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An Interview with DJ's Statik and
Phillie Blunt of The IllVibe
by Josey El
 

Editors Note: Thanks to the these two DJs for blessing the World Family with an interview! The Illvibe is always busy so to get together for this interview was something special!

GeoClan (GC) : Hey Statik and Phillee Blunt of the Illvibe Collective thanks for the interview! Can you guys start off with giving The World Family your top 5 favorite LP's individually?

 

Statik : Welcome 2 Detroit - Jay Dee, Hard 2 Earn - Gang Starr, Tunin Up & Cosignin - NDambi, Mamas Gun - Erykah Badu, Songs in the Key of Life - Stevie Wonder

 

Phillee Blunt : Illmatic – Nas, Like Water for Chocolate - Common Do You Want More? - The Roots, Fantastic Volume 2 - Slum Village, Wax Poetic - Wax Poetic

 

GC : Where does the team come from and where is home right now? What makes home special?

 

Statik : I was born and raised in Philadelphia but currently I can be found anywhere between Philly and New York on a daily basis. Most of my regular gigs are in New York these days. Philly had such a vibrant and exciting music scene at one point but things can't last forever. It will come back around at some point. What makes being in New York so special is that there is something fun happening at all times. On top of that, where else can you get a falafel and a car wash 24 hrs a day?

 

Phillee Blunt : I grew up in North Jersey, just outside of NYC. Moved to Philly when I went to college in 96 and stayed after graduation. That's where I met Panek and Statik, in that order. Everything started taking off within Illvibe as a crew, so I decided that was the best place for me. I would be living in Philly now, but I had to move back home to North Jersey due to some family issues. But I still get down to Philly as often as possible. I'm slowing starting to make my way into the New York scene. It's very competitive, probably the most difficult market to break into as a DJ, but that's what makes my new home special. If we can make it here, we'll be well on our way to achieving our goals.

 

GC : How long have you guys been together and where did you get the Illvibe Collective name from?

 

Statik : We've been playing together since 1998 at college parties, house parties, small club gigs, and doing radio shows. In 2000 we decided to make the crew official meaning we would consider ourselves an official team instead of just friends that DJ together here and there. And the name came from DJ Phillee Blunts underground hip-hop college radio show named Ill Vibe. We all dug the name and decided to roll with it.

 

Phillee Blunt : I challenged Statik and Panek to a battle at the college talent show...and they both defeated me effortlessly. As the loser, I had to carry their crates for the next 3 years while wearing a jester hat. Eventually they accepted me as part of the crew and now I have to carry their laptops. It's much better. Technology is awesome.

 

GC : How long have you guys been spinning individually and do you guys have any specialties and what do you love doing on wax?

 

Statik : I've been Djing since 1992. Did my first party in 1994 and rocked it, I might add (Ha ha!). Did my first out of town gig in 1997. Did radio for the first time in 1998. First club gig in 1999 and started my first club residency in 2000. Played out of the country for the first time in 2001 and realized this was what I needed to continue living for. As far as specialties go, I just try to remain versatile. I can go anywhere from hip-hop to drum & bass to house to samba and keep the vibe consistent throughout the night. I can flex skills on some turntablist ish too. I also work as the stage show DJ for several acts. I love it all equally.

 

Phillee Blunt : I got my first mixer in August of 1991. It ended up being the same ATUS mixer from the movie JUICE, but that movie didn't come out until after I got it...I SWEAR! Since then I've done everything from school dances to sweet 16's, mixtapes, weddings, clubs, etc. You name it. I like to be as versatile as possible as far as genre's go, but my strong points are Golden Era Hip Hop and dancehall reggae (not so much roots and lovers). I have the utmost respect for turntablism, and practice scratching when I can, but I've never considered myself a true turntablist and entered battles. Maybe I will do that someday, but not right now. My current goal is to improve my abilities at playing any style of music at the drop of a hat.

 

 

GC : Where do you guys spin on the regular? Any special events coming soon?

 

Statik : Of course, we have our monthly residency, The BODYROCK that has been running for 5 years +. You can catch us at Moodswing @ North on a weekly basis rotating each night. We always try to keep it quality and refreshing so we tend to bring in new energy from DJs from all over.

 

Phillee Blunt : Skipmode and Lil' Dave also have residencies in Philly. You can also catch us 24/7 on our site at Illvibe Radio.

 

GC : Best and worse experiences about being a DJ? Any special meetings or events you can recall?

 

Statik : Man, being a DJ can be the best shit in the world or the absolute worst depending on a number of variables. There are gigs that make you feel like you're on top of the world. There are those events that make you feel like it gets no better. The money is proper, the energy from the crowd is just right, there are no technical difficulties with equipment, I introduce new music to a fully receptive crowd and I leave feeling like I've created the spark that will change the universe. And then there are those gigs that happen the other 90% of the time. Those being the exact opposite of everything I just stated. And the uncertainty of which kind of night you're going to have makes DJing suck sometimes.

 

In terms of good experiences, I recently finished a tour as Bahamadia's DJ with James Brown, The Breakestra, Talib Kweli, Z-Trip, Supernatural, Lady Kier (Dee-Lite), and over a dozen other acts in Australia. Throughout my time during this trip, I felt like a million bucks. Then I came back to the states and DJed in Miami for people that didn't understand old school Hip Hop. It can be such a dramatic change from one gig to the next.

 

Then there is always the issue of working with promoters that don't know how to promote a party. Either they cant identify the market that works for you, they aren't aware that the market they already have locked down isn't your market, or they don't promote at all. Then they apologize to you about your money at the end of the night.

