posted: 07-04-03

interview : hairy palms

Please introduce yourself to the readers.
Serious: My name is DJ Serious and I'm a Libra.
Simahlak: My name is Simahlak and I don't like to fuss. My zodiac sign is Aquarius.
A-Trak: My name is A-Trak and I aim to please. My zodiac sign is, uhm, Aries.
Now, I read that each one of you is doing some solo stuff for 2003 and that there will be a project involving the three of you. Please clarify.
Serious: Right now we're focusing on this Audio Research compilation, "Rugged Radio Saturday", mixed by DJ Craze, which features production from the three of us. It also features production from Dave-One, D-Styles and Necro. Right now we're prepping for the European in promotion of that. In the meantime, we're also working on our own perspective solo albums.

A-Trak: Yeah, like he said. The next thing on our plate is this European tour that the three of us are doing in May-June to promote "Rugged Radio Saturday", which is Audio Research's first big CD release, coming out on August 12th. The CD market is kind of new to us so the idea is to introduce the label to a new audience. It's a mix-CD of our catalogue, old and new, and Serious and Simahlak produced a bunch of joints on there. I'm also cutting on most of those songs. Aside from that, I'm just doing a bunch of shows, and trying to integrate a lot of new material into that. At the same time I'm working on a solo single and a new battle record.
Why is this kept so secretly?
Simahlak: It's not really. Dave-One and A-Trak simply picked joints from what we all had in the vaults. We just let the music speak for itself when its available and accessible to do so.
A-Trak: We just don't talk too much about projects until they're really confirmed and locked down. Last time we updated the website (, I think Craze had just finished the CD and we were wrapping up the artwork. It was a bit early to announce it. We wanted to create a bit of a buzz, that's all. At this point it's really not a secret - we just hadn't updated the site in a minute! But that's already taken care of by now.
What I thought was strange is that you have distribution for every key market except Canada.
A-Trak: (laughs) Yeah that's just how it happened. We're working on that right now actually. I guess we were more preoccupied with setting up the major markets first, because it tends to take a bit longer. But Canada won't be neglected.
As you three are DJs and producers: how do you split up work?
Serious: We don't really delegate tasks to each other, but rather work with cats who we feel we're clicking with, either from time or at the time. So we basically set our own forum of work spaces and ethic respectively. For this particular project, as mentioned before, Dave and A-Trak hand picked joints from our catalogues.
A-Trak: Right, we each work on our own stuff and then Dave and I pick through it for our releases. Like Sim makes a ton of beats and then we'll be like, "let's get OD to spit on this one for the comp". Meanwhile Serious does his own thing in Toronto and sends us CDs periodically. And I do cuts on certain songs when they're ready to be put out. Most of the production I'm doing is just for my own turntablist projects. But when I did the beat for "The Grill" it just ended up sounding like a rap beat so we used it with OD.
Is there a rivalry between Montreal an Toronto? As Montreal is in Quebec and they wanted to be independent from Canada a while ago.
Serious: Not really. Sim is from Montreal and I'm from Toronto. We're like brothers from another mother. We got a tight fam base aside from music.
A-Trak: Yeah, I wouldn't say there's any kind of rivalry. Definitely not because of the whole independence issue. The last referendum was many, many years ago. And no one really cares about that in the music scene.
Isn't Celine Dion from around there? Do you see her in the streets?
Simahlak: Yeah, she's from Montreal, where I'm from. Actually, the joint I did for Troy Dunnit, "Mindblowin" was mixed at Piccollo studios where Celine records. But other than that, I do see her in the dollar bin crates. I touched her drums.
A-Trak: You know, I have the same birthday as her. We're linked in the cosmos. And like Sim said, we mix a lot of our records at this studio which is owned by her band. Dave actually saw her there once. He's convinced she gave him a little flirtatious look.
Do you guys speak French?
Serious: Il est midi.
Simahlak: Ah oui oui. Je m'appelle un crayon rouge.
A-Trak: Wow. Yeah, French is actually my native language.
