July 12, 2012 by DJ Elroy
Who or what made you first say “I NEED to be doing that!” when it came to DJing? How long have you been at it?
I moved to Colorado in 1996. That’s when I met a guy named Mike Moen aka DJ EK77. He was the first person to show me a DMC battle video, and I was instantly hooked! [It’s been] 16 years now, and I don’t plan on ever stopping.
Where did your name come from? ‘Vajra’ represents different things to different cultures; what does it mean to you?
I chose it because it means “lightning” in Sanskrit. I have always wanted to be one of the fastest scratchers on Earth.
Well that you certainly are. Let’s go back to the beginning: What was your first DJ vinyl? Do you still have it?
The first record I ever bought was a Grand Puba “I Like It” 12 inch single. I bought that at Wooden Nickel Records in Ft Wayne, Indiana, where I grew up. When I moved to Colorado, I gave all my records to a DJ friend of mine, so no, I don’t have it anymore.
Ouch! One thing I regret is getting rid of a bunch of my vinyl. As an artist, who did you look up to early on, and is there anyone — in music or life in general — that still inspires you today?
There’s too many to name!!! I have always loved Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin. In the DJ world I look up to guys like Craze, Q-Bert, A-Trak, Z-Trip, Fast4Wrd, and many, many others. I played sports growing up, so I am also inspired by athletes like Michael Jordan and Tim Tebow who have an incredible work ethic.
Do you still remember the battle routine from your first competition?
Hmmmmmm… I think so! HA! I used to do this Ernie and Bert routine where I would drum on the upfaders and juggle their voices at the same time. I was kind of known for that routine for a while.
I’d love to hear that one! How have the trends changed since then? (Example: Scratching, juggling, props, body tricks, etc)
Everything is digital now, so I think some people have used that as an excuse to be lazy and less creative.
How did the addition of DVS to the DMC change the way you practice and plan your routines?
It changed everything, but in a good way for me personally. I was able to be more creative and make all the ideas I had in my head. I would never battle with standard vinyl ever again.
What DMC rules would you change?
They need to allow people to use midi controllers! And I hear they are not allowing people to use the Rane 62 mixer either. Those rules need to go!
Which trick or skill was the most challenging for you to master?
All of them! But the one that gave me the most trouble was the 2 click flare scratch. It took me about a year and a half to even be able to do it poorly! I used to have a broken cross fader wedged between my driver’s seat and my hand brake in my car so I could practice it on my drive to work.
Is turntablism dying or just evolving into something new?
Evolving. There are not as many young kids getting into it anymore, but the true masters of the game are still pushing the limits and figuring out new ideas.
What’s the difference between a good turntablist and a great turntablist?
Opinion, I guess?
Art is always subjective, eh? How ’bout your favorite era of hip hop?
I like them all, but I’m really into a lot of the new stuff coming out. Just played some festivals along side A$AP Rocky and Big K.R.I.T. and those guys were awesome!
And what about dubstep? Here to stay or just a passing phase?
I think good music is good music, and there is definitely some good dubstep being made. As long as producers keep putting out good tracks, the fans will continue to listen.
What do you have to say to the critics that feel abandoned by the old-skool hip hop jocks and battle DJs that have been experimenting with EDM and other genres?
To each their own. I just do what feels right for me and I don’t care what anybody has to say about it. Check out my dubstep mix “Dirty Vaj” here: http://soundcloud.com/djvajra/dirty-vaj-a-dubstep-mix
How important is a strong web presence for artists nowadays? Has too much emphasis been placed on social networking and not enough on practice? Any advice for kids just getting into the game?
It is very important. Numbers have always driven the music industry. I try to focus on music first but I really want to stay in touch with my fans, and social media is a great way to do that. Like right here —> facebook.com/djvajra1
[The best advice is] just do what feels right to you and work hard.
Where do you hang out online?
Soundcloud, Hype Machine, DJ City, and any other new music related pages I can find.
How do you handle critics, bad press, or haters?
I smack the SHIT OUT OF THEM!!! BLAOW!!!
Do you have a nemesis in the scene (either good-natured or serious)?
Yes, but I don’t that to escalate again, so I won’t name names. I am pretty much friends with everyone I meet!
You’re the DMC World Champion — where do you go from here?
I am touring the world doing solo DJ sets and also backing up YelaWolf. I have aspirations to put out an album and start doing festival shows as a solo artist, and not just as a DJ.
Do you have plans to defend the title?
No. I don’t have any time to come up with any new material, since I have 70+ shows booked between now and November 15th.