HONOLULU WEEKLY'S SPIN ZONE
By: Kalani Wilhelm | @AsiaticMajic
Real Talk: DJ Elite
(EXCLUSIVE FULL INTERVIEW)
From July 8, 2009, and December 12, 2012
You've been going strong for over 20 years; that’s three decades. What keeps you passionate about the DJ game?
What keeps me interested is how the music and all the genres, in general, have evolved. As far as passion, DJing is the root of me. So from the core of my being as a DJ, it branches out to other aspects of my life, like music production, for instance. As long as there's music, the fire stays ignited.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments?
Wow, I have many, and I'm equally proud of them all. Winning Leilehua High School's Brown Bags To Stardom (Statewide High School Talent Competition) with my group during my senior year, being the first "local boy" way back in the days to win a Hawaii Hip Hop DJ Championship on a military base, representing the Aloha State for all these years. My goodness, I could go on and on.
I'm sure you come across DJs from back in the day that are into other things, whether it be new careers, families, etc. Many have probably stopped DJing entirely. What keeps you going? What thoughts cross your mind?
The phrase "I'm not done" comes to mind. The Hawaii industry, in general, has barely scratched the worldwide industry surface. And as long as God deems me fit to assist still, then so be it. I'll do everything within my power to help push things along, whether it be on the front lines or behind the scenes.
As a veteran, you come across a lot of "young DJs," rocking the clubs, doing their thing in the nightlife world, doing private parties, and the like. How do you see yourself in comparison to the younger generations of DJs?
I come from a different time. Do you know what I mean? All the youngbloods DJing now got into DJing because of DJs like me. And I got into it because of DJs like Bambaataa, Flash, Kool Herc, Theodore, DXT & the list goes on. My old-school homies said it best. We're "the bridge." So as far as comparisons go, we're all pieces of a broader puzzle. We all can learn from one another, and I'm eternally grateful for that.
What are some "foolish" mistakes you see DJs make way too often? Is there ever a time when you laugh and say, "I used to make that mistake all the time.”
I was talking about this the other day! Imagine this... the song is about to end, so I'm about to mix a song into another song, but I stop the wrong turntable! I slam fade into the song that just ended! DEAFENING SILENCE. That's classic stuff right there. Hahaha!
What's your approach to DJing, production, and music in general?
Two words: CUSTOMER SERVICE. Make the people happy, because if they're happy, then everyone's happy, including the DJ himself. If DJs disagree with that, then they shouldn't be complaining about their lackluster careers.
Talk about Elite Empire Entertainment?
We're a creative think tank. We're a music production team, we're emcees, we're champion DJs, we're remixers, we're preservationists of what's really real on the scene and the industry. It's like a brain trust, but the Triple E logo says it all. The two top Es are back to back because it represents us having each other’s backs (e.g., 808 NATIVES, CrossFade Disciples, aka CFD). They create the empire in general. Then the big E on the bottom represents the foundation of it all. Where the Empire resides or rests. And I'm not necessarily saying that the E is me. I'm talking about everyone from my past, present & even future, who's helped get me where I'm today. They all have a stake in that big E, and I never ever lose focus on that.
Talk about the CrossFade Disciples crew and all of its members and affiliations?
CrossFade Disciples/CFD (originally "Elite Squad" founded by Jason Kuni in 1997) is a conglomerate of DJs I highly admire and highly respect. They are branches of me. We all believe in preserving the art of DJing in general (e.g., turntable tricks, cutting and scratching, live mashups/remixes.). DJs should be more than human jukeboxes with $1,500+ MP3 players (aka laptops). CFD isn't just DJs, we're entertainers, and we strive to live by that code whenever we touch the turntables. And to all the DJs reading this, we're always looking for new recruits that are like-minded, highly talented, and willing to break past their own barriers.
As far as goals are concerned, what were they when you first started, and what goals have you reached both personally and with CFD?
Well, I'm a local boy from Koa Street Wahiawa. Hahaha! After I won my 1st DJ competition... there wasn't much left to do back in those days. I ended up relocating to L.A. in the mid to late 90s for a bit to do music production for a record label, then came back home to Oahu, Hawaii, at the dawn of the 2000s. In regards to current goals reached, forming CFD is personally a big thing for me. I was always a one-person army back in the days. I stood alone. And now, CFD has grown into a strong brotherhood. I'm proud of the active and non-active members of CFD.
Can people find you spinning anywhere else besides Zanzabar on Friday nights?
I'm currently doing 1-hour guest spots at Z-bar on Fridays and Sundays courtesy of my mixshow affiliation with Power 104.3. Shout out to all the Power Boyz, my fellow All-Star Power Mixers, and the board ops! I've been in recent negotiations to perform at other venues here in the islands and abroad in the states. I'll definitely keep you posted.
How important is DJing to you today compared to 1989?
Nothing has changed, really. Music is my lifeblood, and DJing is the heart that pumps it.
What's your take on "longevity" pertaining to you as well as pertaining to everything and anything in life?
Instead of fighting progress, be the progress. Change is inevitable; it's constant. Look at it like surfing. Would you rather be on the shoreline getting absolutely pounded by the waves or out there riding them? The bigger the wave, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the reward. So as far as my perspective? I'm out there enjoying life. Bring it on. Like my homegirl told me, "Elite, you're a participator... never a spectator." Amen to that.
* DJ ELITE™ on SoundCloud
* The War Room (Elite Empire Creative Studio)
* Rap, Music Production & Artist Development Duo
* DJ Crew & Music Production Team