Four-time world-winning scratch DJ, phenomenal producer, and a wizard behind the decks. There are a lot of ways to describe DJ Ride. This spring, he’s back on STUDIO with a new EP called “夢 Yume”. As always with his unique approach, he showcases his turntablism, hip-hop, and bass music background.  For this EP, he dove into analog sounds, experimentation, and a visual dream world.

To get to this point, DJ Ride had to work hard. From placing last at his very first scratch competition to winning four times 15 years later, he knows what it is to overcome challenges like no other. Today, we talk about the process of his latest EP, his inspirations, and how scratching, producing, and DJing go hand in hand. 

Dj Ride 夢 Yume
Dj Ride – 夢 Yume EP

Hi DJ Ride, congratulations on your EP on STUDIO! I have had a chance to listen to it already, and there are many different sounds on there. Can you tell me what inspired you to make that project?

If I listen to the EP myself, I can’t even define it. The best way to describe it would be a journey from 75 BPM to 180. I like to explore this fusion between my hip-hop roots and bass music. All production work I do is always challenging myself to mix my roots, past, present, and future. Since the beginning, I tried to mix hip-hop and drum & bass. And now, if you go to listen to someone play bass music, you hear those genres being mixed, which is cool to see. 15 years ago, you didn’t have that. I remember looking for tracks with that kind of fusion, but few producers were doing that. In this EP, I try to mix beats, drum & bass, half-time… I think it’s one of my best works so far. It was a challenge to try to make everything cohesive, but I’m 200% happy with how it came out.

You said defining the EP is hard, but I want you to try. Can you tell me about the inspirations behind it?

The title of the EP is 夢 Yume. I looked for Japanese words that sounded good and had some meaning behind it. From a visual perspective, I love the Japanese characters’ design. 夢 Yume means “dream” and “vision”. The first track is called ‘Void’ because I think it differs from the tracks I did before. I tried to change the bpm throughout the track. It starts with one bpm, and then there’s a drop, and the bpm drops as well. There are also parts one and two in that track because the track was made during two different Ableton Live sessions. It’s two different beats combined. The second track is called ‘Japan222’ because I started it in Tokyo. I’m bad with names, so sometimes, I use random numbers and names when working on a track. The third track is called ‘Tunnel’ because it literally reminds me of driving through a tunnel. It has this travel kind of vibe. The last one is called ‘ANALOG’ because I used lots of analog stuff on the drop. Some of the synthesizer sounds are saturated because I use a lot of analog layers of my machines.

Besides producing bass music, you’re a four-time world-winning scratching DJ. What’s the difference between DJing and producing, and scratching?

Back in the day, I started using turntables and vinyl. This was before I used my laptop, Serato, and all that stuff. I think it helped me a lot with trying out new stuff. I still try to put some of that analog sound in my productions. I love having this scratching and turntablism background. When I’m bored of producing, I can go back to that. It’s like having three different projects to choose from. I’m a producer and a DJ, but turntablism is a completely different league. It was nice to be back to the DJ battles because I needed that to take a breath and get away from production a little bit. Sometimes, you have to create some distance to get inspiration and start producing again. Even though DJ battles and competitions can be stressful, it’s a refresher for my career. I’ve been producing a lot these past years, and I wanted to pause for three or four months and just focus on scratching because scratch is my main instrument.

What I like about turntablism sets is that they’re kind of rare. I can’t do one hour of scratchy routines if I go to a club. I can scratch on some tracks, and I always do on all my sets, but there’s some really specific and more hardcore technical stuff that I can only do at my studio, recording a video or in scratch championships. That was one of my main reasons to enter these competitions. I missed battling and being with my turntablist community again. Meeting with the worldwide community is great. Because of COVID-19 and the lockdowns, some world finals were only online, so there were some people I hadn’t seen for about six years or something.

You won two world titles last year as Dj Ride. How was that?

It felt amazing. I have won other world titles in the ‘show’ and ‘team’ categories with my friend Stereossauro, a really good scratch DJ and producer from Portugal. I always wanted to participate solo because it has another meaning to me. Winning solo is more difficult because you have to do everything yourself. I also had some unfinished business with the solo category, as some years ago, I placed last. This was a really good opportunity, and I still have lots of ideas. Some people ask me why I keep entering battles because I have 15 years of scratching experience, but the answer is really simple. I  still have ideas I want to present, stuff that I can’t do in the club, so I want to use the world championships and events like this to present the stuff I practice alone in my studio. 90% of scratch events are championships. There are some jam sessions, but not a lot. The community is really strong worldwide, though, and we also post lots of videos, which is another one of my projects. It’s called ‘Scratch Locations’. I look for nice places, take my setup, and record small videos where I’m scratching and freestyling in unusual, beautiful, or abandoned places.

How did you come up with the ‘Scratch Locations’ project?

I made my first video in 2018 in a cathedral here in Portugal, and it’s still one of my favorite videos. My editor at the time used a drone and really nice cameras. It’s a really nice way to show scratching and turntablism to a wider audience. It’s a video my parents and friends can watch and enjoy. Sometimes, the more technical stuff or battle stuff can be too hardcore for some people. With these small videos that I’m doing, even people who are not into scratching or turntablism can look at the video and be like, “This is in a nice place,” and they can enjoy the instrumental. It’s also another way to produce cool content for my social media because, nowadays, it’s difficult. These small videos are a way to show what I can do with my scratching and turntablism.

You said you had some unfinished business in the world championships because you placed last some years ago. It’s very inspiring that you didn’t give up and kept pushing. What would it be if you could say anything to your younger self?

Keep practicing, and don’t waste too much time on the internet, haha! No, I think I manage my time well, but I’m not the most prolific guy. I’m really focused on my craft, but sometimes, I need to step back and enjoy life. I’m proud of the 17-year-old guy. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change that much because even if I spend a lot of time on the internet, I learn something new every day there. I still watch tutorials, and I learned so much stuff on YouTube… It’s a blessing and a curse. I think everyone is addicted to the internet, but if you can use it for your own good, you can learn a lot.

On your social media, there’s a post saying you almost missed the World Championship in Poland. What’s the story behind this? 

There were two things. The first one was that I only had one month to practice because I decided to enter the technical category after I knew that I had won the Party Rocking one. I was not 100% sure if I wanted to enter the technical category because it’s really different from party rocking. But winning was a boost for me, and I started to dream about, “What about if I also entered technical? There’s a chance to win two world titles in like two months!” It was a crazy idea. The second thing was a gig with DJ Kentaro in Japan. I had one month to prepare everything and some gigs in Japan, so it was really stressful. I was going to bed at 9 a.m., and even on the day before the world finals, I was finishing stuff at my hotel. I tried to push myself as hard as I could do it. It was hardcore, but it was worth it in the end.

What helped you to push through? What kept you motivated?

The main problem was time because I had the ideas. I knew what I wanted to do and had every piece of music I wanted to use at the world finals. My main problem was time to practice. I remember the day that I had to travel to Poland really well. I slept for two or three hours and woke up at 10 p.m. I practiced till I had to go to the airport. What kept me going was that I saw that I had a chance to make history, which inspired me. How far I can push myself, even if I have limited time? I don’t recommend doing this, but it turned out great for me.

What got you into scratch battles originally?

The soundtrack of my childhood was hip-hop. The DJ was the one I liked the most; the scratching was very futuristic to me, and I wanted to use that as an instrument. One of my dreams was to be part of the hip-hop culture, but I couldn’t rhyme and wasn’t good at graffiti or dancing. Then I thought, “I’m good with machines. I always had a strong energy pushing me to machines and to produce. I really like to build stuff. When I was young, one of my hobbies was building legos and robots, so for me, it was natural to venture into scratching and DJing. Even nowadays, the setup is futuristic to me… The mixer with the vinyl… It’s a mix between the past and the future. 

I grew up in Caldas da Rainha, an hour from Lisbon. In my hometown, there’s only one more guy doing what I do: Stereossauro, my best friend. I got into scratch battles because I wanted to show people my work. The battles were always in Lisbon and Porto. The championships are a combination of everything: showcasing your work, having the opportunity to meet your heroes, and having to practice. You need to be really specific and work really hard on your craft. 

Who or what inspired you?

Back in the day, one of my inspirations was Mix Master Mike from Beastie Boys. I remember the track ‘Three MCs and One DJ’, where he was the main instrument of that track, and he did the beats, scratched the effects, and did the kick and the snare. There’s a documentary called ‘Scratch’, DJ Shadow, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash. That one influenced me massively as well.

In April, you were back in Paris for WORMS. You’ve also played at STUDIO Invites a couple of years ago. How was it to be back?

It was really great to be back and to hang out again with all the STUDIO crew. They are building something really special and it’s great to be part of it. Can’t wait to see the full video and to share some of the highlights of my set with those who couldn’t be there.

Interview conducted in March 2024 by Annelies Rom.

Thanks to Tomas for the great interview. You can stream/download the first single ‘Void Part I & Part II” from his forthcoming Yume project on STUDIO here.

You can also listen to Dj Ride’s Adrenaline guest mix here.

Don’t forget to follow Dj Ride on socials to find out more about his upcoming work.

Dj Ride