DJ Pogo – The Prime Spinner of British Hip Hop

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His name is revered and respected like folklore in the British Hip Hop community for being one of the early pioneering DJ’s of its Hip Hop scene, shaping and cultivating the community through the element of djing. DJ Pogo’s name is synonymous with the UK hip hop scene, charging the way with his unique form of break – beat djing which eventually led him to win the 1997 UK DMC competition, place him 2nd in the European ITF finals and 3rd in the 1999 UK DMC Team completion, with his En4Cers crew.

His history in the industry runs deep as he has worked with and toured alongside some of the most epic artists in the game. From touring with Gangstarr and KRS-One as tour DJ to production credits with Monie Love and De La Soul, DJ Pogo is, himself an element of Hip Hop. His career has been crafted from the school of hard knocks, as he climbed the ladder from club dj in London to working his fader off to hold court as one of the country’s greatest exports, touring the world and spinning in countries and cities as far and wide as the imagination holds. As the creator of the globally successful “Block Party Breaks” CD compilations, one thing remains steadfastly true about DJ Pogo – his reality and sense of self have never fallen prey to the fame and titles bestowed on an enviable DJ career, instead focussing on supporting and helping those new dj’s on the come up, eventually placing him in the tutorial role he was born to do.

Pogo is a far way away from his hometown of London, calling the exotic surrounds of Sao Paulo, Brazil home now. As he heads up the DMC DJ School headquarters in this tourist mecca, Pogo is far from gone and forgotten. His travel is frequent but not as ardent as before due to his focus on running the DMC Brazil HQ and fatherhood duties, Pogo is as in demand as always. His recent show alongside the founder of Hip Hop himself DJ Kool Herc is a true testament to the honour, respect and love he garners from fans and peers alike. DJ Pogo has always been a mentor and a great inspiration to me on my DJ journey as no doubt his genius and wisdom will continue to inspire the many up and coming spin doctors in his wake! This is our conversation …….

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In the 12 or so years I have known you Pogo I believe this is my first interview with you ….talk about a privilege ;o) How are you brother? What’s new with you?

I am really fine, doing well in Brazil.                       

You are now based in Rio, Brazil but still touch base in your hometown of London often …..what’s the DJ community like in Rio and what is your role in that amazing city?

I live in Sao Paulo city and it is a big and great city, there are so many clubs and bars, and the city is so big that there is always a new place you can play and bless people with your sound. I run the DMC in Brazil as well as teach. So there is lot’s to do out here.

You have been a pioneer in the DJ game for well over 2 decades, holding court as one of the original and best Break Beat DJ’s in not only the UK but the world. As an Executioners DJ to supporting tour DJ for some of hip hops biggest names…. Pogo you have seen and done it all! How would best describe what your DJ journey has been like and where has it placed you all these years later?

I think I have been blessed to meet so many nice people and travelled to some wonderful countries. I don’t think I could have dreamed of it being any better. One thing that I can say is that through music you can touch millions of people without saying a word and that is a special kind of power to have and inspire others.

Your thoughts on the how art of djing has changed and evolved since its inception and has it been for the benefit or detriment to its art form?

Wow this is a difficult question to answer as there are many things good and bad involved with djing now. Djing now isn’t just about finding and playing records anymore as technology has created many different types of Dj’s. Let’s look at it from different perspectives;

The DJ

The Dj has changed so much now there are some who have good morals and some that don’t, there are some who are every good at their craft and there are some who are not. As far as being a DJ I think you should be yourself and do you and if people like you that’s cool, if they don’t then they don’t ,but just dont try to be someone or something you’re not as the audience will follow you and your right or wrong teachings.

The Audience

Which brings me to the audience, they just come to be entertained, so it doesn’t matter what format you play on as long as you deliver the goods. If it’s a rare funk party then you would be expected to turn up with the rare funk originals, if it’s a scratch show case you would be expected to turn up with your own skills to keep the audience happy. At the end of the day as Dj’s we are all in the happy business and they means to please and move the crowd… nuff said!

What are your thoughts on Hip Hop today and how has this genre changed in its message and artistry and especially the role of the DJ? Do you think the role is still a pivotal one or has it lost its cool?

This is another good and difficult question to answer but here goes. Hip Hop is a word that I think a lot of people use as a pass to do other things that have nothing to do with the culture, first you see a lot of rappers (not MC’s) saying ‘I am a Hip Hop artist’ but they do nothing for the culture. I say rappers as they seem to be the ones who are called hip hop artists by the media and if you know about the culture you would know that rapping is just one of the elements. But it’s not just rappers its Dj’s who are pimping the art form and even dancers. And not forgetting some promoters who are not helping by booking weak artists who are not ready to or can’t rock a stage.

There are so many things wrong that it is stifling the things that are good, and the good people who help and support the culture suffer. As for DJ’s, there are still some good Dj’s out there, but there are a lot of bad ones, I mean real lot of bad DJ’s. It’s not just in Hip Hop it is Dj’s in general. Most of them don’t learn their craft well enough to perform so they have pre-recorded sets and worked out mixes or they just copy the next dude. A DJ IS SUPPOSE TO TEACH THE AUDINCE AND INTRODUCE THEM TO NEW GOOD MUSIC. I am sorry but not enough DJ’s do that. Don’t take my word for it if you pick 20 Dj’s from your country and compare them, you will see who is good. The best one’s will stand out and you will remember things that have done at some point in time to musically touch you.

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You have toured the world as a DJ and support DJ for countless artists and seen things most of us will probably never encounter. Out of everything you have experienced can you perhaps narrow down your top 3 favourite places to play in and the artists / tours you really got the biggest kick out in your career thus far?

Wow very hard to choose, what I will do is choose a few that I find my self-thinking about a lot. 1. Touring with Cutmaster Swift the 1988 DMC World champion as we came up together and we are real close like brothers. We shared so many great times together that I will never ever forget them.

2. Doing the Gang Starr tour of Europe with MC Mello and Jonzi D. that tour should have been a movie so much drama happened on that tour and rap moments it was crazy. You had the Perverted Monks and Jeru on that tour too so nuff said about that.

3. Touring with Courtney Pine as I got to meet so many jazz greats that I thought I would never get to meet and chill with and C.P’s Band were so cool it was like touring with your family and sharing great moments with them.

The music / artists that inspire DJ Pogo and why?

Sorry to many to name it is impossible. It’s not just music that inspires me it could be any life moment that moves me and then you have to express what you feel, some do this by writing or singing I do it through Djing. I say to people all the time you can put a song to every major event that has happened to you in your life, I try to always do this when I play for the crowd.

What are the projects you are working on right now? Any more DJ tours and travel coming up on your agenda soon?

A lot of people don’t know but I have been also teaching since 1997 so I have been doing this in Brazil. I have just started producing tracks again after fitting out my studio out here. Brazil is a very big country so traveling round djing takes up lots of my time. I am planning a small tour round Europe and in Dec.

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The greatest piece of advice you could give an upcoming DJ that wants to make this choice a career path? The highs and lows and ultimate pitfalls?

For any person that wants to be a DJ ask yourself first do you love it? If the answer is yes then treat it like so. Make sure you know your craft from the foundation up, make sure you know everything about the history as this will give you self-confidence and help you when you hit a mine block. And make sure you bring out your own personality in your Djing as that will separate you from the other Dj’s and is the difference between a good DJ and a great DJ.

Your greatest motivation in this life?

That’s easy my friends, family, and love of Djing!

  

Always Hip Hop,

Ms Hennessey

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