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Invisbl Skratch Piklz

Invisbl Skratch Piklz

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"Anything's scratchable," says Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Shortkut. "When we make songs, there might be a nice horn from a classical song; we'll blend that with a heavy metal guitar riff. Shoot, there might even be a country twang thrown in there -- it's all possible."

To understand the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, one must first understand turntablism… Whereas a typical DJ plays records, mixing songs at the seams and matching the beats, to form a continuous stream of music -- the turnatablist actually creates new beats; using records not as individual songs, but as pieces of a puzzle. The turntable is no longer the mechanism used to merely play the records, it becomes the tool which transforms the individual records into a sound and a style that fits into no pre-conceived category.

The Invisibl Skratch Piklz are among the most innovative and prolific group of artists to call themselves turntablists. Acknowledging that the use of the turntable and the scratch are deeply rooted in hip-hop, the Piklz are taking us back to where it all started -- with the DJ. The Invisibl Skratch Piklz mix any and every style of music -- from R&B love songs to country -- from dancehall reggae to metal guitar rock -- forming a sound that cannot be categorized by any of it's components -- hip-hop in it's truest form. One member of the Piklz, DJ Shortkut explains, "The turntable is the most versatile instrument. You can be a drummer, you can be a guitarist, you can be a lead vocalist -- anything."

Despite the reality of their youth, The Invisibl Skratch Piklz have been practicing their art for some ten years. Most of the Piklz come from families of DJ's and have been scratching for almost as long as they've been talking. Growing up in Daly City California, just about every tenth kid had their own turntable and, like the Skratch Piklz, most of them were Asian-American. From Sacramento to San Jose, there were hundreds of DJ crews -- the Piklz becoming at their formation, a sort of 'best of' those early years.

Q-Bert, known inside and outside the group as a turntable innovator, started working with the Livestyle DJ crew in the mid-eighties. When he hooked up with MixMaster Mike, who won the New Music Seminar battle in New York in 1992 and with Q and Apollo, took the DMC title in London that same year. Shortcut, DJ Disk and Q began working as the Skratch Piklz in 1994. Though Mike would officially join them soon after, Disk left the fold and the crew picked up their guru, Yoga Frog (to get them organized). This year, they added D-Styles, the improviser of the group and A-Trak, a 15 year old Canadian wunderkind.

The Invisibl Skratch Piklz attitude is more about combining their five talents into one creative whole. They listen to each other. Rather than boasting that one or the other can do it better, they tend to consider the others' style and learn off each other. They suggest it's one of the major differences between current hip-hop and turntable music; it's a give and take rather than race to the top. A Skratch Piklz show, often improvised, has the excitement, unpredictability and finesse of a major sporting event while it's as artistic and freewheeling as freeform jazz when it's clicking. Again, unlike hip-hop, turntable "jazz" doesn't really have a regional style -- it's informed by international trends in the music. The Piklz have found their biggest audience among rock and techno fans throughout North America, Europe and Japan. Scratching isn't ghettoized to one particular region.

"The first time I ever saw anyone scratching, it was Grandmaster DXT on TV with Herbie Hancock," says Shortkut. "After I saw that, I ran over to my dad's turntable to try it and I broke the needle."

Shortkut says, "If you're doing surgery on someone, you can't just cut them open. Every profession requires the right tools.