“They put in like a little piece of paper and the needle started skipping on the same two seconds because each time the needle touches the piece of paper it jumps back and I said oh my God, that’s amazing! And from there I loved turntables.”
For this interview we talked to Reda Haze, a first year Creative Music Technology student from Italy.
I asked him what instruments he played, “I don’t play an instrument because I’m mainly a DJ. But I’m not only DJ-ing by mixing music. So I don’t consider it an instrument … I also play drum machines, I sample, I play a lot of piano but I never learnt to read music notation. I don’t know music theory, I just play by ear.”
DJ equipment and turntables not being considered an instrument is something I have heard from several people, a significant proportion of which were people that played them. I think it is a shame that they don’t consider that what they are doing is taking already existing music, editing, melding and trimming it, then using the new parts to create a new and different piece of music. When you strip this concept to its raw parts this is almost identical to how composers use notes, chords, lyrics etc. In my view, DJs ARE composers.
I found his journey to becoming a musician inspiring, “When I was young I was playing with my other young Italian
friends, about 13 or 14 years old in a small city, just like writing on the walls. The council saw young kids causing trouble and got people to create creative opportunities for them…they asked us, who wants to learn to play music?”
“I didn’t have anything to do and went to this little course for DJs and musicians, someone learned how to play a bass, someone a guitar, someone drums, and at the end of it we made a small gig in our town. They taught me how to play, how to use a mixer and they had a small turntable and taught me how to make loops with vinyl on it using masking tape. There is a charity shop next to me at home and they have real cheap turntables and vinyls there so I’d mix vinyls, real random music and just experiment by myself. The first time I heard scratching it was for this one song, (Boomfunk Mc’s – Freestyler).”
“I started to be a technician but by myself I started going to my friends’ houses and DJ-ing. I started earning a little money and saving money and because I was an electrician I was buying broken stuff like broken turntables, mixers and fixing them up myself because I had the skills. My first equipment was broken stuff, from there I started getting interested in Hip Hop music, I don’t know why but it somehow attracted me.”
“I started by listening to Italian underground Hip Hop, mostly made by immigrant people in Italy, because I was myself an immigrant from a Moroccan family to Italy. I liked it a lot because the lyrics were saying things like ‘don’t do drugs’, ‘don’t steal or do bad things’, ‘think about yourself, you can get the same opportunities as the Italian people’. They were more positive messages, that was why I started to listen and follow Hip Hop music.”
“One day I met them (the underground musicians)..I told them I want to do music like you, you are very inspirational
to me and they saw me, a young kid loving the music and they told me… we will teach you how to do music because we see in you people from a poor family and this represents you. So from this point I became part of the underground music in Bologna.”
But he feels that “Hip Hop in Italy .. is in a really bad way now…becoming more commercial, all the kids are wearing gold and have gold teeth. There is no message any more. It’s about the sound and appearance, what you wear.”
I asked him what he hoped to gain from Falmouth, “Better sound quality first of all, learn how sound works, how reverb works and how compression works. How to remaster. Then I want to re-gain my culture, because since I was a kid I’ve been studying Hip Hop music. Trying to remember names of underground artists. I want to be more open minded about music. The music theory lectures are really helping me a lot. I really enjoy music theory. The lectures and seminars are really amazing. They also cover a lot of the things I like as well, like last week we had a lecture about DJ-ing and this week we are going to do a lecture about sampling… It helps me to learn new things as well because I knew about these things but not like they teach it at University.”
Read the full interview here
You can learn more about Reda and hear some of his music by clicking on the links below: