IQ is the current DMC Young DJ
champion and has been getting on Itch's airwaves as well as playing at South
London's Dekefex, so we thought we had better catch up with him and let you get
to know this star of the future...
Hi, can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about where you are from? North West London isn't it? What is your name about? Are you extra
intelligent, is it an old nickname or is there something else behind it?
My name is IQ and yes, I'm from North West London, currently living in Dollis Hill. I'd love to say I got my name from a 'funny' situation or something really clever but the plain truth is I needed a name!
I wasn't going to call myself 'DJ Luke' Ha Ha! But I thought that IQ was a name that wouldn't age and was memorable.
So you can only have been into Hip Hop for a few years, what was it that made you turn to Hip Hop? What would you bump in your walkman?
I think the first thing that drew me to Hip Hop was the sheer energy and culture that it carried. I always loved the sound and it makes me feel secure knowing its something I live. I loved all the elements of Hip Hop and how they all came together to form one world. It sounds closed minded, but the main thing that is played on my walkman are my own mixes cos' when I'm listenin' to them I hear how I can improve or stuff that needs to be changed. But I listen to all kinds of shit!
Can you remember the things that were going off Hip Hop wise in your area at that time?
When I started DJing I didn't know of anything that was happening Hip Hop wise in my area, I jus stayed in my room practicing for hours everyday. It was much later I started to hook up with the emcees,
DJs in the area and all the practicing became worth it!
Were there any particular DJs who inspired you, or whom you based your style on?
I always try to draw away from that but sometimes u can't help but be inspired, it's how you learn. All the world class
DJs of course inspired me, watching videos, hearing mix tapes but I didn't know (and still don't) many 'turtablists' in my area. As far as I know it's me and
DJ MK who lives near me, but I'm sure there are more, jus haven't met them or heard of them. Loads of
DJs have inspired throughout my journey but they're all the obvious names!
OK, so to give a bigger perspective are you affiliated with any MCs or are you part of a larger crew or collective? Do you get down with London I or
I'm in the R.A.F and part of a crew called 'Unwritten Characters' which consists of 3 artists: Esely (of London I), Kaspa Troy and myself. We've got a 12" dropping soon with
'Fear' on the a-side… heavy track so make sure you check it on 'Don Tekz' when it's released. I do all the cuts for our stuff and I'm starting to produce. I do cuts for all the affiliated crews in R.A.F as well as HAL 1200 who is a very sick
What have you done together so far? Do you have any wax out?
London I have still got their 12" so make sure you pick it up if you haven't. But I guess I've sorta answered this question in the previous one! The UnWritten Characters single will be on a brand new label called 'Don Tekz' as I briefly mentioned before. We are really gonna try and do this properly, promotion etc.
Right, so are there any plans for future releases from you lot, apart from the
one you mention? Are you signed to a label or looking for a deal or what? If all goes to plan we are going to carry on releasing through Don Tekz, were gonna havta see how we do with the first single. And it's not jus unwritten characters (UC) that wanna release through the label, there are other crews very much involved as well.
Lets now talk about you as a DJ. Did you always know you were going to be a DJ, or did it take a while for you to decide or build up to it?
DJing was something I jus wanted to get into, it was always the DJ that caught my attention in a club or watching a video. It was always the element that somehow stood out from the rest for me. Just the way the
DJ would control a crowd and the way a certain record would jus change the way the party was going. I also loved the sound of scratch!
So, when would it have been, that you started spinning records? Did you start as strictly a bedroom
DJ? I started 'spinning' a little over 2 and a half years ago, practicing for ridiculous amounts of hours!
What set up did you start out with? I started on Gemini xl 500s and a Behringer mixer!
Would you agree that starting out on shitty equipment would help a budding DJ learn light touch and stand them in good stead for the future, or would
you recommend that they just get on a pro set up from day one?
Well, in a way it does teach you to be lighter with your hands, and when u go from 'shitty' equipment to the best equipment it becomes an obvious luxury. But I would say that anyone who wants to become a professional
DJ, no messing around and wants to take it far, don't waste money on any other decks but
Technics. They are the best and so universal, it's the DJ'S turntable. That's my opinion anyway.
So in the relatively short time you have been doing this have you had many different set ups or did you quickly settle on what you liked? Was it a
I started with the Gemini and Behringer set up and then jumped to the set up I have now. I worked all summer for the set ups…
one summer it was doing a film for the BBC!!!
And now I suppose you are using the standard Technics 1210s and a Vestax 05 or 07? So you do anything special to your set up, like have it hamster
style, or do something funny with the cartridges in the head shells?
I'm using Tecnics 1210s and Vestax 06! Although now, from winning the Young UK DMC Championships this year, I was given two of the latest Numark turntables and a Numark mixer. It's decent and allows me to work on team shit, although whenever
DJs are round it's always 'I'm cutting on the Vestax mixer!!' Ha Ha!
