DJing comes with a lot of perks and cool moments, talk about the crazy things you’ve got to see and famous people you have met throughout your career?
Craziest thing I’ve seen DJing was some girl giving felatio on the dancefloor by the DJ stage. People I’ve Djed concerts and parties for are Drake, Mack Maine, Lil Wayne, Crime Mob, Three 6 Mafia, Mishon, YG , New Boyz, , Real n Chance From MTV, Trina, Yung LA, VIC, Chris Brown, Tanya Stephens, UB40’s Ali Campbell, Don Carlos, Keak Da Sneak, DMX , Tyga, Brian Mcknight, Trey Songz, Ray J, DMC of Run DMC, Mr Fab, Terrel Owens Party, Akon, Big Tigger and 2 Chainz.
I’m guessing a DJ goes through many transitions in a career. Talk about the cool aspects and the readjustments you had to endure during these transitions from the time you an aspiring DJ just trying to make it, to the moment you established yourself.
Yes DJs goes through many transitions from venues to genres of music, from getting screwed to being appreciated. thanking heavenly father for the little skills im blessed with, continuing to hone on my skills from remixing music and re-editing vids to showmanship and being able to spin all kinds of music incorporating music videos and effects.
When did you finally feel like you had settled in to a pretty successful career as a DJ?
I haven’t really settled on the fact that I’m yet a successful DJ. there are personal goals I’m reaching for to get to that point where i can finally say im successful.
one of the highlights I can remember was being called at 1130pm to DJ at Pipeline cafe, I didn’t know what it was for but got up got dressed, and to my surprise, it was super packed and everybody was waiting for a DJ to start spinning….next thing I know I’m spinning for the Chris Brown after party with his DJ and Chris Brown dancing on stage putting on a good show!
A low light was spinning for this promoter who claimed to have a Hurricane Chris concert at
Pipeline Cafe, and took the money and left and never paid anybody for their service.
How do you feel when you come across a new DJ who does his thing but isn’t so much a student of the art form and is a little too cocky for their own good. If you knew that individual, would you advice them to conduct themselves in a little more humble manner?
I feel that those DJs were taught wrong or didn’t have a mentor to teach them about being humble, its goes with anything else from football to basketball, to being a rapper or a DJ. New cocky DJs my advice is to be humble. cockiness only brings in negativity and everybody else hating on you.
Talk about the many creative stages that went into the eventual completion of Soul Time In Hawaii.
I started talking with Cedric Bardawil of Weekends West last year in August. We wanted to do a t-shirt inspired by Hawaiian soul, which went hand-in-hand with a mix of local music. Here in Honolulu, I listened to a lot of Hawaiian records over and over, tried to feel out which tracks would fit the Weekends West brand, and then over the course of a few weeks got the tracklist in order. Out in London, Cedric went through a number of design ideas and revisions, t-shirt test printings, and getting the word out to other UK-based DJs in his network.
What aspects of the “Soul” of Hawaii are you most interested in?
Rediscovery. I feel like our current generation isn’t fully aware of the local soul music scene from back in the day. A lot of that music hasn’t really been passed on to us—Kalapana and C&K for sure, but other music has been forgotten. What interests me is there’s always something new to discover from the 70s and 80s. And the quality of soul music from here is unique, it’s got a sound of innocence and tropical vibes you don’t find anywhere else.
You may know the answer to this or possibly have a theory as to why Hawaii Soul Music hasn’t been preserved. What’s your take? Could it be because the mainland influence exists so strongly in the genre?
There have been pockets here and there of people documenting soul music of Hawaii in the past decade—like the Cool Hawaii reissue label in Japan or the Hawaii A-Go-Go book from a record collector in Iowa—but no single definitive resource for Hawaiian soul music. I wouldn’t say that Aloha Got Soul is that definitive resource yet, there’s so much more information out there that needs to be captured, but I’m hoping it’ll be considered the definitive destination for local soul music someday.
Is there a radio station that caters to local soul music?
At the moment no local radio station caters specifically to Hawaiian soul, but as the keyboardist for Kalapana once put it, you can hear “The Hurt” in your local Foodland anytime.
What are your favorite places on the island to dig?
Jelly’s, Hungry Ear, and thrift stores are my go-to’s for digging.
