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DJ Format

As part of YCG's look at what Coastival has been up to and where it's going this year, we're shining a light on The Engine Room, a first amongst equals for those in the know. This year's headliner is DJ Format, a Brighton based Hip Hop DJ. For more info on exactly why you should come and listen to the man, head over to www.djformat.com.

I got the chance to catch up with DJ Format in advance of his headline set at this year's event. We talked through his early years and influences, his take on the scene and the wider industry and his deep joy in discovering new music...

“Growing up in Southampton, everyone was into the Goth thing but that just seemed too miserable to me. It was Hip Hop that spoke to me, the drums just grabbed my ears...” This comment was typical of our conversation, the idea that these early experiences informed choices that were to define Format's life and eventually come to define him.

“I didn't have the money to start collecting records when I was at school so it was all about the mixtapes I could get hold of from the older guys. It wasn't until I left school and got a job that I had the means to get myself some turntables. Hip Hop is a lifestyle man, there's so many aspects to it. I tried beatboxing and all the rest of it but all I wanted to do was scratch! It wasn't like I was practising, it was all I wanted to do...”.

Talking to Format really opened me up to the all encompassing nature of the Hip Hop world. The tales of venturing out to hear certain DJ's, to get schooled by them in new music and what was cool, the ethos, the skills needed to get the best out of the equipment you could afford and, most of all, the love of the music. That said, not everything about this life comes easy to the man. “I guess I'm not the world's most natural showman, I've always been more comfortable digging for records and creating in the studio. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy the gigs, it's just harder than people think! But I tell you, apart from really rocking a crowd, the best part about going all over the place to DJ is getting to dig through all the record stores I'd otherwise never have had the chance to go to”.

When I asked Format about the music he rated, it was back to the idea of digging for tunes and then folding them in an interesting way into a set. “Cross genre sampling, that's where it is. It's taking all the things we can do with the modern tech but still keeping the classic Hip Hop culture alive. But I still love those 80's drum machines!”

It is the gigs that shape Format's week, with everything else being moved around the rigours of touring. With a scene profile like he has, gigs aren't hard to come by but Format's desire to keep pushing the boundaries can sometimes make life ever so slightly awkward. “No-one knows what to expect! I mean, I'm fundamentally considered a Hip Hop DJ but I play a lot of soul, funk, latin, heavy latin boogaloo – every now and again I'm in the no man's land between the alternative crowd and the Hip Hop guys but as long as everyone's having fun...”

Engine Room's very own Kista put out a Format release on his Soundweight label and also got the man to come and DJ at last year's birthday celebrations. It was there that the guys got together to play and talk records. “Tooley dropped this really rare cut that got everyone excited and we just had a complete nerd out. It was great playing back-to-back and chatting with guys that really know and love their stuff. I'm really looking forward to getting back behind the decks with them at Coastival”.

You can catch DJ Format in 'The Engine Room' on Saturday 13 February at Coastival 2016, hosted at Scarborough Spa.

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