DJ Beware tells Time Out how he skateboarded to success and why he thinks his music will inspire his fans in Dubai.
Although I live in Austria, I’m actually from Hong Kong. I got into DJing through skateboarding, because that’s where all the DJs would hang out and practice scratching. My DJing isn’t limited to rap music – I play R&B, dancehall, house, reggae and some baile funk too. But that’s how I got into it – through the hip hop DJs. And then I moved to the UK when I was 17 and that’s where I guess I got my real musical education, because you wouldn’t many new tunes in Hong Kong. I still think that the UK is one of the top places for music, and I met a lot of music people there, like Mr Scruff and some of the guys from Fat City Records.
My first ever paid gig was in Hong Kong when I was 19, thanks to DJ Tommy, another Hong Kong guy – he was a former DMC/Technics champion whom I’d known him for a while, and he gave me a shot. I had the whole set planned out, even which turntable I would start with, but then I started on the wrong side and it got all messed up. I don’t think the gig was great, but I’m my own worst critic. It probably went OK. I had all these cool gimmicks planned but in the end I ended up just playing a lot of songs back-to-back.
But though I criticise myself, I’m also my own biggest fan at the same time. It has to balance out, you know, otherwsie I’d get pretty big-headed. So I have to be my biggest critic too. I just try to check myself, and the people around me will check me too.
For me, the moments that I realised that I was on the right track were the DMC/Technics competitions I did in 2001 and 2002. In the first year, I made it to the top 30 and then I made it to the top 10 in the second. From then on people were interested in what I was doing and it kind of kicked off from there. But it was only years later that it dawned on me that I’d made it. I finally realised that this was my life.
When I play, you’ll get to hear a variety of tracks that you wouldn’t expect to hear one after the other. Having been trained as a turntable DJ, I can pick up sudden breaks in the tune and just cut it in and out to mix two totally different tunes together. But it’s not about being clever. I started out playing in clubs before I got into scratching, whereas with a lot of scratch DJs it’s the other way around, so while they might feel like scratches and tricks are what counts in the club, I think that they are just tools to use. And those guys might have a lot of technical ability, but can they keep the party rocking?
I’m also doing remixes. I’m a newbie at it at the moment, but I’ve started getting a couple of things in, the latest of which is a Stereo MCs remix for their new album. Before that, I had done a Dizzee Rascal remix, but I was really late, so it never came out! The Stereo MCs thing is probably the biggest I’ve done. I was contacted and asked to do it; but until now, people found me because I was doing unofficial remixes and spreading them on the internet. Sometimes a remix will be played on the radio abroad and I won’t know until someone from Australia or somewhere emails me. It’s so weird!