He’s one of the most sought after hip-hop DJs in Melbourne as you’ll hear his name at most gigs in town, with a finger in several pies from production to DJing to being a self-proclaimed “street entrepreneur” DJ Flagrant is having a great time in his life. CLAYTON BENNETT went to find out what makes him tick and delve further into the enigma and discovered he might have a future in comedy too.
1. You seem to be DJing all over town nowadays and you’re only in your early twenties, how did you establish such a name for yourself?
I guess I have always followed the basic codes of being a DJ – concentrate on rocking the crowd first and foremost, show some ill skills when appropriate and be a professional in the way you do your business. I think by persistently following those basic pre-requisites, I have worked my way up from crappy gigs to international support shows. It’s all about following the codes and making sure you meet the right people – but don’t kiss ass.
2. What was your first ever gig?
It was in Nashville, TN and I managed to blow the freakin’ sound system. It was pretty embarrassing as you could imagine and funnily enough, the dudes system I blew wound up later becoming a member of The Untouchables Crew.
3. While the term Flagrant can be defined as “bad, offensive, rank and reprehensible” you do not seem to be that much of a villain, so why did you choose that name for your DJ persona?
Well I was mates with a dude called Sam who did scandalous things. We all called him Scandalous Sam, and given that my last name is Flack, he started calling me Flagrant Flack and I guess people picked up on it and Flagrant just stuck.
4. What crews are you apart of and what is each one about?
Well first and foremost I am part of The Untouchables Crew which is a collective of DJ’s and MC’s around the world who all represent the same thing – SKILLS. We are a relatively loose conglomerate of cats but we all support each other and when it comes to battles, we are always down.
I am also in Cerebral Atrophy which is a collective of MC’s, producers and DJ’s who all have a similar taste in Hip-Hop. We support each other in all our projects and we are basically just looking to release stuff under the CA banner. Check for releases from Infallible, Anecdote, Lewis One, Justice & Kaos and Illustr80z next year.
I’m a member of the In Da Midst Collective along with cats like Brethren, Hoodsta and Footstool Rhyme. We are a mega loose group of cats who are all mates and just like coming together to make positive Hip-Hop for everyone.
5. How was the Untouchables formed? Have its members changed since the first line-up you had going in the States?
The crew started in Nashville and from memory, we started the crew cause all the other crews in the city were wack and we wanted to join forces and represent hardcore for our city. Nashville is basically chump city and the Hip-Hop scene is tiny, so we took it upon ourselves to show them chumps some real Hip-Hop. The original artist lineup has changed since then and the artists in Untouchables now are: Sterling(Chicago), Nato(Nashville), Fraksha(London), Devistate, Sheriff Rosco, Kilos, Devistate, Jez Roc and Bogues. Chango Fatt was in Untouchables from 2002 till 2003 but now he’s just a lazy hermit who bootlegs DVD’s, but we still think he’s the Asian Sensation, the Dumpling, Changry, Chango Changstein and the Changsters, Chango-Lah and so on and so forth! Chango is the man!
6. You went to America as a kid in 1994 with your parents. How was it there and what did you see that made you want to pursue hip-hop and DJing?
Well I was originally into breakin before DJing, and when I was 17 I snuck out from home and went to a rave in Nashville. At the time, Raves were the ONLY spots to go clubbing – let alone go breakin – without hearing cheesy pop all night. There was a regional DMC champ performing there called Alejan who had me captivated from the moment he stepped up to the decks. I had no idea what he was doing up there but I knew I liked it, and all the tracks he was playing were foreign to me. I knew it was underground Hip-Hop but I had barely heard any of the joints. That night I went back to a mates place and fooled around on his decks until dawn and from then I was hooked. The first Hip-Hop 12″ I ever bought was Do You Believe by Beatnuts.
7. Why did you want to come back to Australia after all that time?
Well I’m a pretty honest kinda guy so I’ll tell ya exactly why. My parent split up, then got back together and it was a pretty intense situation for them, so I decided that I should move home and let them sort themselves out. I didn’t have the ability to work legally there due to the family’s VISA arrangement, so I couldn’t move out and work somewhere there. That being said, I am very grateful to be back living in Melbourne and I think if I didn’t move back, I would never have gotten to realise how lucky we are to live in this city.
8. Are past groups such as The Liquid Lounge Project still around or have you moved on?
Yeah been and gone I’m afraid. It was fun while it lasted but all good things must come to an end.
9. You spin predominately “funky hip-hop” but you joke that you like to spin country music, but would you ever actually play something as far out as that in your set? How diverse is your collection of wax?