How would you best describe your style? Do you edge towards a particular style of scratching/cutting or mixing, or would you say that you don't
specialise and try to cover everything?
I'd like to say I've got quite a clean style, a few DJs I know have got really good ideas and good technical ability but it won't come off as tight as it could be. Usually, I won't perform anything unless I've got it properly locked down. And when I'm simply cutting up doubles, I'm usually clean. My cuts are getting really technical now and it's taken a while…
but I always make sure they're in time and funky as hell!
Have you invented/discovered any scratches or special techniques of your own that you have or expect to be credited with? I know when I was
invented everything I did for myself, but someone had already got there
I've seen scratches that I would say I've taken in a different direction but I haven't come up with any revolutionary concepts of scratching like the 'flare' or anything. I always try and add my own 'swing' to things. Scratching is jus expression, so I guess your personality jus comes out when you're cutting.
To get to your level and keep it there you said initially you would find yourself
practicing all the time? How many hours per day would you be at your
decks, you said it was about 2 hours per day when you first started?
When I first started it was crazy, jus living on my decks basically but nowadays it's gone down slightly because of school, gigs and radio. I find myself doing cuts for emcees around my area as well so I'm cutting and sitting at my computer a lot. I still practice at home as much as I can tho.
You are one of the DJ's on London's Itch FM. Can you tell us a bit about the station and the set up there? Who are the
DJs, when are they on and what do
Itch has been like one of the best things for me as a DJ, if not jus for confidence in what I'm doing, I've met so many people through it. The set up in the studio is exactly the same as at home, how perfect is that? So I was quickly at ease there. Going through all the
DJs on Itch would take forever but some of my favourite DJs whose shows I always try and check are: Ghost, 563, MK, Secure, Breakin Bread and Penfold's show (but I seem to always be out for the Bubblin' Session (Penfold's show) which is a shame!)
It has been a bit up and down recently, hopefully it can be up more regularly, are there any plans to get some sort of license, or with the dope
new website might there be streams on the web?
To be entirely honest I don't know, the website is dope but ill guess ill havta call em' up on that one!
OK, so how did you come to get your spot on Itch? Tell us about your show, what can listeners expect?
The very first show on Itch I heard was Penfold's. It was the first station I heard which was dedicated to Hip Hop, which naturally, I loved! I used to jus look forward to Fridays for
Itch to be on and back then, I didn't know the timetable and all the DJ's so I was excited to hear the shows. I remember
Reggie Fantastic's show being another one I heard really early on. Anyway, I rang up the station and spoke to
Bigga Man, I was jus like 'how do I get on the station?', he told me to make a 20 min mix tape of how I would do my show and then call up some other time. I went and did it
in 20mins and called back 20minutes later and said 'now what?' haha. He gave me the address of where to send it and after a while of keeping my name in their minds they gave me a call. I filled in for loads of
DJs until I finally got my own show!
Do you have any idea of how many people might be listening? I don't know how you would measure that...
No DJ knows for sure, but we can guess from the amount of calls and txt messages we receive, and also jus from talking to cats u meet in record shops, clubs etc.
So, are you still going to school? You must find it frustrating and really hard to fit everything in? Do you think you could be even better if you
could DJ it full time like some people?
School is a constant battle for me at the moment, I fall behind really easy now its
'A levels' . I'm coping but its really hard work. I'm unsure about my future with education but I guess I'll jus havta see what happens and how I do, I'd loved to do music full time.
How long would it take you to prepare and then get a routine down?
Well my turnatblist routines are usually a selection of the routines I've created in the past months or so. So it can take any amount of time. I spend most of my time make sure it all jells together and comes together as 'one' set as
opposed to several routines crammed together.
Do you just keep adding to routines so they evolve or do you start a brand new one each time? How would you go about putting it together?
It's just simply selecting what juggles/scratches I think would most fit the routine as a whole. I usually try come up with a good intro that gets you into the routine and try to end with something
climatical and memorable, so I walk away from the stage with my skills still in the audiences or judges minds.
So, how many routines can you remember at once? How many do you reckon you could do now? I could probably remember about 6 six juggles that I could execute perfectly, I have others that I may forget certain important patterns.
Recently you have broken through in the DJ competition thing. Can you break down which comps you have entered so far and what your positions were?
I've only entered the Young UK DMC Championships and I won, so it's set me up nicely to enter further competitions. I'm keeping any eye on the Tecnics UK Final as I have automatic qualification to it from winning the young DMC.
That is a phenomenal start. Congratulations on your recent winning performance. That must give you a lot of satisfaction and make all the
Yeh, it really does. There have been a lot of things in my time as a DJ which have made me feel all the practicing was worth while but winning an actual competition and to know you beat loads of other
DJ's is a good feeling, its given me confidence to target other goals.