 

Phillee Blunt : best experience - spinning a whole night/set to a full-capacity venue and not a person asking/telling you what to play...they just love it all. The worst experience - having to deal with people that request/demand you to play certain songs, especially when they don't make sense...like for example reggaeton at a funk and soul party. HELLO?

 

GC : Why isn't more unity in Hip Hop?

 

Statik : Because of two main factors: money and fame. It seems to me that people are so preoccupied with obtaining one or both, emphasis is now placed on that goal instead of creating change through art, or just creating art, and most importantly having fun while you're at it. But to answer in a more specific way, the average person will step on another to get a beneficial opportunity before the next man because hip-hop has a ridiculously saturated market and not enough opportunities of significance to feed it. Now people will unify based upon industry connections instead of being likeminded artists which is why you see so much of the same thing in hip-hop and why so many artists change their vision after years of waiting for the audience to get it. If you cant beat the system, join it.

 

Phillee Blunt : I concur.

 

GC : Any thoughts on forming a DJ/Artists union?

 

Statik : Well there is always the DJ Collective in New York City, which is a structure of DJs with the common goal of making sure DJs understand the things necessary to maintain in the business and not continue to get taken advantage of. I think that's a good network to be apart of if you are serious about growing as a career DJ.

 

Phillee Blunt : Others have attempted that in the past and I think it would work as long as there is a dedicated staff. Just like any other organization, it requires the full attention of those that run it. As long as there are people who are not trying to work for that organization just to take advantage of secure DJ opportunities for themselves, it will succeed.

 

GC : Besides the spinning what else is Illvibe about and rundown some of your past current and future products?

 

Statik : Well we've been taking our DJ experience and sensitive ears and using them more frequently for our production. We've been having our music featured here and there on original projects and for remixes as well. I was fortunate to be asked to work as the Music Supervisor for the documentary about Philadelphia women in hip-hop, entitled Scene Not Heard. That gave me the opportunity to showcase some of my own production and my crews in a way that I never expected. I've also submitted remixes for a couple artists and hopefully one of them will get used for up and coming remix projects. Other than that, I've been working with Schoolz of Thought on ideas for their junior album and making beats with a couple different artists albums in mind.

 

Phillee Blunt : We're just like anyone else. We're all about fun, comedy, movies, food, family, etc and how to apply those things to what we do. We wouldn't play the music we play, in the fashion that we play it without the experiences that shape and mold our perspectives. We would eventually like to put together a DVD series, form a record label, release an official clothing line and just continue to brand ourselves in more innovative ways as we gain momentum.

 

GC : Whom do you do this for and why do you guys continue to work together? What do you love about each other's work?

 

Statik : I do this for progressive thinkers. I refuse to allow myself to take an easy route and dumb it down to gain a broader audience. I feel like the picture is so much bigger than parties and entertainment and I enjoy working with a group of people who all feel the same way about it, DJs and vocalists alike. I mean, Illvibe has seen the best nights and the worst nights in various cities throughout the world but something inside of us makes us continue to believe in it and each other.

I enjoy hearing Lil' Dave pull gems from the oddest places and blow people away. To me, Skipmode is a DJ that can consistently inspire me to test my bounds with an audience. Simply put, he can rock any party no matter the situation. Phillee Blunt pays attention to detail and I admire his ability to approach most things from a technical standpoint. A guy like him is necessary on any successful team. And Panek is the dude I like to listen to, to hear what mix he gonna come with that I may not have thought of. He digs for joints that I wont always think of. And he's the illest graphic designer I know. It is amazing to be able to convey a feeling to people through graphics and he has mastered it. I love these dudes!

 

Phillee Blunt : Simply put, we do what we do for the people who truly "give a shit" about their music, their culture, their community. Music, especially Hip Hop, is one of the most binding forces of any community. It's an extension of your personality, your morals and ideals. It's like a billboard that's always sitting above your head and announces: "this is the kind of person I am". It's as significant as the friends you keep, the movies you watch, the books you read...and ultimately the life you live. By that standard, I continue to be a part of this collective. We all bring something meaningful to the group, and if we never reach the multi-platinum status or become famous international super-stars... it doesn't matter.

 

 

GC : What can you guys say about working as an unit and its advantages? Are there any noticeable disadvantages?

 

Statik : Working as a unit enables us to never forget any detail. At least most of the time, anyway. Also, we can be in several countries representing the same entity in the same way and changing people around the world simultaneously. However, the more people you have, the more people need to get paid. Also, sometimes we don't all agree on issues, which can make things hairy but what group doesn't deal with that?

 

Phillee Blunt : Being part of a group can be a great thing when it's your birthday. And it sucks when it's someone else's. But seriously, it's great to know that you're not alone in the struggle. If you need something, there's a core circle of people to depend on. One thing that is a disadvantage and is out of our hands most of the time is that there aren't enough opportunities for everyone to be working all the time. Gigs have to be divided up as fairly as possible. We always discuss that ahead of time, but learning your group's way of dealing with those types of situations is difficult. It takes time and patience.

 

GC : What do you think of change (think of GeoClan.com's slogan of Uploading Change?

 

Statik : Change is constant. It's simply a matter of what type of change will come about. I think being apart of change that will ultimately help people is not easy so folks need to be ready for struggle and sacrifice for the greater accomplishment. Uploading Change: I can dig that slogan considering were in a new age. Now most things are right at your fingertips with the click of a mouse so its important to keep evolution as part of the grand scheme.

 

Phillee Blunt : Change is necessary. Improvement is change, just like problems are a change from how things should work normally. Like Statik said, it's all about the type of change that happens since it must happen anyway. What we all have to realize is that positive change is the result of people working together, while negative change is the result of negligence.

 

Direct any comments to music@geoclan.com

Phillee Blunt (l) and Statik (r)

 

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