My Own Personal Evolution, A Conversation With DeepJust AQuaBeaT (DJ AQBT)

This was an interview or a conversation I conducted a few years ago, June 22, 2010. I came across it going through some old notes, and decided to post it here. I do hope you enjoy.

Aphrosoul: How did you get your start in the industry?

Dj.Aqbt: I’ve been making music and mixing for over 20 years. I got an opportunity to play in Omaha, Nebraska a few years back and played some original material. That led to other dj gigs in Denver & St. Louis where I tried more original material. My confidence grew as the tracks were well received. Two of them, “Our Transition” and “Amazon My Amazon,” were heard by Fred P aka Black Jazz Consortium and he asked to sign them to his Soul People Music label.

Aphrosoul: Who were your influences when you started?

Dj.Aqbt: Musically, the 80’s. I loved that 80’s sound. Golden age Hip Hop and electronic music, Zulu Nation, Kraftwerk, Art of Noise.
House specifically, Larry Heard, Kevin Saunderson, Master Cee & Jay, Blake Baxter, that deep Chicago and Detroit tech.
Guitar heroes: Carlos Santana, Eddie Hazel, George Benson, Prince. Whatever I was listening to at the time was an influence. Once I got into the house scene though it was all about dancing and the sounds that made me move. Djz, Disciple, Kim Lightfoot, Ian Friday, Joey Llanos. Most recently My Soul Assembly crew has been my biggest “professional” influences. They are the ones most directly influential in my recent journey. Then there’s my wife. I operate on a, “will she dance to this” mind set and work accordingly.

Aphrosoul: Who did you listen to while growing up?

Dj.Aqbt: My family was very religious so I didn’t really listen to the radio until I got a walkman at 14 years old then it was all music, all the time. Rock, Pop, R&B, Hip Hop; artists that I mentioned previously. I locked on to Soul/Jazz/Rock fusion when I got in2 college. Deodato, Stanley Clark, Norman Connors, Mandrill, Funkadelic, Weather Report, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Doors. Everything sounded danceable to me. There were also Reggae/Dancehall guys like Yellowman, Shinehead, Barrington Levy Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, as well as Free Style. I’ve always dug deep bass and percussive rhythms.

Aphrosoul: Do you remember the first time you played out?

Dj.Aqbt: My man Rachid aka Brotha Ra, dope dj in his own right, was having a “moving out party.” He opened his set for an entire weekend and invited everyone he knew 2 come rock. I was nervous, the turntables were buggin’ but man it was amazing!

Aphrosoul: How was the experience? Did it go well?

Dj.Aqbt: It’s a blur but it felt great. I was in there mixing live jazz recordings with metronomed dance tracks…lol. Just naive enough 2 try it out. Had to ride and coax the pitch the whole way. Turntables didn’t match, belts worn, dials worn…lol. I got kudos from some of the other cats though, including Kim Lightfoot. That was huge 2 me.

Aphrosoul: Which did you begin with first? Djing or production? Which do you enjoy doing more?

Dj.Aqbt: I started producing 1st. I was playing live music though; not house. I love them both but because I make music with my dj sets in mind I’d have 2 say I love dj’ing more.

Aphrosoul: What was your first production?

Dj.Aqbt: I can’t remember anymore but it wasn’t anything released anyway. The Amazon EP was my 1st release.

Aphrosoul: What do you use for your productions?

Dj.Aqbt: Reason and a Tascam 16 track digital recorder.

Aphrosoul: Do you play any instruments?

Dj.Aqbt: A little guitar, bass & keys.

Aphrosoul: Do you have a favorite song? Why? And does the song have any special meaning to you?

Dj.Aqbt: Of my own there’s a soon to be released track called “11.” It comes from a really deep, personal and vulnerable place. I put myself out there 4 that one. If I had to choose a song that truly affects me every time I hear it I’d have to go with, “Never No More Lonely” by Fingers Inc. or “Nutshell” by Alice In Chains. There are a lot of songs that move me so it really depends on where I’m at mentally/emotionally but those 2 are consistent.

Aphrosoul: Who are some of the people in the industry that you have worked with?

Dj.Aqbt: On the production side I had the opportunity to work with Richard Laurent of Kraze. He goes by Earthman Expereince nowadays. Most recently I’ve had remixes of my tracks done by Hallex.M, Fred P aka Black Jazz Consortium and PeteBlas will be doing a remix of an upcoming release; possibly “11.”.

Aphrosoul: Are there any people in the industry that you want to work with? Why?

Dj.Aqbt: That’s a tough question 4 me because there’s not really anyone that I don’t want 2 work with. I’m very attracted to the contrast created by fusing styles and I love reinterpretation through collaboration so I’m wide open. There are off the radar talents that I’d love 2 bring in. I have cousins, Jean Marc Faustin and David Leon, crazy talented multi instrumentalists. Sidy Maiga, master drummer for the Uhuru Afrika party in Boston. There’s a trumpeter, Maurice Brown aka Mo’Betta out of Brooklyn that’s just ridiculous. Richard Laurent again. Guerilla After Party, that’s my brothers Brent & Chris out of Omaha. Vocalists with distinguishable styles like Gaelle, Monique Bingham, Romanthony, Robert Owens Bjork, Unai, Omar, Seal. I love what’s coming out of South Africa too…Qness, Aero Manyelo, Paul Deep, Nathan X, Culoe De Song, Black Tunnel & Blaq Soul. Imugem Orishasam out of Japan…crazy tight sonics; Fred P again…super deep house. There’s also this up and coming cat, Aphrosoul that’s promising some heat! There’s a lot more but I think u get the drift.

