot. He got everything organized; he got us the shows and the studio time. After that, I was like Wow. I can sit back and chill for a bit. Then I just became the DJ. After, things went in a different direction. It wasn’t this soulful hip-hop sound I wanted it to be nor didn’t become the… I love the electronic and synthesizer sounds mixed with the live instruments. Like the electro hip-hop stuff that Wale and The Cool Kids are doing. I was hoping our direction was going that way, like the Indie Hip-hop scene and it didn’t. It started becoming more mainstream, and we were just regurgitating Jay-Z and Kanye, I don’t know. Maybe that wasn’t the feel that they were trying to get, but whatever the feel was, it wasn’t me. Trust me, Boombox Saints is a talented group but it just wasn’t the direction that I was really feeling. At the bitter end of my Boombox Saints period, I was getting back to scratching heavily. I was trying to do more experimental stuff. I also got busy with a lot design work… just too much on my plate. Another thing about it was I was becoming somebody that I wasn’t happy with. I got really mixed up with the whole environment. I was becoming somebody I was not. They are good peoples. It’s just that that’s not me. That’s not Paul and I lost myself. It took me maybe a couple months after Boombox to realize who I really am. Going back to the emotional side of myself. The emo turntablist I was.

There was also 1st Love Wednesday at Tunnel that you and Relik…Lokoboy, Adlib and Icy Touch. Tell us about the formation of that weekly, how did that night got started?

I met Tropic, back in 2001. It’s funny. I didn’t start clubbing till 2000. I wasn’t quite into the club scene. I’ve known Relik since a bit after high school. And Relik used to throw hip-hop parties at halls and that’s where I met them. They both started a night at a club called Purple Onion back in the day in Gas Town. That was like one of my first experiences as a club-goer. Relik told me to come down and check it out. That’s where I met Tropic. At that time he was just a promoter and an MC. Tropic was the first person that introduced me to Jager shots. (Laughs) I was like “Wow! I love getting hammered.” That guy was hilarious. I started hanging out with those guys. Relik and Loko decided to start up a club night and asked me if I wanted in. “Yea, what do you want me to do?” They asked me to do the graphics for them. I was like “Oh… that!” then they said I could DJ too, and put me on as one of the rotating DJs. They said I would be playing once a month. It was funny because there were a few promoters back then telling me they would put me on one of the nights to play and do the graphics. A rotation DJ right? I was even part of Get Up Get Down when it was at Tokyo Lounge and Shine. I was the graphic designer, MC then the DJ. I was hired more to MC than DJ. I don’t touch the mic anymore, I hate that shit. So Tropic told me to link up and start up this night called 1st Love with them. I was like “1st Love, that’s cool. What’s behind all that?” “Well, we wanted to make a night that played all the music that made us fall in love with hip-hop.”

I was like, “Oh sick! So just hip-hop?” He was like, “No we are going to do Funk and Soul.” I was in because I love playing funk and soul too, that’s my specialty. Then he put me on the first night and told me to do the graphics as well. I did the graphics and ever since then I have just been stuck with it. There are five of us that originally started first love. We lost people, DJs, door girls, but we have been the same five.

Your latest turntablist project, Goons from The Moons, how did that come to be?

I got back into scratching. Mike and I started hanging out more again. Mike told me to come down because he just built his own studio. He was like: “I foamed it out and it’s in my garage.” Then we started jamming at his garage. After the first time, in a long time, we got in there, both thought that it sounded good. We wanted to continue the sessions so we decided to meet up every Monday. Once a week was his outlet. He’s got two kids and he’s a family guy. Scratching was his main passion before all that. Every week it’s going to be my outlet too, out of me playing music at club or just staying in front of my computer. At the time we would just scratch for five hours straight and not talk to each other. It’s funny because we would be scratching for hours, when we stopped and talk, it would be difficult, we had to clear our throat before we talked. We started working on music. We showed each other our production work that we did at home, and then Goons from The Moon started. GFTM is still in its raw stages. I still haven’t figured out how  to incorporate a few extended family members, Wundrkut, Panakronic and Krisp. When I do, it’s going to be insane!

