The DMC World DJ Championships is an annual turntablist competition organised by Disco Mix Club (DMC). It began in 1986 in the United Kingdom and was founded by the entrepreneurial Tony Prince, who hosts the World Final every year.
The Australian chapter of DMC was established by Stewart Hannah in the late 1980s. Stewart is a charismatic guy who runs DMC Records in Melbourne and helped build turntablism in Australia. He was generous and took care of State champions in the competition, usually flying DJs down a day or two before the battle to appear on radio as well as providing a space to practice.
The 2000s were a good time for turntablism and battle DJing — people were really on point. The judging panels were always solid, sometimes running with ten experienced, Australian DJs along with, usually, an international guest (past judges have included: A-Trak, Roc Raida, DJ Craze, DJ Noize).
In 2003, judges were given personal monitors to watch the action close up… another year hydraulic tables were built so that a DJ’s preferred table height could be catered for instantly. In hindsight, it’s crazy how solid ‘turntablism’ was in the early-mid 2000s, especially when you see how much it’s waned since and returned to where it started — the bedroom. But a resurgence, similar to that of breakdancing is about to happen.
2002 was an exciting year in Australia, as it was the first and only year that DMC in Australia introduced the 'Battle For World Supremacy'; a head-to-head competition. In Queensland, this saw Da Masta and I battle out years of animosity about 'who was the best'. I won that battle, however Da Masta put on a great entertaining performance.
I was heavily involved with the competition in the early ’00s when I won three state titles back-to-back. In those years, DJ Dexter (The Avalanches) had withdrawn from the spotlight, with Staen-1 (from Adelaide) stepping up to the plate to win three Australian titles back-to-back.
In 2003, the trusty crew of the 2002/ 2003 state champions bid farewell. It was like a little community — we’d look forward to meeting up in Melbourne each year, full of laughs and friendly competition.
DJ Finatik and I decided to step away from battling at that time and others followed suit. In many ways things were never going to be the same; gradually the skill level decreased, DJ Perplex pressed up custom records and the rest was history.
On one hand, the challenge of diggin’ up records to use in a routine was gone, on the other, pressing up a custom piece of vinyl gave Perplex his own material to work with. Most people viewed it as a negative, but some people latched onto the idea and I think that deterred a lot of people from the competition — there were purists as well as progressive thinkers.
After I returned from a working holiday in the UK for two years in 2008 and saw the state DMC was in, it was no wonder that Stewart Hannah decided not to continue with the competition — there was no competition! It seemed like people went back to ‘Captain Caveman’ styles.
However, in 2012, with the advent of technology and a change in the format of the competition allowing Digital Vinyl Systems (DVS) like Serato, a new beast has been born. Now there are two camps: devout vinyl-only turntablists (Nikk-C and myself for example) and others, who opt to use DVS. The DJs of old are hungry, networking and practicing like madmen, while there’s a new evolution of DJs emerging from their bedrooms.
Nikk-C is the reigning Queensland champion. This year he’s defending his title. I am also contemplating coming out of retirement after nine years to have a stab at it. Considering we're in a crew together, Dirty Diggaz, this is going to be either fun or painful, as we've actually never battled in our many years of being friends/ DJs. Though we are friends, as soon as you hit that stage, you are enemies. Nothing more. Nothing less. Your weapons are your routine — crafted, created and perfected over months, using nothing but records and a stock standard mixer.
The announcement of the 2012 DMCs returning to Brisbane has kicked everyone’s ass into practice mode. This year will be interesting, as Brisbane seems to have seen a turntablist resurgence, with the Queensland title up for grabs at this point. Good luck to all the competitors and see you on the battlefield!
(DJ Sheep is a 3x Queensland DMC DJ Champion.)
The Queensland State Final takes place at Coniston Lane on Saturday July 21 FEAT. A PERFORMANCE FROM DJ DEXTER