Mashing and scratching

January 01, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

FREDERICK, Md. - Like many DJs starting off, AJ Naylor entertained the thought of using his grandmother's record player to teach himself how to scratch.

But he never did it.

"She would have killed me if I broke her needle," said Naylor, 32, of Frederick, better known to most as DJ Two Teks.

Nope, Naylor did it the right way. He bought his own set of turntables and practiced hard.

Today, Naylor is a regular at Frederick's Cafe Nola, where he's booked to spin Friday night, as part of a monthly series.

He also has his own clothing line, PNNYCNDY and is about to launch another line in 2009. You might have seen Naylor at Social Study, the downtown Frederick clothing boutique he manages.


Naylor is a hip-hop DJ and with love for Baltimore house music - something you either love or hate immensely. In describing it, Naylor said Baltimore house music was "gutter music," what happens when Florida house music meets U.K. house.

"Except Baltimore made it a little grimy," Naylor said.

But Baltimore house gained traction as a genre on its own. After all, Madonna does have a Baltimore-house remix of her single "Miles Away." One of the guys behind the remix, Debonair Samir, was billed as one of the featured guests on a flier for the Nola show.

House music aside, Naylor said he plays "everything."

Stylistically, he is part party DJ and part turntablist - DJ-speak for guys who use the turntable as an instrument and not solely as the mechanism on which your favorite song gets played. He might mash at any given gig, remixing a song on the spot.

Is it an identity crisis? Not at all, said Naylor, who started off as a turntablist but said he jumped ship because there wasn't any money in it.

"A turntablist will scratch all night and the people might not even get what he's doing," Naylor said. "A party DJ, his presence is known. He rocks the party. Turntablism is different. It's an art all on its own."

"Now I try to merge the two," he said.

DJ Two Teks

Genre - DJ

Hometown - Frederick, Md.

Upcoming show - Friday, Jan. 2, at Cafe Nola, 4 E. Patrick St., Frederick, Md. Go to for directions.

Web -;

Q&A with DJ Two Teks

How did you get into DJ-ing?

For me, it was a movie I saw. It was a DMC video and a friend of mine was, like, "You've go to see this VHS." I watched this thing and I was, like, I had to do this. I saved up and bought my first set of Technics 1200s and was scratching on my bedroom floor.

Who were you listening to at the time?

I was definitely influenced by hip-hop music. I always loved the sound these DJs used to make and I would wonder how they made these sounds. It all came to light when I saw the video.

So, is it a major faux pas when a hip-hop DJ plays an entire song?

You have to know when to go into something else. Example: If you just played Black Sheep, you know, "Engine, engine number nine ..." - everybody knows that part. You don't have to play the whole track. I get in and out of things quickly. That comes from being a turntablist.

Who's the best party DJ you've seen?

I'm going to say Diplo because he plays everything. Diplo actually changed my whole style of DJ-ing. Before, I'd do a half hour of hip-hop, a half hour of reggae, a half hour of Baltimore house. Now I do everything. I do a lot of remixes on the fly, mashing.

With all the doom-and-gloom talk with where the music seems to be headed, what are your thoughts? Do you think DJ-ing will ever become a thing of the past?

No. If anything, they're making so many things to make it easier to be a DJ. When I was teaching my self how to DJ, I had the tapes that I could watch rewind and play. Now, everything is at your fingertips. I really don't see it going anywhere.

As for (vinyl) records, that's a different story. To be a good DJ now, you have to go digital because a lot of stuff isn't coming out on vinyl.

Do you think that will upset some of the older guys who like their vinyl?

They have to adjust or fall off. I was one of those dudes. But I went digital about three years ago and I'm so glad I did.

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