"The most important part of the planning to me is the process of understanding who you are as a DJ and what you want to present."
This guy doesn't actually need an intro but he'll get one... Four Color Zack represents the new breed of battle DJ. If DJing was a sport, Zack would be a round 1 draft pick. The 2012 Red Bull Thre3style World Champion has made waves in the DJ community world wide with his technically proficient skills and crowd moving sets.
We caught up with our homie from Seattle (shout out to Rane) and talked about his creative approach to sets, preparation and his fondest memories of DJing. Read on!
Tell us about your earliest DJ memory
I never had cable growing up so I'd get VHS dubs of stuff like the Simpsons or Yo MTV Raps from my homie. All the rap videos helped put an image to the stuff I was listening to - seeing the DJs cut up choruses and all that. Occasionally they had a few DJs on to do some quick showcases. It was like Grandmaster Flash, Skribble, Jam Master Jay, Stretch Armstrong etc. Between that and early DMC tapes, I was blown away by what DJs could do.
What's your creative approach when it comes to planning and preparing for something like the RedBull Thre3style?
The most important part of planning to me is the process of understanding who you are as a DJ and what you want to present. Every DJ is different and the individuality and originality are what make the culture so special. I think being able to feel confident with who you are and the choices you make is everything. I thought I had a good handle on it going into Thre3style but what happens is you try to develop techniques and invent new concepts and thats when you really have to cross check it and see if its right for you as a DJ. Not everyone needs to do tone play just like not everyone needs to play a certain hot record. What you do or don't do helps define your brand.
You get pretty busy with your sets, What are you tools of choice right now and why?
I'm just getting started with Serato DJ and the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 which has been really fun. Before that I was using the Akai MPD24 which was a great starting point, but now there are some cool new integrations that I'm getting familiar with.
How important is preparation for you?
On one hand I think preparation is everything. Knowing your records, having a goal and a vision, practicing… It makes the better DJ. Then theres the flip side of spontaneity. When we get busy being out on the road or whatever we get caught up in, sometimes learning on the fly can have a great outcome too. I've been forced to sort of live in that space, none of my stuff is set up at home to practice with and there's no time for it anyway so I've been relying on the quick thinking "ah ha" moments while I'm on stage. I wouldn't recommend that method, but its working out for now :)
In your opinion, what are the 5 most important things a DJ must possess?
A love of music and the desire to be a part of it is probably enough.