justSPIN! The Goodfellas

Interview by Ryan Goldade and Patrick Giang
Words by Amie Nguyen and Ryan Goldade
Photography by Patrick Giang

Location: Vancouver

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Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us about yourselves

Friktion: My name is DJ Friktion of the Goodfellas.

Smooth: Sid Smooth. We started DJ’ing in 1998 together; we started doing parties together in high school. We entered the club scene around 2000, working at all the underground spots. That led to us working Fridays at Luce. Then we started working for Gman and Rizk in 2001. Back then, it was Wet Bar – International Gold Fridays.

Friktion: Also Grande too, Grande Wednesday.

What first interested you in DJ’ing?

Friktion: Music has always been a part of my life. I first met Sid Smooth when I was 15. He was already DJ’ing parties using CD players and tape decks. I saw him and thought, “Wow, I’ve got to do this.” I got my first pair of turntables and a mixer when I was 16.

Smooth: I got started when I was 14. My cousin was a DJ in the ‘80s and I learned a lot from him. My brother and my sister are eight and nine years older than me so I got all the old school music knowledge from my brother, sister and my cousin. I loved music my whole life and I started doing it and just rolled with it.

Explain the origins of your DJ names and the group name.

Friktion: My DJ name came from my grade ten science class. I was in class and I was talking to my buddy and said, “Yo, I got a party to DJ and I need a DJ name.” We were looking through the textbook and he says, “Well, you like to scratch, why not use DJ Friktion?” Friction; scratch records; cool, done. That’s it.

Smooth: For me, I based my name on the fact that I used to mainly play R&B all the time. That was my main genre. That’s what I used to play back in the day. Friktion would always be playing the hip-hop and I’d be playing more of the urban R&B.

And the Goodfellas?

Smooth: Goodfellas came about because we’re two guys, so we’re fellas and everyone was saying that we were really good so it was just one plus one. It had nothing to do with the movie.

How did you first end up working with Gman? You had to audition for it right?

Friktion: We first met Gman through DJ Wax. DJ Wax put Gman and Rizk up on us and said, “Yo, check out these up-and-coming guys named the Goodfellas.” We made a mixtape and Gman and Rizk heard it and gave us a shot that following Friday at Wet Bar. The first time they heard us, they stuck with us.

Smooth: I remember at the end of the night, they were impressed. DJ Physik came up and shook our hands and said, “You guys are pretty dope.” Basically, it started with us headlining sometimes and then we became residents. Gman was always the opener of his club nights but after a while, he was just getting too busy with his daytime job so he said, “Okay guys, it’s your time now. You open up everything.” That’s how we basically got in with Gman.

You guys were 18 at the time right?

Smooth: Yeah, we were 18. They didn’t know that ‘til two years later when they asked me how old I was on my birthday. They both did the math and just smiled to each other. It was too late by then.

You guys were known for your mixtapes. Explain the amount of work involved in creating the quality of tapes that you released.

Friktion: To tell you the truth, we haven’t released a mixtape in quite a long time. We made them back in the day from 2001 to 2007.

What about the slow jam tapes recently?

Smooth: Yeah, I’ve done the Essential Slow Jams every year for four years.

Friktion: But collectively, we haven’t made one in while. We’re pretty meticulous in the sense of making our mixtapes. We would make a hundred takes on just a few mixes just to get it right.

Smooth: We’d stay up all day and all night. I’d fall asleep on Friktion’s carpet and when I woke up, he would go upstairs to sleep while I kept working on the mixtape. That’s the drive that we had. We are perfectionists. When it comes to making mixtapes and production, we are absolute perfectionists.

The experience you gained making mixtapes played a huge part in your induction into Crooklyn Clan. Tell us about how you first got started with Crack4Djs; how you got in and how you worked all the way up to joining Crooklyn Clan.

Friktion: As far as remixing goes, we’ve always been making remixes since we first started DJ’ing. We figured we might as well start making remixes and getting paid for it. So Crack4Djs, for those don’t know, is a sister site to Crooklyn Clan. It’s the first site that you would enter as a producer to see how good you do and if you’re able to make it into Crooklyn Clan. These sites are internationally known throughout the DJ community.

Friktion: We sent two of our remixes into Crack4DJs to see if they would accept us in and they liked our stuff right away. You have to be in the number one position for three months in a row in order to make it into Crooklyn Clan and we managed to do that within five months. We were actually told that we were the first group to make it into Crooklyn Clan that fast. Now we’re in Crooklyn Clan with the big boys and it’s time to put in more work. We already at number seven right now out of 50 DJs and we’ve only been on Crooklyn Clan for a month. From our remixes and being on the site, we’re known internationally now.

Smooth: We made the ‘OMG She’s a Sexy Bitch’ track and put it on DJ City before we even got on Crack4Djs. We released it around a year ago in May. I released the track and we took off for a vacation in Vegas. I was in hotel in the morning and decided to check on the site and our remix was number one! That kind of gave me the signal like, “Hey, we should be doing this.”

Where do you see the future of the Goodfellas in 10 years?

Smooth: To tell you truth, our main grind right now is producing. We’ve done a lot of club nights in Vancouver over the last 10-11 years, we’ve done concerts, we’ve done after-parties, we’ve done a lot of stuff. Our next goal is to get out of Vancouver and start hitting the world up.

Friktion: Pretty much. Start DJ’ing internationally and put even more effort into making better remixes.

Friktion, you came third in the first Red Bull Threestyle and recently came first overall in the Straight Skills competition. Do you have any plan to compete again in the near future?

