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Beats & Interview: Emma Short-E | School of Scratch

School of Scratch | Studio Scratches | Emma Short-E Beats & Interview: Emma Short-E | Studio Scratches | School of Scratch Studio Scratches – School of Scratch founder & teacher Emma Short-E, featured in TableBeats library with 13 dope beats! Not only did we got dope beats we also got the oppertunity to ask Emma a few questions.  So, we decided to team up with our friend and fellow scratch DJ, Thatkidnamedcee from Houston, Texas. He’s been in the game since -82 and if you haven’t heard of him you should check out his facebook page. Thatkidnamedcee have 8 great questions for Emma and her answers are very inspiring. She lets us know how to become a great scratch DJ & the importance of practice. Great inspiration and wisdom. Read the interview below!

Emma Short-E – Studio Scratches (13 beats)

Interview with Emma Short-E 

by Thatkidnamedcee for

1. Peace Emma! Please tell us a bit about yourself. How long you have been skratching & how you got into it.

My name is Emma Holmes and in the Scratch DJ world I am known as Emma Short-E. I am from the UK.

I started scratching in 2000 whilst I was in my final year at university / college.

I’d starting mixing records on a friends turntables and had a vague idea of the concept of scratching and thought it was super cool, and at the same time it was really mysterious to me. I didn’t really understand how it was done, beyond moving the record backwards and forwards.

What really got me into scratching was taking a trip home. My brother had also started mixing. I remember so clearly, he had his decks in our kitchen, he put on a hip hop beat and said “check this out” and proceeded to scratch up some chirps and transforms and my mind was blown. I was instantly hooked and decided there and then that was what I wanted to do.

Then the real work began. I started to find out all I could about scratching, watching VHS video tapes of ISP / Turntable TV and connecting with people who could show me stuff. There was no YouTube so it took a long time to find out anything. I also got a hip hop education, especially the 90s boom bap which I fell in love with.

Many years of practice later, I now run studioscratches.comand to help other people with their own scratch practice.

2. How do you feel the advancement of technology has affected the skratch arts? 

I think it’s totally awesome and has opened us up to amazing possibilities. It gives us way more options to be creative. I feel that it has removed barriers to creating and made it more accessible to so many more people, which in turn inspires more creativity. The time saving is also immense. We can do everything in so little time compared to years previous.

At the same time, its easier to be overwhelmed and distracted by tech which shuts down creativity and expression. I tend to focus on the possibilities where possible and unplug when I’m not feeling it.

When you think about it, we can get an endless supply of loopers with all the beats we can think of, play beats off our phones, scratch in our cars, create our own scratch records and sounds, it really is incredible when you think about it.

The big 3 tech areas for me are – 

1 – DVS, hardware

2 – internet, software and social media

3 – portable scratching.

1 – DVS and hardware

DVS is a big one for me.

Firstly, travel is so much easier. I remember handing my records over at the airport praying they would arrive the other side. Now this is never an issue. just pop in a laptop and maybe take a mixer or just have it provided for you wherever you are playing.

We can loop up beats, sample, use an endless array of effects like delay etc.

We can make your own digital records and scratch any sound we can find or record.

I’m always amazed by the scratch routines that are being produced using serato and the latest mixers.

2 – Internet, Software and Social media

The internet has blown the doors to learning about scratching wide open, which I think is awesome.

We can share knowledge, collaborate, chat to our scratch DJ Peers and connect with others almost instantly.

We can share ideas and cross genres.

It’s never been easier to create and share online. We all have access to our own platforms with the likes of YouTube, facebook and all the social media channels.

I love the fact that with Instagram, I can record a 15 second video and loop it up and reach thousands of people from all over the world instantly.

We can create communities and find our tribes.

If we are isolated physically from a community, you are no longer left out thanks to the net because we can connect online.

We can find out almost anything in a matter of seconds thanks to google. Whatever you want to know about scratching can usually be found for free.

It’s brought us closer together.

The only downside I can think of is that it’s way easier to be distracted from doing the practice needed to actually improve and become truly great! It’s also good to get offline and meet with real people of course!

3 – Portable Scratching.

We now have portable 7″ setups that allow us to take scratching everywhere and take it to people that wouldn’t even think about it. Even though they are not that high tech, what they make possible is amazing.

I recently went into a Fortune 500 retail environment to lead a workshop where I taught 30 people how to do the baby scratch and a few transforms. We even had a simple baby scratch DJ battle. Normally that would take so much carrying of gear etc. It was so fun to just turn up and get stuck in using a portable setup. It allowed me to really connect with the team and focus on having fun rather than spending time getting everything setup or packing down my whole studio setup and then having to repack it again when I got back.

On a slightly more random note, technology makes it possible for me to scratch in the bathtub! That definitely wasn’t possible before.

