cut-article3As the adage goes, “Some people don’t appreciate things until they’re gone.” In this case, the particular subject in question is the “art of scratch.”

As Hip-Hop continues to catapult itself into the next stratosphere, Technic 1200’s have begun to be systematically replaced by fancy downloadable virtual record-scratching software for practically anyone with a computer.

Even so, there are still many crusaders of the art left, including longtime veteran Lucas MacFadden better known as Cut Chemist.

The former member of Ozomatli and Jurassic 5 has made a living out of spinning, cutting, mixing, and scratching, and now he’s out to display his talent one more time by lending his services to the Nat King Cole Re:Generations project.

Combining the legend’s sound with today’s artists and producers, Cut Chemist was also selected amongst the elite group that includes names like Cee-Lo, The Roots,, Just Blaze, and Nas, to add his own little twist on the songs first performed by Nat King Cole himself.

So as past meets present, will Cut Chemist’s outward appearance of music get “spun out”? Not if he can help it. When did you first get into DJ/producing?

Cut Chemist: When I was about 12-years-old, that’s when I first got the love for it… I started break dancing and from there, DJ’ing wasn’t too far behind… So from there, I just decided to keep on doing that… A lot of people consider being a DJ and being a turntablist one in the same, what exactly is the difference between the two?

Cut Chemist: Nowadays they’re completely different because everybody is a DJ… Everywhere I look, everybody DJ’s… I don’t know anybody who’s a turntablist outside of my friends who have been doing it for a long time…

Especially with the introduction of Serato, that turned everyone into a DJ—if you have a laptop then you can DJ… When you’re turntablist, it involves more than just playing records for people, and it’s more manipulation of the sound and it takes a lot more skill… So do you think it’s a natural transition for DJ’s to ultimately go into producing records?

Cut Chemist: Yeah I think so because when you’re a DJ, you’re listening to a lot of stuff… You’re scanning through records trying to find something to play, and you’re trying to win over an audience with what you’re playing… But at the same time, you’re trying to carve out your own sound and your own niche…

I think those are all the same ingredients that go into being producer. When you’re a DJ you get to a point when you’re like, “Forget playing music, I want to make it,” which is the jump I made… So I do think it’s a natural progression… How did you get involved with the Nat King Cole Re:Generations album?

Cut Chemist: The people involved with the project reached out to me… I got a call from my manager one day, and he asked me if I wanted to get down and I was like, “OF COURSE!” I think it’s an important legacy to get down with, so I definitely jumped at the chance… How was the experience like working on the project?

Cut Chemist: It was a lot of fun… It was probably the most fun I had remixing anything, and it was really cool… Did you put any added pressure on yourself just because of some of the other names also involved with the project?

Cut Chemist: Not so much of that, I just put added pressure on myself because of me… I’m always competing with myself… I tried to make it different than the original, and take it out of context to make it my own… I was struggling with that for a while, but after working on it for a couple of weeks, I took the song into a whole different direction, and then I started enjoying it…

After that I was like, “Okay, now it’s up to Cut Chemist standards.” I changed it from a big band number to a song that was bold, but I thought it worked. How was the creative process like? Did everyone involved bounce ideas off each other, or did you guys work separately?

Cut Chemist: I was completely on my own… I was the only turntablist involved, so there really wasn’t anyone else who could do that, and also was associated with the project. So I wanted to exploit that, and I think it worked out well… What’s the one piece of production equipment you can’t live without?

Cut Chemist: I would have to say my turntables… [Laughing] [Laughing]… During the early part of your career, were there any particular scratches or techniques that were difficult for you to learn?

Cut Chemist: It didn’t matter what the style of scratch was, because any kind of scratching was my thing… How do you feel about DJ’ing as a whole? Do you think it’s becoming a lost art form, or is it still at the forefront?

Cut Chemist: I don’t think it’s a lost art form, I just think all the turntablist went underground for a minute, but it will come back… As far as it being trendy, it’s not like the people who were doing it stopped; I just think some people just stopped paying attention to it… But it will come back around… Also, when DJ’s/turntablist reach a certain amount of notoriety or success, do you think it’s still necessary for them to enter DJ competitions?

Cut Chemist: No, I never did… If I have any kind of notoriety, [Laughs] take it from me and my personal experience of not being in competitions… I was in one when I was 12, but no one knows that… Did you win?

Cut Chemist: Oh hell no! I hella lost! After that, I was like, “I’m not doing that again!!” [Laughing]