In a world where most people own multiple digital devices loaded with tunes, what’s becoming of the art of DJing? Obviously good taste is paramount for successful event soundtracking, but the rise of the MP3-jockey is pushing the technical nimbleness that long distinguished great DJs out of focus. Resin Dogs’ turntablist, producer and all-around music obsessive DJ Katch can’t help but be disappointed by this shift.
“There’s an art form to DJing and then there’s the modern way of DJing where it seems to be like a social media status thing,” he laments. “There’s a lot of good DJs that just get overlooked for the fact that they’re doing their own thing and not trying to compete with the mainstream music market or festival market.”
Katch started DJing in Brisbane in the mid-’90s and his label Hyrdofunk Records played a huge part in cultivating the burgeoning local hip hop scene. Even if he bemoans the reduced number of DJs actually utilising discs, he’s not a digital naysayer.
“I love the digital realm, because the way of recording and making music has just come along in leaps in bounds,” he says. “The only thing that really sucks is when you hear someone play in a club and they’re ripping songs off blogs and they’re, like, 92 kilobytes or something. It’s like, ‘Man, go and actually hunt the record down and spend that one or two dollars and make it sound good.’ You’re only as good as your last set.”
Katch comes our way this weekend to headline the Soul Of Sydney Block Party. For those unacquainted, this regular event extends an invitation to lovers of funk/soul, disco and golden-era hip hop to rejoice under the music’s generous heartbeat. Looking forward to his set, Katch reveals that he has started using vinyl emulation software Serato onstage. “It just made me have more arsenal I could take and not have to worry about carrying two or three crates of records with me everywhere.”
But this transition hardly suppresses his passion for crate-digging. “I still buy a lot of vinyl, old and new. I get into the limited-edition hip hop and I’ve hunted down library records, funk/soul records, country records – for drum breaks or good samples or even good records to play out.”
As part of Resin Dogs, Katch has been a fully committed DJ and builder of beats for one of Australia’s finest hip hop collectives for nearly two decades. Yet interrogating records to uncover magic moments and insert them into his own compositions still isn’t a straightforward procedure.
“It can take days to find the right thing or the right mood. It could [take] a couple of hours of getting into things, or analysing it and learning how to break down that record or how you’re going to flip it.”
Recent technological advances might have allowed the average DJ’s technical pedigree to drop, but the essential duty to captivate and excite partygoers remains. This can pose a divisive issue among tune selectors: should they resort to an easy fix and dancefloor-filler, even if they don’t find it personally appealing?
“I don’t like playing records that I don’t like,” Katch says. “That’s pretty pointless to me. If you’re playing records you don’t like and you’re out DJing, then why the fuck are you doing it?
“I’ve made most of my life out of DJing. I make music out of records, I buy records, I collect records, I put records out. I like playing the old-school records and just playing stuff that I really dig from past, present – and future.”
Catch Katch at the Soul of Sydney B’day Block Party, to be held in a Secret Funk Oasis on Sunday May 18, tickets available through the dashtickets.