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What’s The Difference Between DJs And Turntablists? C2C Explain

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Courtesy of On and On Records

Courtesy of On and On Records

Shannon Carlin
Shannon Carlin Shannon is an associate music producer for Radio.com....
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A DJ is much different than a turntablist. Just ask C2C.

The French turntable squad of 20Syl, Greem, Atom and Pfeil told Radio.com that basically a DJ does a DJ set, which means the person has two turntables and plays a mix of songs. “He’s playing songs from lots of different artists for people to dance,” Atom said.

What C2C do as turntablists, though, is use their individual turntables to make their own music. They don’t play records. They become the instruments with each member using samples of guitars or drum beats (which they record themselves) to construct original songs. “We interpret our own tracks,” Atom explained.

The guys met in high school and bonded over their love of American hip-hop, which helped them define their sound now. C2C discovered jazz and soul music through the samples that were used on songs from some of their favorite artists like Wu-Tang Clan and Gang Starr.

For their 2012 debut, Tetra, the guys — who won the DMC World DJ Championship four years in a row from 2003-2006 — combined a little bit of everything they listened to as teens. “We have all this musical background and we are trying to mix it with something actual like digital music, electronic music and bring also this ’90s hip-hop stuff like the big beats and bass lines,” 20Syl said.

The guys have been playing together for 15 years, but didn’t start working on their first album until 2010 after taking a break from their side projects. Greem and 20Syl are in a DJ squad called Hocus Pocus, while Atom and Pfeil comprise the DJ duo Beat Torrent. The whole recording process for Tetra took a year and a half, mostly because the band does not use samples and had to personally craft all of the sounds heard on the album.

Atom joked that they don’t use samples for legal reasons, but in actuality, recording all their own sounds gives them the freedom to create the exact vision they want. The hard work definitely paid off. Their bluesy song “Down The Road” was featured in a Dr. Pepper commercial. While their soulful track “Happy,” featuring 75-year-old singer Derek Martin, is getting noticed for its dance-filled video, which was directed by Wendy Morgan.

Those checking out this weekend’s Weenie Roast, where the guys will finish out the night with a dance party, should know that C2C’s live shows are quite different than your average DJ set. “We wanted to break the codes of DJs standing behind turntables,” Pfeil explained.

The guys start out standing in a row on stage, but swap positions throughout the night. They also use visuals on screens set up in front of their turntable stations to help fans understand what’s happening on stage. “The visuals correspond to the sound,” Pfeil said. “When you don’t know about scratching and turntablism this helps a lot…to understand what we do.”

Courtesy of On and On Records

(Courtesy of On and On Records)

C2C’s ultimate goal is improve the live experience for their fans. And hopefully set themselves apart from the rest of the EDM crowd.

“People are just expecting [us] to play dance music,” 20Syl said. “We play a show like a rock band. People just watching us say, ‘They are not DJs!’ We are trying to do something new.”

Catch them headlining KROQ’s Weenie Roast Saturday May 18 at noon PT. If you can’t make it to L.A. you can watch the webcast from your couch.

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