My Favourite Game

Dun­can Beiny on help­ing to turn turntab­lism into a game, us­ing videogame sam­ples in his sets, and cruis­ing across Cal­i­for­nia

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Revered turntab­list DJ Yoda on gam­ing’s hip-hop con­nec­tion

Dun­can Beiny, bet­ter known as DJ Yoda, is an award-win­ning DJ who has pi­o­neered his own unique style. He com­bines ap­par­ently dis­parate el­e­ments of pop cul­ture to cre­ate his worl­drenowned mixes and stun­ning au­dio­vi­sual shows, and has also re­leased three ful­l­length al­bums of orig­i­nal music. Beiny also took on an ad­vi­sory role in the cre­ation of DJ Hero, and is now work­ing with events pro­moter GamerDisco on a His­tory Of Gam­ing au­dio­vi­sual show as part of the Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val – a cre­ation which he plans to tour next year.

How did your in­volve­ment with His­tory Of Gam­ing come about? I re­ally like them­ing my shows, and a lot of my mixes are themed. I’ve done an ’80s one, a ’30s one and a coun­try-andwest­ern one. A theme helps me fo­cus the music and gives me a bit of di­rec­tion. Swanny from GamerDisco is some­one I’ve been in touch with about shows I’ve done in the past and at some point he said, “Why haven’t you done a full gam­ing show?” It was one of those things that was so ob­vi­ous I can’t be­lieve it hadn’t oc­curred to me be­fore. When I’ve done au­dio­vi­sual shows I’ve al­ways in­cluded gam­ing stuff and a lot of the time it’s been the best part of the show.

Which gam­ing sam­ples get a re­ac­tion? It’s the stuff that most peo­ple know: Tetris, Su­per Mario, An­gry Birds. With my AV shows they’re kind of bits and pieces; the sam­ple sources can be any­thing – movies, TV shows, car­toons – and it’s just nice to have bits from games too. The re­ac­tion’s al­ways been re­ally big. Given games’ rise in main­stream pop­u­lar­ity, the tim­ing works well. The in­ter­est­ing thing to me com­ing from a hip-hop back­ground is that you can re­ally equate what’s hap­pened with gam­ing to what’s hap­pened with hip-hop. They were kind of born at the same time, they were both un­der­ground at the same time, and they’ve be­come pop cul­ture at the same time. Is that a link you’ve ex­plored in depth? I al­ways re­search the shows I do, and right now I’m re­search­ing the con­nec­tion be­tween hip-hop and videogames. From the very start there was a Su­garhill Gang record about go­ing to the ar­cades – it’s a re­ally shit record, but that’s be­side the point [laughs]. They go hand in hand even to­day. There are peo­ple who’ve sam­pled from the start of com­puter game music and from the very start of hip-hop, and I think there are strong par­al­lels be­tween the two.

When did games come into your life? I had a Com­modre 64 and then an Atari ST, so I go back, man! Elite re­ally sticks in my mem­ory, and the music is re­ally in­grained in me too. But aside from Elite, the games I’ve loved the most are ones that don’t re­quire a big time com­mit­ment. Street Fighter, Mario… My years at univer­sity were all Su­per Mario Kart – that was like three years of my life! Re­cently, [I’ve been play­ing] games on my phone: Arkanoid- type games, Tetris and Snake. Stuff that you can pick up and play. Longer sto­ries and more im­mer­sive games are less my thing.

What was it like to be so closely in­volved in the cre­ation of DJ Hero? That was awe­some. My whole thing with DJ-ing is when you get to take it out of its stereo­typ­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment. Any kind of DJ-ing that isn’t just 1am in the club, I’m in­ter­ested in. When they ap­proached me and ex­plained what they were do­ing, I was im­me­di­ately in­ter­ested. We were try­ing to make a com­puter game out of DJ-ing and try­ing to break down all the dif­fer­ent scratches that you do, the way you make mashups, etc, while still mak­ing it playable and fun for peo­ple. I worked with those guys through­out the de­vel­op­ment of the whole game, and it was amaz­ing to get my own level. It was re­ally sat­is­fy­ing, tak­ing these two sep­a­rate worlds I’m in­ter­ested in and find­ing a way to merge them.

“You can re­ally equate what’s hap­pened with gam­ing to what’s hap­pened with hip-hop”

So what’s your favourite game? I’m pretty old, so I’ve got a very strong emo­tional at­tach­ment to OutRun. I have re­ally spe­cific mem­o­ries of play­ing the ar­cade ma­chine as a kid – it was re­ally glam­orous, be­ing set in Cal­i­for­nia and driv­ing a sports car with a hot blonde girlfriend! And OutRun still has my favourite game music of all time. I re­mem­ber get­ting a cas­sette on the cover of a com­puter game mag­a­zine that had the sound­track on it, and then I even found a ver­sion on vinyl too.

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