Thursday, July 14, 2011
Conversation with DJ B-Tips
DJ B-Tips has been establishing himself as one of the stronger dj's on the music scene in the city of Pittsburgh over the last few years and this truely seems to be just the beginning. Contributing to wear and tear to just about every dance floor in the city , Tips has been lighting up music venues as the DJ for the bands Basick Sickness, MH the Verb and now teaming up with producer Longarms from Miami to form the group Tranquilizers. He has opened up for Snoop, Kid Cudi, Raekwon, Bone Thugs N Harmony, DJ Tina T, Paul Wall and others. His catalog contains:
1-The Unquenchable Thirst (2007)
2-The New Style (2008)
3-Learner's Permit (2009)
4-Got Some (2009)
5-Operator's License (2010)
6-Jaguar Milk (2011)
I got a chance to catch up with this DJ/Producer who grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to let us know what's good.
What are your earliest memories of music?
I grew up outside Detroit and had incredible radio stations and disc jockeys all around me. At the time I didn't realize how good I had it listening to ghettotech, nu-funk, classic house, and disco music by people like Magic Mojo and DJ Marquis. Since then I've gotten the opportunity to learn more about how Southeast Michigan fits into the big picture of music through a good friend named Carleton Gholz who actually teaches and writes about this topic. I used to have a little plastic turntable and I still remember/have most of the records I had: Mr. Rogers' neighborhood, me and my arrow, the smurf's all star show. I remember making a mixtape using the turntable and playing the records at different speeds and scratching them before the age of 7.
Tell us what it was like growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Ann Arbor is a great place to be from. It's really interesting to me how I left before I started DJing and never got to connect with some of the fantastic musicians who call it home like DJ Benzi, Charles Tillinghas, or Shigeto, who's real name is Zach Saginaw. I hope to bridge this gap soon because there is some really excellent work coming out of this town.
You're not just talented on the turntables but you were a classically trained pianist and can play guitar very well. Share with us your instrument background.
I actually have more vocal training than I have in guitar, bass (I can play standup and electric) or piano. When you begin composing music electronically, you are limited primarily by your imagination, and only secondarily by budget. I hope that all the lessons pay off when people hear my E.P. and recognize that we're not messing around!
With that being said, what made you transition into becoming a DJ?
I was gifted with a super forgiving crowd to learn from in the beginning; my fraternity at Pitt (ZBT). I really struggled as a DJ until I reached out to DJ Bonics, who is not only one of my all time favorite DJ's, but someone I'm blessed to count among my best friends. The first time he came over to help me I was really nervous because he was a big celebrity. I read on his myspace that he liked the movie Old Boy, which I'm also a fan of, so I set the dvd case up on my mantle in the hope that he would see it. That's a really embarrassing story. He didn't notice but he did teach me how to hold the crossfader and suggested I get Serato instead of Torq.
Which other DJ’s did you reach out to and learn from?
Nugget, Mcfly, Zimmie, Digital Dave, Strobe, Keebs, and Petey C are some of the guys that are really killing it in Pittsburgh right now as club DJs. When I'm not playing a show, I go out to hear music, and I bring something to write down ideas I get from whoever's playing. I was just in Belize and wrote down the names of Dancehall songs for 3 hours. I also learn from Youtube, Qbert teaches me new scratch patterns when I'm feeling adventurous.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
DJ AM, Z-Trip, DJ Riz, Neil Armstrong, Deadmau5, Prince, Premier, Dilla, Diplo, Trent, Kurt, Pretty Lights, The Beatles. I'm influenced by people that can take an ocean of incredible experience and can distill it into a single gulp for their audience.
I have seen you perform in many different environments and adapt to many different musical interests by changing gears very well. How much of that is instinct and how much of that is preparation?
My taste in music is super eclectic and I think yours should be too. Seriously though my preparation for a standard club gig is typically to acquire and organize new music, and maybe to think a little bit about how I might integrate these songs. For an opening set where I'm only playing an hour or less I might decide on what I'm going to play in advance so that I can connect semantic and melodic ideas in a more intelligent manner. Typically I will record these and make them available the same night.
So far what are your most memorable moments performing?
Opening for Snoop Dogg in April I had a crowd of over 1400 singing Biz Markie's "Just a Friend."
You are a member of the groups Tranquilizerz, Basick Sickness and MH The Verb . Explain the challenges for you of being apart of three different groups that all have different sounds.
I need to experiment with new forms so I'm a part of Tranquilizerz, I love soulful Hip Hop music so I perform with MH The Verb, and every once in a while I need to let the mayhem wash over me so I make noise with Basick Sickness. Seriously though I could write paragraphs on each of the projects, let it suffice to say that I'm deeply involved in all three, and none are contingency plans. I fully believe in the ability of all three projects to move on to the next level at any point in time. I would be in a bit of a bind if that happened but it would be an exciting bind.
What is the next step for B-Tips?
The big news right now is the E.P. released on 6/25 for Tranquilizerz called "Jaguar Milk." I'm also working on an exciting collaboration with a talented singer from L.A. named Menaga, Miss. I released a promotional mix this week and will have another mix out called "Moombahdisco Madness Vol. 1" this month. Additionally I hosted Pittsburgh's first moombahton party recently which is called Moombahton Bassment.
Thanks a lot B-Tips, I'm very excited to see everything comes together for you and I'm sure you have a lot of eyes on you as well with this new release. I wish you the best of luck in everything and keep challenging yourself every step of the way my man! You can contact DJ B-Tips for booking or just general support @:
Isaac B Tips Goldszer
734 709 6923