Sometimes losing isn’t all that bad. Just ask DJ Vikter Duplaix.
Last year, the veteran Philadelphia DJ lost to ex-EPMD DJ, DJ Scratch, in the final round of the Master Of The Mix competition.
Even though Duplaix took the L last year, he’s back on the show for another go. This time, however, he’s not a contestant—he’s a judge, along with Amber Rose and Kid Capri.
With season two of Master Of The Mix premièring Saturday at midnight, we decided to pick his brain about what the transition from contestant to judge has been like, how he first started to DJ and why the hustle really never stops.
The show premieres on Saturday, are you excited?
I’m very ready. I’m ready for the second season, for everybody to see the changes and to see how I made the transition from contestant to judge, and all the craziness that the 11 contestants have to go through this year that I’m glad I didn’t have to go through.
How would you describe those changes?
It’s different in the sense that, hopefully, everyone agrees that it improves. The format’s a little different. It’s the high stress game that we’re playing now. Instead of the relatively established talent just going up against each other now, there’s a lot of other elements involved as well.
It’s been a year since you actually lost to DJ Scratch, how do you feel about that?
It wasn’t like one thing happened to me and another thing happened to him; it happened to both of us. He was able to pull through and do a better version of himself than I was able to do under the same circumstances. So in terms of ‘did he deserve to win?’ He did everything that he had to do to make it happen, and I wasn’t able to do it. So I’m fine with the way things played out.
Were you a big DJ Scratch, EPMD, guy before that?
Well, I didn’t really know Scratch outside of his name. I never met him before, and I never really followed him. We actually got to be really close doing the show together. More so than I am impressed with his DJ ability, which is solid, I’m impressed with his love for music and the depth of his collection and his musical knowledge.
How do you feel watching someone have to deal with the pressure that you dealt with last year?
The main thing that I take in consideration is we’re not here to embarrass anybody. We’re here to find the best out of this group and give them $250,000 dollars worth of prizes. It’s not embarrassing or playing anybody out. It’s really about finding the best person.
With that in mind, when you’re standing in front of these people who are trying to do their best, you just have to go with the one that did the best. That makes the process a lot easier. If it was a matter of just being wild and acting up and making it the biggest drama possible, I wouldn’t really want to be apart of that. And I don’t think Kid (Capri) or Amber (Rose) or anybody else involved with the show, even Smirnoff the brand—they don’t want a bogus Master Of The Mix. They want the real thing. They want an official representative of the winner from that year.
We’re not going to have American Idol like moments, with terrible scratching? Like everyone knows what they’re doing?
Actually, in another sense, that’s where the show has changed, and I think it’s changed for the better. The first two episodes, I believe, are audition reels. You’ll have a chance to see some of the most ridiculous and out of control potential DJ sets and arguments and debates.
When did you start DJing?
I started DJing when I was around 11 years old. I was in Philly, and I was at a roller skating rink called The Great Skate. And I saw this guy up there. I didn’t really know what he was doing. I know I liked the sound of it. And on the way home from the skating rink we have these block parties where everybody sets the sound system out in the middle of the street. That same day, I was now going from the skating rink to this block party with this massive sound system and all these dudes spinning and going back to back. And I said, ‘I don’t know what that is. But whatever it is, that’s what I’m about to do.’ It was really no turning back from that point.
When did you realize that it could be a career?
There was a point, I think somewhere around when Def Comedy Jam was first on air, that (DJ) Jazzy Jeff and I had a discussion. At that point, we sort of looked at DJing as something we did locally, even though he was already a multi-platinum artist and a superstar. We didn’t really quite understand what was going on in terms of the business of DJing, yet. So you had Kid Capri from the urban space who sort of opened up this idea that you can be a hip-hop DJ and make thousands of dollars per night. But, internationally there was this whole other level of house, techno. I think at that moment, that was the transitional period where we said, if we really stayed on top of our game, we could do this forever. Who says it has to be a short-term thing or something you have to retire from when you get to be 30?
Has this show helped your career? Has it gotten your name out there more?
It’s definitely helped me in terms of my name, my brand, awareness of who I am and made people raise a eyebrow to take notice, but there is no letting up in your hustle. You have to keep moving, you can’t stop, and wait for a miraculous American Idol moment.
I even know a lot of contestants from American Idol who thought that just being on the show was going to be the tipping point of their careers. The reality was as soon as that season ended, it was a wrap. Whatever press and hype they had at that moment was all they got, and they sort of became instant has-beens because they really gave too much to the network and the show.
For me, I think it’s been awesome because now it’s put me in a position to do a lot of interesting type of things. Expand my DJ brand, expand my party brand—Kiss-n-Grind—redirect all the social ideas that I’m doing. Also, when I put new music out, give me more exposure that way and even more television opportunities, which I definitely didn’t know was there before. Because now suddenly people think I’m crazy funny. All that stuff I didn’t know.
You didn’t know you were funny?
When you’re not focused on being in front of the camera, that’s not your thing. I’m a musician at heart and that’s the passion of my life—all things music related. And a lot of times where you’re doing a music video or a music performance, they are just snap shots of that moment. When you do a reality show or when you’re acting it’s a way more detailed perspective of your personality and who you are. And that was the first time I was able to see that. So it was interesting to see how everybody reacted.