The Grammy Nominations Concert has become a star-studded annual event that is televised in U.S. on CBS. In addition to live performance, the event announces the nominees for the next Grammy Awards. The 2011 Grammy Nominations Concert was held November 20 at the Nokia Theater. Here is what this celebrity who attended the event said in backstage during a press conference in the media room.
Can you talk about the Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five song “The Message” being inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame?
First of all, for a kid from the Bronx who becomes a co-architect of a culture that explodes around the world, that takes me around the world, I’ve seen and done more things than the average artist has done. And just when you think you’ve done everything, you get this phone call that you don’t think you’d ever get.
The Grammys are on the phone, and they’re saying that your peers have voted for you to be nominated for the Grammy [induction]. I had mixed emotions. I was nervous, like, “This is serious,” because out of all your other musical genres — your pop, your rock, your jazz, your blues, your funk, your R&B — all of those are staples. They’re pretty well set in stone. The hip-hop thing has always been like, ‘Well, we don’t know.”
For this organization to open its arms to us and say, “Yes, come up here and do what you’re doing.” Your peers say this. It’s the ultimate honor. Ultimate!
How did you approach the idea of instructing people on the turntable art form?
Being the creator of the turntable technique art form, from an analogue point, was in giving back. And as a scientist, things move on. Technology takes things to another level. You’ve got to embrace it. And I embraced it because I’m a scientist first.
So when my science from analogue became [DJ software] Serato, Traktor and the like, I thought it was wonderful. And it gives me a chance to travel with so many more songs — so much pop, rock, jazz, blues, funk R&B. I can go really deep with it. That’s what the world is calling for now: the people who are actually the engineers and the think tanks behind all that music from the ‘70s and ‘80s.
How did it feel to get so much admiration and respect on stage tonight?
Maybe it will sink in tomorrow. I don’t know. It was wonderful. And to be in company with the people who performed tonight was totally great. I see the cross of so many different types of music, and so many people that I probably wouldn’t have had a chance to meet or even be in the room with if it wasn’t for the Grammys. So when you think it’s done, you’re not done yet. It’s wonderful. It’s great.
How has your love of music evolved or changed?
I love pleasing people. And when you break down Grandmaster Flash, I’m a servant. And when you’re a servant, you’ve got to figure out how to serve. So whether it’s an audience that wants to hear pop, rock, jazz, blues funk, R&B, top 40 — whatever the case may be — that’s what keeps it new for me. It keeps it refreshing for me.
How do I take this audience and please them? Or how do I go to this country where they don’t speak the English language and connect with them? Music is that connection. That just keeps it all fresh in my mind. And if I just look at myself as a servant, it will keep staying new to me.
There’s this new kid in this room right now creating some new sound that’s going to become the new thing, the big thing, and I’m going to have to play it, because I like pleasing people. And that’s what it comes down to: being a servant. That’s all I am: a servant.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on an album right now, but I’m in a musical stage, so I’m trying to do a fusion of different styles of music right now. I tour quite a bit. Next week, I’m going to Australia, doing 15 festivals out there. I travel quite a bit.
There’s a television show in the works, quite possibly, if I can stay still long enough. God’s been good. People still call. They still want to see me. They still want to hear me. It’s a wonderful feeling.
What are your thoughts on techno music?
I like techno with a melody. This guy told me. I used to wonder, “How do people enjoy music where the bass drum stays in one place?” And this is what he said: “The bass drum replicates the beat of the heart.”
And when he said that, I did a massive search and started looking at that music in a totally different way, because the heart beats around 120, 130 beats a minute. And they say that that music is like a religious experience. So therefore, I had to take into consideration that this music means more than just the actual song that it is. It’s an experience.
House, techno, electro that have a melody, I play it hip-hop style. I don’t play it the way [techno artists] play it, where they’re blending it one from the other. I’m doing tricks with it, even though I’m breaking the rules, but that’s the way music goes.
What will your next album sound like?
It’s a fusion. There’s no such thing as black music no more, or white music no more, or foreign music no more, or American music no more. Music is slowly becoming a blur. And it’s just music. And with modern technology, you can break the laws that have been lost for so many years.
And you can add this sound with this sound and come up with a whole different type of sound. So I’m in the musical stage of it right now. And it’s probably an Achilles heel to me because I know so much about music, so I’ve got to try 100 ideas before I think that it’s right. So I’m in that stage right now.
Are you thinking about any collaborations for the album?
I’m not even thinking about vocalists because the track has to be something. It can’t be old, and it can’t be new. It just has to be different. That’s where I want to go because when I first came up with the science to connect pop into rock into jazz into blues into funk by way of vinyl, that’s my claim to my fame personally. So if I’m going to do it on a record, I’ve got to figure out a way to do this in a studio by combining these different types of sounds and making a funky hybrid of some sort, whatever that might be.
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