DJ Vekked: From small town kid to world champion [Interview]
Toronto, ON – It always looks so easy. A flick of your wrist here and there and you’ve got some awesome sound. Wrong. DJing is a recipe that calls for lots of practice, heart, dedication and research and DJ Vekked will tell you just that.
Jake “Vekked” Meyer grew up in a small town called Paisley, Ontario, and now holds 7 champion titles, including: 2012 DMC World Supremacy Champ, 2012 IDA World Champ, 2011 and 2012 Canadian DMC Champ, 2012 IDA Canadian Champ as well as both the 2011 and 2012 Hamilton DMC Champ. Being from a small area which highlighted genres like rock and country never stopped Vekked in his childhood from discovering other genres.
In public school, Vekked and his friend always looked for new sound. “We were like hipsters trying to find the newest music.” he laughed. Soon, he discovered electronic music and took to liking to Fatboy Slim and Prodigy, who were both known for that genre at the time. These discoveries led Vekked to believe that the sounds in songs were created by beat boxing. From there, Vekked tried to record similar sounds on his computer and sampled loops and beats.
Vekked’s production work started in 7th grade and followed him into high school where him and his friends got into b-boying and breakdancing which is what really got the tables turning for his career as a DJ. “I tried to learn how to [breakdance], but I was really bad at it.” he said. “I was 14 and barely knew what hip-hop was, but I liked it. I knew that DJing was a musical element in hip-hop, and I still wanted to be involved with my friends.” From there, Vekked combined his passion for music with his interest in hip-hop and started his career. The name “Vekked” came shortly after his first flying experience. A pilot had explained to a young Meyer that planes travelled on highways in the sky called ‘air vectors’. After discovering that “DJ Vector” was a name that had already been taken, he shortened the name to “Vect,” then shortly after played on the word “vexed” which would leave him with “DJ Vekked”.
Though his parents had no idea what DJing entailed and thought he was wasting his time, Vekked always believed that he’d get to where he wanted to be. “Music was what I wanted to do,” he said, “in my mind, I always knew what I wanted to do with it [music]. I just didn’t think it would happen the way it did.” Despite not competing or making money from his at-the-time hobby, Vekked continued to practice. In 2007, Vekked battled in his first competition, the DMC Regionals in Waterloo. A year later, before taking some time off, Vekked received advice from fellow Canadian, DJ M-Rock. He was advised to battle to bring something new to the art form instead of battling just for the sake of battling. “What, exactly, does he bring to the table?” is the question. “It’s not for me to say. I try to bring new things to the table. I look at the legends of DJing, try to emulate what they did and latch on to things that people didn’t pick up on. I try to develop those things and avoid what everyone else is doing.” he said. Vekked took some time off to develop his craft. “It was a soul searching phase,” he says, “I was trying to find what was unique about myself and create my own style. I practiced my own things and tried to put emphasis on those. There’s no guidelines on how to be an individual.”
In 2011, Vekked made a return to battling where he would receive his first title as the DMC Regional Champion in Hamilton. “That was,” he paused, “…surreal.” Shortly after claiming that title, he claimed a second – DMC National Champion and it didn’t stop there. In 2012, Vekked became the first Canadian to win the DMC World Supremacy competition. What’s more is the fact that Vekked’s first ever exposure to battling was through his purchase of the 2003 DMC Supremacy DVD. Ironically enough, DJ M-Rock, the same DJ to give Vekked the advice to bring new things to DJing, was originally the closest Canadian to ever winning the Supremacy title by placing in 2nd in 2003 – a perfect example of everything coming full circle.
Competing doesn’t just stop at winning and as amazing as several championship titles are, Vekked still has a reputation to uphold. “There’s definitely more pressure now, especially if I decide to defend [his champion titles] this year, but I have more confidence now.” he says. “Winning doesn’t make you the best. I realized that there’s a lot more work to do and I’m still not at the same level as my idols.” Just like he received advice, Vekked passes on some important information: “You’ve gotta know the routes of the culture. You have to know where you came from to know where you’re going.” Vekked believes that knowing the history and foundation of any art form are the most valuable in anyone’s career. “Everything that happens now is built on what happened before.” he says. Vekked doesn’t want his fans to study him, but the DJs that have come before him that he’s studied, such as The X-Ecutioners and The Invisibl Skratch Piklz.
Vekked believes that a good set includes his own style and shows off as many skills as possible. He wants to avoid being repetitive and bring a balance between musical and technical elements. By combining a load of genres like rock, metal, salsa, trap, hip-hop, r&b and more, Vekked is able to use DJing as an outlet to express himself. With this, in two words (although he thought it was an awful question, but played along anyway), Vekked was able to describe himself as a ‘grand master’ – a description that is extremely difficult to argue with, given his current standings.
Check out the video of Vekked below and make sure to keep up with him if you want to be up to date with upcoming events and successes.
Written by Tia Gordon for HipHopCanada