Turntablism+as+a+Contact+Sport


Photo by Angie Schwendemann of the Detroit Techno Militia

Inspired by uncles in Detroit and Pontiac who were DJs and music fans, Dezi Magby, aka DJ Psycho, developed an obsession for records at an early age.  His parents started letting him buy records at the age of three, and today he estimates his record collection to be at 1.2 million records.  By the age of eight, Psycho began figuring out the science of DJing.  However, it wasn’t until two months after his twelfth birthday that he took up the profession as a real occupation on August 13, 1981.

Over the years, the Flint-based DJ has played with a lot of artists: DJ Clue, Green Lantern, Deitrich Schoenemann, Dmitri Pike, Scan 7, Boy George, Frankie Bones, and Adam X, to name a few.  And he has a running competition with Todd Osborn on who is going to bring the rarest record in the room.  Additionally, Psycho has put out numerous mix tapes and one artist cd.

On Wednesday, July 29, 2009, Psycho will be spinning at The Realness at White's Bar.  The Realness is Matthew Heller's (aka DJ Snakes) every-other-Wednesday night of hip-hop, soul, rock, and more. Snakes invited Psycho out because "he's one of the best DJs around.  He's definitely one of the most underrated dudes in the game. I also think we share a similar style in the sense that we DJ outside the box and don't stick to one genre." Heller stresses the uniqueness of what people can expect: "Pyscho puts on a show.  His isn't a press play DJ doing karaoke nights at the local bar. Psycho represents the DJ as an artist."

This will be the second time Psycho will be a guest DJ at The Realness, and he is looking forward to returning to White's Bar. "I loved being there [last time]," Psycho explains, "It wasn't this big ostentatious building with state-of-the-art light and sound.  It was just people there wanting to hear good music, and that's all you really need.  Everything else is window dressing."

Unlike Flint where hip-hop nights usually wind up with people getting messed up, talking smack, and fighting, Psycho respects the success of the night Snakes has built up. "Snakes has a really good rapport with his audience.  They know what to expect when he's there and he delivers.  It's a good time there.  I always enjoy myself."

While the respect is mutual between the DJs, Snakes also draws inspiration from watching Psycho. "The last time he was here, his routines were so clean and tight that what people were hearing and seeing was on par with international legends like Kid Capri, The Beat Junkies, and Jazzy Jeff.  He inspired me to step my game up and put more work into what I'm doing as a DJ."

Psycho says it is hard to tell people what to expect on the 29th. "I'm kind of a visual DJ. You have to see what I am doing in order to get it … so, a lot of sight gags. You'll see hip-hop turntablism as a contact sport!"  Snakes expands on this, "Psycho does himself, but at the same time he plays music that's accessible to any crowd. His sets are a stew comprised of songs from every era and genre. He's also nice on the technical side of DJing.  He can scratch and work doubles like it's nobody's business."

For Psycho, there are no signs of slowing down any time soon. In the coming months, he will be moving to Detroit, possibly working on more mix tapes, and always playing out—he's typically booked every night of the week. While he loves playing out and meeting new people all the time, there is one downside to life on the road: "The damper it puts on my love life.  People think that because I'm out playing and doing all of these things that I have girls at every port or whatever, but that is so not the case. Most times, I wouldn't mind having a special someone."

The Realness with DJ Snakes and DJ Psycho takes place on Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at White's Bar (2609 State Street, Saginaw, MI 48602).  Psycho will have mix tapes available for sale, including his most recent, Hi. My Name Is … Piggy McTiggers (2009). Ages: 18 and up; 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. No cover.