Aphrosoul: Have your influences changed over the years? If so, who are they? And how have they influenced you?

Dj.Aqbt: As I’m getting more serious about this it’s the outside of music forces that are beginning 2 play out in my process more and more. I’m a child of the 80’s so my music influences are electronic and for the most part that continues but it’s rooted in my appreciation for early jazz, rock and world music…traditionally improvisational and interpretive forms. Artists like Lonnie Liston Smith, Head Hunters, Norman Connors, Carlos Santana, Prince, Fela, Led Zeppelin, Funkadelic, Stanley Clarke, Jimi Hendrix, Talking Heads, The Police, Boukman Eksperyans. These guys are fusionists to the nth degree. That spirit was and still influences me greatly.

Aphrosoul: How would you define your sound? Then, and Now?

Dj.Aqbt: Deep Afro Tech Excursionary Soul

Aphrosoul: What direction would you like to see the music to go?

Dj.Aqbt: Whichever is true and natural.

Aphrosoul: What does music mean to you?

Dj.Aqbt: From day 1 music has always been about dancing. Music has meant peace of mind through movement. Whether it be through its creation, expression or influence. It’s my counter weight 2 all things stressful.

Aphrosoul: How would you describe your energy?

Dj.Aqbt: Aquatic, flowing, percussive but melodic framed in a groove. That’s in my production, mixing and dancing.

Aphrosoul: Everyone has that special place within themselves. What place are you within yourself?

Dj.Aqbt: I very easily zone out. In music; thought; dancing. When I’m within myself I’m deep in the moment and that moment becomes expansive.
That melody, groove, rhythm can consume me…when I’m within myself no one else exists.

Aphrosoul: Please tell me about some of your life experiences and travels, as well as where they have taken you on a spiritual perspective.

Dj.Aqbt: About 8 or 9 years ago I went to my 1st Winter Music Conference.
It renewed my thirst 4 House again. I had been out of the scene for a few years b4 that. It was incredible to see all the different parties, with all the different themes and djs. That WMC introduced me to “cultural” parties; Jump N Funk & Alma specifically. I went for the next 6 years straight, met dj’s and dancers and incredible people along the way. Heard and fell in love with House all over again. Realized the NYC scene was not the only planet in the House universe. Hands down the most eye and mind opening experience has to be going out to Omaha, Nebraska. That was my 1st trip west. I was with my now wife at WMC 2006 and having discussions about being open 2 new paths no matter where they might lead. I met Brent Crampton through Julius the Mad Thinker. Brent told me about his party in Omaha called LOOM.and in keeping with the “being open” thing we decided to go out there when Julius was playing. It was amazing! The generosity; the open arms & hearts; the freedom; the joy was off the charts!

That spirit of openness and following the path as it flows led to so much.
That WMC in March2006 we also met a great group of people from Boston so we took multiple trips out there in April and May.
In Boston we met Adam Gibbons who we found out was a mentor to Brent Crampton and heard Dj Sabine play for the 1st time.
In Omaha in June & Aug. Sabine & I played with Raven Fox & Dino from St. Louis which led to us going to St. Louis in Sept where Sabine & Brent were invited to play with Raven & Pirahnahead out of Detroit. Raven Fox dubbed our growing family “Soul Assembly” on that trip. The family got deeper and over the years we’ve spun and celebrated each other’s accomplishments. Omaha continues to hold a special place in my heart. It’s led to so many opportunities, friendships and experiences and all of this would not be possible if I had not simply “let go” and followed the signs I was given.
Denver, Phoenix, New Mexico, Chicago, Mexico and this year it came full circle with me playing my 1st WMC event. My reward 4 being “open.” Staying true to the signs has been its own reward.

Aphrosoul: Do you have a favorite place to play or perform?

Dj.Aqbt: The energy in Omaha is always amazing. Anywhere really; I just love playing but if I have a preference it’s 4 outdoor events.

Aphrosoul: What more can we expect from you?

Dj.Aqbt: More gigs…more music. Deeper & more melodic music.

Aphrosoul: What words of advice do you have for future dj’s who are looking beyond into production?

Dj.Aqbt: Develop “your sound.” Trust & follow your instincts. Understand sonics. Don’t be afraid to go it alone but there’s nothing wrong with networking and building relationships. Play your own material when ur out…it’s the sure fire way 2 know if u have a winner or not.

Aphrosoul: Please, tell me who is DJ AQBT? What is his purpose and life mission?

Dj.Aqbt: Dj.Aqbt is a step in my own personal evolution in music. It articulates a philosophy more than it represents a person. I hope that doesn’t sound flighty but it’s true. My life mission is the prosperity of my family. I’m a house head, so I dance…more over I’m a deep house head so I feel it. I feel the call of the drum and appreciate the gift of communal celebration even though I can be a bit shy.

I’ve been around 4 a while now. I have a decent day job. So I’m blessed 2 b in the position to support others. It’s a love thing 4 me. If there’s a life mission in this somewhere, it’s 2 b able to continue to keep the love 1st and share it.

I wish to give thanks for the opportunity of communing with you. In parting I wish you love, peace, blessings, and light.

~ by Aphrosoul Lukumi on April 4, 2013.

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