Phoenix, Ariz. – A dozen of America’s top spinners will vie for a national championship this weekend in the Red Bull Thre3style DJ competition’s USA National Final. With two qualifying rounds and a final event held on three consecutive nights (Thursday thru Saturday) in three different Phoenix-area venues, expect to see the 12 regional champs give their all in attempts to take the title and move onto compete in the Red Bull Thre3style World Championship, held in September in Tokyo, Japan.
Red Bull Thre3style differs from other DJ battles in that it requires participants to present three different musical genres in a 15-minute routine. In addition to their technical abilities, DJs are judged on how well they rock the room. Judges will include industry notables DJ Jazzy Jeff, Z-Trip, Four Color Zack, Grandtheft, and Skratch Bastid.
Two winning jocks from Qualifier Night 1 on Thursday, April 2, at the Monarch Theatre (122 E. Washington St., Phoenix, 85004) and two winning jocks from Qualifier Night 2 on Friday, April 3, at Club Red (1308 W. University Dr., Mesa, 85201) will square off on the Final Night on Saturday, April 4 at The Pressroom (441 W. Madison St., Phoenix, 85003).
Here’s a look at tonight’s competitors in Qualifier Night 1:
DJ Trayze, Mount Rainier, Md.
Regional Championship: Washington, D.C.
My Regular Gigs: I travel quite a bit now for gigs, but I hold down monthly parties in D.C. at Heist, #NoStaticParty at Penn Social and Commonwealth’s 95 Live. I’m also on D.C.’s 107.3 FM every Friday and Saturday night.
My Influential DJs: Local legends like Funkregulata Celo, Quicksilver, and Xclusive. Also came up watching DMC battles with guys like Craze and A-Trak. All these guys have incredible style and finesse in what they do.
My DJ Platform: Serato DJ – it’s far superior in speed, stability and reliability to anything else, in my opinion. Serato has never let me down.
What Makes a Good DJ: Being well-versed in music history and respecting who and what came before you, along with embracing new sounds and technology. I’m entertained by DJs who are technically skilled and have great flow and energy. Being humble, kind, and having a great attitude will earn my respect.
My Best Trait in Competition: Poise and balance in the moment.
The Red Bull Thre3style Challenge: It really takes a very special type of approach to music. You have to nail the programming aspect of music selection, while displaying technical prowess at the same time. The most challenging thing for me is trimming down parts of my set to try to show as much personality and skill as I can in 15 minutes, without going over time.
What to Expect in the U.S. Finals: I’m just gonna go out there and have as much fun as possible and get the crowd to come along with me. The judges are more than welcome to join in, too.
DJ Akshen, Phoenix, Ariz.
Regional Championship: Phoenix
My Regular Gigs: A Friday Residency at The Beverly in Scottsdale, and I am a special guest DJ for Disney Cruise Lines and I get to travel to the Caribbean two or three times a year.
My Influential DJ: Z-Trip, because he’s never been afraid to take risks when he plays.
My DJ Platform: Serato, because it’s what I was introduced to first by my homies, and it’s been good to me ever since.
What Makes a Good DJ: Someone who’s not afraid to take risks, who knows his or her music, and can read a crowd. What entertains me is good music. I don’t care what genre it is and if the DJ can take me on a journey and make me move, smile, laugh, and think, he or she has got my respect.
My Best Trait in Competition: Confidence.
The Red Bull Thre3style Challenge: Trying to fit everything I want in 15 minutes. Everyone may think 15 minutes is a long time, but when you have a lot of material, it’s not as long as you think. What makes Thre3Style unique is that it’s a DJ competition geared toward the party rockers and club DJs, so you don’t have to be the most technical DJ to win. It’s about selection, being creative, and making the crowd move.
What to Expect in the U.S. Finals: The judges and the audience can expect me to play what the next guy is not playing.
DJ Spare Change, Dayton, Ohio
Regional Championship: Indianapolis
My Regular Gigs: No current residencies, but I’ve been doing random parties, clubs and weddings lately.
My Influential DJ: Listening to Funkmaster Flex is one of the main reasons I got started.
My DJ Platform: Honestly, if they still pressed 12-inches of all the new stuff I would probably still be on vinyl, but Serato is great. The main reason I got started on Serato was because I won a Rane TTM-57 mixer in the Guitar Center Spinoff in 2006.
What Makes a Good DJ: A good DJ has a love of music and the art and doesn’t just do it because it’s the cool thing to do or is an avenue to make money. I like to see things I haven’t seen before. I like raw skills, too, even if it isn’t innovative, I know the effort it takes to get to that level isn’t easy.
My Best Trait in Competition: I think creativity has helped me stand out. I do a lot of things kind of unorthodox, outside of just traditional DJ-battle style. Sometimes it helped me, but I do acknowledge that other times it may have hurt, because sometimes it goes over peoples’ heads.
The Red Bull Thre3style Challenge: You need to use records that the audience will recognize and like, but it becomes very hard to use stuff that hasn’t been used over and over again.
