SXSW 2013 was an amazing happening this year! The Hype Magazine was on hand to catch some of the hottest events and grabbed some interviews with folks making it HAPPEN in the industry. For real Hip Hop heads, the night with DJ Axis Powers on the wheels of steel at the Empire was one to remember. A noted battle DJ and a member of Shinobi Ninja one of the hottest hip-rock groups I have ever seen, I HAD to snatch an interview with this cat!
I have always been amazed at the skillz of the real DJ but I have to admit, DJ Axis Powers is not only an extremely talented DJ but he is a consummate showman AND a modern day representer of the day when the DJ WAS the EMCEE and that title was held only by the DJ and not the rapper.
Of all the SXSW events, I witnessed, DJ Axis Powers and Shinobi Ninja were the best of the best to me and I SAW some legends too like George Clinton, Talib, CL Smooth, etc…all at the Empire located at 6th and Red River in Austin. If you hit a venue during SXSW or visit Austin, that is the spot to be!!! I am sure you will find DJ Axis in the house and The Hype Magazine is declaring this venue as our Austin Headquarters…Check the interview!
Who is DJ Axis and where are you from?
I am the “turntablist assassin” for Shinobi Ninja a band representing Brooklyn, NY. I was born in Toronto, Canada and grew up in New Jersey.
What is the significance of your name and how did you get that name?
My full stage name is DJ Axis Powers. My father is German and my mother is Japanese. During World War II my relatives served in the German and Japanese armies. The armies represented something truley negative during that time. Most of my father’s mother’s brothers were killed in action and my mother’s father survived only because he was an engineer and wasn’t in combat. I am determined to change the connotation of the name Axis Powers. To be the “Axis of Good” by bringing joy to people through the power of music.
Describe your style?
I would describe my style as energy, courage, and power. Whether I’m rocking with Shinobi Ninja, scratching in a battle, or mixing in a club, I’m going 110%. I always try to bring as much energy to a performance as possible. You can’t touch peoples lives if you are not being sincere so I find it very important to have the courage to be the best version of yourself and not to put on fronts. To connect with an audience is a powerful thing. When a crowd responds to a performance I feel there is this amazing moment of unity between the atrist and audience that creates a very positive energy that brings joy to everyone. This kind of positivity makes the world a better place. To me this is why music is a very important.
What was the first record you start scratching and mixing on the turntables?
DJ Rectangle Battle Breaks (white vinyl) was the first record I used to learn basic scratches like “Baby” and “Transformer” scratches. Some of my first vinyls were: Brand Nubian “Slow Down,” LL Cool J “Around The Way Girl,” and EPMD “You Gots to Chill” 12 inch singles.
You have experience as a Battle DJ, can you tell us the difference in that and other types of performance DJing?
Battling can be very intense. You only have one shot and all eyes are on you. Your only focus is taking out your opponent(s) by winning over the crowd. There is no room for error. A record skip could be the difference between victory and defeat. Because it is so intense I feel battling is the best training for performing as a dj. That is why some of the top battle DJs in the world get amazing opportunities to perform such as: DJ Atrak with Kanye West, DJ Enferno with Madonna, DJ Lord with Public Enemy, and DJ Roc Raida (RIP) with Busta Rhymes, just to name a few.