Scarcha Vybz and his 'Scarcha' Legacy
BY JASON LI
Remember the days when you would wait apprehensively for the latest album by that one particular artist? For Anton Frederick, a.k.a. DJ Scarcha Vybz, the Pure Garage series mixed by DJ EZ has always been his first pick and main source of inspiration of the musician he is now. As one of Headliner's leading enquired acts, Scarcha Vybz has decided to share some pointers for upcoming DJs, as well as the family story behind his very peculiar stage name.
How did you begin to learn DJing?
When I was young, I was always around the sound systems, as my Dad was part of a collective that was DJing in my hometown of Peterborough, and I loved how two distinct songs sounded when being merged together. Then, my Dad bought me Pure Garage, a series of garage compilation albums, and naturally DJ EZ became my idol. I asked for decks and got some for my 16th birthday, then I stayed at home for the whole summer self-teaching myself how to mix music, hoping one day I could mix like my idols.
Can you describe your first-ever professional DJ gig?
For my first professional DJ gig, I was booked for a 21st birthday party when I was 18. Like every musician's first-ever performance, I was pretty nervous because I did not know how people would react to my music, but I eventually received quite a positive response.
What is the main difference between working as a club DJ and wedding DJ?
At a wedding, your music has to appeal to a wider range of audience (from young children to people over 80), so it is important to choose clean and lighthearted music in order not to offend anyone. On the other hand, at a club scenario, everyone is there to party and is over the age of 18, meaning it is a more up-tempo environment where I can play music without considering the 'safety' aspect too much. That is when I can create the best vibes.
What makes your mixing and music different to those of other DJs?
Like most DJs, pleasing people is my main goal, but I believe I am a lot more versatile than most DJs when it comes to mixing. I love to blend specific tracks so that it almost sounds like a remix, and from time to time, I like to drop the odd, risky track as well.
What is a classic ‘Scarcha Vybz’ DJ gig?
At an urban nightclub where I am free to manoeuvre between different styles of music, whilst using the microphone to hype the crowd. Trust me, it is not as easy as it looks. I am not perfect at this yet, but I am getting there.
Which genre and musician are you most influenced by?
Honestly, UK garage got me into mixing in the first place; I loved what the DJs could do in their tracks. In terms of artist influences, I would have to say Robbo Ranx for dancehall music, Tim Westwood for hip-hop (I have been listening to him since primary school), and my Dad for R&B and reggae. Thanks to them, I now cover all these genres in great depth.
You have been playing in major clubs and bars in the UK for over 10 years, what advice would you give to young artists who are just starting out as DJs for private events?
First and foremost, have a portfolio. It is good telling people you can DJ, but where is your evidence? Also, create mixes and put them out on social media, CDs, or whatever format you can; this helps to get your name out there. And maybe consider volunteering to DJ for your local college or university party.
What do you do to ensure your audience can stay engaged throughout the entirety of your performance?
Incorporate a mesh of tempo changes and genres, as different people favor different things. It is also very important to be aware of the crowd and the energy levels at all times, so that you can adapt accordingly.
You secure quite a few bookings through the platform each month. What advice would you give to your peers on obtaining bookings regularly through Headliner?
Do not overcharge. Also, provide plenty of examples of your DJ tracks using the SoundCloud or Mixcloud links, so that your clients can know what to expect from you.
How did you come up with the stage name ‘Scarcha Vybz’?
Good question. I was struggling to come up with a DJ name in the beginning. As mentioned above, my Dad used to be a part of a DJing collective, which was called Scarcha Sound. They are no longer working together, so to keep their name 'alive', I kept the ‘Scarcha' part, but replaced ‘Sound’ with ‘Vybz’... because bringing happy 'vybz' to people is all that matters!