Vinyl has enjoyed a huge revival in the last couple of years. For some, however, the love for wax has never waned.
Monster Energy’s all-vinyl tour, 7 Inches Of Pleasure, returns once again this month, with five of North America’s finest DJs gathering for a 10-city tour of Western Canadian that promises to honour the history of the medium of vinyl while incorporating fresh styles of mixing and scratching.
Now in its fourth edition, 7 Inches Of Pleasure will feature sets in a wide range of genres from hip-hop to heavy metal from some of Canada’s most respected DJs — Mat The Alien (Whistler), Vinyl Ritchie (Vancouver), DJ Pump (Calgary), and DJ Illo (Ottawa) — as well as one of biggest legends in the game: DJ Scratch. Acknowledged by many as one of the greatest DJs of all time, the three-time Grammy Award-nominated Scratch cut his teeth on Run DMC’s 1988 Run’s House World Tour before providing his signature flair to hip-hop group EPMD and producing hits for LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes.
Vancouver’s own Vinyl Ritchie is, too, an icon in his own right. In the 90s, he was one of the first Western Canadian DJs to mix electronic releases with forgotten b-sides and gold hits — an innovative combination that has led him to remain a longstanding fixture in the city’s club scene. Known for his strictly-vinyl sets and nicknamed “Canada’s King of the 45s,” Ritchie is now a globally sought-after DJ who keeps his west coast roots in tact with residencies in both Vancouver and Whistler.
Vancity Buzz had the pleasure of speaking with Ritchie about wax and the upcoming tour.
You’re known for staying loyal to vinyl in an industry where many have made the switch to digital. What is it about the medium that keeps you coming back?
I learned how to DJ playing vinyl. I was super late to the potential of the digital game. I appreciate it but I prefer playing vinyl. The origins of DJ culture started with people playing records.
What does vinyl provide in sound quality that digital does not?
There seems to be an ongoing debate on this topic, but I bet the majority of people would not be able to distinguish between the difference in sound quality of analog and digital unless they have a very trained ear. The typical response is that vinyl is warmer but that depends on a number of factors such as the sound system, sound man, venue, turn tables, etc. I personally don’t mind dusty, cue burned records with snap, crackles and pops. I think analog recordings are definitely more dynamic in some aspects. If the p.a. and the sound guys are on point both mediums should sound good.
Tell us more about the 7 Inches of Pleasure Tour. What are fans in store for this time around?
Four years ago Monster Energy approached me, Mat The Alien (Squamish), Pump (Calgary), Illo (Ottawa) and asked us if we would be interested in going out and doing some shows playing all 7”s. Monster has always embraced and supported DJ culture but they wanted to do something significant and different than your average run of the mill DJ set. On the very first tour we were all overwhelmed by the response. People were stoked. The people that attend these shows seem more savvy musically. They appreciate the culture and what we are attempting to preserve. There are a lot of record nerds out there and these shows are a great place to celebrate an art form that could easily be dismissed and forgotten.
Musically the four of us are very unique and we all bring something different to the table. DJ Pump is simply one of the most dangerous dudes I know on the turn tables – period. Illo is the most seasoned consummate party rocker I know. Mat The Alien is unpredictable (in the best way) and his skill set is second to none in any genre. Many people in the bass arena do not realize how versatile musically this guy is. The Alien Army are very loyal and show up in droves to appreciate Mat flip the script completely. This year we have The Turn Table Whisperer Scratch (NYC) from EPMD joining us on select dates. This dude’s resume speaks for itself. World Champion DJ, Grammy nominated producer, owner of ScatchVison.com. The list goes on. Brother has deep crates and is a monster on the decks. It’s very humbling playing records along side these guys every night. These four dudes individually are impressive enough, but together they are a DJs worst nightmare. I simply try to keep up and tap into the juice of these heavy cats and the crowd.
How will the tour honour the history and the mastery of the vinyl record?
The formula is pretty simple. As record nerds we do this out of love to share music and geek out on records and DJ skills. As I mentioned before, the roots of DJ culture and hip-hop started with records being played. These nights are simply a celebration of music being shared in a medium that is timeless and very relevant to us.
How does it feel going on tour with DJ Scratch, such a legend in hip-hop world?
We did a show in Whistler with Scratch in October I was a little nervous to meet him at first, but he instantly puts you at ease with his laid back demeanor. He has a reputation for eating up DJs but as soon as we started talking about records the nervousness subsided.
I’m super stoked to be involved with all of this. To connect and build with all of these DJs on this tour is a dream come true. I get to hang out with my friends, snowboard everyday and play records every night. I’m forever a student in this DJ/music scene and I learn something new playing with these guys every night.
What can fans expect from your set?
Fans? Haha. Hopefully I can pull out some rarer heat that the other DJs I’m with and people at the shows will bug out to. I dig it when people say ”wow you have that on a 45?”