Freshly home from the World DMC finals in London, DJ Gooda, New Zealand’s 2013 DMC champion, is now training for the IDA’s (International DJ Association) next month. Before he went to the worlds he says he was putting in ‘five hours a day, but now it’s like you gotta double that’. What he discovered about succeeding is you have to be yourself, ‘like don’t get shy, just be yourself.’ He’ll be opening for Kiwi, now residing in Australia, Louie Knuxx in Wellington come November 15 at San Fran Bath House. Gooda chats with whendidyoufallinlovewithhiphop about visiting New York en route home; disliking the grit of the city, but at the same time appreciating visiting monumental Hip Hop locations like Brookyln; meeting some of the X-Ecutioners and Mr. Sinister; sitting in on a class taken by Rob Swift (American hip hop DJ and turntablist legend) while visiting the Scratch DJ Academy and DubSpot — two DJ schools in New York. As he travelled with his mentor and local DJ legend, DJ Raw he says, ‘ He’s the man, he’s been there before and just helped settle the nerves hard out. Just to have him there — yeah he’s an awesome dude, helped me out hard’.
HH: How was London?
G: It was bad [like good], so crazy. I learned that New Zealand is pretty close to the international standard, but I learnt that I’ve got to train hard and that I have to put in the hours everyday to try and hopefully crack it.
HH: Were you going hard before you won the NZ DMC’s?
G: Yeah hard, I was putting in maybe five hours a day but now it’s like you gotta double that. It’s just hard work though, you got to stay focussed and it’s like, everyday.
HH: What’s the biggest thought or skill you’ve brought home with you from your trip?
G: I guess being yourself. Like don’t get shy, just be yourself. In terms of jamming, there’s a whole formula that the DJs overseas use which is way different to the traditional [way of ] juggling records. They really edit and produce their sets well.
HH: What are certain elements you noticed in the sets?
G: Like sound selection, just like keeping the crowd hype with their sounds, no boring bits at all, hands are always busy.
HH: So have you kind of worked out, now, what your own personal style is or is it still developing?
G: Yeah I’m still developing. I’ve got my own stee, just certain scratches that I always do but I can’t really break my style down yet it’s still fresh.
HH: When you play clubs, you’re known for good crowd control and maintaining the hype, do you still feel you do it well now that you’ve experienced international clubs?
G: Yeah, hard, like the thing I noticed with some of the DJ’s over there though is they’re not afraid to play stuff that the crowd could emotionally connect to; like you know you might play a slow jam and the crowd will really get into it and then you’d bring it back up. Where as if I’m jamming I’ll just play like heaps of hype shit. But [there], yeah, feel free to like switch it up, drop it down and take them on a wave.
“When did you fall in love with hip hop? Fuck, I don’t know. Ages ago. [Laughs]”
HH: What’s your biggest focus, now, in terms of your DJ career?
G: Just practicing everyday and hopefully achieve all my goals that I’ve set out.
HH: Which are?
G: [Laughs] Um, just some goals I made.
HH: What didn’t you like about your trip?
G: I didn’t like the way I performed — cause like you practice 100 times and get it perfect and then when you get up there and not do it like you practiced you’re just…a bitch. Nah I was just guttered, pretty guttered. My set didn’t go how I had planned it to be. The experience was mean though.
HH: When you’re stepping up to something that big, what does it [winning or losing] come down to?
G: I don’t know. I seriously thought I switched the track but I don’t know, it must have just been a nerves thing ae. I didn’t feel nervous though like I felt a little bit nervous, but once I started I felt sweet, so I guess it was just one of those mistakes that just happened.
HH: Did it trip you up when they cut the competition set time from three minutes to two?
G: Oh, not really. I mean we had a day to prepare and if you’re already tight enough you should be able to adapt anyway. I felt like I had a pretty mean two minutes if I had pulled it off. Even with the mistake I watched the footage and I actually liked my set, just that one mistake fucks it up, but the rest of the set I thought was pretty mean.
HH: What do you personally feel you should improve on?
