The King Of Scratch

Interview with Andrés

The King Of Scratch

12-07-2013 | 10.40

This Sunday DJ “Dez” Andrés will be playing at Trouw op Zondag. For years Andrés has been a real underground favorite, the lesser-known sidekick of Moodymann. Detroit house lovers blindly trusted his Mahogani records. His sultry mix of up-tempo house beats, soul samples and turntablism makes Andrés’ productions irresistible and immediately recognizable. Andrés really broke through in the European club circuit with the club hit New For U on his own label La Vida. We talked to him about his style of deejaying, his productions and his sudden success.
What is a deejay if he can’t scratch? 
"Ooooooh. He’s still a deejay. He just can’t scratch. Hahaha. Seeing the Buffalo Gals video by Malcolm McLaren, seeing those guys scratch, that was such an influence on me. Also seeing Jam Master Jay scratching, I mean, he made it look so good, whatever he was doing, he was so on point. Just watching his hands touch the records, it embedded this vision in my head. It got me in trouble for starting to mess with stereos."
I don’t know any other deejay blending soul and disco records over house beats using hip hop techniques, the way you do. How did your approach to deejaying come about?
"In Detroit, at one time, to be a deejay you simply had to play anything. Not just house, but dance music, period. Techno, house, boogie, Brazilian music, latin, anything. Going from one extreme to another."
"I might not be playing records that nobody plays, but I will be playing them in a way you haven’t heard before. It’s my way of keeping things interesting. My presentation is a little different. To just play records regularly, it’s a little boring, for myself."
Your productions, especially on your albums, contain that special mix of hip hop and house. 
"Blending hip hop with house was some Moodymann influence. The hiphop had always been there. Then I started working at Buy-Rite Music and met Kenny Dixon Jr. and all those guys. I got educated in dance music. So when I gave producing dance music a try, it ended up being a nice mixture. Once I started making dance records, Moodymann was always telling me to put my hip hop stuff on there. Back then, it was what people knew me for. So I started putting that stuff together with the dance records. And even more so with my sets as well. And I still do hip hop. You might catch me deejaying for Phatkat or Guilty Simpson. You can definitely catch me deejaying for Charlie 2na from Jurrassic Five."
You already did a remix of Shari Vari on your last album. If you had to pick another classic Detroit track to re-do, what would it be? 
"I’ve actually just remixed Music For My Mother from Funkadelic. It’s part of an official remix project on Westbound Records that’s also got Amp Fiddler, Moodymann and Wajeed involved. When everybody’s remix is done I guess the album will come out. I talked to Carl Craig about redoing Big Booty Express by Jay Dilla. It’s one of the slowest techno records I know, I really like it, but it’s so short. I’d like to flip that. Another track I’ve been really digging is Out Come The Freaks by Was Not Was. But well, I like the element of surprise, and since I already said it could be these tracks now, I probably won’t do it and catch people off guard."
You often catch people off guard with the selection for your WDEZ livestream deejay shows
"Yeah, I might play anything on those shows. Stuff that may not fit in my sets. It’s about being exposed to different types of music, stuff I know you wont hear on the radio. Everything, from gospel, to jazz, to rock. Just sharing tunes, sharing my collection, sharing information. From time to time I did live beat sessions, making beats on the spot with the records and trying to get producers in there and motivate people. I might share certain little secrets. It can be pretty interesting. 
I enjoy making these shows; it was something I just started doing and then found out it was benefiting my situation. It started getting quite a buzz, people were really looking forward to the shows, and promoters wanted me to do livestreams solely for their gigs. So it ended up being a pretty cool tool. I am not able to do it as often as I would like at the moment though."

I think you premiered La Vida 001 on your WDEZ-show too. Has the success of that record, and New For U specifically, change a lot for you? 
"Yeah, it changed quite a few things. I got a lot of work, more remixes, more gigs. I never had to make time to work on my tracks, but now I do. And that’s a beautiful thing, I have no complaints. A lot more people know me since that track. Of course you got the heads that knew me, and they definitely want to let me know they knew me from before New For U. It’s is my biggest record up to date. I often get asked: did you know this record was going to do what it did? But I didn’t. I try to make all my music with a certain mindset, try to envision people enjoying it. But you never know what people are going to gravitate to. I had an experience in the Panorama Bar of all places. I played New For U and everything just seemed to go in slow motion. It was a divine moment. I never had so many women at once asking me what the track was called. It was crazy."
Last question: If the deejay playing before wants to get you in the perfect party atmosphere, what songs would he have to play? 
"It can be anything that catches my attention. I like it when a deejay plays more music, different stuff, not so much in a box. On most gigs, cats are playing just house or techno and not deviating much. I like people pushing the envelope. So if the guy before starts playing some James Brown, Sergio Mendez or Nina Simone, I’ll be like “okay, okay! I can work with that!”
Tekst: Joost de Kleine