Maybe it’s not exactly pushing boundaries and at the same time, it sure was fun and exposed a whole new bunch of people to the artform.

I’m super interested to see how the bluetooth mixfader performs with an iPad for the ultimate in portable scratching.

Even with all the new tech, I still use my equipment pretty simply.

Essentially, technology aside, scratching is still simply moving a record backwards and forwards and opening and closing a crossfader and I love that it is so simple.

I will always love vinyl and I am open to new tech. It’s not the tech itself, but how we use it to create and express ourselves that is important. Onwards and upwards! What’s next? Scratching on the moon?

3. In your opinion, does a skratcher need to know how to dj, or can he or she stand alone as simply a skratcher?

Although you could say it’s not entirely essential I think being able to mix makes you a much better scratch DJ.

If you understand music, timing, beatmatching, mixing and phrasing, you can apply that to your scratching.

It also helps if you want to start playing gigs where you won’t be scratching the whole set. Most people want to dance and not just hear our crazy scratch nerd sounds. It can also help with your routines and beat juggling.

I personally learnt to beatmatch first and I really think that helped develop my ear and sense of timing. It’s pretty fun too and can provide a welcome break from scratching if it gets overwhelming during practice.

4. Many say there are 2 distinct styles of skratching, technical and funky. How do you see this and where do you fit in?

My understanding of this is that most people interpret funky to mean “simple” and technical to mean “complex” or “fast”. 

I think you can have both at the same time and that one doesn’t exclude the other.

However, I definitely hear people talking in terms of one or the other and I understand what you mean.

In those terms I think I would tend to veer more towards the “funky” side. Most of my cuts are relatively simple and not that complex or technical, at least not to me when I look at some of the scratching I see from others. I do like the technical side to inform my funk and vice versa. For example, if I get inspired by a more “technical” scratcher, I might see how I can use elements or reinterpret it. It usually involves me slowing things down and playing with it in that way.

The word funky definitely seems to come up when people comment on my scratches which is totally cool with me. What do you think?

Thatkidnamedee: I think your skratches are funky & to me, that’s what I like. I’m a fan of some technical of course, but a flow of funky kuts is my favorite style. I also would say funky does not necessarily mean simple or easy.

I never like to do techniques or technical stuff just for the sake of it. When I am scratching, I am never thinking about what techniques I am doing or how technical I can get. I just like to go with the flow of the music. I’m not trying to impress anyone. Just get a good groove and flow on. 

5. What is your practice regimen? Daily? Weekly? How often do you practice? 

Right now, I’ve not been practicing so much. I have a full schedule creating new tutorials for School of Scratch and I’m writing a book.

I aim to scratch at least once a day and sometimes I still don’t.  

I have noticed that this is not a great thing and I really do need that connection to the turntables to stay inspired and creative, not just in scratching but for everything I am being and creating, so I have just started to scratch again at least once a day even if it’s just for 10 minutes. It connects me to the inner most part of me and something greater than me at the same time.  I might spend on average 15 minutes a night on my portable setup at home once I get home from the studio. 

If I have new tutorial that I am working on, I 100% take the time to break that scratch down and make sure it’s really part of my scratch vocabulary, so that involves more deliberate practice.

The Scratch DJs Guide to Deliberate Practice:

In the past, in the first 4 years or so of me starting scratching, I would spend way more time. Up to 5-6 hours a day. I’d finish work and then get straight on the decks, only stopping to eat briefly.

I think the power of practice is vastly underestimated. I get people writing to me to ask how they can get better at scratching or tell me they are not improving. When I ask them how much they practice it often turns out that its a very minimal amount. When you think about how much athletes and musicians train, why would scratching be any different? There is no real secret once you have access to some tutorials on the techniques, the rest comes down to practice, pure and simple. The question is are you willing to put in the practice time needed?

How to get really good at scratching:

6. I’ve heard it said that skratching has become “too complex” for the average music listener. What are your thoughts on this? 

I think it depends on what you like to listen to. 

Maybe its too complex to understand exactly what’s going on, sure, and it doesn’t necessarily exclude people from enjoying it. It might create an air of fascination.

I certainly aim to keep my scratching super musical and a big part of my audience are not scratch DJs. My cuts certainly are not complex, or, the more complex they are, the more conscious I am to make those super parts musical and funky so they are accessible to everyone and not just scratch DJs.

I don’t want to overwhelm my audience, maybe that’s because I never enjoy that from other musicians. I want it to be accessible, draw people in and then lift them higher.

I definitely appreciate space and pauses in music generally so I draw from that.

