DJ Rafik

In real life, Rafik is called Lukas Langeheine and is one of the most successful and innovative DJs – not just in Germany. He has been playing in the top league for many years and has been crowned the world champion of the ITF World Finals six times, the most important competition for DJ battles. What does he think of American DJ’s and on which stage would he like to have a gig? Learn more in our interview with DJ Rafik.

You know the analogue world of “turntablism”. What do you think of the development towards Digital Music and how do you make use of this yourself?

“Turntablism” simply means to me that the DJ manually and creatively alters the music that he wants to play. The new, digital equipment offers new technical possibilities – that’s all I need to know. Specifically, this means that new digital functions allow me to discover something new, something that no one has done before. At the beginning, there was this discussion on “Vinyl vs. Digital”. Today, everything seems to be in line. If you go down one route, you will find that the digital equipment is being used a lot and elsewhere you will see that vinyls are still popular – that’s the best thing for me. Just on a side note, I still have all my vinyls.

DJ QBert once said that he has never seen such a big talent as you are. Now, you have been crowned DJ World Champion six times and DJ QBert is still correct. What other goals do you have?

“Turntablism” is like pre-school. Many of the old players are now producers. Cashmere Cat, Craze, A-Trek, Hudson Mohawke, Keys N Krates – the list goes on. I’m just someone who enjoys making music. As a producer, I still have a lot of work ahead of me – one goal is certainly the main stages of festivals. No joke.

Rafik wearing his DJ Cubik
I’m just someone who enjoys making music.

Your mum is a cellist and your dad a violinist. You learned to play the piano, the cello and the drums. Did learning these instruments facilitate you in being able to do “Turntablism”?

Definitely, having a musical background always helps. Especially, since Finger-Drumming has become so popular, I have enjoyed a big advantage due to my skills in drumming. “Tone plays” (playing back known melodies) are also popular, hence, another benefit if one knows the main rules of harmonies or at least is able to feel them.

You worked in San Francisco, lived in New York and played at many events in the USA. Where is the difference between German and American DJs?

Very good question! I think it’s mainly a cultural difference. The Hip Hop culture was mainly something American, which was then consumed in Europe. If you are playing in the U.S., you quickly realize that you have to think about “political correctness”, since lyrics mean something… In which city am I, can I play this song/artist xyz? Is it tricky, if I, as a white guy play “Hot N***a”? Everything is anchored locally, and everywhere are certain rules. If you do not follow these rules, it could be perceived as a big statement. Here we listen to Rihanna AND Chris Brown, no problem. On the contrary, this whole wave of electronic music, which escalated to “EDM”, evolved in Europe. I sometimes, truly enjoy watching this, everything is the other way round and you see Americans that are celebrating these weird sounds, simply because they did not have such sounds in the 90s. Ha!

Lately you have been working as a producer on projects with the guys from Ching Zeng. Would you tell us what the world can expect from you in the future in regards to this?

Perhaps, a little less perfectionist and as a result a few more Tunes. :)

Is there an event (Festival, DJ Battle, TV show, etc.), you would like to take part in, but so far, did not have the opportunity to do so?

Showcase on the Jimmy Kimmel show would be nice. Apart from that, the ULTRA’s, COACHELLA’s and MELT’s are the ones where I’d like to be next. And I think I make statements, that fit into such events.

Interview: Fred Romey

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