You enter your favorite digging location, what are some of the first things you do/”examine” on a record before you consider buying it?
First thing that catches my eye is cover art, then I’ll look at the details like which label it’s on, who was involved in making the record—musicians, producers, composers, engineers—and finally the condition of the record. If a record is totally beat but I know it doesn’t pop up often, I’ll probably get it. But if I’m going to find another copy at some point, I might leave it behind.
As far as the hobby of collecting is concerned. What did you collect as a kid?
Growing up I used to collect Magic cards, Pogs, coins and later on in my childhood sports cards. The day I decided to give up collecting Magic cards I literally gave it all up for free to my friends.
How do you store/protect your record collection?
In plastic sleeves whenever possible—which reminds me, I need to order more soon. It’s a bit of a pain when I take the records out to a gig, but I want to preserve the album as best I can.
You pick up a record that is crap. Do you simply add it to the collection or do you find value in all the records you purchase?
I don’t have a desire to own every record I see, I don’t want to become a hoarder. I won’t keep a record if it’s junk, musically or condition-wise, I only keep what’s valuable to me. At the moment, my collection consists of mostly Hawaiian music plus some jazz, funk and soul. Every record I purchase I buy because I enjoy it. There are some local records I don’t enjoy listening to so much, but it’s historical value is enough for me to keep it around. Other than that, I try to keep my record collection pared down to what I really want.
The place where you store your records catches on fire, what are some records or genres of records you would probably grab first?
There’s probably a dozen or so local records I would definitely grab if I had to save just a few in a desperate situation. But it depends on the situation, because my life’s more valuable than those records!
What is some basic etiquette most diggers follow.
I feel like the idea if what a ‘digger’ is has evolved over time. Initially a digger would have to find everything on their own and keep that knowledge to themselves, especially if they were breaking records as a DJ or samples as a producer. But nowadays I feel like diggers have a greater resposibility to share their knowledge with others instead of keeping it to themselves. Why? Probably because the music we dig up deserves to live on with as many people as possible, and besides it’s bound to pop up on the internet at some point (haha!). Look at The Diggers Union, their radio show is called “Enjoy and Be Educated” because the music they dig up is meant to be enjoyed by others, and they want to pass on a tradition of sound and art that might otherwise be lost if we don’t share our knowledge with one another. But going back to the original question: don’t hound a digger to tell you about a record—let them tell you about it when they’re ready.
Talk about your recent experiences on stage specifically opening up for Danny Brown and Action Bronson.
Opening up for Danny Brown was awesome. I love that whole “Turn Up” kind of atmosphere! My music fits right along those lines so for me & my DJ Tittahbyte, It was a Blast!! We both rocked for both Major acts but I myself had a lil bit harder time at the Action Bronson show. Feeling a bit under the weather, having such a stressful day, & making last minute changes in my set left me not as happy with my performance at the end of the show. I still received praises after my set from the crowd & promoters but I guess I will always be my worst critic. I felt like I didn’t leave my heart out on the stage. When I perform & wanna rap my ass off & give the best show I could give. That night I didn’t feel like I did that. Shows like that pump me up for the next ones though. It makes me mad that I didn’t kill it like I wanted to & how I know I could have. Can’t kill em all I guess, but the next one I’m gonna leave in a full body cast for sure. Getting to be an opening act for BAMP Projects & RVCA is amazing. They put on the best shows in Hawaii. It definitely gives us local artists great opportunities so huge mahalo to them for giving us that avenue.
What examples can you give me that show the sacrifices you make to do hip hop?
When I think about the sacrifices I have made to be where I am at it kinda gets me choked up. I feel most won’t ever get the whole story from me & this interview isn’t gonna want my book long response for this question either. For those that know where I grew up, how I grew up, & to be here doing music now, know how much was sacrificed to make this happen. I could’ve been anything, yet I chose to pursue the hardest dream ever. 11 years invested & I’m still doing it. 11 years alone is a huge sacrifice, after 2 years of doing something it isn’t a hobby anymore, this is for real. I’ve lost connections with friends & family because I get so caught up in chasing this dream of mine. Sleepless nights, long hours & endless days of trying to create something from nothing. All I know is I hope it brings me something at the end of it all, even if it’s just a smile on my face. Regret is something I would never feel for chasing something I love. That is something I will pass on to my daughter & make sure she understands that. Love More, Hate Less, Give Your All, Dream Big, & Believe In Yourself!
