DJ NETIK - 3 x World DMC Champion

DJ Netik has won lots of battles over the years including the World DMC Championships in 2001, 2002 and 2006.

Read our exclusive interview with Legendary French DJ, turntablist and producer Netik.

Ortofon: You have built for yourself a very long CV over the years that you spent in the DJ world. Could you remind everybody about it?

I started deejaying, and more precisely scratching back in 1995. I was DJ for many rappers in my hometown for a while, and mixing Hip-Hop in bars and clubs in the city. I did a few mixtapes and was a part of a crew called “Kalibre 33”, we were making scratch music. I was also a part of a Dutch-based Jazz band, and given a similar status to the other musicians with my turntables.

Then I decided to enter the competitions, which was the logical step to take as a scratch DJ. I did my first competition, the Battle for World Supremacy, in 2001. I won in France and I was sent to London where I won the DMC World Supremacy 2001. I also won the DMC World Supremacy 2002, the European “All-Star Beatdown” which was arranged by the Allies and the Scratch Perverts, in 2002. I won the European ITF championship in scratch category, also in 2002, and finished 2nd place at the world championships. I came back in 2006 and won DMC World Championships title.

Ortofon: I remember seeing you scratching on a French TV show back in the mid-90s, when you were just 14 years-old. Who were your inspirations when you started?

- I remember that too, this TV appearance brought me a lot of attention in France back then. Like you said, it was really my first steps. At that time, I was mainly listening to French rap or East Coast U.S Rap like Wu-Tang Clan, Notorious B.I.G, Nas, etc…
On the scratch side, I was listening a lot of mixtapes from DJ Cut Killer with his scratch intros, it drove me nuts! I just kept on listening to them, again and again.
I started watching my very first VHS tapes (yes, VHS!!! Lol) of DMC Championships and I discovered Q.Bert & Mix Master Mike, Roc Raida (R.I.P), DJ Shortkut, the French team with Crazy B and Faster Jay, DJ Noise of Denmark etc...

Ortofon: You left the competition for a few years, before making an incredible comeback in 2006 and winning the DMC World title. Is there any chance to see you going back to the competition someday?

- To be honest, that is very unlikely…

Ortofon: Many people have long speculated on a team with you and DJ Troubl. Since the DMC team title is the only one missing on your CV, wouldn’t you be tempted to enter and become the first DJ to win all 3 titles?

- This would of course be a beautiful achievement for me. And it is true that we talked about it for a long time together with Troubl'. Unfortunately, we never went through with that. It’s a pity because I think we could have come up with a crazy set. We also thought of doing it together with DJ KODH when the 3 of us used to hang out a lot. It is certainly too late now, and it is true that this will remain a small regret in my career as a battle DJ.

Ortofon: You were one of the first, if not the first, to come up with this “Le Jad” sound in the competitions and we can see that, many years later, most DJ’s in competitions are influenced by this sound and emulate this style? What is your thought on that? Do you consider yourself as the protagonist of this sound?

- I know that Jad and I have been the first to come up with a nearly 100% produced show at the DMC World. But I honestly don’t see myself as a protagonist here, for a few reasons. If you look closely at the history, Craze and I-Emerge already set the foundations for this method, by using their battle-breaks into their set prior to their release. DJ KODH also used this method even further during the Battle for World Supremacy in 2001. I am not even the first turntablist to work hand-in-hand with Le Jad on routines; it was another French, DJ Ordoeuvre, long before me. All his routines were produced and/or re-arranged by Le Jad for his DMC shows.

Obviously, not a lot of people know about this. And since the show that we built together with Le Jad won the DMC World, we are the ones who “made popular” this way of working and it changed things. I am personally very proud of this show and I think that we presented something which was really different at that time. When I see what other DJ’s like Rafik or Unkut did with Le Jad, they pushed the concept even further! Today, my opinion on that question, not necessarily working with Le Jad but working with a producer or producing yourself, is that maybe there are some limits which should not be crossed.

When “editing” takes over in a set, when our ear is not able to distinguish what is realy produced by the DJ’s hand as opposed to what’s already present on the record, we lose something which used to be the essence of our artform. Do you see what I mean? I tend to think that the possibility of producing and editing your show should be used as a “plus” and not as an ease. That’s what I think right now.

But sometimes I also think that there should be a new category created in order to separate the styles. Because it has become a whole new style in itself, a new way to approach routines. I say that because, to be honest with you, I do not know upon which criteria I should base my decision when I judge competitions today. And I am not even sure of my decision sometimes.

Should we favor the “biggest” show, the one which retains the most energy from the beginning to the end, filled with smooth transitions thanks to the editing, the sparkly, super-well-produced show…which sometimes turns out to be not very technical when you look closely, which does not contain any surprising and innovating techniques that would make one jumps off his chair?

Or should we favor a show which is maybe less structured, containing mistakes or bad transitions like we used to see when the battles were all-vinyl, but which is full of good ideas and creative techniques? Honestly, it is a really headache to judge! And this is what creates the biggest debates since this method has become so popular. I do not have the answer, but I think the best would be a balance between the two. That’s maybe something to discuss for the future of competitions.

Ortofon: What is your approach when building a routine?

- I actually don’t create “routines” as such anymore, I create some kinds of routines for my DJ sets intro but it is not as “packed” as battle routines. I think my approach has always been the same; to never let go of the groove and the pressure, in order to keep the listener’s attention as long as possible, as if it was a regular song. To be as clean and comprehensive as possible is also really important to me, while expressing my own style and musicality of course.

Ortofon: You have been doing a lot of production over the past few years. How does that complement your DJ side?

- You are right, I have turned more and more towards production and I spend most of my time in front of Cubase now. I enjoy it as much as I enjoyed scratch music. It’s a different way to create and express things, even though the process of building a routine is very close to production. First, it really helped me training my ear, because when you start producing you don’t listen to music in the same way that you used to, you tend to analyze how the production was done, mixed, etc… When preparing a mix today, I am more careful with the harmonies among tracks and the energy that they spread.

Also, it allows me to build these kind of mini-routines myself, without requesting the help from another producer. It opens up for a lot more possibilities and enriches a set.

Ortofon: What is your best memory as a DJ?

- There are several that come to mind, but the best memory is probably when I played alongside Afrika Bambara at “Festival des plages Electroniques” in Cannes, France, a few years ago. The festival takes place on the beach and gathers nearly 10.000 people. It was my birthday, I was closing the evening and Bambaataa asked me if he could host my set.

I had Afrika Bambaataa as my MC, it was incredible, people were going nuts… such a beautiful birthday present!

Ortofon: We usually ask our interviewees which 3 DJ’s they would love to go against in a battle. You went against a lot of world class DJ’s, but is there still some that you never battled and would like to face off?

- I have never “dreamt” to face any particular DJ, because competitions are very stressful (for me anyway). So I would have been afraid of facing them and they would have won for sure, but for “prestige” I would say Craze, A-Trak and Q.Bert.

Ortofon: Time for the usual quick questions. What is your favorite cartridge?

- Up until today, it was the Concorde Scratch for its outstanding tracking ability when scratching on vinyl. But I am currently testing the S-120.

Ortofon: What is the best party-rocker song?

- It all depends what kind of dancefloor you play for and what kind of energy you want to share. It also depends how far you are into your set. A banger played at the wrong time will have no effect. So it’s all very relative. But I’d say some classic Sugarhill Gang to get the funky people to the dancefloor, and Rage Against The Machine “Know your enemy” to make them jump everywhere…

Ortofon: What's next for you?

- Productions.