Canada has a way of turning out amazing turntablists, even the best in the world. One such scratch master is DJ Brace, the 2016 DMC online world champion. His list of accolades goes well beyond winning scratch routines and hype shows. In fact Brace has just finished up an incredibly creative and complex album trilogy that not only has gained praise from fans around the globe, but also won him a Juno.

Freq Mag hit up DJ Brace for a show and tell about his craft, the newest album in the series and the artwork therein.

Freq: As a person who uses the turntable as an instrument more so than a tool, tell us how long it took to build your skill where it’s coming to the point of winning world championships? I am guessing it’s more than practice?

I’m forever a student.

Practice is definitely a key factor in building skills. The more hours you practice the better chances you have of winning.

You also have to think about what hasn’t been done. Ask yourself what is missing from turntablism? To help you stand out.

You’re right though, its more than practice. For example, you have to make sure if you’re using a tone that its in key with the song you’re scratching over. Transitions are important too, the audience will have a smoother and more enjoyable experience when you make a great transition between routines, as opposed to an explosion sound and then starting your next routine.

I also realized that you don’t have to do something difficult for the routine to express a musical Idea. In fact sometimes on my albums you can’t tell its a turntable scratching an instrument.

Freq: Your new album Apatheia is the final installment of a trilogy with started with Nostomania, and the penultimate album Synthasia, was it your intent to create a trilogy when you released, and what is it about Apatheia that concludes the story?

Yes it was meant to be a trilogy from the get go. I wanted to make a classical instrumental hip-hop album with movements that any age group could get down to. My grandmother doesn’t like my rap music but loves these songs. Some fans have sent me videos of their toddlers dancing to the songs and demanding to hear them over and over again.

I feel that music is all about the artist now, and the listener puts them on a pedestal. For example – instead of the listener thinking the band is cooler than they are I wanted to create a space for the listener to have a unique experience. The paintings that accompany the songs are their true titles. The listener is meant to look at each painting as they listen to its respective song. With titles like “NH1,” your mind is forced to find a relation between the painting and the song to remember what it means to them. Through this sort of sensory deprivation each listener will remember a different thing.

Nostomania, an uncontrollable urge to return home, is the space for the listener to make a memory unique to themselves so they can create home for this memory which they can return to when they wish. Each of our homes are unique and act as a sanctuary.

Synesthasia (There are so many albums called synesthesia, and in hip-hop you can spell things the way you want:) This movement is the welcome confusion of the senses. Being transported to a taste of a certain food we ate at a carnival when we were young, as an example. Or remembering a particular color that stood out when looking at the painting and hearing the song.

Apatheia, a clear way of thinking where you are not influenced by preconceived notions. In short – a space where the listener can find their true understanding, or meaning of the experience without being influenced by how great the scratches are, or how cool the band is/isn’t.

Each of these phases deal with a different understanding of self, and the final is one where we rid our preconceived notions to find a personal truth. The final stage because it stands apart from the senses. Understanding ones personal truth is the ultimate truth.

Apatheia – Not disturbed by passions – how does this name speak to your craft or this album?

Its a state of mind I hope for my listeners to achieve so they can truly connect to what their real feelings are towards the music.

Tell us about the beautiful piece of artwork that accompanies the new album? Why an artwork for each song?

Each album was curated the same way. The painting is the true name of the song, the intent is for the listener to look at the painting while listening to the song. Associative memory evokes a unique interpretation for each listener. The songs choose the artists for me. Each one of the artists is as important as the other – like an arm is to a leg. Shout out to my crew Two Sicks. Melanie Rocan and Shaun Morin were the first artists I ever approached, they were the foundation of the art in Nostomania. Bill Acheson has always been there to make the final design, he really understood the project and helped me prepare the albums. DJ Fishead did the album write ups, he was there since the first album too. The rest I leave up to your to discover, they are all great artists and I’m lucky to have worked with them.

Can you tell us a little bit about the “Electric Nosehair Orchestra?” And of course you have to explain the story behind the name.

The name was created to make a playful way to empower the listener and allow them an arena to feel in control, rather than having them feel less “cool” than the artist. simply put, anyone who hears that name is likely to scoff and say “psshht, whats this name all about?” and while they’re laughing hopefully it almost makes them feel more important than an artist. I find a lot of music puts the listener in the backseat. I want the listeners to be driving.

Catch DJ Brace as part of AEMCON 2017 at Nite Owl Saturday Nov 18, 2017.

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