Just over 3 months ago, Erick embarked on a 100 days of scratching challenge.
It’s something I undertook myself (see here) and have been encouraging my students to do the same.
100 videos later, Erick completed the project. Huge congrats Erick! You are an inspiration and you have paved the way for other students.
I asked Erick some questions to help you if you are thinking of doing the project (please reach out to me if you are planning to do so, so we can follow your progress).
Erick took a very displined and considered approach and learnt a ton of scratches and made soooooo much progress.
Erick cutting it up on his portable.
Hey Erick, can you give us some background on your interest in music and scratching?
I wish I could start this interview by telling you how I come from a long line of musicians and since a baby, music has been part of my home. Nope. As far as I know, no one in my family has ever even played an instrument.
Still, music has been a part of most of my life. Since my dad handed me down my first Walkman (Google what that is younglings!) and listened to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, you’ll almost always find me with some headphones on. Now, I’m not gonna tell you how I am this great music connoisseur either, cause I’m not; I just love music. All type of music. I even remember recording music off the radio on blank cassettes, imagining that was my own radio station (guess my interest in DJing started sooner than I realized). I believe there is a time and place for every genre, but I do find myself leaning towards hip-hop, funk, breakbeats, g-house, jazz and soul (come to think of it, almost all of those genres are very scratch friendly).
Ironically, as much as I liked music, I never picked up any instruments; or at least followed through. The closest I got was about 10 years ago when I tried to learn guitar, but my crappy ass pinkies (can I say ass?) turned out to be too weak to hold notes so I got frustrated. If you add that I am a really sore loser very self-conscious and short on patience, it was the perfect mix for me to give up.
Fast-forward to 2 years ago when I found out there were a couple of DJ Schools in my country.
Every year or so I try to learn something new (cooking, Italian, ride a bike, etc.), so I jumped right on the chance of living a childhood dream and started DJing. And even if I’m in no shape, way or form close to being famous, I´ve been living my childhood dream for 2 years.
What made you decide to undertake the 100 day challenge?
I began scratching on my Traktor S2, but quickly realized that was not going to fly and I was missing out on the fun of scratching on vinyls, so in December I got my Numark PT01 and joined School of Scratch.
I started watching all these videos from Emma, Art, Tam and the rest of the community and I froze. I thought this was going to be playing guitar all over again. Textbook procrastination. Especially with the patience I realized it would require.
Then I came across the 100 days challenge and thought: “This is what my brain needs.” With a fair share of OCD, I need structure and routine. And also: commitment. So, even if I knew I was not going to be scratching like the more advanced SoS members, I HAD to improve at least a bit after 100 days right?
What was your approach?
It was nerve wrecking! Having just being scratching for some days (and reaaaaaaally suck at it), I was going to have to record myself and flood my Instagram feed with my videos? Commit to do it for a 100 days? What about work? I work in an advertising agency and I get off work very late most of the days. Commit to do this for a 100 days? Anxiety was through the roof.
But then I remembered how I quit smoking last year and how it was a personal challenge to me not to pick up a smoke ever again (and have been able to for a year and a half now). Then I also remembered the first time I uploaded a DJ set. The mix of feeling scared, ashamed, prideful and happy, all at the same time was amazing. So I thought “it´s going to be a small daily dose of that for 100 days. Ok, I can live with that. I’m just going to warn everyone and keep expectations low with the name of my project (#100daysofBEGGINERscratching) and I’m going to show myself I can see this through.”
And the choice was made.
What is your recording and posting workflow like?
I live with my girlfriend so she was the first person I let know that every day, from 10pm to 10:30pm I was going to work on this project. I remembered reading in a book that one of the most important things to develop a new habit is setting up a specific time and place to practice. So I chose a time when I knew I was going to be home and not get distracted. I would do 10 minutes or so of “warm up” and really practice and record the following 15-20 mins.
The first days I would do long record sessions and quickly realized how time consuming it was to review them and choose good material. Si I changed up my recording method and did short bursts, specially the first weeks when I was not able to do long routines.
Whenever I felt I had good bars I would cut and knew that on most of the videos, the best part was at the end.
Then, before going to sleep I would do a quick review and delete anything that just wasn’t useful, go to bed and really edit next day. I found this very helpful too because you are more objective when editing on a clear head. So most of the uploaded videos were from one or two nights before.
What are your top tools / apps / software / equipment to capture and edit?
After going through a long list of cables, the simplest solution I found to record on my iPhone was the iRig and the iRig Recorder App. I added a small tripod and voilà! I was recording immediately.
Then I used free video editing apps (I ended up sticking to Quik, by GoPro) to make them look a bit better. There are other ways like regular digital cameras, action cams, etc. I would just advice your readers to find a device that you can send audio directly to since you’ll need the best audio quality possible if you want feedback from the community.
Then you can’t forget the looper apps: Scratchers Delight, Tablist.net, TableBeats, Beatsyouup, Cutsmode and even Garage Band. Your are going to need a lot of loops.
You can also create yours on DJ software.
And last but not least: your Q&As. Amazing “palate cleansers” for those days when I just wanted to let go and freestyle.
(By the way Emma, where is the SoS app? I see a great opportunity there, especially if you do some Q&As. Those are so useful! That one is for free!)
What did you learn?
Besides what I told you on the previous questions, honestly, I learned to learn again. Starting from zero to learn something new is so humbling, exciting and scary at the same time. Getting out of your comfort zone is so hard but so rewarding too. We all have to do it more often.
