The art of turntablism continues to please audiences across the globe, it goes without saying that DJ Dopey has played an integral role in its rise to the forefront. Having performed alongside the artform’s finest including such names as DJ Q-Bert, DJ Craze, Mixmaster Mike, DJ Jazzy Jeff, The Beat Junkies, Scratch Perverts and The X-Ecutioners to name a few, DJ Dopey has solidified his rank among the greatest in his field by winning the coveted title of 2003 DMC WORLD CHAMPION. At the young age of 24, DJ Dopey has definitely paid his dues in the "battle" circuit. Being no stranger to the game, DJ Dopey has consistently pushed the envelope through his innovative techniques and constant originality. In addition to his DMC World title, other 1st place achievements he holds dear to him include the 2001 Allies All Star Beatdown put on by renowned turntablist crew "The Allies", as well as the 2002/2003 Vestax Canadian Championships. And the list goes on… DJ Dopey has shared stages with artists including Eminem, Slum Village, Frank N Dank, Kardinal Offishall, Gang Starr, The New Deal and Kid Koala. Furthermore, in 2004 he will be collaborating with Columbia Records signed punk/rap group Dead Celebrity Status on their upcoming album.
What is your real name ?
Jon Ryan Santiago
How long have you been a battle DJ ?
I've been a battle Dj for about 5 yrs now
Tell us a bit about your background and how you first started out.
Well, my big bro started to get into the Dj thing a little bit when I was in Gr.8 (13 yrs old). I just recall him & I trying to skratch on our house
stereo system that had a built in turntable. It was pretty funny, that shit was skipping like crazy LOL!!! But I didn't really get my equipent until I
was about 16 years old. The money was hard to raise but I managed to get my mom to buy me a used 1200 plus I had bought another Technics deck that didn't even have pitch control on it, the mixer was bought by my bro for my b-day and that's how I finally got my shit together (in a nutshell at
What or who were your inspirations for battling and turntablism ?
My main inspiration was probably Q and the piklz, they were a huge part of my getting interested in the battle part of things. Just seeing the DMC and
ITF vids was much inspirations, the heated battles between X-Men and ISP, Craze vs. Eclipse, A-Trak winning in '97 all these events had a big part in
me getting interested.
What Titles do you hold to date ?
1999, 2000, 2001 Toronto DMC Regional Champ
1999, 2000 ITF Toronto Advancment Champ
2001, 2002 Vestax Canadian Champ
2001 Allies All-Star Beatdown Champ
2002, 2003 DMC Canadian Champ
2002 3rd Place DMC Worlds
2003 DMC World Champ
Have you or will you be involved with any studio work ?
I have been involved with light studio work with artist such as Saukrates, Cholair, and other local artists. In regards to doing my own beats i've been learning the past year and will eventually come out with tracks, break records etc involving T.O. artists and J-Tec of the Turntable Monkz.
Have there been other highlights of your career prior to winning the World Finals ?
Oh for sure, I got to work with hip hop icons Main Source for their first ever show anywhere in 10yrs. Me and K-cut came up with a little mix for me to skratch over to open up the show, that was really dope. And just opening for other acts such as Eminem, Rahzel, Kardinall etc.
How did the crew turntable monks come about ? Tell us a bit about it's members J Tec, Tantrum and the crew's origins.
Turntable Monkz basically formed when we were in high school. We were actually 2 different crews that kinda didn't really like eachother. It was J-Tec, Tantrum, and illbuddha (he's a dope skratcher that is still very active till today) in one crew and myself and koolkat in another crew. Eventually we all realized that the school was big enough for both crews and that we'd both benefit if we just joined forces, so we merged together and that was how Turntable Monkz were formed. And today i'm sorry to inform peeps that Tantrum has recently gotten married and is gonna have a baby in a couple of days (congrats chris!!) so he's not too active no more, and KoolKat basically went his own ways after high school finished but we still keep in touch once and a while.