You put in enough time and effort there will sure to be a reward. Talk about the rewards you have received from the hardwork you put in to hip hop?
I’ve gotten to open up for numerous major acts, a lot actually when I start to think about it. I even flew out to Cali to open up for Bambu & Blue Scholars. I just opened up for Danny Brown & 2 weeks later Action Bronson since 2014 has started. From also opening up for legends like Nas & Dead Prez, those kinds of rewards are the ones us up & coming artists dream of. I got beats sent in to major artists for hopeful placements & have made contacts with directors of A&Rs for Atlantic & Interscope. Even if nothing comes from it, the fact that people know of us out here in Hawaii now, people that call shots in the industry know of our scene, our movement. That alone is a huge reward not only for me but for all of us here in Hawaii’s hip-hop scene. I am very proud to be a part of that & to contribute in any way I can.
Did you retire the “Pro” moniker or is that your producer alias? When and why did you decide to go by Jim Hurdle?
I ended my alias “Pro” mainly because when people would ask who I was & how to look me up they would google “Pro” and they would get the most random searches & it would never lead people to my music. Not to mention there are already artists & producer’s that go by the alias “Pro”. So I figured there can’t be another “Jim Hurdle” trynna rap & make beats right?! Surprisingly there are a lot of “Jim Hurdle’s” lucky for me, none of them rap or make beats too! Alias names are cool but I felt like people needed to know who I am & what I am capable of doing. So now it’s just me, Jim Hurdle “Mr. This What a Hit Sounds Like”.
Talk about your worst moments in hip hop and how you got through it.
Worst moment in hip-hop for me & probably K-Luv too lol, it was when we almost had our EP done which was originally going be a full length album. My external hard drive crashed & I loss everything we worked on, GONE!! Only a few tracks that were spared were the ones that I had sent out via email (which were mostly rough mixes) which then turned the project into an EP instead. My heart broke lol it was such a sad moment that I can barely chuckle about now, the wounds cut deep lol. We made it thru & like everything bad in life, we see them as learning & growth opportunities. Look at us now, We still “Rollin”.
What is more important to you constructive criticism or genuine praise?
For the most part I stay pretty humble. It’s just how I was raised. I do get more praises than criticism but both never get me feeling any kind of way. I politely listen & say thank you, but quickly forget about it or brush it off. Both can alter ones thinking so I try my best to not let any of it get to me or my head, positive or negative. I think it’s most important to not let any of it affect your thinking or creative approach. No one believes in you like you do, so most people may not understand it at first anyway.
Not including the present, when was the most exciting time in Hip hop for you?
I would say about 6-7 years back, when Tropics was the spot to hang out. Bones would be hosting the Hip-Hop @ The Trops events. DJ Revise would be cutting it up behind the tables. Kwali & Ill Hill, Perfect Median, K & Mox them would be in a cypher. Prie & I were just starting to collaborate (back in myspace days) & Me & Jerm were trynna show the local hip-hop scene how dope we were/are. Back then we weren’t accepted at first (Jerm & I) the scene looked at us like straight outsiders & curious as to why we were there. Low & behold eventually the scene came around & realized that we weren’t leaving & that we were gonna be here doing our music, like it or not. The persistence, our talent, & the head nod approval of some of the scenes most respected is what started our acceptance out here. It definitely didn’t come over night, this has been a working progress for years now. It was such a great moment in time though, for myself & for the scene I feel like.
How important has chopping it up and learning from artists, djs and hip hop lifers over the age of 30 been to your mindset and appreciation for hardwork?
To be honest I don’t converse much with older hip-hop heads. A lot of times I feel like they cherish the old times too much & it’s hard for them to accept the new music or sounds now. Not taking away from our history & the sound that we tend to love more, it’s just that what our generation is making now, old heads consider it to just be noise. Funny because that is the same thing people thought of them & their music back in their times. Life always comes full circle & things will always make its way back around, we just gotta embrace what is going on NOW because it’s all gonna change real soon. But I really appreciate our OG guys like DJ Jimmy Taco, & his grind that he has been on for years. He has seen all the changes & growth from our scene & the industry. I hope to still be around and still involved in music like him & still have that passion after seeing so much change thru the years.
