Record Collection: DJ Scend
I met DJ Scend a couple years ago. He came into the RubyHornet office with Scheme, who at the time, was an emcee we met just months before and had started to work more closely with us. The one thing about Scend that I remember from that first meeting was his passion for Scheme’s project, as well as for DJing. “This is all I want to do,” I remember him repeating several times. Since then, I’ve gotten to know Scend a lot better, and also see him in action. He was the first DJ I thought of to help me launch Record Collection (our bi-weekly at Beauty Bar) and is also a veteran of our Digital Freshness series and other random parties. Scend is also the DJ and right hand man for Scheme, going from the DJ role to full on partner, handling any sound issues, engineering sessions, and serving as a consultant on new music.
We continue our look at Chicago’s deep DJ scene with the second installment of the Record Collection interview series, this time focusing on Scend. Read on to learn how he got his start in music, his connection with Scheme, and much more.
RubyHornet: Let’s start with your start? Where are you from, do you remember your early introduction to music, and your relationship with the art?
DJ Scend: I’m from Chicago, born and raised. My first real introduction to music was when I was about 5. I started taking piano lessons and was taught the basic foundation of music, like reading sheet music and such. I picked up guitar lessons around the age of 9. My relationship with music runs really deep. My father is a musician, so growing up around DAT players and reel-to-reel editing consoles intrigued me immediately.
RubyHornet: How did you come to start DJing, at what point did you become DJ Scend?
DJ Scend: I started DJ’ing at the age of 18. I was always very much into the whole idea of how a DJ controls their crowd. I had a rock band in high school and I was always the one setting up meetings and rehearsals, and once I realized the DJ is a one man band, I knew right away that my curiosity of the “scratch sound” would turn into much more than just an idea. I kept going through a few different names for myself, but after I realized I needed something original, I took what I knew after a yearr of dj’ing and created my name. Scratch & Blend = Scend.
RubyHornet: I’ve personally seen you grow a tremendous amount in a really short time, the last year or two. What’s your journey been like to this point?
DJ Scend: Thank you for saying that, it means a lot. My journey up to right before you and I met back then was heavily based in the Chicago house music scene. I got my first big paid gig as a DJ (finally haha) early on in 2007, and from there I didn’t stop trying to build. I spent 3 yearrs holding residencies at bars, lounges and clubs all over Chicago after that, and it was a real blessing. Being a resident DJ for different places really helped me learn and grow as a DJ with pushing myself to cross genres when mixing and being put into crowds that were really difficult to please. I went through a lot of amazing nights and some really memorable bad nights, but all of it was a learning experience. I really feel that my time in the clubs in a way conditioned me to a point where I was ready to take that next step as a DJ musically and from a business stand point. After that transition things just went to a whole new level for me. I found myself opening up for people like Raekwon, Alchemist & Oh-No, Yelawolf, DJ Babu & really catching the gigs I always wanted, but never had a means of getting booked for. I was even blessed enough to perform at the House of Blues here in Chicago to a sold out crowd. That was amazing…. When I started this whole thing for myself, I was a one man operation, and now I have a full fledged team behind me that not only supports me as a musician, but they have 100% become my family.
RubyHornet: You have been DJing for Scheme for the last year and a half or so. What’s that like, and what is your role in backing up an emcee, or your main responsibility on stage?
DJ Scend: Being Scheme’s DJ has truly been one of the biggest blessings I have had thus far in my career. We linked up early in 2010 via a mutual friend. We did like 2 or 3 shows together before he asked me to DJ for him full time. I quit all of my residencies the very next day because I knew I had finally found the lane I was looking for as a DJ. Being a DJ for an artist is way different from anything I was used to. My role with being his DJ has developed a whole lot since we first linked as well. Our performance has now gotten to a point where he literally can walk into a venue and only have to worry about remembering his lyrics. I take care of anything and everything else sound related. And the live show itself? Well in so many words, Scheme makes it a point to have me in the fore front of our music movement just as much as he is. The live shows really do show this. We compose sets, not just put together a playlist of music for shows, and I think that’s something that will allow us to really set ourselves apart from others. You can always catch me with a high level of energy on stage and I am not shy of that mic, lol.
RubyHornet: Along with Scheme, you’ve also started engineering sessions, and are hands on in a lot of aspects beyond DJ’ing. What role has Scheme played in your growth, what have you gotten into?
