A-Trak has risen to prominence as one of the world’s premier turntable DJs since he won the DMC World DJ Championship at the age of 15. As the first DJ to win all three major DJ titles, he eventually branched out beyond hip-hop to different genres, morphing into a multifaceted artist incorporating elements of electro, house, disco and a variety of others.
His mashup mixtapes and live performances have gained him club play and notoriety. His collaborations with rap legends Lupe Fiasco, Jay-Z and Kanye West have helped cementing his reputation as a highly influential player in the hip-hop world and the music industry as a whole.
Daily Texan: Your albums, particularly Dirty South Dance and Dirty South Dance 2, are essentially mashup albums. How do you draw the distinction between yourself as a DJ and someone like Girl Talk who makes mashups but rejects the DJ term?
A-Trak: Well I also don’t call those Dirty South Dance CDs “albums.” To me they’re mixtapes. That’s my DJ perspective, as well. When I make an album it will be all original music.
DT: Your brother David is in Chromeo and you’ve worked with Armand Van Helden on Disco-House type music on Duck Sauce. Do you see disco elements pervading into your music more in
AT: I’m a groovy dude, what can I say. And I think it runs in the family. Dave and I grew up very close, and we always listened to music together. I think we’ve always been drawn to the types of sensibilities that define disco: tight drums, a good bassline, et cetera. Even back when both of us were only doing hip-hop, as a producer you would dig for samples and look for those same types of elements, just slower. And most records that had a sample for a hip-hop track would also have a disco track on them, so it came with the territory.
DT: You’ve been involved with a lot of highly influential contemporary hip-hop. How have you found yourself collaborating with artist like Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West and do you have any future plans for collaborations
AT: Yeah I’ve been in the studio with Kanye again lately. Hip-hop is my foundation, I’ve been in that world since I was a kid and even as I progress into other genres, it’s always important for me to keep my feet rooted there.
DT: Do you ever swap technicality at your shows for danceability?
AT: In certain parts of my sets, yes for sure. You can’t just show off during your whole set. I pick and choose certain moments to do my tricks and the rest of the set is designed to make people dance.
DT: What were you trying to achieve in the creation of your record label Fool’s Gold?
AT: I founded Fool’s Gold with my friend Nick Catchdubs and we wanted to create the best, most credible, reliable record label and brand — one that doesn’t know barriers. We want to be leaders, not just in our scene but also for our scene in the bigger musical landscape.