LES 735 on Conquering the Competition at the DMC Phoenix DJ Battle
Les Sias (a.k.a. LES 735)
So what didja wind up doing last weekend? Get drunk and act the fool at a club, perhaps? Or did it involve sacking out in front of the latest episode of Game of Thrones or Mad Men? We're willing to bet it was nowhere near as pimp as how Valley resident Les Sias spent his off hours.
Last Saturday, the veteran mixmaster, who's known throughout the Phoenix scene as LES 735, triumphed over more than a dozen other selectors from AZ and other nearby states during the DMC Phoenix Regional DJ Battle at Monarch Theatre. And the 30-year-old did it with plenty of style.
David "Fact 135" Dimmick, one of the judges, says that while "everyone brought their A game for sure" to the turntablist tussle, Sias was able to beat out the rest of the heavy-duty competition (including a few ultra-skilled DJs who traveled from California) because of his intense focus.
"The consensus of the judges [was] that he was the most on point," Dimmick says. "From the moment he walked into the venue he was all business. He wasn't talking to anyone, introducing himself to the other DJs. He had his game face on the entire time. He just sat there and studied each of the other DJs."
Such craftiness and intense concentration helped Sias prevail and earned him a berth at the national finals for the DMC World Championships, one of the most esteemed DJ battles around, this August in New York City. Plus, he also took home some killer gear.
We were eager for some other reasons behind Sias' win, so we hit up the man himself for this week's DJ Dossier and got the lowdown on his coup, as well as how he's gonna kick things up a notch in NYC and some stories about how he got into the turntable biz.
Name: Les Sias
AKA: LES 735
Preferred genres: Hip-hop is my first and I dabble in cumbia and all kinds in EDM.
Current gigs: Hidden House tonight for Friday Night Live's Turntable Metabolism 2, Coolin Out Hip-Hop Shop on May 3 with Mouse Powell, and on May 10 at the Hidden House with Central Products. You can also catch me on your airwaves on 101.1 The Beat for the Rhyme & Reason show.
What's your DJ origin story? One summer, I saved up some money [and] bought myself a shitty "DJ in a box" to try it out and it sparked my passion. From there, I saved up to get some real 1200s and a Vestax. Then, through entering battles at Guitar Center, I met some really cool people [the Avenue of the Arts Crew] that helped me get to where I'm at now.
Where else have you performed? I've gone on a few national tours with Avenue of the Arts crew where we touched down in most the states on the West Coast and went up east to Chicago and Ohio. I've never been to New York so I'm super stoked to visit now that DMC is flying me out there. And locally it's just about anywhere that I get booked.
Do you have a mantra when it comes to DJing? My mantra would be to read the crowd. Know when to scratch, know when to switch it up, and know when to talk on the mic. Also practice, practice, practice.
Favorite track of the moment? Right now, right now? Would be "Poppy Veins" by Central Products. It's a record I produced for them. Sounds self-centered but It's what [I've] been playing over and over again in my iPod. Of course, I listen to other shit but that's what I've been bumping the most and I'm really happy how it came out. I guess I get excited to know that I was involved in the creation of that record.
How much vinyl do you own? I have a collection of a couple thousand. It's mixed with random records that I use for sampling to make beats with and hip-hop records.
What's the crown jewel of the collection? I've got some records signed by DJs that I look up to like Qbert, D-Style, Mixmaster Mike, Yogafrog, and I have some singed by Dilated Peoples and Guru from Gang Starr, which is one of my favorite hip-hop crews.
What are your favorite hip-hop albums of all time? Gang Starr, Moment of Truth; Biggie, Ready to Die, Dr. Dre, The Chronic.
What's your opinion of the Phoenix hip-hop scene? I think we have an ever-growing scene here in Arizona. I think we need to develop a strong connection with fans of the music and have them come out and support our local acts. Once that connection is made then that's when we will have a scene that cities, states, and countries would talk about.
Les Sias during his set at the DMC Phoenix DJ Battle at Monarch Theatre.
So why did you prevail at the DMC Phoenix Regionals last weekend? I think I felt like I wanted to prove a point. I was a little more determined this time. Being that every year we get DJs from out of state and taking the titles here. I felt like maybe they think there isn't a lot of competition in Arizona.
Do you take that sort of thing personally? Sort of. I'm just proud to be from here. It's weird how DJs can go to another state and compete. I wanted to let people know that AZ has some ill DJs.
What was the secret to your success? The last time I competed in the DMC was in early 2000. I can say that I was not ready at all. So, I think that over the years of performing with artists and DJing clubs prepared me to keep my nerves settled which helped me stay focused.
What sort of gear did you win? I won a Rane Sixty One mixer, Shure headphones, DMC branded headshells, and I'm also supposed [to] be receiving some stuff from 12inchSkinz and Elite Philosophy. O, I'm also getting my turntables customized by Masterclass Modification here in Arizona. DJ D-Styles and Quest also gave me some scratch records and slipmats.
What's your plan of attack for the DMC U.S. National in August? I'm writing things down, what disses and hype beats to use. I form everything in my head before I even start practicing. So far I have a few beat juggles that I've been practicing and then its just a matter of how i going to make it fit in smoothly. But I'm still brainstorming a lot.
What else you gonna do in NYC while besides competing in the DMCs? I'm gonna fly out with my wife and we're gonna explore the city. We have some family and friends out there that can't wait to show us around. I'm gonna focus on the battle, but when it's over it's all about chillin, exploring and having a good time.
Gonna visit any famous hip-hop landmarks or crate dig? I would love to. Like I said, I have friends out there that can show us around. I know there's also a hip-hop tour that takes you around all the landmarks. That would be really dope to do.
Best experience as DJ...other than the DMC win? Being able to connect with crowd. All on the same beat receiving that energy. Also, being able to share my art with my family. I was lucky enough to find someone that I could share it with, Mayra E.
What do you dig the most? Serious, that's the best part for me. Music.
DJ LES 735 is scheduled to perform at 9 p.m. tonight during Friday Night Live at Hidden House. Admission is $5.
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