Friktion: The Red Bull was a total last minute thing. I was put into the competition literally five days before hand. I made up a set and came in third. That was my first actual competition. I got my feet wet with that and it was cool. Then last year, May long weekend 2010, there was a Straight Skills competition. 24 DJs out of Vancouver; a lot of dope DJs, a lot of guys with skill and I came in first. If there are anymore competitions, I know Red Bull might be having some, I wouldn’t mind getting back into it but it’s not the biggest thing on my mind. I’m really focused more on getting the production level higher rather than competing.

Through your DJ careers, you both were managing and running businesses on the side, Friktion with the bakery and Smooth with the dry cleaners. How were you able to balance the DJ life with the business life?

Friktion: As far as the bakery goes, it was a family business and I was there seven days a week. I worked from 10am to 6am, got home by 6:30pm, had a shower and leave the house by 8pm and hop to the club. That was the regular routine for every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. A lot of sleepless nights but you got to just put in the work and grind. You gotta do what you gotta do to make that money.

Smooth: I started working full time when I started then and slowly started taking more time off as we started doing more work and more stuff was coming up. I do a lot of the bookings and I’d be working on other projects at the same time too. We were also doing new music Mondays and that was taking up quite a bit of time too. I would put new music up every week on Facebook. After the remixes started, it wasn’t worth our time anymore though. We just couldn’t do both.

You guys worked at Int’l Gold Fridays for seven years. Smooth, you’ve been with Players Club for 11 years and Friktion was with Big Up Saturdays for five years. Some people get lucky with one club night but clearly you’ve been able to have constant success. What is your secret?

Friktion: The main thanks for why we had residencies that stuck around is to the promoters that we fell in with. Keith and Abdel for Smooth with Player’s Club and Gman and Rizk for Plush (Gossip) and Wet Bar (Atlantis, then Boss).

Smooth: They recognized our hard work ethic. We’re never late, we’re always 15 minutes early. We don’t mess around and we get the job done.

Friktion: We’re the first ones in and the last ones out. We don’t drink, it’s all about rockin’ the crowd at the end of the day. They saw that so they kept us. They’re the two promoters that have had the longest runs in the city as far as club nights go. We’re truly lucky and thankful that we fell in with them.

How do you keep up with new promoters and work your networks?

Smooth: To tell you the truth, most promoters approach us. After working with Gman and Rizk and Keith and Abdel, we had that name around town as being solid so our names just got passed around to everyone. That’s how we met Pedro from Soulgood. We were working at Modern on Fridays at the time and Pedro approached us and asked us to work with him at Tunnel on Fridays. By that time, we had DJ’d a couple times at Get Fresh Thursdays and after that he wanted to have us work for him on Fridays. We ended up doing two years there until leaving to work at Motel. Now we’ve started to produce more. That’s the new excitement for us. When I listen at home, I image what the reaction in the club would be like and that feeling is enough for me right now. We’re not saying we don’t want to work, but it’s a hard balance when you’re trying to produce and DJ at the same time.

Friktion: Personally, Vancouver is pretty saturated right now in the club scene and production for us is going really well. Calls are coming in internationally to go play outside of Canada, which is what we want to do. Within the next year is our target to get out there.

Do you find that hip-hop is a niche market again?

Smooth: It is a niche market again. When we first started, it was only at a couple underground places. Garret and Rob were the main guys that did hip-hop. Under them were Keith and Abdel but they weren’t as mainstream as Garret and Rob. They were all about the internet and the radio promo where Player’s Club was just a solid Vancouver hip-hop night. It started in ’96. There was a time where all the clubs in downtown were playing hip-hop because it was the cool thing to do. Everyone was digging it and the Beat was playing it a lot but now that musical knowledge is generally gone now cause the Beat isn’t doing it anymore. Now if you play anything new, they don’t know it, they don’t know where to look. That’s why I did the new music Mondays but now I’m too busy producing to do it.

What are your views on Serato?

Friktion: Serato is actually a really great tool. My DJ’ing level has grown tenfold because of Serato because I can play my own remixes and my own edits. At the end of the day, I do miss vinyl but I don’t miss carrying all those crates into the club. Keeping true to vinyl though, I have over 5000 records in my collection. I’m never going to get rid of them. Serato is good though, I’m not going to knock it, because it is making me a better DJ. It’s paying the bills.

Smooth: Definite pros are not having to carry around records and the ability to download anything. Before, we would have to drive down to Seattle to get the new records that weren’t serviced in Canada. That’s how we were breaking a lot of new music back in the day but now you can just join a digital DJ pool and press download.

Any advice for young up and coming DJs?

Friktion: Practice, practice, practice. Make sure your skill level is up to par before you step into a club and do your homework. As an opening DJ, don’t think that before the headliner comes on, you can go and play all the hits and rock the crowd because you’re ruining the night because those hits are made to be played at prime time. If you don’t know what to play, go to the bars early and hear what veteran DJs are playing. You gotta know what you’re doing.

Smooth: I agree. Younger DJs need to learn how to open up a club properly. You can’t just play the hits, you have to learn to play more. Music knowledge is very important.

Friktion: You have to know your old stuff. Just because you’re 20 years old doesn’t mean you should know those songs from 15 years ago.

What is HYPE?

Smooth: When I think of HYPE, I think of playing in a night club with everyone’s hands in the air, losing their mind.

Friktion: CRAZYNESS! Getting crunk!

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The Goodfellas

The Goodfellas

The Goodfellas

The Goodfellas

The Goodfellas

The Goodfellas

The Goodfellas

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