Party affiliates

A-Trak and Spank Rock aim to keep asses moving
By DAVID DAY  |  April 27, 2006

BRIDGING THE GAP: "I want to merge the performance and the party aspects," A-Trak says of his DJ skills.DJ culture has always been about the party. From the South Bronx to Manchester to Tokyo, DJs set out each weekend to bring the party to the people. Lately, especially in the US, a culture of party promoters is taking this idea to the next level with national tours that pair like-minded party allies. Tonight (April 27) at the Paradise, for example, champion DJ and Kanye West beat matcher DJ A-Trak launches a US tour in support of his new DVD Sunglasses Is a Must (Audio Research) with party smashers the Rub in tow.

The French-Canadian DJ has some high ideas. “I want to merge the performance and the party aspects,” he says over the phone from Montreal. “I’m tired of doing shows where I’m either mixing or doing a routine. There’s got to be a way to keep it seamless and interwoven.” A-Trak (real name: Alain Macklovitch) is used to being center stage. As the youngest DJ champion ever, the only five-time winner, and the only DJ ever to win the three major titles, he entered the heat of the spotlight at a young age. But his current mission is to change the focus from his skills as a DJ to creating a party atmosphere at his events. “It’s still DJ-centered, but what I’m doing for this show is to build a set where I keep a balance between rocking a party and spinning the records while keeping it interesting for those that want to see a real performance.”

Part of A-Trak’s problem is that his spectacular skills really can be a distraction. Catalogued nicely on the DVD, his performances are mesmerizing. The prodigy doesn’t just scratch like a madman, he switches up tempos and throws the pitch control into wild reversals. He’s even been known to toy with the rpm on a turntable, nimbly throwing a cut from 45 into 33 and back again. All around him, crowds of hip-hop heads sit stunned by this Jewish kid with the funny accent. In one of the DVD’s more telling scenes, Ice-T introduces Macklovitch as a guy “who probably couldn’t get out of the bathroom at a hip-hop show,” then proceeds to watch mesmerized by A-Trak’s jaw-dropping talents.

Five years later, A-Trak would rather make asses shake. “I’m trying to bridge a lot of gaps. I feel turntablism has pigeonholed itself, and a lot of people don’t necessarily want to see turntablists anymore. We have to keep ourselves interesting and keep up with the way music is evolving and the way DJing is evolving.” So for this tour — his first as a national headliner — A-Trak has enlisted the Rub to open. The Rub are three party DJs from New York City who don’t cut up records as much as they blow up clubs. DJ Ayres, Eleven, and Cosmo Baker were just in Boston, bringing banging beats and clever connections to a Reunion party in Harvard Square. There’s no performance to what the Rub does — it’s simply one of the hottest party styles in the US.

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