Back in the day, big shows would feature the same two or three artists opening up for every show. Things have changed a bit in that regard where more artists are getting the opportunity to shine on the big stage. It’s definitely good for the culture. What are your thoughts?
To be honest the scene is still like that. I just so happen to be making my way into that “lil bubble” so to say. Everywhere you go in the world it’s like this though, Hawaii isn’t exempt from it. Most the time the promoters or people that put these big events together don’t have a clue of who is who in the scene or what it has to offer. Majority of the time they couldn’t name 3 local hip-hop artists if you asked them. All they know is business & money & they got a major act coming out to perform & are in need of an opening act. I have been very fortunate to rock with guys like K-Luv & Prie, those two brothers alone have put me in positions to open up for major acts. They got my foot in the door & got these promoters familiar with me & my work. As much as I wish it was my talent or work ethics that got me those opportunities it wasn’t. I owe that to those brothers. At the same time though, they opened those doors for me because they know how talented I am & how hard I work. My objective though is to open up doors for others, just like they were opened for me. I am a man of my word when it comes to things like that, everyone that works with me knows. If I make it, WE make it! I’m a package deal.
Explain your approach and mindset before you go on stage, during and what you feel after?
As long as I been doing this I still get the craziest butterflies before I go on. I don’t think you can ever shed that feeling. Once I hit that stage, my heart drops right when the beat does, then its GAME time!!! I literally zone out & lose myself in that moment. Out of nowhere my confidence just sky rockets & I feel untouchable. Like a champion. It sounds funny but it’s true. When I get on stage, give it my all, get off & immediately get praises from the crowd, it really puts all of this into perspective. All the hard work & sacrifice leads you to moments like this. I get off stage & I thank God for it all.
Where is your favorite place to write and record?
In my studio, late night/early morning, after a drink or two, smoking some goody, in the dark, just the glow from my monitor & the blinking lights from my recording equipment always sets me in the perfect creative vibe. That’s the beauty of having your own studio or creative spot. Just so happen mine is on the next floor of my apartments that I live at.
Upcoming Projects. Plugs. Shout outs.
Im slowly working on my next solo project “Southen Aloha 2” and myself & DJ Anrky are putting together a collaborative project that is all produced by both of us. We been working out of Blue Planet Sound in Kalihi where he actually manages. Klarke & I plan to do a follow up project after such great response from his “just Klarke” album. The return of Jim&Jerm coming soon too. Im also doing a lot of mixing & mastering for some local artist in the scene as well as making sure my beats are getting around. You may not always hear my voice but I guarantee you my music is getting around one way or another. I just recently did some work with I.A. & Jordan T so it not just Hip-Hop I’m making out here. I got my bases covered & I’m still expanding & thinking outside of the box. I wanna make a rock/Indie type project to test my skills as a producer as well. I’m always looking for ways to bring something different. I wanna send a Big shout out to my brothers. Prie, I’m so proud of you & all your accomplishments. K-Luv, keep getting it bulleh, Miss you, I’ll see you soon! Klarke, get back home so we can get back to cookin #GripShit!! My brother Jerm, We the best bro, never forget that! Shout out to my brothers Big Mox, S1da & BB/RunnTheStreetz, All my 24Block Brothers, shout out to all the camps out here as well, WorkHouse, Ill Hill, Angry Locals, FTB, Tsunami Mobb, 4Walls, Trackbaby & many many more. Hawaii’s hip-hop scene is so amazing & I feel it doesn’t get the cred it truly deserves. Hawaii Hip-Hop is a great thing to be a part of, I know Im proud to say I am Jim Hurdle & “I am Hawaii Hip-Hop”.
Was getting your own show at KTUH the first step that led to Djing in Chinatown? What were the steps that followed?
Music has been my passion since a young age, I always wanted to become a DJ even when I was growing up in Taiwan with the influence of my mom, she was also a radio host at one point. I bought my first pair of turntables back in 2004, and started to play around at home. I popped into Toogruvz one day in 2007 for some records, and Mark Chittom was working there at the time, we talked music and clicked right away. I applied to KTUH in 2008, and I fell in love with the radio and really excited to be able to share music that I love with people. thirtninehotel offered me a job in 2008, and Mark Chittom and Gelareh made me their resident DJ in 2009, and gave me opportunities to learn and grow, and many other venues and promoters in Chinatown started to book me. I also got to play at the Edition Hotel when they first opened and held a residency there for 10 months; the journey with Honolulu has been pretty amazing!
