On The Record: DJ QBert
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Humbleness, humility and never losing sight of the fun aspects of scratching have helped DJ Qbert remain an icon to a generation of DJs while taking turntablism to heights previously never imagined.
Next year will mark 30 years of turntable excellence for the DJ born Richard Quitevis, and never once has the Bay Area native’s zest to learn disappeared. In a hip-hop arena where swift hands and a creative mind transform a record player into a musical instrument, he enjoys the ultimate platform of expression.
“It’s like a meditation,” he said. “It’s also spiritual. The art is so fun and interesting, making all these crazy sounds.
“It’s like a never ending quest to learn more about it and forever develop the endless ideas that come into my head. I’m no where close to what I wish I could do.”
The former DMC (Disco Mix Club) champion and member of the legendary Invisbl Skratch Piklz crew, Quitevis established Thud Rumble with lifelong friend Ritche “Yogafrog” Desuasido in 1996. Their goal was to further enhance DJ scratch culture, starting with the release of critically acclaimed film and accompanying album “Wave Twisters” in 2001.
He also started his own online DJ school, Qbert Skratch University, in 2009 to perpetuate DJ culture.
“When you remember that we are all part of God, your creativity explodes,” he said. “You really have to just let yourself go and imagine the craziest stuff.
“When (Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Lee) got into their zones, they turned into animals, like in nature. It’s all about experimenting too and it does take practice to get back your animal instincts.”
Quitevas and Desuasido lived on Oahu for five years in the early 2000s, and Quitevis said he can remember every one of his Hawaii shows vividly — from the small intimate clubs to big raves and festivals.
“Whenever anyone asks me where the best place is to perform around the world, I quickly say Hawaii,” he said. “I just love paradise, the hip-hop culture here, and of course my family that lives in almost all the islands.”
While Quitevis may always be the face of scratching, he remains modest and grounded in terms of his own achievements. Teaching and giving back to the world through creativity are more tangible than fame and the spotlight. While he has inspired many, he said the respect is mutual.
“When I look online and continue to find so many great skratchers continue pushing it and all these new cats killin’ it too … I really love when talented guys tell me that if if wasn’t for scratching, they would be stuck doing negative activities.
“When I think that I’ve inspired people, that never really affects me anymore. It’s nice, but I can’t let it take over and become an ego thing. I understand now that artists are (here) to heal people. We are here to make others happy with our gifts to create.
“As soon as you forget that and stop creating, then your karma stops helping you.”
His latest project and follow up to “Wave Twisters” comes in the form of a double album, “ExtraTerrestria” and “Galaxxia.” The 33-song dual offering features rhymes by Hawaii’s Tassho Pearce, Del The Funky Homosampien and Kool Keith on “Galaxxia,” while “Extra-Terrestria” is an instrumental album with production from Chad Hugo of The Neptunes and instrumentation by world acclaimed cellist and trombonist Dana Leong. The album cover is also a wireless DJ controller.
“Recently, I’ve been learning a lot about extraterrestrial lifestyles and they basically just have the same goal: To make the world a better place,” Quitevis said. “I’m speaking of the positive benevolent races. There are also malevolent ETs out there who are all about greed. But I like the good guys.”
With spirituality and a strong sense of self as his guide, Quitevis said the cycle of learning and perpetuating DJ scratch culture will continue and the formula to tapping into ones creative consciousness is to “not allow rules to stop you.” He has no qualms with helping the art form forge forward.
“Many of us have just forgotten that we are beautiful spirits and not just robots,” he said.“You can become high without drugs if you learn to let go and have no ego. Don’t give a crap about how cool you look or what manners you need to have, because that will stop your artistic flow.”
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.