Hardworking, Humble DJ Shortkut Is Finally Ready for His Solo Debut LP + Discusses New Skratch Piklz Album and Career Highlights

Posted by Billyjam, October 9, 2015 11:49am | Post a Comment
 Hardworking, humble, & hella talented DJ Shortkut @ 45 Sessions New Parish JZLim Photography

"If I was to end all this tomorrow and I had an album, then I would be happy," DJ Shortkut confided when I caught up with the hardworking, highly respected, and diversely talented San Francisco DJ in his hometown this week. Feeling "exhausted" but with a wide smile on his face, the heavy in-demand globe-trotting DJ, who is booked on average 4 to 5 nights a week, was just back home in the States from Asia where he's been spending a lot of time in recent months including at Red Bull Thre3Style events with the recently reunited Invisibl Skratch Piklz (ISP), along with Qbert and D-Styles, with whom he recorded the anticipated album The 13th Floor. Despite the fact that he was honored with the Grand Wizard Theodore Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the development of scratching & DJ culture, and that he holds membership of three of the most revered turntablist ensembles in the history of the genre - ISP, The Beat Junkies, and Triple Threat DJs (with Vinroc and Apollo) - and has recorded with each of them, plus released a stack of his own amazing solo DJ mixes encompassing hip-hop and dancehall and other styles, he has never released a DJ Shortkut album. But that is all about to change the Daly City DJ born Jonathan Cruz told me this week following an impressive turntable set he threw down at Guitar Center on Van Ness celebrating the launch of Thud Rumble and DJ Qbert's TRX Scratch Mixer.

"Now it's time for my album. I have held back on that forever because I was listening to all these different styles of music. And everyone would have been expecting a hip-hop album from me because they know me as a hip-hop DJ but now that everyone knows that I am into all styles and  also now that music is so open I want to make a couple of reggae tracks for my album, a house track, a bass heavy track, and so on. And this is a good time for me to do it," he said of the album that will be the premier release via his new production company / record label Kut Up Music.

Short credits as some of his inspiration the recent uplifting experience of working in the studio with Qbert and D-Styles for the new (first official) ISP album. The experience he says bookends his years long journey as student of music and practitioner of the turntables (and gear designer too), neatly taking him back to where he started only that now he feels a lot more knowledgeable and ready for his long awaited solo debut. "When I left the Piklz the first time my goal was just to be able to play in front of any crowd I was put in front of and to be able to play any type of music," said Shortkut. "In the 15 years since we [ISP] broke up I was able to find myself as a DJ. I was glad I was able to reach in and be accepted in every type of music as a DJ," he said. "And I have finally reached that goal. And now that I am back with the guys I have come full circle. It brings me back to the roots," said the DJ who began his career  a preteen back in 1987 with Daly City mobile crew Just 2 Hype!

As for the production of that forthcoming ISP album Shortkut said that, "We were in Japan in May recording for a week and a half and it was a great experience to be with the guys again and get that creative flow going again. It was so good for all of us to be together working in the same spot." Although he holds the 1994 and 1998 US/West Coast DMC Championship titles,  the DJ known to most as a party rocker who incorporates skratching/turntablist techniques into his never-dull sets, always plays down his skills (he is a master at stabs for example) while giving props to his collaborators. He calls Qbert and D-Styles "two scratch gods" saying that, "I can't scratch half as good as those guys but I try to keep up in my own way. And I am honored and humbled to be a part of it all and thankful for whatever part I can bring to the table." Compared to previous ISP recordings, this new one is more complex and layered and intricate he said. "D-Styles is incredible and just working with him I learned a lot. D-Styles pretty much engineered the whole thing - composing and a lot of the arranging." "Me and Q added our touches to it," he said noting that "It's called The 13th Floor for a reason. We were thinking if you were on the 13th floor and tried to visualize what music would you hear if you were to open every door on that floor - a floor that normally you don't see in buildings."

In looking back over his illustrious career Shortkut references several fond memories that scan many years including his part of the Beat Lounge sessions in the nineties at long defunct SF club Deco, to being part of the Beat Junkies who celebrated their 20 year anniversary three years ago, to a recent experience he enjoyed when he teamed up with two of his hip-hop heroes. "I did a big Adidas campaign [Breathe and Stop Tour] in South East Asia with Maseo from De La Soul and Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest. To go on tour with those guys for three weeks was unreal. I grew up on these guys so to be an equal on tour with them, that to me was mind-blowing. I felt like I had arrived and that I had made a name for myself as a DJ on my own," said the artist who, if you did not know who he was and passed him on the street, would never assume his superstar status from his unpretentious, low-key demeanor. "I am just thankful to be doing what I do and for as long as I have been doing it," said Shortkut. "I always hoped I would be doing this for this long, but I am truly very blessed to be doing it still"
DJ Shortkut is among the performers tonight (October 9) at
the New Parish in Oakland on a bill headlined by Lyrics Born

Relevant Tags

D-styles (12), Shortkut (19), Qbert (22), Shortkut (19), Jonathan Cruz (1), Jzlim Photography (1), Triple Threat Djs (3), Mix Master Mike (7), Yogafrog (6), Invisibl Skratch Piklz (8), Isp (6), Hard Rich (2), Charles Angeles (4)