DJ Rafik - DMC World Champion, turnablist-turned-producer

Behind the name DJ ND hiding an international artist with numerous achievements and awards.

Read our exclusive interview with DJ Rafik

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Ortofon: What inspired you to become a DJ?

- My first contact was at 13 years old, when I watched a weekly German TV show called Housefrau. This TV show would feature a guest DJ, who would mix for ten minutes. I was, however, certain that this was some kind of live music.

Ortofon: How did you get started?

- Long story short, the local music store hooked me up with a guy called Harvey (Holger Wirtz) - I pretty much have this guy to thank for everything I do.

Not only did he have the patience to teach a 13-year old how to mix, he also let me use his equipment and records every week. One year later I had my own Technics Replica, and then another one, and at some point later on during my school holidays, I invested in two Technics MKII.

Ortofon: You have devoted yourself to Turntablism and battles. Compared to mixing, what is it about Turntablism and battles that excites you?

- I don't see myself as a battle DJ, that's just something that happened. I always had a strong passion for Turntablism, but it is no more or less important to me than mixing or producing. But the exciting part about Turntablism is, without a doubt, the creative power you can have over existing material.

Ortofon: What is your recipe for a good routine, and how do you create a new one? How long is the process from developing a routine until you perform it?

- A good routine is not only contemporary, but also somewhat progressive. Trends don't have to be avoided but should play a less significant role if you want to be different.
A good routine is not about what you can do, but more about who you are. It might sound cheesy, but it's true. At the end of the day, a lot of people have skills, but oddly, only a few have ideas. I was like that for a long time.
As far as practicing goes, for some weird reason it always takes me two weeks to memorize a routine. So in terms of memorization, others are faster than I am.

Ortofon: What is your current setup when you DJ, and what are the benefits of the components?

- Two Turntables, NI Z2 Mixer, NI Maschine and NI X1. This setup is like a Swiss army knife. It's been a while since I wanted to do something on this setup that I could not do immediately. Especially the mapping capabilities of Maschine and the option of switching between the Maschine- and MIDI-modes are great features. On top of that, the color coding tells me exactly what I am looking at, at all times.

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Ortofon: Which systems do you prefer at the moment, and what are you experiences with these?

- At the moment, I prefer Ortofon Q-Bert limited edition. The signal is mad loud and transfers so well to NI-Traktor. Used on vinyl, the needles stay true to their groove. On top of that, they're kinda fancy.

Ortofon: Why is it important for you to stick with vinyl?

- To be honest, there's a place for everything. I couldn't care less about playing with vinyl, but I could not care more about playing with turntables. I play my sets digitally, unless there's a reason why I think I should use vinyl. My collection on the other hand - I'll never get rid of it. There are records that I definitely prefer to listen to on vinyl – stuff like J-Dilla's Welcome to Detroit or Mad Villain. Or real crates. This stuff makes sense for me to play from the actual record, because I'm not gonna do any crazy effects/tricks to this anyways, I just want to hear the song. But if Avicii decides to play his sets on vinyl only, my world doesn’t get better or worse from that.

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Ortofon: After having lived in New York for two years, you recently moved. Why is that?
- I was in Brooklyn for two years, but just recently moved back to Germany. Adventure, perspectives and an urge to leave Germany made me do it in the first place. It was such a great time, I miss it a lot. But I'm back to Germany to focus on my work with GWA / Chin Zing and I have to say, I did the right thing.

Ortofon: As a global player, you certainly are capable of evaluating the international DJ scene. What is your general assessment of the current situation? Are there differences from country to country?
- I think the scene is pretty interesting right now. There's a maze of music genres and an ocean of good and bad DJ's. Slowly, a bit of structure emerges from this chaos, and things are starting to claim their spots. Controllers are getting better, and people are learning how to use them in a better way. Others still find a connection from their genre to vinyl as a medium, keeping the vinyl culture alive and, more importantly, true. There are countless opinions and differences, and personally, I see that as a revival. Certainly there are still differences in terms of skills from country to country, but not so much anymore. All the knowledge available online helps a lot of people figure out their own talent.

Ortofon: Do you have any advice for upcoming DJ’s?

- I think a beginner should focus on having fun, outrageous dreams and no concrete goals. Only when you start harvesting results, it's better to set goals. Mostly, it is important to stay playful and maintain a need for adventure; otherwise you'll find yourself feeling like you are doing some kind of actual "work".

Ortofon: You don’t only DJ in clubs, you’re also involved in different projects.

- Alongside deejaying, I'm very focused on production and developing my radio show Autobahn, which is a monthly show with lots of new tunes and a guest mix.

Ortofon: What’s next for you?

- Lots of new music, a big deal collab and I might even drop a new routine.

Ortofon: Do you still have goals?

- My main goal is to keep being a musician with a never-ending urge to grow - as an artist and a human.

Links:

www.facebook.com/deejayrafik   
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/DJ_Rafik
https://soundcloud.com/dj-rafik/