Talk about all the awesome things Djing and being part of Chinatown nightlife has provided for you?
Honolulu is not like other major cities in the world, we have a tight community, I enjoy playing music, making people dance and being part of the Chinatown nightlife, it has given me many opportunities to meet great musicians, fellow DJs and other like-minded individuals.
Is the entertainment at Bevy just live DJs? What other additions can people expect at Bevy in the near future?
We have DJs on the weekends, some great talented DJs on this island, and also special guests from out of town sometimes. We’ll be starting live music this spring on a regular basis, and would love to have some interesting and original stuff for the people.
On a professional level, does the responsibilities as a business owner take some of the time and energy away from music and Djing or have you been able to remained dedicated to both?
It’s definitely been a big challenge to be a business owner, many responsibilities and tasks to take on. The years of work experiences at thirtyninehotel come in handy and I’m still learning something new everyday thru Bevy. I’m trying to balance out my time for both DJing and Bevy, I actually started to have time to get into more music now days,and learning how to play guitar and start producing tracks soon. The good thing is I get to listen to my records nowadays when I’m doing work for Bevy.
Get us up to speed on projects you make be working on for Asylum Confidential.
So far I have been working on a e.p. with the label which this e.p. will be featuring remixes by my Philly friends. Also on a original track with Dozeguise (Zane & Higher Concept) which will be release later on this year. Also I’ve been working on a original with Loic Tambay, Higher Concept, Jimmy Lee. Hopefully later on in the year it will be getting release. As for releases, I have 2 coming out this month with Waska Records. “Being Disciplined” will be out on Beatport on Jan.27th and “Guilty as Charged” will be out also on Beatport on Waska Records.
Talk about some of your experiences playing outside of Hawaii that have helped shape you as a DJ and producer.
Last year I got play a lot outside of Hawaii. I got play at one of the after parties for the Movement Festival in Detroit, to playing at Avalon Hollywood to Primary Chicago just name a few spots. Playing at these spots was amazing because I got to dj plus showcase my production work as well as the crew. Being able to see that your track is working in those major clubs in the US is an awesome thing to see because you know that it’s working everywhere you go besides Hawaii.Also playing outside of Hawaii has also show me about what each city is doing with the music and sounds. But at the end of the day, despite what genre it is, these promoters or crews I play for shares the same common goal that we have here at asylum which to bring and make good quality music. That’s what matters the most.
Being around creative, like-minded people is priceless. Specifically how has being around the Asylum DJs helped you hone in on your own dreams of making music?
Being around them has helped me a lot. They will help me out whenever I would have a question or even give me constructive feedback on my production work. They will push me and also believe in me when I work on music. When they start to believe in you, it starts to give a some confidence which in producing you really need. Once from there you start to trust your work flow from there and things starts to pan out and at the end you have a track done and ready to go. Once it’s done, then it’s off to the next project and so forth and so forth. Because of this, I’m able to bang out tracks on a weekly basis and also work on collaboration projects with the crew. This group has given me the opportunity to finally live the dream that I’ve been really working hard for over a decade now.
What is a bigger thrill, seeing a crowd full of people you know go crazy during your set or playing for a crowd you aren’t as familiar with?
Usually at asylum, I will open the night. So I will get some people who are about it and people who are new and want to see something different. Then when I headline a party, I will play peak which already the place is pack. I really like to challenge myself, so playing in front of people who don’t know about, but comes up to you at the end of your set and said it was dope to hear something new is definitely awesome feeling compare to playing to a pack floor.Turning on new people to the this type of music is awesome.
Are you a favorite or an underdog?
I think that I’m neither a favorite nor a underdog. I just want to stay humble and enjoy all the moments when the time happens. Yes it took over a decade to finally get to where I need to go, but everything is based on time If the timing happen, it will happen. Having the patience and working hard from the bottom up makes these moments much more rewarding because you know how hard you have to work to get there. And of course once you get there is when you really want to make the most opportunities from it and enjoy the rewards that you work hard for.