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Monday, November 24, 2008

Can You Dig It? Vol. 25 Sticky Dojah

Name: Sticky Dojah

Claim to Fame: In Europe, people know me as a party rocker. I’m involved in all sorts of things with producing and DJing, but first and foremost I’m a party guy. I love to rock the party with breaks. I consider myself an all out DJ, and I take a graffiti writer’s philosophy and apply it to DJing. With graffiti, there are tags, throw ups, and masterpieces. I translate that to my DJing. I can do the rough stuff like scratching but I can also do a complete set with ups and downs and take the listener on a journey.

I’m also involved in a project called Le Scratchfunk, which consists of me and a guy called Axt. We produce music together. I’m not a big time scratcher on a Q-Bert level. Ten years ago I did some competitions like the Holland DMC, but I kind of stepped away from turntablism. I think it got a bit too technical and stopped focusing on the music. I got away from battling and started focusing more on digging. I’m not a big time producer, that’s more what Axt does. He knows the technical stuff. I dig for music and bring different samples and breaks to him.

Representing: I live in the most western town in Germany, Aachen.

It’s near Cologne. It’s cool to live here. It’s not a big city, but it’s pretty much in the heart of Europe and that’s’ why I’m still here. I travel a lot. Last month I DJ’d in Russia, Poland, and Switzerland. From here I can get out to other spots pretty easily. Amsterdam and Paris are really close.

I’m originally from East Germany. My parents and I came to West Germany before the wall came down. My father got declared a public enemy in the East because he was against the communist regime. They didn’t want us in the country anymore and there were a lot of bad things going on so we had to leave. We landed in the most western town in Germany and that’s where I’m still at.

Most people don’t know that much about German history and what went on in East Germany. There was a lot of oppression from the government and the state security that was heavily involved in day to day life. There were so many things going on that people in Germany still don’t know about. The worst thing is that many people from that time that did bad things still have high positions in both business and government.

I’m all German, I have both sides in me and I can understand both sides. The mentality in the East is still different and so is the music. I grew up on some East German stuff. The turntable is one of the first things I can really remember from being a child. I remember discovering it and putting the needle onto AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. My parents also had the best of Earth, Wind, and Fire and some good East German music like Manfred Krug. His records were recently sampled by DJ Spinna. I’d say that my first influence musically was my parent’s record collection.

It was very difficult in East Germany to get a hold of records because there were no real record shops. There was a planned economy, so you literally had to just find records wherever you could. Sometimes it was really difficult. You had to find people who had contacts to Western Europe that could bring you stuff, and even with contacts, it still took some luck. East German stuff was not too hard to get. There wasn’t a ton of great East German stuff, but there were artists like Manfred Krug. They heavily influenced me and I still listen to him today. He was kind of like the East German Marvin Gaye.

Years in the Game: I got my first record from my parents when I was 6 years old in 1984 when we were living in the West. It was West Street Mob’s "Break Dancin'-Electric Boogie". The first time we moved West we were in Berlin, and that was the first time I saw b-boys breaking. Those images got stuck in my mind. Since then I’ve been more or less hooked on the culture and music of hip hop.

I can’t say I’ve been collecting records non-stop since I was six years old. I really started around 1990, around the time Public Enemy was really big. Their influence spread all the way over the here. I started buying records on a regular basis. I was only buying LP’s at first, stuff like It Takes a Nation, Masta Ace’s Take a Look Around, and LL Cool J. Around 92 or 93 the first German hip hop records came out. I was really involved in that scene.

I really started proper digging early in 2000. In Europe we didn’t only have the US influence, we also had dance music from the UK. I started beat matching records with drum and bass records, but I decided to really go for the hip hop stuff and that was where my heart was at. From that I got into funk and then back into the old East German records that my parents owned. Things sort of went full circle.

I’ve been doing parties for about twelve years. Before party rocking I was just messing around and appreciating the music. I have a 360 approach to DJing. I can do improvised sets and I can do focused sets. It all depends on what the crowd wants and what I think is good for them at that special moment.

Best Digging City or Town: The region where I live is not too bad for records. Digging in 2008, especially with the Internet, has gotten harder. Everyone goes onto sites where you can check the value of the record. People use EBay prices as an indicator for how to price records, so it can get expensive. Cities on the border of Belgium and Holland like Maastricht are really good for digging. You can find a lot of regional stuff there, but they also have a nice selection of rare records.

Prague has also been good to me. Although it’s very hard to find records, once you do, the records are very cheap and they even have US stuff, which is hard to come across in Europe. US 45’s are very hard to come across here, you can usually only get them at shows or from record dealers. I don’t really like record fairs. In Holland we have one of the world’s biggest record fairs and I still have yet to go there.

Cities like London and Paris have also been good to me and I’ve come up with good stuff. Some people seem fed up with digging these days, but if you have a good attitude you can still come up. I’m an all out digger. I try to hit up shops at least three times a week and check out the flea markets on the weekend. You have to make the effort to get to the records.

