Figure out what the hell this colorful language meant: DJ Riko Interview

In the bootleg (mash up) world at the start of the 2000’s there were few early adopters in the US. DJ Riko was one and was the first artist to appear on Prank Monkey, the label run by Nick Foster and Richie Deluxe. He’s also the place to go for your mash up Christmas soundtrack.

1. How the devil are you? And what’s the weather like in America (you were in Ohio I think but then moved)?

Doing my best to keep the devil way down in the hole, as the song says [Tom Waits, I fear]. I moved from Ohio to San Diego six years ago, and the weather here is always sunny and warm. It was a good move.

2. How did you get involved in music?

My father is a professional musician, so there was always music playing at home and I was always being toted along to concerts. It was just natural that I’d want to get involved in it.

When I was in high school I started making elaborate mix tapes, creating re-edits using the pause button on my cassette deck, dropping in little bits from comedy records and so forth.

After college I got a couple of samplers and started creating my own tunes by recording loops, acapella vocals and other bits to the different pads on the samplers and layering them “live” by hitting the pads in sequence.

One of those tunes had “lyrics” made up of bits from Mike Tyson’s “I’m going to eat his children” interview over loops from Public Enemy, Led Zeppelin, Boogie Down Productions, the Rolling Stones, Built to Spill, Malcolm McLaren and others. I submitted it to a local music website that was putting out a compilation CD and it was selected as the lead track.

3. How on earth did someone from Ohio get involved with Boomselection or GYBO (in any of its various guises)?

That’s the beauty of the World Wide Web – anyone can be part of anything. I was a member of the Avalanches forum, and one of the other members there was Erol Alkan, who posted some bootlegs that he’d made under the name Kurtis Rush. Erol or someone else gave a link to Boomselection, and I quickly began downloading every tune The_Dr, El Mannion and the others would post.

Then I stumbled on McSleazy’s forum, which became the Get Your Bootleg On forum, and started downloading stuff there, as well as posting my own tunes.

4. And how did you manage with what was a very UK scene. You even got a Superchunk mix on XFM I recall. 

Yeah, the GYBO membership was almost exclusively from the UK then. It was fascinating for me to be immersed in the slang, cultural references, musical backgrounds and so forth. I was often turning to online slang dictionaries to figure out what the hell this colorful language meant.

While there was a little bit of an anti-Yank contingency, people were mostly very friendly and welcoming, and the tunes I posted were well-received. One of my long mixes, “Free for All,” was voted best mix of 2003.

When people would mention radio hosts that played bootlegs, I’d send CDs of my tunes to those hosts. Mary Ann Hobbes played a couple of bits on the Breezeblock and Eddy Temple-Morris and James Hyman played some stuff on The Remix. After James left The Remix, Eddy gave me a Superchunk slot and James had me do a 60-minute mix on his show, The Rinse.

Free download: DJ Riko Superchunk Feb 2005

5. Are there any bootlegs of yours that you think have withstood the test of time?

I still listen to my mixes on occasion and while I may cringe at a bit here or there, I still enjoy them overall. I was too old and too American to stay atop music trends in the UK, so my bootlegs mostly used older and/or offbeat tunes that had already stood the test of time. So they don’t sound as dated as a lot of the pop-oriented stuff might.

6. As I recall you even came over to London to do a set at club Bastard? What was it like?

Fantastic! Loo & Placido and DJ Zebra were also on the bill, so the place was packed. Up until that point I’d never DJ’d for a crowd that was into mashups, let alone knew any of mine. It was easily the most fun I’ve ever had DJ’ing.

Free download: DJ Riko Bastard Set 3 March 2005

7. You did some proper releases, including Whistler’s Delight. How did that come about?

After my set at Bastard, Nick Foster pulled me outside and said he and Richie Deluxe (both were GYBO members) were starting a label called Prank Monkey. He asked if they could release Whistler’s Delight as their first 12-inch, I said of course, we shook hands and that was that.

Free Download: Whistler’s Delight

8. You were famous for your epic Christmas mash up mixes. How did they come about?

I made the first Merry Mixmas in 2002 as a Christmas card that I sent on CD to about 20 friends, coworkers and family members. It was a way to show them the kind of mixing I was doing but without subjecting them to the kind of music I usually mixed with.

I also shared it on Audiogalaxy with a small circle I was part of there. One of the people in that circle was Marcus Maack, aka Der Vinylizer, who ended up playing the mix on his Back to the Basics radio show in Hamburg.

It snowballed from there and has become a tradition I may never be able to break. I have gotten emails from people all over the world saying they play the Merry Mixmas editions as part of their family Christmas celebrations, so I keep those mixes family-friendly.

Free download: Celebrating 10 years of Mixmases

9. It all seemed so exciting and vibrant in 2002/03 to hear mash ups. What marked the start of the end?

Popularity. It was fun and exciting when it felt like an underground thing, but when mashups started getting used in movies, on TV shows, in video games, etc., it dulled the edges and it motivated too many people to make mashups to cash in rather than as a creative outlet.

10. And what is music’s role for you now?

I still make occasional mashups and long mixes, and I plan to do another Merry Mixmas this year, but my biggest music-related activity has been incorporating it into my new role as a father.

My wife and I have an 11-month-old daughter and I have been having a ball making playlists for her. So far her favorites are the Talking Heads, Desmond Dekker, Prince, the Beach Boys, Lemon Jelly, Toots & the Maytalls, Dan Deacon, Hall & Oates, Tame Impala and De La Soul.

She has pretty good taste.

My thanks to Riko for taking the time to do this. Look out for his new Mixmas in December. Meanwhile, here’s one of my Riko favourites:

Free download: DJ Riko – Shouty Nightmare [Lemon Jelly v Ice-T]

~ by acidted on October 29, 2012.

2 Responses to “Figure out what the hell this colorful language meant: DJ Riko Interview”

  1. […] DJ Riko […]

  2. […] is a lovely, lovely man now in San Diego who appeared as part of the GYBO Interviews series back here. Every year he offers a special Christmas mash-up tape, called Mixmas. This is 2012′s […]

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