by Matthew J
Introduce yourself to our readers. Who is T-Woo? What’s your story? How did you get your start in DJing?
T-Woo is Trevor Wood, born and raised in Halifax NS. I got my start when I met DJ Cosmo, who is now living in Montreal and is Azealia Banks tour DJ. Back in 2005/2006 he was showing me some of the basics and then let me open up for him at a Wednesday night Hip Hop show at the Seahorse called, “Lifted”. We then went on to create our “Doin’ Damage” Hip Hop night together.
Doin’ Damage has been a staple in Halifax for quite some time and I want to speak further on that subject but before we do, I want to ask, why have chosen to remain in Halifax? Don’t get me wrong, I mean, it’s great that you’re here; you deserve respect for sticking around and contributing to the scene. However you’ve held shows in bigger Canadian markets- where you could easily receive more $$$ and opportunities. I’m curious to know what factors keep you loyal to Nova Scotia?
The main reasons I’m still in Nova Scotia are: (a) I’m going back to school for graphic design, (b) my family is here, (c) and I love the summers here. I can see myself re-locating in the next couple years. Most of my friends are in Toronto right now and in the future I can see myself there or in Montreal. Although I love Halifax, I do feel less attached to it now than I ever have.
Earlier you mentioned that “Doin’ Damage” came off the heels of the “Lifted” series with DJ Cosmo. I want to know about the actual the concept behind “Doin’ Damage”. How did it come to fruition and in your opinion, what differentiates it from other shows in Halifax?
It started as a fun place to go listen/dance to good rap music and I believe that it has consistently been that for over 5 years. I don’t think it’s really that different from other Hip Hop nights, but we’ve always tried to make it fun for everyone- from the hardcore hip hop head to the person who got dragged there by their friend and doesn’t really want to be there. I think consistency is the biggest factor in keeping a club night alive.
Consistency would definitely keep club nights alive in the city, yes. I want to talk about your consistency as a DJ. Considering that Halifax isn’t the largest city in Canada along with the fact that you are frequently performing – in the same venues; in front of crowds- I wonder how you are able to stay consistent as a DJ? A lot of people in your position become complacent; allowing the quality of their shows to decline, you however seem to stay focused on your craft. What motivates you to get out there and rock the crowd each night?
I’ll make a long story short by saying, on the most basic of levels, I’m motivated by my love for what I do. I love playing music for people and making them dance. There is a lot of bullshit that you have to put up with in Halifax, but at the end of the day I still love DJ-ing
You mentioned having to put up with bullshit in the city and I know that to be true, especially when Hip Hop is concerned. The younger people want it however the “old guard” would rather cater to its ‘conservative celtic/river dance style’ of music. Despite all the opposition thrown its way, what is the hip hop scene like in Halifax? As somebody who operates within it, how would you describe the overall community? Is it growing? Is it stagnating? Who are some people -up and coming artists- you feel we should keep our eyes on?
Halifax’s Hip Hop scene is very small and is always changing. I wouldn’t say its stagnating but it’s definitely in a period of rebuilding.
The biggest problem is Halifax’s lack of venues right now and hip hop shows are always a hard sell to bar managers/owners. Most bars here are booking bands or playing it safe with top 40s DJs.
Kids don’t seem to be buying turntables anymore to be honest, DJ-ing is in a major evolution
period right now, it should be interesting to see how people are DJ-ing in ten years.
I learned early on that being a DJ in Halifax means designing your own posters, being your own promoter, booking your own shows, basically doing everything yourself.
There are lots of MC’s here who are really talented. I wouldn’t describe them as up and comers, but people should check out Ghettosocks, Ambition, Quake, Cam Smith, Kayo, and Jay Mayne to name a few. Also, Hemsworth is a producer from Halifax who is blowing up, check him out, too.
If you were able make one major change or improvement to the Hip Hop scene in Halifax, what would it be?
I would love to see more up and coming DJs & producers. I would love to see more kids buying turntables. Drew Moore and Concrete Roots do after school programs teaching kids how to break-dance, I think it would be amazing to use this formula to teach kids how to DJ, every couple years someone tries to start a DJ school but it never really seems to get off the ground.
Motivation and follow-through seem to be limited here. In my opinion, many people just aren’t as goal-oriented within the scene. Keeping on the subject of motivation and setting goals; what is your biggest aspiration as a DJ? What do you hope to achieve through this form of art?
Hhmmmmmm, that’s a tough one, I’d love to do a canadian tour while driving across Canada. I’ve always wanted to open up for A-Trak. I’d like to get more into the production side of things and add that to my resume.
Your signature shows – “Bleu Nuit” and the aforementioned “Doin’ Damage”- have some very unique advertisements which feature recognizable pop culture imagery, especially shots from the 80’s. Halifax isn’t necessarily known for its advertising strength, so tell me, who designs your posters and what drove the idea of promoting shows in the particular way that you do?
I do all the “Doin’ Damage” posters and have from the beginning. Loukas Crowther (production manager at ‘The Coast’ – a weekly paper in Halifax) handles most of the “Bleu Nuit” ads. We usually just start with an image that grabs your attention and go from there. I think it’s important that you don’t take things too seriously and I think that reflects in our advertising.
This fall, you’re enrolled to studying graphic design at a local college in Halifax. Talk to me about the allure of graphic design and what exactly is guiding towards taking that particular of study rather than something like musical engineering??
I’ve always had an interest in advertising and creating visually stimulating things. I have a photography degree from NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design) here, in Halifax, and both my parents are graphic designers. I’ve always done most of my own posters, and that transformed into a love of graphic design. I love DJ-ing and music in general but I always like having my hands in different pots. As the great GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan once said, “You need to diversify yo’ bonds.”
Diversity is key, no doubt but so is personal knowledge and gaining wisdom. Back on the topic of DJing, what would say is the greatest lesson you have learned?
I would have to say the greatest lesson for myself or any other DJ, for that matter, would be learning how to read the crowd.
And how exactly does one “read” the crowd?
You have to see what people react to and get excited for and then adjust accordingly. Look at people’s facial expressions; look at who is dancing and who is not. In my opinion, the best DJs meet the crowd halfway; playing songs that the crowd wants hear and also taking risks and playing songs that may not be expected or recognized.
What advice would you give to any person who wants to be a DJ?
Practice. You really have to practice every day. They should go to shows, watch how the more experienced DJs control a crowd. Just have fun and absorb as much as you can. Don’t use ‘Virtual DJ’ *hahaha*. Make it look like your having fun when you are playing live; watch the crowd and don’t be looking down at your gear the whole time. Engaging with the room is so important.
If somebody is interested in booking you for a show or checking out your music, where can they find you?
Before we go, is there anybody you want to acknowledge or shout-out?
First and foremost DJ COSMO, he was the first guy who told me I had potential, took an interest in me and taught me the basics. As a DJ growing up in Halifax it would be hard not to acknowledge Skratch Bastid as a massive influence, went to all his shows before he moved away to Montreal, and I’ve opened up for him here in Halifax three or four times, in the last couple years. He always continues to improve and evolve, which is important as a DJ. Lastly, I would say A-Trak, when I saw him in the “Scratch” documentary that was the moment I started saving up for turntables.