Most Prized Piece of Wax: I don’t like to focus on big money items. I have a few that have a lot of personal meaning. The first that comes to mind is Ritual by Nico Gomez. It’s a Belgian record I found in Astrid for $10 in mint condition. The shop I found it in has sadly closed down. It was a crazy shop filled with records where you had to climb a ladder just to get to certain records. I found it about a year and a half ago while I was about to catch a bus. It was on the floor in a pile of crappy albums. I knew what it was worth and was nervous bringing it to the counter, but when I asked the owner what he wanted he asked for seven Euros. I was really lucky.

I also love an album called Niagara. It’s a German record with some library session players. They did a record under the name Niagara. It has fold out cover with a picture of two women’s breasts with water running down as the art work. The music is strictly drums. Its 40 minutes with two drummers and three percussionists. It’s a really cool record with heavy drums. I’d say those two records are my most prized.

Favorite Album Cover/s: The Niagara one is really cool. I like anything with females and naked females on the cover, even if it’s a budget record. If there’s a nice female on it, I tend to pick it up. The Ritual cover has a topless black girl on it and it’s really cool. Lots of the albums on Brain records have dope covers. Brain is a German record label that’s on the psych rock and prog rock tip. Bellaphone is another label that has great covers.

Dollar Bin Miracle: Over here, you have something like a dollar bin in the shops, but it’s not really comparable to the US dollar bins. Here it’s more like a 10 cent bin. You have really, really shitty records in the Euro bin. The place to get the good cheap stuff is usually still the flea markets. People tend to sell things for less. You’ll often see crates of records where every record is selling for a Euro.

I found Dutch Rhythm Steel & Show Band's album for 50 cents. It used to go for anywhere from 60 to 100 dollars. I don’t know what the price is now; it could be more or less.

Another great find was Gypsy Nova. The record is by a girl named Kitty Winter. I think Gypsy Nova might actually be my most prized record. I’ve heard crazy stories about Japanese diggers coming to Europe and looking for that one.

I was lucky to find it in the afternoon at the flea market. Some guys before me who were looking for rock stuff went through the crate and left Gypsy Nova without really looking at it. It’s especially huge with the Japanese crowd. Its crazy rare, I think there’s only a few hundred copies of it. It’s kind of funky and it’s sort of like a mix between German and Brazilian music. The girl on it sings in English but with an accent. It’s got some nice breaks on it. I guess its uniqueness is part of the reason for the fascination with it. The cover is classic with a girl on it who is looking quite nice.

Another pull I got was Staff Carpengborg’s Fantastic Party. I even have Cut Chemist looking for that one; I still need to find one for him. It’s a budget record from Germany with crazy Psychedelic music and breaks. Its recording style is really bizarre. They mixed tracks with drums on one channel and wah wah fuzz on the other. It looks like a James Last cover. It’s crazy rare and was just recently re-issued. I found it in the record stop on my street. I’m there almost daily. They had a bunch of crates of bullshit records and I pulled it from there.

Total Records Owned: I’d say I own around 5,000 records. To be honest, I don’t want that many more. I’m trying to cut off the fat, but it’s difficult to let go. I always think I might be able to find a use for some sample on a record. DJ Format told me that he’s trying to keep it strict around 3,000. If he doesn’t touch a record for more than a year, he gets rid of it. For me, as long as there is some space left at my place, I’ll keep it, and I don’t think I’ll sell that many. It’s like a bad disease. Sometimes I find myself saying, “Shit, I don’t really need this, but there’s this two bar loop on it I can use.”

Best Digging Story: I’ve never had anything too crazy happen like women getting naked in the shop or anything like that. I always find it exciting finding records where they aren’t supposed to be. One of my friends found a Together Brothers OST on the side of the street in Germany by a trash can. Why was that record there? I like those kinds of stories.

Friends of mine found some Barry White and Love Unlimited Orchestra at a place that they wouldn’t give away the location of until I bothered them over and over again. It was a video shop in a small village outside my town. The guy who owned it bought someone’s private vinyl collection to make an extra Euro. You wouldn’t expect many records to be in a shop like this. We went in there and just went mental, going through every crate. He not only had US records, but he also had some rare Fela Kuti records from Africa. I have original pressings of Fela records from Africa that are really hard to come by these days. He didn’t advertise that he had records there; we just had to go find them on our own.

Another good digging story happened while I was DJing for this Jazz project and doing some cuts for a group of musicians. I went to one of the band member’s studio who was a Polish bass player. He had a bunch of Polish rock and jazz records. After a few days in the studio I asked him if he’d sell or trade any of them. He told me he wasn’t into Jazz as much as he used to be and that he was more into folk. He let me to take them all for free. It was a whole wall of records and he just gave them to me. He was such a nice person and humble guy…things like that don’t happen very often.

Another crazy story involving records happened when I was eight or nine. I was playing outside with a friend and some weird guy was making fun of us from the window of his house. He was a few floors up and threw a record at us like a Frisbee. It missed our head and necks by a few centimeters. We were so little; we could have gotten badly hurt.

To find out more about my main man Sticky Dojah, check his MySpace. Also make sure to check out his production/DJing project with Axt, Le Scratchfunk.

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