Shooting the breeze with VIRUSSS

by Chris Santos

Photo by mikesumoto

With the recent release of his debut EP “VISTA”, we got to sit down and shoot the breeze with Virusss to get the concept and inspiration behind the instrumental project.

Can you give a brief history on your DJ/Producer career from start to where you are now?  

Back in 93’ my older brother introduced me to Hip Hop.  At that time my brother was a DJ and I was a Bboy, but whenever my bro would practice I would watch, listen, and critique.  Being the little brother, I would go to all his gigs and whenever he needed a break I would jump on.

After a couple years in the mobile scene, fast forward to 98’. My bro asked me to go to a dj competition because his friend was competing in it. His friend happened to be Jay Rockwell founder of Orchestra Mob. The event we attended was Freestyle Session, which pretty much changed the game for me. I left that night in awe and I remember telling myself that I was going to become a battle dj.  I watched that battle over and over and tried emulating the breakdowns everyday. After a couple months, I entered and won my first competition, which included my future crew mates: Tanner & Cwitch.

Orchestra pretty much took me under their wing, any battle they competed in, I went. Anytime they prepared for a battle, I was there. Battling was life to say the least.

In 2002, after a showcase, Battlestar asked me to join the crew. Then 2003, I won my first USA title: ITF Beat Juggling. I finished 2nd in the world finals that year.

After years of battling and winning a couple more USA titles, I decided to hang it up in 2006 to focus on my future.

2013, I decided to jump into production. Being heavily influenced by KAYTRANADA, I’ve made a batch of edits that had decent concepts, but poor execution. Thru these failures, I’ve continued to learn, watch youtube videos, read about mastering, sound design, & chord theories… anything to help. I knew going into production was going to be challenging, but I thought about it like my dj/turntable career, start with baby scratches and build from there.

2016 was the year of VISTA.  My mom’s coworker gave her 3 boxes of records, mainly classical music, ranging from 50’s-70’s and that pretty much set the tone.

Who were some of your key influences when it came to VISTA?  

The two main influences of VISTA were Jake One’s “Making A Beat” series and Mikesumoto’s timelapses. Jake One’s series made an impact because of how simple, but technical his production was. Mikesumoto, a photographer based out of San Diego, would send me a bunch of timelapses and I build a beat from his visual inspirations.

Can you talk about the folks featured on VISTA?  

Making the EP, I knew I wanted to included scratching to show my DJ background, but I thought it’d be cool to have some homies on it.  So, I was fortunate enough to have two of the illest djs bless the EP: Dstrukt on “All Is Fair” & IFTW on “Mom & Pop”.  Dstrukt has always been killing the scratch game with his clean cuts and creative routines. IFTW, a DMC world champ, continues to push the turntablist scene.

Are there any key tracks on the album that meant something special or specific?

All the tracks on the EP were pretty special to me, but the one’s that stand out are Together, Freedom, Looking At The World, & Whoever You Are.  Together was one of the first beats I made for the EP.  I remember hearing the sample and already breaking the beat down in my head.  I made the beat in a hour and played the loop all day dancing in my living room.  Freedom and Looking At The World reflects our current situation in the world: hope, unity, and craze.  Whoever You Are is kind of the direction of where It’d like to take my music. Basically, music behind a visual stimulus. 

Was there a common theme for the album as a whole?  What were you trying to get across to the listener?  

The common theme behind the EP was to make something to vibe to. It came together organically and was mainly made for me and my friends to have something to listen to if we’re coolin’ or cruisin’ out.

A lot of your followers from around the world recognize you for your battle history, what kind of influence has turntabilism and battling played in your overall approach to producing now?

The impact of turntablism on my production shows with my sample selections.  I’m open and willing to work with any genre.  During my battle days, I was flipping rock, funk, hip-hop… basically anything to help me stand out. If it sounds good, flip it, and make it yours.

What advice would you give to the evolving turntablists in applying their skills and transitioning to other aspects of the artform?  

The only advice I would give to evolving turntablists is to start producing now, be true to yourself, and make music you like.

Photos courtesy of  mikesumoto

Follow: @mikevirus | Download: VISTA EP

Streaming now on Bandcamp | Spotify | Apple Music