DJ SAMRAI INTERVIEW

The name DJ Samrai means more than just a good time on the dancefloor. It signifies versatility, talent, energy and charisma mixed together to create a DJ set whether in clubs across the world, at the country’s biggest festivals, or listening to one of the Australian champion turntablist’s mix CD releases on some of the world’s biggest labels including Universal Music and Ministry Of Sound.

His versatility has led Samrai to play alongside some of the biggest names in music today. Some of these names include Kanye West, Neyo, Rihanna, Chris Brown,The Black Eyed Peas, Lil Jon, Cypress Hill, Wu-Tang Clan, LMFAO, Redman & Method Man, Xzibit, Jurassic 5, Pharaohe Monch, Beatnuts, Gangstarr & Rhazel & Snoop Dogg.

Samrai is also a master of trickery on the decks having won a number of prestigious accolades including the Australian DMC Championships and the ITF Australian Scratch Championships. Gaining an amazing Top 14 world ranking at the DMC World Finals in London in 2001, Samrai was the youngest DJ to ever represent Australia at just 19 years old.

With all these achievements and more under his belt, it’s obvious to see why he is regarded as Australia’s number one turntablist DJ. Grindin’ recently caught up with Samrai after his recent 3rd place at the Red Bull Thre3style World Championship in Chile.

Who is DJ Samrai?
Samrai is a DJ who purely enjoys tearing up at every show. DMC National champion, ITF National Champion and Red Bull National Champion. The only DJ to hold all 3 titles and recently became Number 3 at the Red Bull Thre3style World Championship.

What are your earliest memories of music?
My earliest memory was being around the age of 5, waking up early Saturday mornings and turning the TV on to RAGE which was a show that played all the newest tunes. I literally would sit glued to the screen hearing everything. So my love for music was very open format.

What appealed to you to become a DJ?
I used to go to under 18 events and became fascinated with the DJs and I instantly knew I wanted to be a DJ.

What 5 DJ’s/turntablists inspired you and why?
Craze – He inspired me to always be creative with everything, no style has limitations, being dope at everything and continuing to grow.

MixMaster Mike – He inspired me to go hard and never stop being raw with it, putting yourself and your soul into what we do. And that there are never mistakes only new ways to evolve.

Cash Money – He inspired me to keep it funky, and have fun with it. Not everything has to be super technical. Just need that flavour in my sets and routines.

Roc Raida – He inspired me to entertain people and that I could do literally anything if I put my mind to it. Also to have attitude, always be ready for battle but also give help to those who also put in the work.

Kid Capri – He inspired me to be a dope fresh DJ and rock it at every show. Be a turntablist and a club DJ at the same time.

Your rise in the DJ ranks from first starting out to gaining recognition by winning regional and national titles was quite quick. What do you put that down to and were you surprised by your sudden success?
I never planned to be where I am, I just envisioned it, even from the earliest stages of my career. So I live my DJing life like this. With that sense of if I want it bad enough then eventually I will get it and it’s working out well. I have goals I still have yet to accomplish, and it’s a great feeling knowing I have succeeded in the goals I set out to achieve.

What was the reason behind your decision to stop competing in the comps considering you were doing so well?
I love to compete. But opportunities in fulfilling goals came up and I just knew I had to pursue that instead of competing. I’m happy that every time I return to the competitions I still can win in major ways.

You recently made a comeback to competitions why the name change to Beast Mode? The name change is my transition into the next stages for me. I’ve evolved as a DJ,and so with that it was time for a change. Beast Mode Samrai is kinda like evolving into Grand Master Samrai or Mixmaster Samrai. For the past 5 years the public have constantly been labelling me as Beast Mode Samrai. Felt right to change.

What was it about the Red Bull 3style competition that attracted you instead of the DMC’s?
Red Bull 3style is built for a DJ like me. I’ve won both DMC and ITF but I’ve always felt disconnected from the scene as I do my own thing and have my own ways of free thinking. Red Bull was the perfect opportunity to express who I am as a DJ in full effect. I’ve been wanting to enter for many years but just never felt that it was the right time. This year was the year when I felt confident enough to take on the best in the world. I think I did pretty good LOL.

There was a lot of controversy in the Australian final with the original winner G Smooth being stripped of his title due to him breaking the rules. What are your thoughts on how everything went down and did you sense something was wrong on the night?
We all knew something was amiss on the night but seeing something like that was hard to believe and literally never been done. So nobody even the judges questioned it cause it seemed like an impossible notion to fake an entire 15 minute set and just mime on stage. I feel sad that DJ’s can sink so low and disrespect everything we have all worked hard for over 20 years of work by Aussie DJ’s to push our culture in Australia to be then thrown away by one DJ who has no respect for the country he wanted to represent. It still saddens me that the Australian scene haven’t retaliated against such a travesty. Thankfully I resecured our proud name in the worldwide scene.

You recently represented Australia in Chile at the world finals how did you find the whole experience from being in a country like Chile to being surrounded by legends like Jazzy Jeff, Craze, Z Trip and having the chance to hang out with them over a period of time? It looked like a lot of fun!
It was the most amazing experience of my entire career. I can’t explain how incredible it was. Surrounded by the world best, hanging out all as friends, making friends with so many dope DJs. It was basically like a massive DJ vacation, where we all get to hangout like best friends and then party and play sets every night. Everyone is made to feel equal which is the dopest part. Going to eat breakfast each day with Jazzy Jeff, taking road trips and shopping trips with my homie Craze, sitting by the pool with Mixmaster Mike talking about life, trading career moves DJ Nu Mark and my daily running with the homie Z-Trip who is now addicted to our Aussie slang it was the best. I could keep going on and on. Wish I could tell everyone about it all, it’s mind blowing.

You came a credible 3rd in the world were you happy with your performance in the competition and was there much comradery amongst your fellow competitors will you be keeping in contact with any of them?
I’m happy with my placing, I made it further then any other Australian and got us our second spot on the worldwide placing. It’s been 16 years since Dexta took 2nd place at a world finals so I’m glad I could finally put Australia back on the map. Everyone was super dope to me and supported me prior to the comp and I still speak with almost everyone. I built stronger relationships with DJ’s I was already friends with and making new friends was awesome.

Now you have got back into competing will you continue entering competitions? I’m going to be in Red Bull Thre3style every year! For me it’s not a competition, it’s just a festival that I get booked at each year to play a set at.

Where do you see the future of DJing and turntablism going?
I see it growing the more and more we support the culture. A lot more DJ’s now from when I started.

For someone who has been so successful in clubs and the turntablist scene what do you most love about the art of DJing?
The thing I love most is creating something that can effect the emotion of other people. Doing something I love to do, which brings me positivity and in turn, brings positivity into someone else’s life is the best feeling ever.

What has been your career highlight so far?
Winning the hardest round ever in Red Bull Thre3style history, going on to place 3rd in the world against 4 of the world’s best.

What does the future hold for Samrai?
Sky’s the limit now. The world now knows my name, so soon I’ll be on my worldwide tour.

What advice would you give to young and upcoming DJ’s?
Commitment and practice and a whole lot of patience.

What’s your definition of Grindin’?
The backbone to every Aussie artist out there going for what they want!

Interview by Duggs.