JFB - Turntablist
Scratch DJ JFB is ill with the skillz...
A lot of turntablists win competitions but never get DJ bookings because a lot of them don’t understand how to rock a party,” says mild-mannered Brighton-based British turntablist JFB.
He's talking about the dynamism of the Scratch Perverts, he's far too modest to hype up himself, but DJ Mag thinks he should be right up there with scratchmeisters like Yoda, A-Skillz, Krafty Kuts and DJ Craze. That's because, like the aforementioned, twice-DMC champ JFB is always moving forward, always creating — yet still remembers the dancers on the floor.
JFB tells DJ Mag he first saw people scratching on MTV, but first encountered DJing by going to raves. “I never saw the actual DJ decks, I just assumed they did it all on a multi-sampler keyboard thing or something like that,” he grins. He first had a go on some decks on his last day at school, quickly got hold of some Technics, and literally didn't stop practicing. He doesn't practice so much these days, he says, as he's gigging all the time. “I personally still think I’m really shit compared to other turntablists or club DJs who do similar things,” he says. He isn't.
He got big into drum & bass, and in 2003 entered the Movement/DJ Mag DJ competition, sponsored by Vestax. His scratching skillz cruised him to victory — “drum & bass is a good bpm for me to scratch to” — and he went on to enter the DMC championships in 2007 – and won. “It was a good excuse for everyone who’d booked me up until then to all book me again at the same time,” he chuckles.
He came second in 2008 defending his title (winning again in 2011), but by this time he'd met a young beatboxer in Brighton who'd started to call himself Beardyman. “Beardy was still a student when I met him, and he’d only been beatboxing a year — and was already ridiculously amazing,” JFB says. “I’d really wanted to work with a sick beatboxer, so got him to do some gigs with me.
“Then when I got Serato, in the demonstration video they showed a beatboxer being recorded instantly and scratched back instantly,” he continues. “The day I got it, I got Beardy to come round my house and we spent all week in my bedroom with me sampling him and scratching it back.”
The guys started a night called Battlejam, experimenting with all kinds of tricknology and crowd participation, which has gone from strength-to-strength over the years — and they're now developing this into Battlejam TV.
“We're going to stream it right the way around the world, and have the ability to get people coming in on Skype, so that we can video sample them instantly and scratch their faces back,” JFB enthuses. “It'll be comedy based, but geeky at the same time.”
JFB is also an accomplished producer, having scored a couple of official remixes for Fatboy Slim and produced a variety of original stuff from dubstep to electro-swing, and he's also now started doing gigs with Deekline & Ed Solo as Hot Cakes — a three-way live scratch extravaganza.
That's not to take anything away from his festival-rocking solo Serato-based club sets, where he'll scratch up tracks like Rage Against the Machine's 'Killing in the Name of' or old skool cuts by The Prodigy alongside a whole load of new stuff.
For a good turntablist, the imagination is limitless. Check his YouTube vids for proof. JFB tells DJ Mag he wishes an equipment company would make a hardware MIDI controller that you can customise yourself. “Everyone likes flashy lights, but a universal MIDI controller with replaceable knobs and buttons would be great,” he says. “You can replace what buttons you want, and be easily able to assign them to anything you want.” You listening, manufacturers?
A true DJs' DJ, JFB continues to push things forward. “Why do I always find a new thing to do? Because otherwise I get really bored,” he says. “Mainly cos it’s fun.”