So for winning you got the Numark stuff. Not bad, but for the main comp you
get some of those gold decks! I'd love some of those…
Ha Ha! I'd love a pair as well, maybe in the future, but I won lots of Numkark and
Technics equipment. I also got a bunch of free Shure M447's which are the best needles I've ever come across for cutting and juggling! But aside from equipment, I was on
Radio 1 and did a 2 hour mix for 1Xtra. I'm also going on DJ Skully's show on
Kiss 100 shortly as well!
Would you rate any DJ comp over another, for example the DMCs are the big daddy and maybe more prestigious, but the ITFs and Vestax have built big
I still definitely consider the DMCs as the most prestigious. I haven't seen too much from the
Vestax championships and my mate leant me a video of the ITF'S, they're dope!
Do you plan to keep it going and try to win more titles? Will you defend the title you have, are you allowed to do that?
I'm not actually allowed to defend because I'm a year too old to enter the young DMC again but I don't think I would defend even if I were able to, I feel so good to have won it but I wanna move on now ya know...
What is the worst thing that has happened to you during a battle? Like playing the wrong record or something. Were you able to style it out and are
you able to laugh about it now?
I've never played the wrong record but the stickers I've used to cue up certain places in a record have gotten fucked up during the battle and I simply can't get to the bit of the record I need to get to. There
ain't nuthin you can do in that situation, either move on or jus cut. That's the beauty of turntablism I guess, it's all live.
Apart from yourself, which DJs do you feel are really on top of their form at the moment and are progressing the artform?
I think DJ Skully is killin it at the moment, especially after his success in the DMC's, he's got an album coming out and his mix tapes always do really well so he's really on form at the moment. His juggles are always clean which is something I think a lot of
DJ's could be perfecting!
I know that the Perverts are dropping an album soon so I can't wait to hear that! I'm feeling MK's latest mix CD
as well, London Underground 2002, it's got some wicked freestyles on there.
Who should we be on the look out for? What DJ that no-one has heard of yet do you think will be the next one to break through, or come with something
Watch out for HAL 1200 from Brighton, not only is he a very very very sick producer he's a bloody good
DJ as well , he's in the R.A.F crew as well and is heavily involved with Don Tekz.
What are your thoughts on the whole Turntabalism thing? Do you think that it is getting too elitist and maybe going up its own arse, or do you think that
it is simply healthy competition and people going deep into a subject they
love? Would you class yourself as a Turntablist or would you prefer to be seen as a straightforward
I'd like to be seen as both really. I'm not the most technical DJ out there, I feel like I'm getting there but have a way to go. However, at the same time it's so important for a
DJ to be a good selector of records, I love rocking crowds and playing in the clubs. I love both elements of
DJing and I love mixing elements of turnatblism in my mix sets at clubs.
So we heard about your competition winning skills, but can make a crowd get down
for an extended period? Do you play out at any club nights on the regular, and if you do what can people expect and where are they?
I'm a resident at the Hip Hop/Drum N' Bass Night 'Dekefex' down in Brixton every first Saturday of the month. I'm obviously always in the Hip Hop room, Ha Ha. I also might be starting another residency on the 1st Saturday of every month so I'm gonna be a busy boy!
Is your age ever an issue with regard to getting into clubs? How do you get round this problem?
My over all experience is that the underground hip hop clubs aren't 'too' strict on age, I've never been refused entry. But I never have problems with getting into the club if I'm
DJing at it.
Did you ever imagine that you would take it to the levels you have so quickly? Maybe you aren't recognised on the streets, but increasingly people
in Hip Hop will be starting to have heard of you and some of your accomplishments.
It sounds weird but everything jus sorta slowly crept up on me. At the beginning, I never thought I wanted to be on radio, or do clubs, I was jus
DJing in my room every day for hours jus practicing and cotchin.
I heard Itch and wanted to be on it so I really gave it a shot. Then I heard about the under 18
DMC's and I thought why not give that a shot as well! It hasn't been an obvious road but I guess if you practice it pays off. And pretty much everything so far I've wanted to do I've done.
Have you found that people are generally helpful and want to help you out, or is it more of a struggle getting over?
It depends really. I find that most people when they are genuinely impressed with my
DJing come up and chat to me or I'll jus get a look implying they thought I was good. I've done some gigs where I was the only white guy there, which never really bothers me, but when u get the impression no matter how good a
DJ I am I still get frowned upon or whatever I don't like it. But saying that, I like the idea of tearin up a club in front of people that would usually not talk to you, a better way of communicating I guess.
What is your association with Nicci Cheeks? Is she your manager? And what can she do for you?
