Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Ryan Goldade and Amie Nguyen
Photography by Jenkin Au
Imagine for a minute you had seasons’ tickets to your favourite sporting event in your city. Every home game is a thrill; you get to see your boys and you get to see all the star players from the other teams. Now imagine it was free. What if you got paid? Sounds like a dream, right? If you were Kap N Kirk and Short Sirkit, aka 4 Korners, it’s just business as usual.
This dynamic duo has taken the Toronto scene by storm and become the official DJs for the Toronto Raptors’ basketball team. Every working DJ has stories about working at different clubs, but how many can say they’ve rocked the house inside a packed arena? That’s just one of the many accomplishments 4 Korners has achieved during the group’s tenure. From starting out at house parties in Toronto to tours through Europe and Asia, they’ve proven that dedication, hustle, friendship and a good sense of humour can take you anywhere you want to go.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
K: I go by Kap N Kirk, one half of 4Korners.
S: I go by Short Sirkit, the other half of 4Korners.
S: We are the official DJ’s of the Toronto Raptors. We are Toronto and Canada’s hottest DJ crew, as far as we can see. We’ve been doing our thing for just over 10 years now.
What first got you into DJ’ing?
K: I started DJ’ing by using my dad’s crappy old turntables and all of his old records. I remember learning on the five records that I thought were hip-hop enough for me. I started buying a couple records and it went from there. It grew from a hobby and then Short Sirkit came along. We had another partner named Dwight (DJ Prophecy). We all kind of worked together and hung out in the basement and fooled around with the records. We started doing birthday parties and house parties for people and it grew to small club gigs. Eventually we realized that this could go somewhere, so we started putting out mixtapes and it grew and now we’re here.
What is it about DJ’ing that keeps you captivated and moving forward?
S: It’s the opportunity to please people. I know Kap N Kirk and myself take a lot of pride in making people happy and making them move and creating memories. I know for a fact that we’ve gotten some people married from being at our parties.
K: We’re contributing to society through our music.
S: It’s been over ten years so it’s been a lot of shows, a lot of years and a lot of touring. It’s been an awesome ride and we don’t plan on stopping.
K: We really enjoy travelling and we’ve been able to do a whole lot of that through DJ’ing. We’ve seen places all over the world and seen the way people live and party. It’s been a great experience and like Short Sirkit said, we don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
Where did the name 4Korners come from?
K: That’s kind of G14 classified information. One part of it is definitely the fact that we want to reach the four corners of the earth through our music. That’s definitely something that we’re working towards. We’ve accomplished a lot so far but still have more to go. The other part is, this dude Kevin that I went to school with, we saw this old gangster movie with this crew called the Four Corner Hustlers and we kind of liked that. Within high school we called ourselves that. It wasn’t serious; we were just joking around. Then it stuck and I liked it. I met Short Sirkit later on and it ended up just being the two of us but 4Korners was the name that we already had and people had been familiar with it so we stuck with it.
What about your individual DJ names?
S: I got it when I was growing up. I was doing a lot of house parties, which were much bigger when we were younger. I used to be notoriously known as the guy who would shut the power down at the party through my energy and dancing. It was symbolism of putting a short circuit to the whole party. I just stuck with the name Short Sirkit and ran with it ever since.
K: I don’t have an elaborate story. My name is Kirk, people have always called my Captain Kirk or Kirk Douglas. I figured Kap N Kirk was a cooler name than Kirk Douglas so I stuck with that.
Tell us about some of your career milestones.
K: The first one I would say is DJ’ing outside of Toronto. We grew up listening and looking up to a lot of big DJ’s from our city but we wanted more for ourselves. We did what we had to do to expand. I remember the first time we played somewhere where we had to get on a plane. We played in Edmonton and then we played in Vancouver the next day. It was really tiring because we weren’t used to the time change. Back then, we had crates of records so we had to hope that they got there with our luggage. We did our thing and it was an amazing experience. We realized right then that this was exactly what we wanted to continue doing. From there, we focused on trying to crack Europe. We did and we’ve played all over Europe. Just recently we did a couple shows in Asia for the first time. Those were definitely milestones.
S: That’s definitely it. It was very surreal considering where Kap N Kirk and I started from. We used to just work at Canada’s Wonderland and we used to cause a lot of trouble. I never imagined it, you know! I never imagined going to Europe and the first time I went was because of 4Korners.
What is it about travelling that no other experience can give you?
K: I think in general, people should travel. I say this from experience because it’s made me a well more rounded person. I see the world differently and I approach things differently because I’ve seen more than just what I’ve grown up seeing. As far as DJ’ing, I definitely think it’s amazing. DJ’ing in your own city is cool because you know the people and the vibe but when you travel, you get to see what’s hot in different places for different people. We’ve taken it up ourselves to incorporate sounds from around the world and meld it into our sound. That makes us much more worldly. It makes us accessible to not just the people here but everywhere. We bring sounds back that people here haven’t heard and it’s good. We think that everything we play is good music. I can remember the first time I played in Portugal, they have music out there called Kuduro which is like a mix Brazilian and tribal kind of beats with hip-hop elements in it. I had never heard of anything like it and people were going crazy for an hour straight with songs that I’ve never heard before in my life. Not only songs but a type of music I’ve never heard. It was a festival on the beach, 20 thousand people going nuts. I said to my dudes out there, “Yo, you gotta get me some of this.” I brought it back home and I play it in our sets now. People don’t know what it is but it sounds good.