I watched that movie "Bowling for Columbine". Is it true that Canadians don't lock their doors?
Serious: I lock my doors.
Simahlak: I'm actually checking that movie out tonight. But yeah, I lock my doors, mos def.
A-Trak: I lock my doors too. See? There's a common vision.
What do you guys do in Winter when it's 20 below freezing?
Simahlak: We go ice fishing and we're national bob sled racers.
A-Trak: I once met a guy named Bob Sled. Nice guy. Um, we just wear big jackets and stay indoors a lot. I think I wouldn't have practiced as much when I was coming up if it wasn't for the cold. But it makes it really hard to scratch sometimes when your hands are frozen. I guess it's the same thing as when baseball players train with heavier bats and then move on to regular ones.
Why do Canadian hockey teams have such goofy names as Montreal Canadians, Vancouver Canucks?
Serious: At least we're not a Mighty Duck or Minnesota Wild
Simahlak: I am presently growing a mullet. That's hockey hair y'all. I'm not even joking.
A-Trak: What's hockey?
What's up with The Allies right now?
A-Trak: Everybody's doing good, just working on a bunch of different projects. We've got our battle records that come out every couple of months. That's what I handle mostly with the crew. The next one is Craze's "Bully Breaks 2". Infamous is setting up the Allstar Beatdown battles for this year. And the new issue of Tablist magazine is shipping right now.
Are you guys still practicing together or has it become more of a loose collective?
A-Trak: We're not really practicing together on the regular. But it's been like that from the start, since we live in different cities: Miami, Atlanta, New York, Jersey, Montreal. I mean, when some of us are in the same city, then we always stay at each other's houses and practice and stuff, but we usually just keep in touch over the phone. There's a lot of "hey listen to this real quick" conversations. Normally we get together only when something needs to be done.
After winning everything at such a young age, do you still feel like battling?
A-Trak: No, and that's why I stopped... Well I wanted to defend the ITF title, and I did that. After that I realized that most people don't even know the difference if you have this title or that title, they just know you've won a bunch, so I decided to move on to other projects. I used to dedicate practically all my time to preparing for battles, so I took that time and used it for everything else I'm involved in.
What is your specific role at Audio Research?
A-Trak: I guess you can say I'm like Dave's right hand man. I do a lot of stuff like following through with people, or making sure mail-outs get done, or I'll help him get in touch with certain people that I might know through my own contacts, from DJing or whatever. We really share a lot of tasks though. Dave and I talk about 5 times a day so we're always like "OK can you call this guy? I'll book this studio session, you make sure this thing comes through". And I handle all of the turntablist projects: the Ammo battle records and the D-Styles projects. That's like my department. Oh and I take care of bookings. When Obscure Disorder toured England two years ago and when we did a west coast tour in Canada and the US last year, I put those together. And this year I took care of the European tour with my agency in England, Profile.
Are you afraid that you producing beats will be judged and compared by others with your DJing and winning championships? In other words, to you feel a pressure to reach the same quality level producing beats as you did with DJing?
A-Trak: For sure, but that's a good thing. It sets a standard that I have to reach. At this point a lot of people want to hear turntablism grow beyond the typical live format, or the battle format. There's a certain curiosity there and I try to work with that.
What do appreciate most about Simahlak and Serious?
A-Trak: Their haircuts. And their interest in the label. Not only are they talented but they share our vision for Audio Research. Dave and I don't work with a million people but we try to pick a few with whom we can have a good, loyal relationship. I think that by now they know that we're looking out for them and they trust Dave's input. And they're hungry too.
Any info you want to share with European readers.
Serious: We look forward to rocking shit for this tour, doing promo for the "Rugged Radio Saturday" compilation and basically share our musical tastes with everybody. Thanks a lot. Peace!
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