Interview: DJ Yoda, King Of Cut-And-Paste

Franco Milazzo
By Franco Milazzo Last edited 84 months ago
Interview: DJ Yoda, King Of Cut-And-Paste

Ahead of his audio-video extravaganza next month at the Roundhouse, we spoke to the king of cut-and-paste, DJ Yoda (Duncan Beiny to his mum). Growing up in North London, he released mixtape after mixtape through the 1990s which showed off his scratch DJ skills and referenced an eclectic mix of artists with a wickedly humourous streak. In 2001, he was voted DMC's Scratch DJ Of The Year and Q Magazine called him one of the "Ten DJs To See Before You Die".

For those who are as yet unfamiliar with his oeuvre, imagine a kaleidoscope of sound encompassing rap, blues, reggae and anything in between interspersed with samples from popular UK culture past and present; George Formby, Dizzy Gillespie and Billie Holiday rub shoulders with Bob James, the Nextmen and Ugly Duckling while the themes from Dr Who, Taxi, Indiana Jones and the Goonies and adverts (real and imagined) play in the background.

As well as producing a series of albums mashing together sounds from the 1980s, 1990s and (most recently) the 1930s, Beiny has evolved into a something of a world-class video jockey creating a show which marries his musical style with a cornucopia of complementary clips, most recently at the Waterloo IMAX and KOKO.

On 10 September, he takes his live experience to the Roundhouse and will be joined on stage by the Trans-Siberian March Band, expert purveyors of Balkan brass.

We saw your show last year at the IMAX. How will your Roundhouse show be different?
Well, for a start, I’m going to have a 14-piece brass band with me! We’ve worked out some pretty cool stuff to go along with my AV show, so it’s going to be something new again for me. And of course, it’s a whole brand new AV show since my IMAX date.

You've become a very successful VJ, at least around London. Do you see yourself giving up your recording studio or club DJ roots to write exclusively for the big screen?
I can’t imagine ever stopping DJing completely. But obviously film is something that I’ve always been interested in, and I’m always looking for new challenges.

You've travelled the world on tour. Do you still call London home?
I do a huge amount of travel (LA and Kenya this week!), but I’ve always called London home. I think I have a love/hate relationship with this city.

What are your favourite club nights around London?
I’d find it easier to pick my favourite venues: Roundhouse (obviously), Koko, Jamm, Bourne & Hollingsworth, Nightjar…

You use quite a few TV themes in your work including Taxi, Dr Who and the A-Team. Are there any TV themes from the last decade that have caught your ear?
Ha-ha – good question! QI, Rastamouse, Curb Your Enthusiasm.

What were your earliest memories of growing up in London in the 1980s?
Riding donkeys round Hampstead pond. Live Aid. Ice cream trucks in Regents Park. And, when I got a bit older, pirate radio!

We loved your earlier work with Xfm DJ Dan Greenpeace (Unthugged, Jewbonics, Jews Paid plus assorted sequels) as well as more recent releases. Who are you looking forward to working with next?
Well I have a new mix with Dan Greenpeace, Unthugged 3D, which we are putting the final touches to right now. And I’ve collaborated with some very exciting vocalists for my new artist album, which is 90% finished. Top secret at this point though.

Do you have a guilty pleasure when it comes to music?
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures when it comes to music! I think it’s important to be proud of all the music I love, and not to show any shame!

Which DJs should we be looking out for on the London scene?
I really like Kayper – she’s a very under-rated hip-hop/R&B DJ with more skills than 99% of the male DJs she’s up against.

Have you ever considered playing with a live mash-up band like Pistol & Jack or A+D's Smash-Up Derby?
Come to the Roundhouse show and see me perform with the Trans-Siberian March Band!

What was your reaction to the London riots? Were any areas you know well affected?
Yes, Chalk Farm is near me. I think the whole thing threw up a lot of issues, and it’s good that we’re now addressing them. To me, the most important topics that have affected the riots are parenting and marketing. I think parents are too ready to pass off responsibility to the state and to teachers, and that people in marketing show no social consciousness by relentlessly forcing impossibly perfect ideals at anyone and everyone.

Finally, where can we find the best bagels in London?
Clearly, Brick Lane Beigel Bakery, hands down. But the one with the yellow shop front, not the white one.

DJ Yoda will be at the Roundhouse on 10 September. The queue for tickets starts behind us.

Last Updated 23 August 2011