Rane sat down with DJ Esquire to find out the inside scoop about this talented DJ. Find out what happened after the dust settled from winning the 2013 US DMC Championship.
Rane: Where are you located, what city do you rep?
DJ Esquire: I’m born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.
Rane: What year did you start DJing?
DJ Esquire: I started DJing around 1994 while in high school. A friend of mine had a Gemini DJ setup and we would practice doing blends and cuts after school. We thought we were killing it at the time but we were wrong, hahaha.
Rane: Did you ever attend the DMC battles as a non-competitor?
DJ Esquire: After buying a couple of VHS tapes of the DMC World DJ Finals, I attended my first DMC battle in 1998. I went to the NYC Regionals where I was amazed with all of the talent. I saw DJs like DJ Dummy, Develop and the rest of the Allies, members of the 5th Platoon among 40 other DJs go blow for blow. Then I was front row center at the 1998 DMC USA Finals where Craze put on what still might be one of the best sets in DMC history. From then on I was hooked.
Rane: Who were a few of your musical / DJ influences coming up?
DJ Esquire: Musically, I’m all over the map. I truly love so many different styles of music that it is hard to narrow it down. But among my favorites are Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Prince, and Stevie Wonder.
When I started DJing, I was into everyone I would hear on the radio (Red Alert, Chuck Chillout, etc.), DJs on tracks (Jazzy Jeff, Premier, etc) and anyone I would see in battles (Roc Raida, Q-Bert, etc).
Rane: Do you remember the first wax you bought? What was it?
DJ Esquire: Initially, I inherited (actually, I jacked them, hehe) vinyl from my Mom and some friends to get me started. But, I remember buying The Roots single “Distortion To Static” during my initial days of trekking to Beat Street Records in Brooklyn for my own wax.
Rane: Did you jump straight into club work or did you rock the house parties and park jams?
DJ Esquire: I was working the college party scene and spun at a couple of lounges when I finally started playing out. Fun times (outside of carrying all of that vinyl by myself, that is).
Rane: Where can people catch you playing in your area, do you do streaming online?
DJ Esquire: I currently do a bi-weekly party in NYC with my homie DJ Tim Martell called “Beats, Rhymes and NightLife”. I also spin on Beatminerz Radio and Vyzion Internet Radio. I also teach DJ courses at Scratch DJ Academy in NYC.
Rane: How important do you think the DMC Championships are to the DJ culture?
DJ Esquire: The DMC is just 30 years young and is the most world-renowned DJ battle in our history. Some of the most famous, creative and influential DJs have come thru this competition and moved forward to huge success in the music world. Needless to say, it’s extremely important to have this platform to showcase new talent that will push the art form forward.
Rane: How many years have you been gunning for the US title?
DJ Esquire: I entered my first DMC battle in 1999. So roughly 14 years, off and on.
Rane: Which other categories have you competed in at the DMC events?
DJ Esquire: I have competed in the Supremacy battle as well as the showcase competition. In 2012, I won the Battle for USA Supremacy and competed at the DMC Battle for World Supremacy in London. I made it to the Semi-Finals before being eliminated by current World Supremacy Champion DJ Vekked from Canada.
Perhaps I will one day enter the team competition and then be able to say I have had the opportunity to represent the USA in all 3 categories at the World Finals.
Rane: What about your routine put you over the top this year?
DJ Esquire: Hmmm, that’s hard to say. It was such a tight battle this year, one of the best US Finals to date. So much new, fresh talent and amazing skills were on display. Being on the inside of it all, I don’t know what put me over the top. But I try to be as original, creative and musical as I can be with my sets and hope it translates well to the audience and the judges.
Rane: Did you hold back a few tricks at the US finals to bring with you to the world finals?
DJ Esquire: I put a lot into the USA and didn’t think I could do much more within my own skill set. But since I have started preparing for the World Finals, I have a new found drive that has made me feel more creative so I will be bringing a little something new for the next stage.
Rane: What was the first thing you did after being crowned the US 2013 DMC Champion?
DJ Esquire: I was in total shock when Red Alert announced me the winner. I didn’t even think I would place! Once the initial shock wore off, it was party time. A group of us went to a bar/lounge and I drank my face off.
Rane: What are you looking forward to seeing in London? (non DMC related)
DJ Esquire: Well, I was able to see a lot of what London has to offer last year during the World Finals. This year, I mainly, want to focus on the battle and networking with other DJs there. But, eating at Nando’s is high on the list.
Rane: Has DJing brought you to other countries in the past? For what?
DJ Esquire: After winning the US Supremacy title last year, traveling has been super high. I have played multiple gigs in Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, and Germany within the past 12 months.
Rane: What tip(s) can you offer to DJs who are just learning the art of turntablism?
DJ Esquire: Research, practice, innovate and execute.
Rane: Why do you prefer Rane as your mixer of choice?
DJ Esquire: The smoothness of the faders alone was enough to sell me. Now with the Rane Sixty-Two and all of it’s features, it allows me to be even more creative when prepping sets. From being able to do live remixing to triggering effects on the fly or just straight up mixing and cutting, it’s an amazing machine.
Rane: NYC seems to be a major hub for turntablism, do you see that, why do you think that is….or isn’t?
DJ Esquire: NYC is the birthplace of hip-hop. Period. So, it’s natural that the artform has flourished here. Some of the greatest turntablists ever have called NYC home. Living here has definitely help define my style and attitude on the decks and will continue to influence the next generation of great turntablists from the area.
Rane: Who do you like to throw down and have practice sessions with?
DJ Esquire: I am a bit of a loner (my shy, only child syndrome), so I don’t get to have too many sessions with other DJs. But, during my off hours at Scratch DJ Academy, I like to session with some of the other instructors and student there.
Rane: Where can people learn more about you on the web?
DJ Esquire: You can check out my website at www.djesquirenyc.com or follow me on all social media outlets (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) under the name DJESQUIRENYC.
Rane: Bonus – Any parting thoughts?
DJ Esquire: Man, I have a lot of events and projects in the pipeline now. Be on the lookout for me doing a lot of shows here in NYC and abroad. Check me out on Beatminerz Radio every Wednesday afternoon at 5pm EST. I have past shows archived on my podcast “The Takeover with DJ Esquire” free to download on iTunes. Mix CDs releases are coming soon as well (one with Privilege and another with DJ Tim Martell).
But, most importantly, check for me waving the US flag proudly in the DMC World DJ Championships in London on October 5th.