Interestingly, I often get comments on my YouTube channel commenting on the fact that I am not just doing loads of clicks and how that relates to their enjoyment:

“Dope cuts! This style of scratching is so much more enjoyable to listen to than the peeps that attack the fader a thousand times a second!_”

At the end of the day though it’s not about how many clicks you do or don’t do but how well you vibe and flow with the beat.

For me it comes down to space. I have no problem with complexity if there is space to breathe and I can nod my head. I’ll also never tire of the most simplest, funky chirp scratches that flow out of DJ Premier.

7. What made you decide to start School of Scratch, and how has the response to it been? 

DJ Angelo got me making tutorials on Youtube because he is regular crossfader and I am hamster style – someone was asking how to do stabs in hamster and he got me involved and it went from there. Thanks Angelo!

I really struggled to learn. I was slow and couldn’t see from some tutorials exactly how to perform techniques. I did a lot of research and asked a bunch of questions. I was sure that I wasn’t the only one who found it tough.

I knew that I could really break down a technique into simple steps that would make it easier for people to learn, because that is what I had to do to teach myself. It seemed like a natural extension, I really enjoyed sharing knowledge and seeing people make progress. plus I always wanted to work for myself doing something creative on my own terms. I wanted to do something I loved that would be useful for people. 

Actually the day I decided to start School of Scratch, I found out that Qbert set up QSU. I almost didn’t bother to continue because I figured it was already being done. Thankfully I realised that we all have our own way of teaching, I scratch the other side on the tables and its not a zero sum game, there is room for everyone. So I got over that and had a go! Many people in SoS are members of both schools. It’s all love!

The response has been great! We are growing steadily. By far and away the best part is the community of awesome people that communicate online daily in our private members Facebook group and in the forum in the School. We’re a family! 

8. What are some of the things going on recently in the skratch world that have caught your attention or inspired you? 

So much great stuff!

I am really digging the DIY culture – people are just getting out there and making records, loopers and apps, like the tablebeats app which is awesome to see.

I am currently digging:

The Cut & Paste Records series

Practice Yo Cuts series from Ritchie Ruftone.

DJ Brace’s new Close Cuts 7” which I have had the privilege to test as a digital version – lots of great sentences! I cannot wait to get this on Vinyl.

The portable scratch movement is so fun. My cuts are different on the handy trax and I quite often come up with new combos on it. Shout outs to Raidenfaderand everyone who has sent me 7”s. owner Ric Morley is up to fantastic stuff, creating Technics faceplates and the fader crib.

Texas Scratch League.

Skratcher and all the Toronto heads.

I really love Mevxk cuts.

Vekked always inspires me.

I don’t know how I missed Kurteek’s cuts for so long but I love his instagram and hearing his cuts.

Dopez has got mad flow.

Also Swiftstyle makes great videos and I’m digging his new scratch break series of videos.

It’s also great seeing some girls stepping up who are really great and who are great ambassadors for the art. I don’t have a list of names right now and I see you all on instagram, respect!

My School of Scratch students really inspire me. Behind closed doors in our online community, they are getting their practice on, getting gigs and just generally supporting each other. We have contests and everyone gives feedback. I’m really excited about the community collaborative aspect that helps us all grow. They are so supportive, positive and encouraging, it’s a real pleasure and honour to have them be part of the school.

I probably forgot a ton of cool stuff. Actually thanks for the great question because reflecting helps me to see just how much awesome is happening.

I also get really inspired outside the world of scratch. I’m a big reader and love philosophy and wisdom. My latest read was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you create anything I strongly recommend purchasing a copy.

9. Lastly, please give any beginning skratchers who are reading this some words of advice or encouragement. 

Take your time. 

Practice! Secrets will reveal themselves if you simply practice!

Turn off all distractions and focus.

Do you. you don’t have to sound like anyone else, actually thats impossible.

Be kind, connect to others and share.

There is a bunch of knowledge out there, if you want it badly enough, you already have everything you need at your fingertips.

2 quotes that form the basis for what I do are:

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you imagine.”

– Be Deliberate!

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

– Goethe

I write more about this stuff over at if you are interested.

If you have an intense desire to become great at scratching and yet worry that you have no talent, I can give you this good news: 

“Intense desire creates its own talents and opportunities. 

We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. 

But it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.” 

– Bruce Lee – Striking Thoughts

I really had zero talent at scratching when I first started out. I wish that I could have recorded my early attempts so I could really show you just how much I couldn’t scratch. What I did have was an intense desire which, together with hard work and dedication I really believe created all the talent and opportunities that have led me to where I am today. 

If you’d like to find out more about how I can help you learn how to scratch you can visit:

The other best places to find me are:

Instagram: / @schoolofscratch

Studio Scratches:

Thank you Emma Short-E for all your wisdom and inspiring words 🙂 Now, it’s time to get busy with 13 dope beats. It’s practice time!

//Daniel Hulth  #TableBeatsApp


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