G: Ah, everything. I need to be able to scratch on both hands like I should be able to scratch on my weak side as well as my strong side. Just like tweaking things bro.
HH: And how was New York?
G: Oh, it was bad. We just went around to different Hip Hop spots that Raw knew and visited heaps of record stores and got to go to Brooklyn. It was crazy. But I didn’t like New York because you can’t, like you see the wharf and you can’t just bomb. [chuckles]. Like you’re sitting there in your jandals and you’re like, ‘fuck I wanna go for a swim’ but it’s just way too paru, can’t do it.
HH: Not your scene?
G: Oh, I like New Zealand better. Just cause you can go diving and shit, it’s bad.
HH: Is being the NZ champion all it’s cracked up to be?
G: I don’t know, I guess it is what you make it. I mean, I think it’s just a title. I know there’s a lot of DJs in New Zealand that are more bad-ass than I am but I guess I just got lucky on the night and got stuck with the title. I know there’s way better DJ’s than me out there, I don’t know, it’s just one of those things — it’s just a title really. I don’t feel like I’m the best in New Zealand.
HH: Has the time between winning in September then traveling to London and New York been a whirlwind for you, or?
G: It’s definitely been an eye-opener to see how well off we are over here. Like there’s no benefits and shit over there. And you know people are like really broke because they don’t have the government looking after them so we’re just really lucky to be here, living with the government and shit. It’s just way different bro.
HH: So on your travels, you went there to compete but you weren’t only focussed on your music?
G: Nah. Well London, I stayed in my hotel for like four days and practiced. I jammed from the Thursday [they arrived] and then jammed Saturday [comp] and we only really got Sunday to look around.
HH: And then New York?
G: Me and Raw made a plan to check out some of the DJ academies over there. I got to meet the X-Ecutioners, some of those dudes that jammed with Roc Raida, that’s his crew — got to meet Mr. Sinister, craziest motherfucka. He’s the man, he’s like a hori — not afraid to talk about what he’s up to and shit. Um, Rob Swift, I sat in on one of his classes — he was a bit reserved and quiet; that was at Scratch Academy — a school in New York for DJs. We went over to the other school which is called DubSpot and the tutors are Shiftee, he’s a world champion and came second last year, Rafik — it’s the dude that created the Autobahn scratch and he’s a champion as well, Precision took us around and showed us around the classes, it was dope.
HH: How was it compared to your DJ school?
G: Ah, it’s pretty different. Like the way they assess things over there, there’s some stuff they do that we don’t do, and that we do and they don’t do. So they got an emcee in, this guy called Rabbi Darkside and he knows who King Kaps and shit is, but what Rob done was he got in Rabbi to rap and what the students would have to do is do a loop juggle; but the loop would have to be perfect for him to rap over, so yeah it’s about keeping timing. They said that the importance of being able to do that is if you rock to a show, your emcees got some shit to flow on cause it’s all records over there.
HH: Do you think that because it’s a bigger place and there’s more people, compared to NZ as a small country, that we can still compete skill wise?
G: It’s crazy cause, you come to NZ and we have to beat what 12 people to get through to the worlds; where as in America and big countries, America for example, they got to go to their regionals which will be like California; they got to win California and then go to the nationals, win the nationals, then they go to go the worlds. Where as we just sign up and go to the nationals straight away.
HH: Did that make you feel like you were still on their level or that you should be quiet?
G: Nah hell no, it made me feel I should be quiet, like nowhere near their level. Oh, I reckon I could have qualified if I practiced HARD. But there’s DJs in New Zealand that could have gone over there and ripped heaps of them up ae. You know like Impact and Spell but the standard’s really high, but New Zealand’s not far off at all. We have DJs that can hold their own against them definitely. The people that do do it and go hard [in NZ], it’s just like anywhere else you know. I think we get freaked out because we see them on TV, but then when you see it, you understand what they’re doing and shit, I don’t know.
HH: So it’s just another place?
G: It’s just another place. Yeah. It’s just another place.
HH: When did you fall in love with hip hop?
G: Fuck, I don’t know. Ages ago. [Laughs].