Pique Magazine Jan 19, 1996

Author: DNA

In this corner weighing who-knows-how-many pounds, the Spincat. Scott Arkwell got his start back in Nova Scotia hanging with his crew. The boys were basically into hard-core shit, and that’s all there really was to talk about. One night in town Scott got to messing around with some mixing board and the song was never quite the same. After moving over to the sexier side of Canada he found himself with an opportunity to pick up a shift being Jack Commercial at the Beagle which Jack Evrensel had running in the prime time slot for a decade. “Which would you like first, the AC/DC or the BTO?” While still learning the basics, Scott realized that his natural instinct, borne of anti-establishment edge and street pedigree, didn’t serve him well in the record-waiter environment. The fact was that Monie Monie didn’t rock his world for the 14th time that week. After being raised in a rock world, the rhythm of old R&B and some of the cool jazz being cut in the be-bop era attracted his ear to the sounds that every one seemed to love but no one was playing. Scouring the collectors shops he found some serious funky black groove stuff, like King Curtis’s Memphis Soul Stew, blue funksters like Grant Green, Donald Byrd and the ever-nasty Miles. He was also drawn to people like Guru and Ronnie Jordan, who were taking old vibes and making them fresh for the ’90s. This combo created a sensibility that could no longer perform in the jukebox arena. He looked at the funk, he looked at the fusion and he looked for the future. Trying to find a niche he could live with he suggested to Jack that the sophisticated clientele the Beagle has always desired might be hip to some postmodern jazzy grooves, especially on a night like Tuesday when there wasn’t much happening, anyway. From that time on the old Spun-K could name his price, as Acid Jazz Tuesday took off at the Beagle. From there he hooked up with DJ Czech, who started at Tommy’s before moving to Vancouver’s Big Daddy Luv-A-Fair, (although he still books and occasionally spins at Soul Kitchen). They headline Zoo Boogaloo Monday night’s in Vancouver’s Starfish Room. Out of that progression from neophyte to pioneer came live performances with bands like One and Rumplesteelskin, where the Cat would spin live drumming on vinyl with live drumming on stage, using riffs and rhythms like an instrument, soloing or doubling up on the bass and drum’s percussive beat groove. With those groundbreaking live performances, Scott became aware of the possibilities of recorded music in a live setting and how slippery real time can be. He now considers himself a turntable instrumentalist, which is a position that will become a mainstay on live stages in the next funk-filled century. Tommy Africa’s is the Whistler capital of serious jocks. They run strictly vinyl, a DJ attitude and identity icon. On Sunday night they bring touring hot shots from around North America to spin Soul Kitchen, and with a young, hip clientele and slamming go go dancers pumping the party, TA’s goes off like the big town. The digital versus analog, or CD versus vinyl, argument is the most explosive one amongst DJs. With the new CD technology — provided most notably by Denon’s dual DJ mixing CD decks which allow you to computer cue the one beat and adjust the tempo just like on the old warhorse Technics 1200 turntables. The only thing you can’t do with a CD is scratch; they’ve attempted simulation but it’s just not Heinz. Nonetheless serious DJ’s have a vinyl addiction. Here’s Spincat’s view: “To me static on a record adds character. I like the way the vinyl sounds. I like the way it feels and when it skips you just pick up the needle, which beats when the CD locks into a machinegun. I’m from the old school. I don’t even like pre-programmed drum beats. My attitude is throw the digital samplers out and work with three turntables and some warm vinyl that I can feel with my hands. That’s real. That’s the shit I love.”

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