You have earned the title of 2 time national champion in Canada and now the champion of the World. It must have taken a lot of dedication and perseverance to reach this goal. How often are you on the decks and what drives you to train this hard ?
It mos definately took alot of perseverence, basically after everybattle I just got even hungrier and hungrier. And the fact that the Canadian Title was one of the only titles (and biggest) to elude me in Canada that made it much more interesting to chase. But honestly after last year I really thought that, that was it for battling, just cauz i've been doin it for so long I was ready to accept that I had achieved all that I could in the battle scene and was ready to move on. But somewhere in the process of "hanging the gloves" peeps talked me in to doin one more year and so I did. So I approached this years DMC's very different, I practiced not as hardcore as the years before and I had more fun with it and took it less serious, and it seemed to work. But for the record I still put a good 4 hours on the turns during competition time.
Some turntablists look at old videos to get inspired for new material in their set. What sparks you to get ideas for the battle and does your crew members have any influence on your final routine ?
My ideas come from all over, i've gotten ideas from older vids like you said and even a movie sound track that I like, it comes from anything and everything. My crew does have alot of say into my routines, i'll usually bar it out and all that and when it's nice and tidy then I take it to J-Tec or my boy Device (a dope local kat) for some input. Another thing i'll do is actually try it in a live show and see how the reaction is, that usually tells me wether the routine is hot or not. But I would never try the live show thing if I didn't think peeps can understand it in the first place.
How would you describe your style in battles ?
I would describe my style as a very aggressive style, when i'm battling i try to make it more of an impact routine and that's why my kutz are alwayz fast and shit. I just gotta learn how to transfer the impact to more chill routines. But I also think that my style is pretty simple and funky andthats what gets me through as well.
Tell us a bit about this year's battle. Who were you looking out for and did you see any new styles or techniques ?
Ummm, basically this year i went in there without any expectations. I just wanted to throw down what I had in a decent manner and I woulda been happy with just that. It was just a big bonus that majority of the peeps liked the shit that I was doin. As I said earlier I treated this year very different from all the other years i've been in the comp, I was more relaxed and just wanted to have fun with it instead of bein all uptight about things. And in regards to the competition, everyone was dope everyone had something new to bring to the table. Tiger Styles was dope, Enferno was sick, Quest was really dope and technical; basically the competition is on a much higher level than it was a couple of years ago and is really good to see.
Where do you see the future of turntablism heading ?
I see it heading towards a more musical appraoch with kats sounding more and more like musical intruments rather than a pair of turntables. The battle scene might cool off for a bit but i'm sure it will pick up again in a bit.
Any tips for the upcoming turntablists ?
Keep doing your thing and just have fun with things and be creative, that's the essence of your success.
Do you do many club gigs back home and what style of music do you like to play ?
I do play out when i'm at home, I ususally play hip-hop (old and new), old school R/B, getting in to playing more funk and uptempo type beats and ocassionally a little reggae.
Are you planning any tours and can we expect to see you perform in Australia ?
I would love to get out to Australia, i've heard nothing but good things about the local peeps in your home country. And I heard that its a beautiful place to be as well.
|Top 5 favourite tracks at the moment.
I gotta go with some of my homies from TO.
1. Comin up/Saukrates
2. BIG/Brass Munk
4. Pimpn LIfe/Big Black Lincon
5. Seniorita/JT haha LOL
|All time top 5 Tracks.
1. Code of da streets/Gangstarr
2. Father Time/Saukrates
3. Wrong Side of the Tracks/Artifacts
4. How many emcee's/Blackmoon
5. Soul By The Pound/Common
(Interview by kc)
DJ Dopey hosted an exclusive DJ Seminar on Wednesday 7th April 2004 at The United DJ Mixing School. This seminar was open only to our students, members and associates. DJ Dopey showcased, demonstrated and taught his skills and techniques on the decks which won him the title and the 'gold decks'. This was a rare opportunity to meet and greet with this incredibly talented DJ and everyone that attended was in total amazement.