The sun beats down on a Brooklyn street and the neighbors are outside chatting or watering the plants. But inside DJ Scientific‘s secret lair, the beats are flowing, the strings are popping and the DJ’s cat is just confused by it all. I’ve just walked a few blocks from the G train to spend some time with composer/turntablist, Elan Vytal.
DJ Scientific is Elan Vytal, who mixes his unique beat juggling and scratching with classical and world musicians. His is a lush, but gritty, hybrid urban sound. Rocking nightclubs from Oakland, CA to New York City, performing live in opera houses and concert halls around the world, Elan’s numerous collaborations have taken him far beyond the standard notions of a DJ. One could say he’s a virtuoso on the decks, always striving to develop his “instrument.”
You may have heard of Elan through his work with composer/violinist DBR, Daniel Bernard Roumain. Elan is a member of DBR’s nine-piece ensemble, DBR & THE MISSION. From Elan’s bio: “The duo began collaborating extensively, creating and premiering a series of new works, including Call Them All, a laptop concerto written by DBR with sound design by Elan Vytal, commissioned by American Composers Orchestra, which premiered at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall in 2006, and Sonata for Violin and Turntables, an hour-long touring program co-produced by Elan Vytal and DBR…”
Hanging with Elan Vytal at his Brooklyn apartment, he told me about how he made the switch from rapper/MC to DJ, how he’s developed his career, and about his interactive relationship with live musicians using turntables, Serato Scratch Live and Ableton. You can listen to his comments and bits of his music here:
As a special treat, Elan invited six string violinist Matt Szemela (also known as String Theory) to jam on a couple of songs they’re writing as the group LB (Pound). So here, they did a demo of their set-up and performed two pieces for our home video cameras: