The Exclusive Interview with the Iconic DJ Scratch

You have to be a person people want to talk to and be around.

What motivated you to become a DJ?

It wasn’t an occupation, it was just something kids did in the hood. Teenagers were playing sports and kids were DJing. My older brother was into it. You follow in your older brother’s footsteps. That is really why I became a DJ.

In the music business, what is an important personality trait for someone to have?

Great question. You have to be a people person. That is most important. In the industry you come across many types; assholes and jerks. You have to be a person people want to talk to and be around. In order to succeed you have to be selfish in a way, because like me, I naturally like to help people. Usually people that like to help people usually get burned in the end. You’ve got to start learning to say no. If you’re helping everyone else, you’re not doing what you need to do. You’ve got to be kind of selfish in order to succeed.

What is something you learned, that you feel will help someone else in the music business?

Learn everything. Learn the business. It’s not like back in the day where you had your manager, and you might have an assistant, and it’s cool to have that, but learn to do everything yourself. Learn how to type up an invoice and submit contracts, because people tend to think that they’re irreplaceable, like you need them. You just need to learn everything so if things happen you won’t get stuck. I’ve seen people let everyone else do everything for them all the time, from bookings to paying bills. Once those people you hired are not around, you don’t know how to do anything. Every business person in this game needs to know the business. Know how to do the business as well as do the business paperwork. The information is out there now, so if you get burnt, it’s your fault. Everyone falls into those footsteps, everyone gets a manager and an assistant. But if that confidentiality agreement doesn’t mean anything, what are you going to do, sue that person? You’re the one paying them. You remember that in real life that piece of paper doesn’t really mean anything. Be careful whom you trust and who’s hands you put your business into.

What should you consider when looking for people to employ?

That depends on what I’m hiring them for. They need to be able to do what I’m hiring them for, of course. I don’t want an assistant that’s an aspiring producer or an aspiring DJ, because they’re trying to be me. They’re not going to do the job to their best ability. I need somebody who is not interested in being a DJ, producer or singer, so they can focus on their job. I had assistants where I didn’t know they were trying to be a producer. They’re out somewhere with me, so they’re going to be around a lot of different people and they’re giving out their business card or demo. 

How important is social media to a brand?

More important than anything in the world. But most artists don’t look at it that way. I see a lot of famous artists, on Instagram, they have 100,000 to 1,000,000 followers, but  they don’t utilize the platform how they’re supposed to. Instead of talking to their followers, they’re talking down to them, showing off their shoes, clothes, jewelry or money. Followers will start to think that dude’s a dick. On social media, because now you can talk directly to fans who buy your music, who have been paying your bills for however long you’ve been in this game. You’re talking directly to the people who fund your way of life. Now you’re taking away the middleman (marketing department) from the label. Now you can reach a 100,000 fans with a press of your phone, with your own hand. Those same people that bought your album, you can now talk directly to them, you don’t have to pay the promoter guy. You can post your new album cover, that’s coming out in two weeks and the fans are going to buy it. It’s the best tool if you use it the way you’re supposed to.

Say an artist approached you and has a project for you listen to. It’s a few years old and hadn’t been working out well for them, what advice would you give?

Well, if it’s good it doesn’t matter how old it is. It’s a lot different now. I’m sure you heard songs on the radio you do not like and in this era of music, out of 10 songs, you might like two of them, if that. It wasn’t like that before, the climate has changed. You don’t have to be dope, you don’t have to have a lot of talent to make it on the radio. For example if somebody came to be me to hear their project, if I think it’s trash, it doesn’t mean it won’t make it. There’s no standards anymore. If I think it’s dope, it doesn’t matter how old it is. The people you’re promoting to haven’t heard it before. If it’s good it doesn’t matter.

Shortly before this interview, you were asked to open for Beyonce’s Formation Tour. What’s up with that? 

I was asked to open for the Queen, (chuckles) Beyonce, in Toronto and I’m packing to do another show tomorrow on her Formation World Tour in Chicago.  I did the first show. She called on me to do it again. I told her manager if she needs me again, just call, and they called today, and said “she wants you to come out”. It’s Beyonce. I’m going.

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