What’s the meaning behind the name?

There are three names actually. I forgot the second name. I was like “What do you think about the Lazy Susans?” and he’s like, “That’s cool, do you have anything else?” I always wanted a group called Lazy Susan’s, it’s like a turntable but not really. That doesn’t work. I started looking around, and we both thought that our music sounded very spacey. We use heavy effects so our shit sounds like we were from the moon. “Hey man, we could be like the Goons From The Moons,” and it had a good ring to it. We checked online to see if there are any groups out there. There was some but they don’t own goons from the moons dot COM. So I bought it and that’s how it started. It was for a DJ crew, it could be for a new band, it could be for anything.

Where is it moving forward?

We are doing a festival. We got invited to do a festival titled Under the Volcano. They hired No Luck Club and asked me to do a DJ set. And I told them that I want to bring my friend. He asked me what we do and I told him we are like No Luck Club with all vinyl.

“All vinyl? So no effects?”

“Oh we have effects, we have effects pedals and a Theremin”. This instrument was invnted back in 1919, it’s the craziest thing. It uses sound waves. If you hear a long tone that’s going wavy. That’s done by the Theremin. It’s the weirdest thing. I think that’s one of our gimmicks. We use it as part of our shows and our music that makes everything sounds spacey.

D-City, JayKin, and Airtights, how did that show and collaboration spark?

I met Ess and Spot from D-City at Boss Night Club, I was playing there one night and they performed. To me, right away, they were really talented. I wanted to work with these guys from the first time seeing them. I saw talent and loved their sound. They work hard and are good people too. I did some research at home and saw what they been working on. I was impressed, really impressed. Later I asked them to do a show at 1st Love.  The night of their show, I told Adlib (Boombox Saints), saying I’d leave them for D-City.

(Everyone laughs)

As a joke, it was cool because D-City and Boombox actually collaborated at a show together. We would pass beats along to each other and we built a relationship since then. When Boombox and I had a falling, Alan from the Airtights, hit me up. Alan asked me if I was down to do a show at Fortune with them and D-City. I was like “WORD!”. I went to the studio…saw musical instruments and talented musicians playing them. I was like “that’s what I’ve missed. Ess was like, “why don’t you do some cuts on this new track I did?” I fell in love with the beat right away. It was without vocals at the time. I would love to do cuts on it. We thought about getting JayKin on it. I was like “Wow, even better, let’s do that!” Then he had it recorded with JayKin. I really wanted to be part of this. Eventually, I did the cut for it and was now part of the track.

In the future, do you think we’ll be seeing more D-City and Paul Skratch?

Definitely, after the show we did together at Fortune, D-City wanted to get Goons from The Moon in it. I was like “Really? We are so weird.” D-City was like, “Yea, that’s what you guys add, you guys add that spacey texture.” That’s all we wanted to do. We didn’t want to become lead guys in a band; we just wanted to add texture. So D-City, Airtights and Goons From The Moon are in the talks of doing more projects in the future. We are currently organizing a live-recorded session at a studio and we are going to try to run it through UStream, record it online and spread it. Ess and I have the same views with music and life. It’s easy for me to work with someone that can understand me. There’s not many of them, trust.

Throughout all these years with working with so many talents, what advice do you have to people when it comes to collaborations?

Reach out, actually do it. There’s lot of talented artists in Vancouver, and even Canada. And all these talented artists are willing to work with you. If you love hip-hop and your base background is electronica, experimental like me, or whatever your sound is. People will work with you. Go talk to them. Go to the shows, support. It’s really about reaching out and following through. Really going out, press record and play. That’s really all you need to do. You could do this 100 times and one of them is going to land, but just follow your heart and really step up to these people. Step up to us, if you have things you want to work with. If you guys want spacey texture, then holla at me.

(Everyone laughes.)