But most importantly I learned to show up. Every. Damn. Day. For no one else but myself.
What were some of the highlights for you?
Doing my first “one take”. The first time I could do a freestyle routine that I could feel proud of and flowed for a whole take. Man that felt great. Especially since I didn’t have to edit much, lol.
Scratching to Art’s loops too. So awesome seeing his work on the looper apps and thinking “man the talent this guy has!”. He has pressed vinyls, played with you and famous Djs, but he is still so humble and helpful. Such an honor to learn alongside his work.
And doing the 100th day. I actually postponed that one day, lol. I just didn’t want it to finish,
What helped you on your way?
The community. From feedback to pure encouragement, a community that shares your interest and has different levels of experience is essential for a project that takes so long; specially a really active community such as the SoS family.
What was the most challenging part and how did you deal with that?
“Nemesis techniques” and “off days”. Nemesis (a term coined by SoS’ student Michael Heß I think) are those techniques that, no matter what, you can’t dominate. For me: open flares and open crabs. Man, I’m still trying to get those down.
Then you will have “off days”. Days when for any reason, be it tiredness, sickness, boredom, a bad moor or simply a bad day, nothing will seem to flow. Becoming a vicious circle where you get more frustrated, then your flow is worse, and you get more frustrated and… you know where this is going. Those are the hardest. Those are the days you actually question recording and uploading. Those are the days where you have to reach for the community and your pride and just show up, record and upload.
What are your top tips for anyone who wants to undertake this challenge?
I posted 6 detailed tips in the closed FB room. So people are going to have to pay you to get those (I’ll settle for 30%, lol).
Nah, but for real, here are the short version of them:
- Tip #1: Set yourself a S.M.A.R.T. goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound)
- Tip #2: come up with a schedule that you are going to be able to respect other people will respect too. You also need to feel good about it. That is what will keep you coming back every day.
- Another nice thing about having a schedule is that you have something to look forward everyday and know you’ll be satisfied by the end.
- Tip #3: find beats you actually LIKE. You are going to be listtening to them over and over and you want to be able to enjoy those loops.
- Tip #4: Recording. Like I previously said, there are many ways to record your sessions, but try to stick to one where you can record the audio directly to the recording device (camera, phone, etc).
- Tip #5: Go slow to go fast. Be patient with you. Especially if you are undertaking the challenge to develope a skill that’s new to you.
- Tip #6: Practice even when you are away from your turntables (or the instrument you are learning). Try to find ways where you can still develop muscle memory while at work, school, etc.
If you were to do this challenge again, what, if anything would you do differently?
Probably schedule the whole 100 days. Or at least set up weekly goals. Sometimes I would freeze not knowing what I actually wanted to do that night. Improvising would sometimes turn into a really bad session and that would turn into frustration.
Also I would try to do it at an earlier time. I am not a morning person so first thing in the day was out of the question, but leaving it for the end of the day was risky: a long day, or a bad day, would definitely affect the quality of my session.
You are a school of scratch student. What has your school experience been like? What do you love about it? What is your advice for anyone considering joining the school?
Like I told you at the beginning, the scratching scene is practically non-existent in my country. So it is hard to learn a skill when you don’t know anyone that shares that interest with you. The community has become the first think I check in the morning and the last one at night. Just feeling part of such an active community that is on the same ship as you and is being led by people like you and Sunny (Big ups to that guy for all his work there) who are always there for us makes it worth it. You are all always at a quick post reach, always friendly, always helpful. When I joined, I remember thinking “meh, I’m just gonna pay a couple of months, try to solve all my questions and then leave. I can’t afford that monthly. 6-8 months later I’m saving up to pay for the lifetime membership. That’s how important being part of this community has become to me. One of the things that scared me the most at the beginning was my inexperience with everything vinyl related, and being so scared of asking dumb questions. I was expecting the usual snobbish answers you’ll get in most forums. Man was I so wrong. Meeting wonderful, amazing people too long to mention here (plus, I don’t want to leave anyone out) has been a trip.
Advice? Give it a try. One month. I promise you won’t want to leave.
You are now doing a 30 day challenge, can you share more about that and what it is like being part of the private group?
Like the SoS community, but more focused. People there are already better than me at scratching but sharing daily and knowing we all have the same commitment is great. I see this growing each month and think of the many ideas that can be implemented there to make it more interactive.
What is next for you?
1,000,000 days of scratching. I want to keep giving back to the community in any way I can. I wish I was already better at scratching so I could be of more help. But I’ll keep trying.
Regarding my scratching: I want to keep at it and start using it at live gigs. I also ordered my first lot of vinyls on eBay (crossing fingers they come well). Gonna start collecting some house, funk and hip hop records. My goal is to do a live set with just vinyl records, scratching included, of course. That should set me a bit apart from other DJs over here. And who knows… maybe throw some open crabs and flares in the mix while I’m at it.
Where can we find you online?
And, of course, in the SoS FB group and forums.
That’s a wrap!
Thanks Erick and wishing you all the best! Thank you for your continued contribution School of Scratch! See you in class!
If you are curious about the 100 day project you can find out more here – and if you would like one on one support from me, please send me a message to find out what that looks like and how it can help you.
If you are curious about the School you can check it out here and sign up below to get 2 free lessons to get you started.
Happy Scratching! 😀
– Emma Short-E