DJ Scend: Scheme is one of those dudes who sees potential in someone and will push them passed their comfort zone to make sure they are showing their fullest potential as an artist, which is exactly what he did with me. Everyday he pushes me passed any comfort zone I may be in as a DJ, and has taught me a whole new way of hustling in this industry. His constant encouragement has allowed me to be more open as a DJ with basic things like laying cuts on a record, to being able to adlib and hype a crowd up during our live shows. It’s humbling to have an artist of his talent recognize my dedication and knowledge of music to the point where he runs everything by me. From a line in a verse, to a beat he’s been sent, to transitioning between songs for our shows, to everything haha. The Life That I Chose EP is the first project where him and I really connected musically to make a project happen. He allowed me to engineer all the recording sessions for the EP, lend my thoughts when writing to the records, and even mixing down and finalizing the records. I’ve even lent my ear as a producer and added certain flavors to tracks that we get from all the producer submissions. Scheme has literally been there from day 1 of my transition from being a “club dj” to now being my own artist 100%. I could not ask for more from anyone, it’s very humbling.
RubyHornet: Similarly, what have you seen as Scheme’s growth in that time? Where do you see him in this Chicago Hip Hop equation?
DJ Scend: I was a fan of Scheme’s music way before I ever met him. I started getting to learn his ways when it came to writing, recording and doing live shows quickly after we linked up. The one thing I see that he has progressed with is being more comfortable with his own material he is putting out. He would tell me “man I wrote like 5 verses for this track before I finally liked this one” and I would grill him about him throwing out the other 5 and not holding them down. Same with the shows. He is the artist who wants involvement in every aspect of his work so he was always running around before a show making sure everything was OK. Now he has me for that, so he can literally relax and focus on his performance while I deal with the other nonsense lol.. All I will say is Scheme is going to be a major player in not just Chicago Hip Hop, but in the industry in general. He’s already one of those artists who gets nothing but love when he walks into a room, so it’s just a matter of time before people really wake up and take his talent for what it truly is, amazing.
RubyHornet: When you think of the Chicago DJ scene, what comes to mind? As a culture and as an community, how would you describe it?
DJ Scend: Haha oh man, here comes the jerk side of me. Naw naw, I have my personal gripes with our scene as do a lot of heads. A lot of what can be considered “wrong” in our DJ scene here really comes from DJ’s being scared to be themselves anymore in my opinion. Too many people are worried about what the next person is doing rather than focusing on their own craft. There are a lot of great things happening to rep the “Chicago DJ” in our own city. My homies from Cutz on Cuts bring turntablism to a viral level for the world to see that Chicago is here. The homie Boi Jeanius always brings turntablism to anything he’s mixing, and he’s a Kiss 103.5 DJ, staying true to the DJ roots while still entertaining the commercial scene. My homie Big Once winning the Red Bull Thre3styles National Championship is a huge thing for Chicago DJ’s. I have been fortunate enough to get official blessings and co-signs from DJ’s like Rude One, Pumpin’ Pete, PNS and Jesse De La Pena to name a few. To have these type of DJ’s sit down with you and say “yo, what you’re doing is proper and we got your back 100% fam” is beyong humbling. It’s a blessing and a motivator all in one.
RubyHornet: What’s your favorite part of being a DJ? What part do you put up with because you have to?
DJ Scend: Favorite part of being a DJ is simple. When that one person approaches me after my set and says, “yo your set made me forget all the stress I had hanging over me when I walked in here tonight.” That right there is the s**t money can’t buy. The bogus equipment a lot of us have to deal with is the one thing I just learned to handle a long time ago. Chicago club and bar owners: PLEASE SPEND MONEY AND KEEP YOUR BOOTHS CLEAN FOR US AND UP TO DATE!
RubyHornet: Record Collection is all about digging into your own personal library of music, your “collection”. If given the chance to play anything you can, what is your number one vice or head-collection so to speak?
DJ Scend: To be honest, I’m a huge huge fan of soul records. The slow smooth joints that just grab you and make you feel for the artist. As a DJ, I’m so used to keeping a crowd in tune with what I’m playing, so I tend to stray towards more uptempo stuff, but I had one night where I got to play at Murasaki w/ Rude One and I literally played a whole mess of records that you can easily find on my iPod. The soul records really translate to me as an individual, not just as an artist.
RubyHornet: Lastly, where can people see you, and what do you want someone to think of when they see DJ Scend on a flyer?
DJ Scend: Currently I am dj’ing for the RubyHornet event “Record Collection Wednesdays” held bi-weekly at Beauty Bar ,and I really look forward to continuing my tenure on this night with my RubyHornet family. Other than that, you can find me DJ’ing with Scheme and other random guest spots. I’m also in the process of working on a one week dj “tour” in Barcelona and Madrid Spain for April 2012, so my house records will be in FULL rotation for that trip! When people see “DJ Scend” on a flyer I want them to have the same reaction I get when I see any one of my personal favorites on a flyer, and that’s “oh Scend is spinning? It’s a guaranteed good time no matter what he plays…”
You can catch DJ Scend at Record Collection, every other Wedsnesday at Beauty Bar. This Friday, Scend will be at AKIN for The Life That I Chose release party. You can keep up to date with everything DJ Scend related at The Shoebox.