FIG Faculty: Andre Sirois - Department of Cinema Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
Hey everyone! My name is Andre´, and I will be the instructor for our FYE Seminar meetings. I've been a fan of hip hop culture and music since the early 1980s when I caught the breakdance bug and started learning b-boy moves. My fandom went next level in the late-90s when I began writing for hip hop magazines, started buying records, and then got my own turntable setup and began catching wreck on college radio (107.7 WFCS in New Britain, Connecticut). Today I'm still a hip hop DJ/turntablist and crate diggin' beatmaker (got a couple loops on my soundcloud). I've been lucky enough to share stages with and rock for artists like Pharoahe Monch, Chali 2na, and Gift of Gab (to name a few), have 60+ mixtapes in the catalog (including collabs with Common, MF DOOM, Kool Keith, etc), and have done scratches on albums for a nice lineup of artists (most famously the scratches on the platinum selling track “I'm Awesome” by Spose). Although I'm old and a dad, I'm still out rocking parties here in Eugene, making beats, and am always out looking for records (I mean ALWAYS).
All this love and passion for hip hop DJing and the music went to another level when I was a Ph.D. student here at UO and started researching the culture, its technology, and how hip hop DJ culture/technique has influenced the technology we use. I wrote a dissertation on this, which eventually became my first book: Hip Hop DJs and the Evolution of Technology: Cultural Exchange, Innovation, and Democratization (you can check a free ebook version here if you're feeling nerdy or have a hard time sleeping). The whole process was pretty interesting as I got to interview and build with the DJs I grew up idolizing and emulating.
While doing all this I started collecting and archiving DJ mixers. I have, in my estimation, one of the largest and most diverse collections in the world featuring rare pieces from the 70s through the 2000s. One of the highlight items in the collection includes a pair of original Technics SL-1200 turntables that belonged to Disco King Mario and were used by Afrika Bambaataa, considered one of the most important hip hop DJs and pioneers of the art, in his first DJ battle in 1976. This collection has been built into a traveling exhibit and I'm currently working on a coffee table styled book featuring photos from the archive, as well as interviews with iconic DJs who influenced and used the technology, engineers who designed them, and company reps who marketed them. This book and exhibit are called Designed from Scratch: A Hip Hop History of the DJ Mixer, 1975-2005. Coming to your coffee table when I got some time, so like 2030.