The scratch master DJ SY in the hot seat answering some of your submitted questions.
How did you come by the name SY?
I used to be a graffiti writer, and wanted a name short for Simon (my real name), but found Si couldn't be written as a tag very stylishly, so I just changed it to Sy (plus that's how it's pronounced anyway!)
Where did you first DJ and how did you get your first big break?
I dj-d professionally for the first time in a wine bar in Nottingham, and the owner then bought a club and took me with him, leading to loads of gigs in the Midlands.
What is your preferred style of music away from the scene - do u still dabble in the hip hop scene?
I don't dabble in it, but I still love a bit of hip hop
How did you learn how to scratch?
By messing about on my dad's shite turntable and the volume control before I could afford Technics
Whose idea was it to remix Baby D - Let me be your Fantasy? Did you think that trying to mix such a Classic tune in a garage fashion wouldn't do the original justice? Especially the official release version (Trick or Treat) had that lame ass Mcing all over it !!
Pete Tong heard the bootleg mix on one of those Essential Mixes and wanted the track remixed officially (he owns the rights to the original), because he'd heard the track was causing such a storm in the clubs. It was the record company who stipulated that they wanted an mc on it. The very fact that it reached number 16 in the charts with absolutely no radio play from Kiss or Capital Radio etc I think demonstrates quite clearly that the remix did the original justice. Plus, of course, the fact that it was more than just casually endorsed by the original artist.
It annoys me when so-called die hard hardcore ravers slag us off for doing that remix - many of the big early hardcore tunes from 92 were rip offs of old tunes; for instance "Sweet Harmony" was a rip of old US house tracks by Marshall Jefferson and Ce Ce rogers, and "Out Of Space" by the Prodigy was a rip of an old reggae tune. We just reworked it in the style that was popular at the time, as those hardcore producers had done in the early 90s.
Do you play under any other names?
What do u think of the new Hardcore breakbeat style tracks being produced and what do u think to the breaks remixes of old skool tunes e.g. music takes u?
I've only heard one or two "new" hardcore breakbeat tunes (by which I presume you mean 170ish bpm tracks) so I can't really comment objectively. I've also only heard the new reworking of Zero B's "Lock Up", which I thought sounded phat.
Did you like playing with MC Scratchmaster Techno as a lot of his sets seemed to involve him - did you request him?
To be honest when I'm djing I don't pay much attention to the mc - I'm too busy cueing up scratches/the next tune to listen to what they're doing. A lot of people ask me about him, so I guess he must have been popular! I've never requested a particular mc over another, nor have I (as some big name djs tend to do) pulled the volume down on an mc, however f***ing annoying they might be, because at the end of the day the promoter has booked that person to do a job. If they're shit at that job, they won't be booked again.
What is your favourite mix of DJ's Unite as it was almost your signature tune?
Was it? Why? I can't remember playing it that often. Still, I reckon Dj's Unite Vol 3 was the best reworking of it - tougher beats and a better arrangement than the original.
What's been your most embarrassing moment while DJing?
I can't think of anything particularly embarrassing that's happened, to be honest.
What's your favourite all time tune?
Too many to pick one, but I'll never forget getting LFO's "LFO" through the post and thinking this is f***Ing awesome.
In light of the recent breakbeat hardcore revival do you think it was a mistake for Happy Hardcore producers to drop the breakbeat piano sound in favour of the 4 beat/techo sound in '94?
Interesting question, and a controversial one at that. Some of the best early hardcore tunes were 4/4, from Bizarre Inc through to a lot of the Basement Records releases (which I still count as some of the best underground dance music ever produced), and all the Belgian and Dutch stuff which preceded UKhardcore (in about 1990-91) was 4/4, so I can't really see how the progression (in terms of beats) into the "happy" hardcore (what a f***ing stupid name - always makes me think of "nappy hardcore") of '94 onwards can be seen as much different. What I detested, and still do, was the tendency for virtually all of the new producers to produce every single track without even the slightest hint of a bass line. To me, music sounds unfinished and weak without a bottom end thumping through - I know not everyone "feels" the same frequencies in music, but to me it it was the bass line and bass noises of the early hardcore that made it sound "hardcore" and underground, and hence attracted me to it.
Unfortunately it has always generally been the case that bass-orientated music has generated bad attitude (jungle in 94/95, and now garage), so it was unsurprising to see how good the atmosphere was at all the "happy" hardcore events from 94 on, where the music concentrated on the uplifting, more treble-y end of the musical spectrum. Djs such as myself, Slipmatt and Seduction soon found ourselves in the minority by liking bass lines - all the crowds seemed to want was piano breakdown after piano breakdown. To further compound this, sales of tunes that I produced with bass lines in were far fewer than those of producers who went down the cheesy route. But the fact of the matter is, "happy" hardcore was huge in 95 - 96. I just think it's a shame that it went so far in the "without-bass" direction that a lot of people deserted the scene in favour of drum and bass. That's why I reckon there'll never be a music genre as good as the early hardcore, because it encompassed everything - tough beats (some break beat, some kick driven), bass lines, vocals, pianos...everything! Don't get me wrong, I love a good stomper, but there's got to be variation to keep a genre interesting. And I can't understand people who can't feel a ruff bass line and appreciate it!
Vestax or SLs?
1200s without doubt.
Do you ever regret becoming a Dj? Did you ever think you would become as big and as liked / respected as you have?
No regrets whatsoever - music has been more inspirational and important than anything else in my life, and the opportunity to express oneself in this form (playing music to an audience) is the most perfect platform for me as an individual, as I'm not one to force my opinions on others orally, like, for instance, a politician might want to do. I'm just happy that others find my interpretation of underground dance music pleasing! I never even thought (and still don't think) about whether I'd be as well known as I am now - I just enjoyed "showing off" my own unique way of presenting dance music.
Do you like Fomula 1 racing?
No I find it boring - but I do like Rally Cross!
How did Quosh Records come about?
After a few tunes I'd produced with DJ Unknown, we thought we may as well start our own label, which we did in 94.
Could you expand on the firework incident on the A3 after playing at an event in Portsmouth on Nov 5th a few years ago....
Being the boisterous nutter that I was back then, when a £100,000 Bentley turbo cut me up on the A3 on the way back from Portsmouth one night whilst I was driving a Sapphire Cosworth chipped to 350 bhp with Terry Turbo (not the most gentile person you're ever going to meet) in the back, and when the said Bentley was overtaken and beaten round the tight bends of the A3, the driver understandably got rather annoyed at the fact that his car (worth more than a 3 bed semi) was beaten by a Ford, and decided to drive like a wanker up my arse. So, Mr. Turbo thought that to offload some fireworks (which he had conveniently brought along for the occasion - it was Bonfire Night) in his direction might deter him from driving so close to my rear bumper. And he was quite correct in his assumption; however, about 1/2 mile further on, the driver of a police patrol car, who had been informed by the Bentley driver of a series of bangers and rockets exploding under and around his car, disagreed, and we were cautioned appropriately.
Thanks very much to DJ SY for taking time out to answer the questions and to everyone who submited a question to ask on the Forum.