I don't really talk to Nicci much anymore, I'm concentrating on my shit and she's got her own thing going on with Hardkaur and Nicci Cheeks management, I still see her around though.
What do you make of all the attempts to invent a notation for scratches, i.e. to try and represent them written down? Have you tried to invent one
yourself, or ever seen a system that you thought came close to working?
It's something I've never got round to so far, c'mon people, I've only jus caught on to flares and orbits! Ha ha, to be honest, I haven't really been thinking bout inventing new scratches yet, maybe in the future or something.
Where do you like to pick up your vinyl? Do you have a special shop that you frequent because it has good service or a special selection, do you shop
around all over, or are you lucky enough to get it all sent directly to you?
I get some vinyl sent through the post which I'm always grateful for, it doesn't happen that regularly tho. I may get the odd bit from
Low Life or suttin which is really good. Otherwise, you'll find me in Bongos,
Deal Real, MSM, Reckless, Intoxica, Sounds, Selecta Disc etc.. Just everywhere really.
Have you ever tried to DJ on those CD mixers? Or mp3 mixers? What do you make of that? Do you think that it is just something different and another
tool to use? Or, like me, do you think that for now they just don't really work and to keep it real you still need to be using records?
I saw some video of DJ Swamp using those CD scratch mixers and they look alright, I hadn't actually used them until a couple of weeks ago and I had the chance to try some shit out. They're clever cos it responds to the exact pressure and speed that your hand goes. It takes a whole getting used to as well, but what can I say, I don't think it comes close to the real thing. Turntablism has come so far now, it was bound to happen 'the CD
Although it isn't such a fear as it was 10 years ago, do you ever worry about the future availability of vinyl, or new releases at least?
Well I think the independent artists are always going to want to be putting out vinyl and there's such a demand for it still, I can't see it availability going any time soon.
Earlier you mentioned that you have plans to broaden your horizons as so many
DJs do and step into production. If you have made beats already what equipment are you using?
I've picked up a lot of knowledge from Esely, from watching him make beats and stuff and yeh, I've started producing. I've got loads of beats on my computer and I'm just using
'Reason' and 'Recycle' on my PC. I sample mostly off vinyl. My mum has got loads of old shit which is a dream to sample. I haven't produced anything yet I'm totally proud of tho or that I would want to release. I'm concentrating on
DJing still but I plan to take producing further.
Where can people hear your stuff?
Well, my show time for ITCH.FM (105.15) has recently changed and I'm now on every Friday night from 22.00 to 00.00.
Same old independent hip hop.
I also got a mix tape out, quite old now but still worth checking 'The Unherd', it's available in
Bongos, MSM and
I've also got various mixes on CD I send to people, jus of me showing my skills and mixing good music. If you wanna reach me bout getting one jus email me at
Do you have any advice for kids starting out who might want to become DJs, or who have made the first steps and take it to the next level? Is there
anywhere people can go to learn all about this stuff, or do they simply have to teach themselves? Would watching videos help, or should you develop your
Watch videos! Whatch loads of videos, the DMC's and even the tutorial videos,
'The Art Of Turntablism' taught me so much in the beginning. I think people should jus do what they can to learn all the basic and technical scratches, once you understand everything, that's when you can start taking things in your own direction. It's important for a
DJ to have strong foundations.
What do you make of the internet and what it can do for little known crews? Are you a technical bod, and are you gonna do your own website?
It helps out all the crews of course, it's basically one huge message board, but no, I don't do the websites, I'm a
DJ, I leave that to the other guys. But while on the subject of the internet check out: www.londoni.cjb.net www.souljahs.co.uk www.rafonline.cjb.net
We hope to start an Unwritten Characters website soon!
What is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?
Working on cuts for future tracks by UC and other artists. Finishing the second volume to a mix CD I got going on, as I said, if anyone wants the first volume, jus send me an email.
DJing at my residencies, radio, producing, school and finally try to chill with my friends and girl.
What are your plans for the longer term?
To keep on fighting this constant battle between School and DJing and try and work out a good balance between the two.
To try and get my mum to one day ask me, 'Luke, can I hear you scratch for a bit?' She HATES the sound of scratch full stop, no matter who's doing it and I feel if I can get her to like my shit then I think ill have it pretty much locked down. Ha Ha!
I also want to get more into producing!
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Can't think of anything right now… I'm sure I will after I send this off tho!!!
Is there anyone else you would like to mention?
Jus wanna shout to all my crews and families. Watch out for the Don Tekz label. Shout to all the
Itch DJ's and the amazing UK artists out there. Thanks to my mum for putting up with so much noise over the years, and to everyone who took time to read this interview…, thanks!
Thank you very much for finding the time to let the readers know a bit more about yourself.
Hope you manage to fit in all your DJing and music as well as your studies. Best wishes and good luck for the future.