Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Ryan Goldade and Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
Please introduce yourself to our readers
What’s up? I’m DJ Midas. Mr. Scratch-nerd from day one. Montreal, represent!
You started DJ’ing at the age of 15. Do you remember how you first got into DJ’ing?
I was at a buddy’s bar mitzvah when I was 12 and A-Trak was DJ’ing that night. He just laid down a quick 30 minute set and after that I thought “yo, that’s what I want to do. Forever.” He was a really big inspiration for me. We had a lot of open turntable nights. ITF was big at the time as well as DMC and all that stuff. We were at every function we could be at and we would bump into guys like Mana and stuff like that. They were really inspiring.
When you first started, at that age, what guidance were you given (and by whom) about how to get into DJ’ing?
In the beginning, I just saved up a bunch of money on my own to just do it. It was horrible because I would have to save up lunch money to buy records and turntables. Guidance wise, I had a buddy in high school that I was scratching with and we just learned off of each other and by watching videos. We never went out of our way to get the older cats involved and try to learn from them. We just took on our own and tried to learn that way. It was only later on when we kind of got good that we met up with the older guys.
What was it about the essence of DJ’ing that captivated you?
It just looked like a really amazing kind of world. I don’t really know how to explain it. That sound was really like a virus almost. It infected me and I couldn’t get enough of it. It just kind of sparked from there and I never turned back.
You played in club during your teen years. How were you introduced to the club scene?
It was through guys like Jericho, Kidd, Quest and those dudes. They were really supportive and took me under their wing. We would be in clubs that I wasn’t supposed to be in at 15. They would sneak me in, make sure the bouncers didn’t see and let me do a quick one hour set. I really credit those guys with everything, as far as the clubs go.
How did you come up with your DJ name Midas?
It was just a random name. My name is Matty S (SP?) so I just flipped it up and thought it was a cool name. I’m sure there are other DJ’s with that name too though. It was just a name that I stuck with and went from there.
Back in 2003 you did a track with Tony Touch and pressed over 40,000 copies. Tell us about that project.
Basically I was an intern. I was going to school for music business administration and I had to an internship at a record label. We had the local label in town and at the time they had crazy budgets for all sorts of projects. As the intern, I was more like a DJ under the intern cover for school. They were just pressing up some mixtapes and they got Tony Touch involved for that. They went pretty nuts with trying to push that label. It fizzled out pretty quick but it was a really cool experience.
How does having a degree in business administration and audio engineering help you along with your DJ career?
It’s been very beneficial because it’s taught me how to get my own gigs and be my own boss. Also how to survive off of this and make music. It’s been really instrumental in making sure everything goes smoothly and being able to do what I want to do in the long term.
You were involved in a project with DJ Mana called Microtone Kitchen. Tell us about that project.
That was a crazy project. Mana was the insane little genius dude who had this concept of a DJ band. Not in a percussive sense only but with a harmonic side to it as well. He had the idea of having all the samples keyed and in tune so we were all playing the same key. It was an amazing idea and he used us as his puppeteers for the whole night. He pretty much engineered the whole idea and after that we would practice every week. We were in a band with Killa Jewel, Praiz, Panda-zal and we had a bassist and a piano player too. That was actually a very successful project because we got to do a festival in front of three or four thousand people. It was just such a big project that we couldn’t get together every week. After two years it became too much as people’s lives were going in different directions. We had to just do our own thing because it was too hard to get everyone together.
You’ve been in the DJ scene for over a decade and you’ve been exposed to both the battle and club scene. What do you think the best balance between the two is?
Club DJ’s these days don’t really use any turntablism at all and it’s either a lack of being able to do it or just not wanting to. The crowds are getting different and they’re not as responsive in some parts of Canada anymore. The best balance between the two is, if you can do it, do it. It will add a lot to your set. It will really help out the overall performance.
Why do you think turntablism has died down so much?
I think that it’s a really hard skill to master. It takes a lot of time. It’s a lot easier to go to a club and play some records and make people dance without the technical aspect and still get paid. I think the young kids got lazy and avoided that side of it cause of the work involved. A lot of them now are going to the club, getting their pay check and going home. No disrespect to the younger cats; I’m just disappointed that the torch wasn’t passed down properly. Maybe it’s our fault too but it’s really up to every individual to learn the whole skill set. The technical side is the fun part! That’s the part where you can shine and be an individual instead of playing the same records that everyone else is. For me, it’s beneficial because I’m one of the few guys that do that in the clubs and I get gigs for that because they know what I can bring to the table. When I DJ it’s more like a show than just a dance party. It’s integral for me personally and I think it should be exposed more to the younger generation. So get off your ass! Scratch and practice.
Tell us about some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had from DJ’ing.
The concerts are always fun. I’ve done some crazy after parties, like celebrity parties. It’s hard to name the best. Busta Rhymes, Rick Ross. I got to DJ for Bun B earlier this year. I definitely like the jazz fest and being in front of a crowd like that. I’ve had so many fun experiences that I can’t name it all.
Being a DJ for so long, what do you think the next step in your progression is?
Production. 100%. Production and more marketing as far as getting the turntablist side out into the club atmosphere. I want to bring the worlds or electronic, hip-hop and turntablisms together with that flare and really make it pop. I’m working on just getting a really solid package together and more production. Those are the next steps for sure.
Tell us about your thoughts about the DJ community over-all in Montreal.
The relationship between the DJ’s is great. There’s nobody that really hates anyone else. There are clicks that stick together and there are clicks of DJ’s that tend to hand out with other dudes but for the most part we have a great community. I’m more chill with the older heads that have also been doing it forever. We all just bitch about how old we’re getting. For the most part, it’s a great community and everybody is tight with everybody.
What advice would you give to an up-and-coming DJ?
Don’t be afraid to put the work in. That’s what’s going to carry you through to be an individual as a DJ. If you really dedicate yourself and learn the different arts of it, you’ll be able to bring things to the table that other people can’t.
What is HYPE?
A climactic energy. It’s the feeling I get when I control the crowd in a big club.