Having won the DMC DJ World Championships at age 15 - the youngest ever contestant to do so - A Trak was already a legend when he started working for Kanye. Now, with his own record label Fools Gold, he has a foot in both the underground and mainstream worlds of hip hop, electronic, and alternative music. The result is 'Fabric Live 45', which moves from electro to house, dubstep, funk and techno in a way that makes perfect sense. We ask him what it was like working for Kanye, and what he has in store for us in the future…
Having learnt your trade as a hip hop DJ, what are your thoughts on the state of hip-hop right now? Where can it go into the future?
"I think in general a lot of the genre lines are blurring. I think a lot of different themes are coming together, and you're seeing more and more people from one sound come over to another sound. You're seeing more people from one sound becoming interested in other sounds - and that's always been my position in music anyway, because I come from doing DJ battles, which is a really underground thing, but I've also worked with Kanye and a lot of other high profile artists."
Do you think the electro hip-hop / B-More fusions that are coming through now have the potential to crossover to the more traditional hip hop crowd in the States?
"I'm not even originally from the dance music world. I'm a hip-hop guy originally. I would go back and forth between the more underground and the more mainstream rap music, and electronic music, and I like to bring my perspective to people from other worlds. Now you're seeing just everybody, all those worlds converge, so as far as where dance music is probably going to go, it's hard to tell."
How did you find playing for Kanye West as you were developing your own sound?
"I think Kanye always encouraged me, I mean, even though he's one of the best and most established musicians of the hip hop music world right now, whenever I would play one of my tracks he would get really excited, because he'd always want to tell me how to get my drum sets or bass going.
"He'd really talk to me as a peer, so I never felt that he was overshadowing me, he'd always surround himself with really creative people, in arts or music, you know people who have a really good outlook and who bring on a lot of creativity... So it was more of a conscious step towards being active with my own endeavours - I didn't want to just become known as Kanye West's DJ, and lose the accolades that I had gained as A-Trak. Once I started working with Kanye, I became even more aware of what I was doing as A-Trak."
Were you surprised at how massive Crooker's remix of 'Day 'n' Nite' on Fool's Gold has become?
I always knew that song was amazing. When we first commissioned that remix, if you had told me back then it would be the number one track in the UK, I probably would have been like' whoa, no way!'- I wasn't expecting it then."
What have you got coming up on Fool's Gold?
"On Fool's Gold, it's just like singles at any given time. This summer we're going to have our first real CD release, so that CD, followed by some new artist CDs in the fall, because you know we've been just doing singles for two years. And now, we're just solidifying our roster. One of the main things for Fool's Gold is just putting out singles with a consistent theme with the artwork. The tour, the artwork, everything has a common thread, and we're just waiting for the official CD release."