For thirteen years, Philadelphia resident DJ Na:tev has been killing it in the DJ world. When he’s not immersing himself in his massive vinyl collection, you can find him in the studio making music, perfecting his trademark scratches, or building his online DJ presence on his radio channel at www.awdio.com/djnatev. Mr. Na:tev (real name Nathan Cheyney) was nice enough to sit down and spill some music tea with Philly Mixtape, where he gabbed about his humble beginnings, the one album he can’t live without and just how crazy recording in the studio can be. Get to know this amazing local talent below…all you have to do is..dive in.
PM-Kicking things off, tell everyone a little bit on how you got started in the crazy DJ world.
DN-I was always a musical kid, creating rhythm on any surface. As soon as the Walkman came out I lived in headphones. I would buy tapes and records at yard sales and thrift stores to get my fix. As a teen, I started playing guitar. Just a typical Northern California skater punk. I started getting into punk and hardcore, which strangely led to delta blues and into classic rock. After some college for audio engineering, I moved here to Philly for a handful of reasons and began to experience a whole different history and sound. A friend of mine had a pair of belt drive turntables and a basic Gemini mixer and along with another friend we rented a place. This introduced me to Motown and funk, trip hop, and a whole bunch of other stuff due to the diversity of interest in the house. Shortly thereafter, we started to get creative by taping nickels to the head shells to weigh them down and started attempting to scratch. It was probably 3 months before we broke everything in the kit and I was hooked. Being the investing genius I was at 22, I took my credit card and maxed it out by buying a whole new big boy setup and have never looked back since.
PM-Any favorite music artists or DJs who’ve inspired you on your journey?
DN-I’m always inspired by artists that aren’t trying to follow the formula. Intelligent lyrics, good stories, fresh and original feel. As for DJ’s, that’s a long list. Hands down, DJ Shadow really changed my perception of turntableism. After living with his albums permanently in my player for a while, I started listening to the guys that really forwarded the art to what it is now. Invisible Scratch Pickles, Mixmaster Mike, Cut Chemist, RjD2, DJ Babu, Jazzy Jeff, Qbert. So many talented DJ’s have kept me pushing since the start.
PM-Now, how would your fans best describe your sound?
DN-Funky, old school. Scratch heavy. Open format awesome!
PM-What makes your particular style unique from the other DJs out there?
DN-Most of the new breed didn’t learn, and never played vinyl. I have put a lot of time developing my scratch skills on vinyl and feel like that has become a rarity. I consider myself technical and clean, I do this because I love music. I think a big chunk of the industry has focused on popularity over skill for a while now.
PM-Okay, I want to ask a question that gets every musician I spill tea with every time. If you had to pick one record that you couldn’t live without, which one would it be and why?
DN-I can’t choose between my children like that. The answer would probably change every time I was asked. But I guess for the sake of pulling the trigger I’ll say Jimi Hendrix/Are You Experienced.
PM-Let’s talk gigs for a minute. Of course, as much as we want them to, they can’t all be perfect. As many times as you’ve killed it at gigs, are there any that come to mind that you feel didn’t fare so well?
DN-Of course, I’m an artist and my biggest hater. But every DJ who’s been around for longer than a minute has had some trying nights because of people/setups/promoters/club owners or pay f*ck up their night.
PM-Are there any artists that you personally would you like to see make a major comeback this year?
DN-Missy Elliot, no doubt!
PM-Absolutely! She’s actually been killing in the studio again, and I know that you’ve quite some time in there as well. Of course, it’s a blast, but what would you say is the most difficult part of studio sessions?
DN-The waiting! I’m a bit hyper, so sitting around through takes is probably most challenging for me.
PM-One more thing, what would you say to a DJ who was just starting out in the business?
DN-Hustle. Hard. Then hustle more. Be relentless. It takes a lot just to break in, let alone make a real go at this industry. I hacked away for 2 years before getting a respectable gig to speak of. You’re self employed, you have to be your own promoter, marketer, stylist etc. Most importantly though, practice the craft. Get really good, then find somebody who makes you feel like an infant and get better. If it doesn’t keep you up at night thinking about a mix, or how to do that scratch, or constantly pull you into the light…it’s just not for you.