What to Expect in the U.S. Finals: A victory.
DJ Boi Jeanius, Chicago, Ill.
Regional Championship: Chicago
My Regular Gigs: I have some monthlies across Chicagoland, but mainly Beauty Bar Chicago on Tuesdays for #timbuck2uesdays with DJ Timbuck2 and Ibahppy. Been playing there four years now—best hip-hop party in the city.
My Influential DJs: Timbuck2 From Chicago. The man has so much knowledge about DJing having done it on all levels. He taught me to really treat this like a job and really helped polish up my DJ and business skills.
My DJ Platform: Traktor by Native Instruments. I love the layout of its interface and its vinyl response. I’ve used other platforms before and they are pretty good, but for detailed scratches and workflow, I will always choose Traktor. It allows me to be confident in my DJing, knowing I have a reliable program that is almost tailored to my style of DJing. I focus on my traditional DJ skills and Traktor allows me to do that and more.
What Makes a Good DJ: A great playlist makes a good DJ. Above everything, music is the key. If you have great selection of music, understand when and where to play these songs and recognize flow in the room, you win in my book. You don’t even have to mix any of these songs or display DJ skills. A steady flow of peaks and valleys with music is all I look for. However, I truly love the nerdy DJ stuff, the technical skills and wordplay is fun.
My Best Trait in Competition: My ability to improvise. I’m always ready. I trust my skills and rely on my experience.
The Red Bull Thre3style Challenge: The brainstorming process and actually making these ideas come to life.
What to Expect in the U.S. Finals: The audience and judges can expect to know me very well, personally, and get a grasp of my DJ style through my performance. I try to keep it fresh and always keep me in all of what I do.
DJ B-Stee, Kansas City, Mo.
Regional Championship: Kansas City
My Regular Gigs: A few residencies in K.C.: a weekly at Gusto Lounge and one at The Union, where I do a monthly party called SWERVE. I’m also a resident at Cabaret in Des Moines, Iowa.
My Influential DJs: I got into DJing because I wanted to scratch like QBert. Mixtapes from Rectangle and Spinbad mixtapes had a huge impact on my style of mixing, along with the whole Beat Junkies crew, DJ AM, A-Trak, Craze, and Four Color Zack.
My DJ Platform: Serato is my DVS of choice, mostly because that’s what I’ve been on for almost 10 years now. I haven’t had a reason to switch to anything else, as I’ve never felt limited by anything in Serato.
What Makes a Good DJ: Good phrasing and song selection is always the first thing. Knowing what to play and when is key. If they’re pushing the envelope a bit and can get the crowd into songs you wouldn’t expect them to be into, that’s also something that makes a good DJ. On top of that, doing it with some tricks in there, whether it’s with controllers or turntables or whatever else… that will push a DJ into that category that I really respect and get inspired by.
My Best Trait in Competition: My technical skills, and knowing how to use them in whatever format the competition is in. I’ve done DMC-type battles, more mix-oriented battles, and now Thre3style, which I think is a really good combination of everything that makes a solid DJ, and I’d like to think the fact that I’m well-rounded has got me to where I’m at now.
The Red Bull Thre3style Challenge: You’ve got 15 minutes to showcase everything you do well and do it in a way that makes sense.
What to Expect in the U.S. Finals: A bunch of scratching and mixing and some records played in ways that you might not have thought about playing them.
DJ Obscene, Miami, Fla.
Regional Championship: Tampa.
My Regular Gigs: I travel on the regular to DJ different venues across the U.S. and abroad. The places I spin varies, but, for example, this next month I’ll be playing at Lure in L.A., Infusion Lounge in San Francisco, Commonwealth in Vegas, Tongue & Groove in Atlanta and Passion in Tampa.
My Influential DJs: Craze, Klever and A-Trak. All three DJs are great examples of how far you can go in this game when you stay true to your roots, respect the craft and maintain your integrity.
My DJ Platform: Serato since 2005. I’m grateful that I still got to experience collecting and playing with vinyl for the first four years of my DJ career. But once I saw what could be done with Serato, I immediately knew it was the future.
What Makes a Good DJ: Being clean and rocking the crowd. A great DJ, to me, is one that can read the crowd and adapt to what they’re telling them. I see too many DJs not paying attention to the crowd or just sticking with their gameplan throughout the night, and I think that’s wack. As DJs, we are there to make someone’s night, help them forget their troubles and provide them an unforgettable experience.
My Best Trait in Competition: Honestly, DJ competitions aren’t really my thing. But my creativity is what has and will continue to help me move forward. I feel that I look at music differently from the next person and know how to bridge the gap, how to connect songs, how to make people say, “Wait a minute—did he just do what I think he did?”
The Red Bull Thre3style Challenge: The amount of time and work you have to put in. Anyone can compete, but to win, it takes a lot of sacrifice and hours on the tables, trying out ideas and making sure everything fits.
What to Expect in the U.S. Finals: Great party vibes and a memorable, timeless set. I can’t wait!