Beat Drop’s very own head DJ instructor DJ C-SIK, also known as Rick Cruz, was crowned the National Red Bull Thre3style champion this past Saturday at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC. Competing against 6 other talented DJ’s, C-SIK prepared for weeks to ensure his 15 minute set included his cleanest scratches, technical juggles, word and tone plays, unique track selection and even a drop from his mom, Conchita Cruz. This is C-SIK’s first Red Bull Thre3style National win and he will now go on to represent Canada at the World Finals in Baku, Azerbaijan, September 1-7, 2014. Judged by world-class DJ’s, C-SIK paid close attention to detail in striving to catch their attention.
This years National Finals judges included Skratch Bastid (X3 Scribble Jam Champ), Hedspin (3Style World Champ 2011), Four Color Zack (3Style World Champ 2012) and the Magnificent Jazzy Jeff, whome C-SIK introduced at one point in his set before dropping the classic, “Getting’ Jiggy With It". He then scratched Jeff's famous chirps from the track which instantly garnered a positive reaction for the legendary judge.
After the competition I had a chance to sit down with DJ C-SIK and chat with him about his experience this year.
Who inspired you while coming up with your set this year?
"I'm always inspired by my peers… having Brynn (DJ Heebz) come to nationals with me had me pumped and inspired at the same time. He's so friggin' creative with his sets, he tells a story with word plays and tone plays. His regional set inspired me a lot. Adam DoubleYou's nationals set from last year inspired me too. He was one of the first (if not the first, I'm not sure) to incorporate finger drumming in his set. I knew if I was going to have a shot at beating him I'd have to incorporate it this year. Just to get in the creative zone, I listened to some of the finalists from other countries. It's a great way to think a little outside your comfort zone. I also listened to Four Color Zack's Diplo and Friends mix. His “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” to Future's “Same Damn Time” had me in stitches and reminded me to have some light parts - a la Chit Cruz drops (my mom!)."
What equipment did you use for your set?
"The Rane 62, 2 tech 12’s, and the Pioneer SP1. The Pioneer SP1's been a game changer for me since I got it. I had the dicers before, but to be honest I wouldn't use them all the time. The SP1 feels like a Maschine or an MPC, but laid out the way you'd want it for Serato, which makes it super fun to play with, and keeps your eyes on the gear more, as opposed to staring at the laptop. Anything that can keep me away from the laptop is a-ok in my eyes."
What was the most challenging part of your set and how did you overcome that challange?
"At the Western Canada Finals it was the Zapp and Roger juggle, just because I didn't really get the chance to clean it up completely. But after doing it a bunch of times in the hotel it became one of the easiest for me. But really this time it was the drumming. I had a part that was speeding up and gave me no time to catch the new tempo so it was hard to be clean but I landed it! Honestly, just repetition, over and over again as well as singing it in my head until it was completely second nature."
What did it fee like when they announced you as the winner?
"Just stoked…excited…shocked…overwhelmed…all of that. We go through a lot of sleepless nights. Stress and anxiety... to do these competitions, so winning just makes it all worth it. I've also never won a national championship before, so the first is sweet! People were telling me "this is your year, you got this" and it was the first time I told myself to believe it."
What do you suggest to up and coming DJs, and to your students? What can they focus on to try and be as successful as you are?
"Hard work pays off. Don't ever quit… there's going to be times when you want to quit, but those are the most essential times to NOT quit. That's life testing how much you really want it... If you want it, and you work hard, you can do it. Also, practice, practice, practice…don't ever stop practicing. DJ’ing is a craft and if you respect it and respect the DJs out there who put in work, and put in work yourself, you can reach the levels of success they have reached. I'm still trying to reach the levels of the DJs I look up to, and I know the only way to do that is hard work and practice.
BUT, above all else…have FUN. Don't ever forget to have fun. The best DJs out there are always the ones who look like they're having the time of their lives. 'Cause they are!"
C-SIK is Beat Drops "Dean of DJing" and has developed the curriculum for, and teaches all the DJ courses at Beat Drop ( DJ101, DJ201 DJ301). He also teaches private lessons, is a head summer camp councillor, and is developing Beat Drop's highly anticipated Turntablism course which is launching this fall.
You also might have had a chance to catch him this summer performing on the Calgary Stampede's legendary Coca-Cola stage along with other members of the Beat Drop family. C-SIK showcased his turntablism skills with Egypt, who worked his magic on the NI Maschine. Local singer song writer Jocelyn Alice on vocals, and Beat Drop’s founder Mitch Lee brought it all together with his production which he constructed on an Ableton Push.