Rick Cruz aka DJ C-SIK claimed top honours at the Red Bull Thre3Style National Championships. His set was a mix of funky electro cuts, throwbacks and also included an opening recording of his own mother explaining why he is "the best DJ." THUMP caught up with C-SIK to learn more about the Calgary-bred DJ/turntablist, from his beginnings to what it felt like to win such a coveted title.
THUMP: When thinking about the crowd and the music selection what are some of the things that you check off mentally in your head? Do you think about the general crowd or the specific samples and/or insertions that will make it memorable?
C-SIK: With my music selection I try to do what I normally do when I'm playing out anyway—choose songs that I think they'll dig but that I really enjoy myself too. That's always a huge part of my selection whether I'm in a competition or playing out. If I'm not into it I can't get anybody else into it at all. I definitely think about the specific samples as well, so I can do creative things with them, which may turn out to be more memorable than the song itself.
What was that moment like when you heard your name being called as the winner? Who did you want to call?
Shocked, relieved, stoked and excited... All of the above. It was a surreal moment. I'd love to live in that moment forever [laughs]. I couldn't wait to call my family back home in Calgary, especially my mom, the star of my set!
What about winning the Western Finals?
A huge relief! I was stressing this year, it's been a rough one for sure and I've been burning the candle at both ends way too much. Sometimes pressure can work wonders though. It felt sweet, especially because I respect and look up to a lot of my fellow competitors.
What does a competition like Thre3Style do for Canadian DJs? How important is it to have live showcases like this?
It showcases more of the talent we have here. The world is already seeing that some of its best DJs are homegrown in Canada. For the ones who might not be that well known yet it gives us the opportunity to reach a bigger audience. It's important because it helps spread Canadian talent to the rest of the world.
Do you feel Canadian DJs are well represented in the electronic sphere?
Yes, yes, yes. Look at everyone who's coming out of here—Grandtheft, Thugli, A-Trak, just to name a few. I've always thought Canadian DJs were well represented just in general too.
Who are some of your inspirations?
There are too many to name. DJ wise I can get inspiration right here at home watching DJ Pump. I've looked up to him for years and now I have the pleasure of actually playing with him on a weekly basis, it makes me want to keep practicing every single week I see him. Hej Zeus (Ivan Rankic) is another, I play with him and his partner DJ Heebz. They're constantly working on their craft and they kill it every time I see them play. I also got a new partner, Yung Nino, who just started Djing recently but is already starting to kill it in the city. He reminds me of myself when I first started, and that kind of reminder can keep you inspired every time. I'm inspired by a lot of athletes too, for their drive. To get ready for last year's battle I just watched Bruce Lee video clips.
How do you think winning this competition will help you pursue your goals in the music industry?
My biggest goals have always been to travel and see the world and have my Djing be the vessel for it. It seems to be working out.
Any advice for others wishing to get involved with DJing and live competitions like the Red Bull Thre3Style?
Practice, practice, practice, but be as well rounded as possible. Thre3Style posts the criteria they use to judge the competition prior to the events. If you can tick off every piece, that's a great start.
A motto you live by...
A wise Rocky Balboa once said, "Nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward."
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