Invisibl Skratch Piklz: The HipHopGods Interview
Invisibl Skratch Piklz: The HipHopGods Interview
Innovative turntablists DJ Qbert, Shortkut and D-Styles of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz (ISP) collective dropped The 13th Floor in 2016, marking their first proper album together since 2000’s Shiggar Fraggar 2000. With precise scratching and intriguing production, the project further solidifies their reputations as some of the best scratch musicians in the world. After an incredible live set in Denver, Colorado at the “420 On The Block” music festival, the talented trifecta trudged upstairs with their gear to sit down for a brief in-person interview that touched on everything from the new album, MCs they’d like to collaborate with, and the difference between German Shepard turds and little dog turds (seriously).
HHG (Kyle Eustice): How does it feel to be playing together again?
D-Styles: It’s dope. I can’t even remember the last time I played here. I think it was with Jurassic 5, but as a group, we’ve never played here together.
How did The 13th Floor happen after all these years?
D-Styles: Everything tied in — me and Q did a show at Low End Theory in San Francisco, and me and Short were doing stuff, so we said, ‘Fuck it let’s record an album. We’re not getting any younger. That was a good opportunity to come together, and ever since we’ve just trying to do more scratch music.
Your chemistry as a group is undeniable. Are you like family at this point?
Qbert: Oh yeah — these are my brothers. We probably knew each other in a past life. We’re doing the same shit and taking it to another level now. It’s wonderful. It’s a big blessing to be back with these guys. I never want to leave them. I need ‘em in my life. We have sex actually [laughs].
You started off with a lot of members back in the day. Do you wish Mixmaster Mike was here?
D-Styles: They pop in sometimes. We did a show with Mike at Fool’s Gold with A-Trak. That was a good reunion.
Qbert: It’s like riding a bike.
Shortkut: Certain formulas we did in the past just stick over the years. We’re able to just fill in the blanks.
Did you do a Cool Kids track during your set?
D-Styles: Yeah, that was the Cool Kids. I heard they’re getting back together.
They already did. They are releasing a new record soon. Are there any artists you’d like collaborate with and haven’t yet?
Shortkut: Not off the top of my head.
D-Styles: There’s a lot. Mr. Lif he’s dope.
Well, he just walked by. I’m sure you could pull something together [laughs].
D-Styles: I would love to work with the Freestyle Fellowship guys … I love Myka 9. I would like to work with Pharaoahe Monch, I’m a huge Antipop Consortium fan. There’s one guy in there that’s really dope.
DJs and rappers come and go quickly these days. What’s the secret to longevity?
D-Styles: I don’t know if there’s a secret. I think you just have to keep putting out music and document that time in your life.
How do you think you’ve evolved over the years?
Shortkut: I think we all grew up musically. We figured out what we are bringing to the table now.
Has it gotten harder as you’ve gotten older to juggle everything? D-Styles, I know you have young kids.
D-Styles: It’s really hard to balance time. I’m used to working on music at night, but I’m so tired because I have to take the kids to school. I sneak it in like, ‘Oh I have an hour here.’ I’ll smoke a joint and try to get into it. You kind of have to force yourself to get in the zone. And Q has a puppy now.
Tell me about this puppy.
Qbert: I’m not used to it. Every three hours, he has to take a piss or a shit. It’s like, ‘Fuck man,’ so that’s new to me. But we do it in shifts. I take the night shift. And I put a little camera on him. It’s called a nest, and I leave it on the dog so when I’m scratching I can watch him. When he starts barking, I know its time. My girl sleeps through the night and then the daytime, that’s when I knock out and she takes care of him the whole day. So if there’s a will, there’s a way. You have to balance your schedule.
What kind of dog do you have?
Qbert: It’s a mix of a Pomeranian and something else small because I like the poops to be small, so you can clean it up easy.
We have little poop dogs.
Qbert: I love that. I like little goat poops, little pebbles. You vacuum it up and you’re good.
Little turds are good.
Qbert: I love it. I used to have a German Shepard a couple years ago and it was like cleaning human shit all the time. Might as well give ‘em a toilet. It stunk. There were flies everywhere [laughs].
What’s the plan next?
Qbert: We have a second album coming.
D-Styles: We are working on the title.
Shortkut: The title is the last part.
How long until it’s done?
D-Styles: We emailed each other ideas. Short’s coming to Los Angeles next week and we’re going to lock ourselves in the studio, and try to come up with some stuff, then link with Q.
Where do you guys still live? D, you’re in L.A. and Q, you’re still in San Fran.
Shortkut: I live in Dubai.
How do you make that work?
Shortkut: You just make it work. This guy has an hour flight, but I have a 14 hour flight [laughs].
I can’t decide if you’re telling me the truth or not.
Shortkut: No, I really do.
The inventor of the 808 just passed. He’s a genius. Without him, you wouldn’t have that Roland 808 shirt [laughs].
Shortkut: For sure.
What do you say to aspiring turntablists. Is it important to cultivate the next generation?
D-Styles: I think what DJs and beatmakers need to do is study what was done before, so they know the foundation and history. I feel like all the new producers are sort of repeating what’s been done and they don’t even know where it came from.
It’s important kids know.
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