Canadian Musician - September/October 2017 - Page 31

PHOTO: PETER SAVIC DIGITAL MUSIC DJ Vekked is a multi-DMC and IDA champion, having won a pair of solo titles and a team title as The Fresherthans with DJ Brace at the 2015 DMC World DJ Championships. He plans to drop an album later this year. You can find him @Vekked on Twitter or at DJ Vekked DJ Battle Judging 101 A Q&A with DJ Vekked CM: You’ve been judging for several ma- jor competitions in recent years. What’s the general approach to judging for such events, as far as how many judges there are, how many rounds there are, etc.? DJV: I’ve judged DMC, IDA, Red Bull Thre3style, and various local battles over the past few years. Generally there are five to seven judges on a panel (an odd number to prevent ties), and depending on the battle, you usually ei- ther have “showcase” style, where each DJ per- forms a single round and is judged against all the other entries, or “head to head” style, where it is set up in brackets like a tournament where DJs have to knock out a single opponent until there is one left. For showcase style battles, it is often based more on points and criteria, and in head to head it’s more straightforward, and usually the judges just pick who they think is the best of the two DJs (as it is much more straightforward when you can directly compare two competitors). CM: How does one become a battle judge? Is it limited to DJs who’ve mastered the craft or won awards, or can someone with a really good grasp on the art form be a judge regardless of their prowess on the turntables? DJV: Usually, the judges are comprised of past winners or certified DJ legends/pioneers. Some battles have judges that aren’t DJs, but I think that hurts the integrity of the competi- tion. In theory, if someone wasn’t necessarily a DJ but knew their history and the ins and outs EXTREMELY well, they could be qualified to judge, but I think in practice the judges for battles should be limited to DJs who have won the competition in the past and/or are capable of winning currently if they were to enter. It’s very difficult to understand the nuances W W W. C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N . CO M of high-level DJing in a competition and it’s very easy for people to succumb to picking DJs based on which songs they subjectively prefer, and what techniques appeal to them. I believe that it’s important to take your personal bias out of it. If a DJ can perform an amazing set using music you don’t like, they shouldn’t lose just be- cause you don’t like that music. DJs should use the music that they like and that speaks to them. Also, there are many tricks and techniques that are almost guaranteed to get a reaction from the crowd, but they are so overused in the con- text of DJ battling that they don’t do well in competition despite potentially winning over the crowd. The crowd is rarely educated about how common a technique is, so unfortunately, they can’t be used as a measure for how original or creative a DJ is. CM: As a judge, what are the main criteria you evaluate with each participant’s rou- tine, and how are those weighted in com- parison to one another? Like, is originality more important than clean execution or vice versa? DJV: When I judge, I focus mainly on: technical- ity (scratching and beat juggling being the two main areas for this), musicality/composition, ex- ecution, and originality/innovation. Depending on the level of the battle, I find these criteria vary in significance. At a local DJ battle, almost none of the DJs are doing any- thing groundbreaking, so often, technicality is going to be the main factor. Whoever is the best scratcher/beat juggler usually wins by default because the flaws in the average set are so big that it just comes down to who has the best fundamentals. At the world level, where nearly everyone has great fundamentals and there are many great scrat 6W'2B&VBVvvW'2fFB&vƗGVBW7Vǒv&Bvr&WFR6F26RWrFV"G&6FBRV6R2FR6WFЧF&Vf&RBFR6WBW7Vǒ2&VFfVǐfWrv&rW'&'2&VrFR7BFV666( BVFR2'FB2W7B&VrFV66VVvFrV"FRF6R6F7FЦwV6W'6VbvFW"&vƗG4Ӣ2VFvRrFRV7W&RW g&Rb&VfW&V6R22vFR2B6&R6FBR6&V6v旦RvV6WFp2fW'&v"2WfW"&VVFR&RЦf&R"b6VR2&rfbFW &WFSDc7F'F22RbbBFR7BЧ'FB66FW&Ff"VFvrbFRVFvW0F( BrFR7F'bFR'Bf&BFP6WFFFW( &RVFvrFW6( Bpb6WFr2&VVFR&Vf&R"b&RЧFR2&Vr6VBF2vW2f"&F( 2@( 2D7F'BFW&D7F'FW&R&PVGbw&VBVW"D2v&V( B7VF&PVFvW2&R&V6W6RFWfV( BvF6V@FR7BffRFV'2b6WFFBFWvWBfVB'D2&V76ƖrFW&g&FW &V6VBvr6WG2vVB&wVRFBDv2W726VB'WB2WBWvF`FV"D&GFR7F'g&FR( 2VFFFvVB&R&WGFW"VFvRFrDv6( B&VVvF6rFrFB0&VVvrऒG'FvF6WfW'"fFB6খWfW'&v旦FWfVbF( B6WFrBf'7BN( 2vBf"7&FBvfrRFV2bגv'WB6b֗70fVVF6WFF6WBFB2VVPG&6BBFRWB&GFRVFvR2Dv7FV2FBFV6VRv&&&ǒP"֗7FRVFvVB7FVƖrFW D( 2FW&2fW'g&vVBW66D7FVƖrv&B6( 2FV6VBR"FffW&V6R&W7VG2FWVFrp6WFVBFRVFvW2&R2BR22( "3