S: I’d have to say, personally, that I like the challenge. Coming from Toronto, it’s interesting to see how we take our craft and taking it somewhere else and seeing how they adapt, adjust and want to party along with us–if even at all. Luckily for us, we’ve been able to adjust to take what we’ve learned and build up our craft. It has panned out very well. We’re going back out to Europe again in a few weeks. That will be our ninth or tenth time. Obviously we’re able to go back out there because of the positive reception we’ve been getting from all these different countries out there in Europe. It’s been awesome just taking on that challenge.
Tell us about how you became involved with the Toronto Raptors.
K: They approached us. We were doing a corporate event for Roots Canada and the VP of Marketing was there and she loved us and gave us her card. We attacked the situation and made it happen. We had to do a mock audition. We played in the arena with five people looking at us and videotaping us. They liked what they saw and they put us on. It’s been six seasons now and we’re still doing it. It’s a great experience and great exposure. It’s 20,000 people, three times a week. There’s no bigger club than that in the world. I don’t think that very many DJ’s play for that many people on a consistent basis.
You’ve achieved so much already, what’s the next step for 4Korners?
K: Production. We’ve gone from DJ’ing and just playing other people’s songs to playing our own. I just put out a single with another DJ that we work with named Joe Ghost and it’s called “I Hear You Talking.” It’s doing really well. It’s released through Beatport which is the number one electronic music site in the world for DJ’s to put out there music (and for people to buy). Right now it’s #12 on the top 100 chart, which, for our first release, is definitely not a bad thing. We’re going to continue on moving in that direction and seeing where it takes us. I feel like it’s a very natural progression from DJ’ing and there are tons of DJ’s who are producers now, especially in the electronica scene because the DJ’s are actually the artists.
What direction would you advise an up-and-coming DJ to take in terms of their progression in order to build a proper skill set?
K: It’s different now. When we first started, it was record shopping. That was part of the initiation. If you didn’t have the record, you couldn’t play the song. So you have to dig! We went through those days where the records you want are already put aside for the big DJ’s. They get to look at it first and if they didn’t want it, then maybe we’ll get the scraps. You had to go through that at that time and really value the music that you had. Now it’s MP3s and you can get whatever song from anywhere. Basically, now all the DJ’s have all the same songs. Still, it’s how and when you play the songs that makes you a good performer and a good DJ. For any up-and-coming DJ I would say practice, practice, practice and gain experience. Nothing will beat experience. You might think you’re the baddest DJ while you’re in your basement, but you have to step into that club and play and learn along the way. We’re still learning, even in Toronto, because times change, trends change, etc. You always have to have your ear to the street and be able to predict what’s going to happen next. As a DJ, it’s your job to know what’s going to be hot. All of that comes through experience and definitely practice.
S: Apart from that, I would also include that you have to educate yourself on the business side of things. For example, registering your business name. Even things like websites, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, whatever the case may be. All means of social media and networking. Network, network, network and don’t burn any bridges. You never know where one situation might unfold to be something gigantic down the road. You might have your own party, but go check other parties out and see how other DJ’s are doing it. Another thing is stay hungry. If you’re not hungry for this, it won’t happen for you. That’s just being real. You have to be determined and you have to be focused. You have to want it! We’ve seen so many DJ’s come and go and you know that was part of the reason why they left.
What is the chemistry behind 4Korners and what makes it successful?
K: I think the basis of it is that we’re just best friends. We’ve known each other for longer than we’ve been doing this. We hang out, and when we’re travelling it’s like you’re on the road with your boy. When we go to Europe, our tour schedule is gruelling. Last year I brought my girlfriend along with us for the tour and she couldn’t even make it to all the parties because she couldn’t handle it. It’s no vacation. We did six countries in two weeks. It’s planes, trains, and automobiles for real. There’s not a whole lot of just chillin’ out. We had some downtime but for the most part it’s: do a show, go to sleep, get up, go to the next city. As far as the chemistry, it has to be a friendship because you don’t want to be in that type of situation with someone you don’t get along with. It will definitely show through on stage. I don’t know how bands do it when they have fall outs. I’ve heard horror stories about how people are able to put on a smile when they get on stage but want to kill each other after. I don’t ever want to be that. We genuinely love music and we genuinely love what we do. When you see us on stage, it’s not a show, it’s us on stage enjoying ourselves.
S: A lot of it is very similar for myself as well. You know the saying opposites attract? That’s not the case for us, we’re too similar. Sometimes people think we’re brothers. There’s definitely a brotherhood there between him and I. I’m surprised by how it worked out because we just happened to be placed at the same ride at Canada’s Wonderland. If he was at some other ride, there may never have been 4Korners. I was writing down songs for a mixtape and he was asking me what I was doing and he said, “Hey, I kind of DJ!” Eventually the conversation lead from one thing to another and we realized that
we have a lot of things in common. At that time, he had a crew that he had started up and I was interested in that. I didn’t really have anyone to work with at the time but it was something I was interested in. Lo and behold, I met him and he had something going on. He asked me if I wanted to come hang out and see what happens. I said, “Let’s do it!” From there, we became best friends and he asked if I wanted to start working on the 4Korners thing with some of his boys. Eventually it just came down to the two of us. I love all the guys that were part of the group before but sometimes you have to make certain moves and business decisions.
What is HYPE?
S: HYPE is 4Korners. It’s just that simple.
K: I concur.