Interview: DJ Luqe

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The beat don’t stop yo when Luqe is in da house! Quiet and unassuming this urban club scene DJ may be but when it comes to hlding it down he’s heavy like Biggie. JUICE jumped into our piped up whip and made face time with the Zouk resident DJ that keeps the hip hop and R&B flava flowin’ every week to talk about soul food.

Hello Luqe! What did you last eat?
Hello! I had mum’s cooking. Local flavour, rice with fried chicken, curry with sambal belacan. That’s soul food!! And of course, my teh tarik.

What is the ultimate food song?
Anything soulful. Check out the movie soundtrack to Soul Food. You can find your food song there for real R&B lovers! (laughs)

What music did you grew up listening to?
Listened to everything, particularly late 80s and 90s R&B, hip hop, soul, new jack swing, P-funk and G-funk….

You got the alphabets covered aiit. Is R&B is losing its shine here in the city?
I don’t think so because almost every club has its own R&B night. People just can’t live without it. Just look at Ghetto Heaven. Even after 5 years it’s going strong, but I’m referring to the kind of R&B music most people classify as pop, mainstream or commercial R&B. If you’re talking about real R&B music, Rhythm and Blues, it’s still around, but there are only a handful of people into that original R&B sound. For me it’s simple, you gotta balance things up. I play both mainstream and real R&B in my set so everyone can enjoy the nights.

Count us in that handful then. So what kind of night are clubbers looking for these days?
Nowadays it is more about keeping the energy level on the dancefloor high with more mainstream music and songs that are friendly to the ear. A lot of the more recent club bangers have electro, dance and house music samples, but anything that might play on the radio, TV, pop charts, dance-electro blends, that is what they are looking for.

We have this theory: if we went away for a year and came back, the clubs would still be playing the same hip hop a year later. Discuss.
I would say it’s because we have to please the crowd. It’s hard to introduce new tracks because a lot of people will only accept tracks that are played on radio.

What would you rather play?
I would rather play nice, smooth R&B and hip hop, then throw in some old skool joints between those commercial ones.

Where have you DJed?
Sri Hartamas, Bangsar and Flipside at Backroom, but only for a short time and on a part-time basis ’cause I was still studying back then. Flipside was the first club at which I gained my DJ exposure. I was trained there by the veteran R&B and hip hop DJs there. I never had a DJ name that stuck, but decided on Luqe when I joined Zouk.

So how is your Zouk residency shaping up?
Zouk means a lot to me. It’s opened my eyes. This is the place where you can see how serious it is to be a professional DJ. Even now I’m still learning about DJing and ways to improve my set. Everyday is a learning process. I get to exchange tips and tracks, share experiences with top hip hop and R&B DJs in the region … I never expected to meet those DJs/turntablists I admire like Jazzy Jeff, Cash Money, Craze and DJ Premier ’til I joined Zouk. I also have the opportunity to use the latest DJ equipment and of course there’s the thrill of playing in front of big crowd.

What are the pros and cons of the job?
I like doing what I do and getting paid for it. Can’t say I dislike anything so far.

Who do you look up to musically?
R&B producers like Ryan Leslie, Jazze Pha and Timbaland, remixers like Pete Rock & CL Smooth, hip hop producers like Swizz Beats, Just Blaze, Jay-Z, Dr Dre and Kanye West. And let’s not forget our own talented local hip hop and R&B producers, artists and DJs.

Ever had a difficult moment on decks?
Hmm. Yeah I got booked for the wrong event. In the beginning, the guy asked me to play hip hop and R&B, but when I was about to play, some other person asked for ‘Macarena’, ‘The Ketchup Song’…. On top of that they asked me to organise some cheesy games in between the set. I could see everyone was really excited about it, but I kept my head down and continued playing my hip hop and R&B. So everyone left the event early and the organiser asked me to stop playing. (laughs)

If you were defined by only one song, what would that song be?
I think it would be 112’s ‘Only You.’ I still play this song today. It’s like a must-play song during warm-up, an evergreen R&B track and I will continue playing it for the next 10 years. With the soulful R&B vocals of 112, and dope rhymes from Puffy, Mase and Biggie, it’s perfection to me.

What does the future hold for DJ Luqe?
Becoming a DVJ. Right now I’m working on music video mixing sets in Phuture and Zouk, gathering good music videos, experimenting with live mash videos. Besides that, I’m gonna venture into music production. Maybe Erykah Badu or Janet will drop their vocals on my tracks, who knows?

Check DJ Luqe at Ghetto Heaven on Tuesdays at Zouk, Urban Flava on Wednesdays at Phuture, 4Play on Thursdays at Zouk and Flava on Fridays and Saturdays at Phuture. DJ Luqe was recently awarded Best Hip Hop R&B Soul DJ 2008/09 at the Choons Awards 2009. More deets on Luqe and the nights he fronts at