I have remixed Duelling Banjos in a set before and that’s about as country as you can get! My collection is pretty full on. I have all kinds of genres – soul, funk, disco, classical, jazz, 70’s/80’s/90’s rock, house, drum & bass, trip hop and everything in between. For the record, I listen to all that stuff too, it doesn’t just sit at home. I love Hip-Hop obviously the most out of all my records but to be honest, when you live and breath Hip-Hop all day every day, you need to have that break from the norm and listen to stuff that’s outside the square. Keeps you balanced.
10. You battled in the 2001 Vic DMC titles and set your record on fire then continued to scratch on it – tell us about that!
Ahem.. I did do that yeah. I chose to enter a week before hand believe it or not [laughs] I knew I couldn’t win, so I decided I just needed to make a big impression and make the crowd remember me. So I put together my routine with parts of Star Wars, Bohemian Rhapsody and I set my record on fire and scratched with it [laughs]. My cunning plan worked and I scored a bunch of gigs from it and in that weeks issue of The Age, it was my photo attached to the review, not the winner J-Red! [more laughter]
11. Ever had any really bad gigs?
Please see the answer to the second question. On a side note, I did a gig once out in the sticks and when I got there I realised the sound and lighting guys never showed up, so they plugged the turntables into the TV audio input – CAN YOU SAY ZERO BASS RESPONSE??
12. What about a great gig – in recent times what has really stood out as being a memorable gig for you?
Performing in Papua New Guinea alongside Devistate, Bonez and Stanley. We were in a dingy club in Lae and believe it or not, we were the very first people to ever scratch a record live in that city. For the record, I was the first turntablist to perform on the radio in Papu New Guinea also!! [grins]
13. What’s your favourite record of all time?
Lets Do It Again – Original Soundtrack, original pressing.
14. Besides workin’ the 1s and 2s what are your interests in life?
Well I run my studio (Drawing Board Studios) in St Kilda and that keeps me pretty busy. I write a weekly Hip-Hop column in Beat Magazine and I also freelance. I run the odd club night here and there. I manage Australia’s next big MC, Phrase. Aside from that, I produce and you can check for releases next year.
15. Obviously DJing is the artform you love and have focused on mastering, but have you ever thought of giving any other element a go? BBoy Flagrant or MC Flagrant perhaps?
Brother I am a jack of all trades! There have been rumours of me hitting the circle in clubs across the country. I’m too chubby to do mad floor work but I’ll definitely pop my way around the circle. As for MC’ing, I keep the MC’ing on the streets and in extremely private studio sessions. Best believe you won’t hear me MC’in on record anytime soon. As for graff writing, I wish I could do it… I’m terrible!! Same goes for beatboxing.
16. Maybe you do have some dance skills though, tell us about the towel dance (or is it something I’d rather not know about�?)
It’s on a need to know basis and you DON’T need to know.
17. The stereotypical silhouette of a DJ is someone who’s always cool and a ladies man, yet I’ve heard you describe yourself in interviews as a “professional computer geek”, who is the real Flagrant – one or the other, or a combination of both?
Aha! You have certainly done your research my friend but your sources have provided you with old information. I quit my day job around 6 months ago to do all things Hip-Hop full time. I am now an international man of leisure. As for being a ladies man, it is true. Ladies love cool Flago, but Flago only has eyes for one lady – and it’s your mother! [evil laughter]
18. What are your club residencies and what was your first?
My only residency is at Laundry on Friday nights and my first residency was at Lounge on Saturday nights.
19. You released “For the Heads Vol. 1” mixtape earlier this year – do you have any music releases scheduled for 2005?
I am doing a follow up to this mixtape as soon as I get some other things out of the way. Unfortunately I have obligations to many different people and that prevents me from working on my own projects. Aside from the mixtape, I have an EP due to drop next year which features production by myself and my studio partner Wika. The EP features guest spots from Bliss N Eso, Phrase, Maya Jupiter, Brethren, Reason, Nine High, DJ Shortkut, Daniel Merriweather, Playdough and one more special guest to be revealed soon!
20. Any shoutouts you’d like to give or a message to the readers?
Yes there is. Buy anything you see with my name on it or anything I say is really good. If you do this, all your wildest dreams will come true!
Thanks for your time.
No no, thank you!
It would seem while making his way up the ladder of fame Flagrant sure hasn’t lost his sense of humour, and it is perhaps being such a cheeky bastard that has got him so far in the first place; as anyone will tell you – charisma goes a long way. Whether spinnin’ a set to a small crowd of hip-hop heads or tearin’ the roof off to the masses at the wild clubs, Flagrant will be around for a long time to come so you best keep your ears wide open.
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