As a high school classmate of Chris Villa in Tempe, Arizona, Vangelis Films‘ documentary filmmaker Jeremy A. Lopez never hung out with the now renowned DJ and turntablist. However, he was highly aware that he was beginning to become extraordinarily proficient behind the decks. As Lopez’s career took flight as an actor, director, and producer with credits including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “NCIS,” Villa’s career similarly blossomed. The director described the DJ as a “soft-spoken husband and father of two.” They, among many accomplishments, ascended to being a competitor in the United States region of the 2018 Red Bull 3Style World Championships. And that’s where this conversation finds us, as the high school classmates have reunited nearly two decades later. Lopez is the director of the soon-to-premiere One for All: The DJ Chris Villa Story. In this conversation, Lopez recounts the filmmaking process behind the documentary and offers notes — from the outside looking in — on the culture and art of DJing and turntablism.
Jeremy A. Lopez: I’d been watching [Chris’] career grow via social media and decided one day that he’d be the perfect candidate for a documentary. So I reached out to him and asked if anyone had ever suggested he should do this. Because we’re both busy, a year went by after that initial conversation. When I reached out again, a year later, Chris told me that he would be competing in the Red Bull 3Style competition. We then agreed that I should follow him along in the 3Style process, plus [accompany] him to local gigs. Eventually, this included flying out with him to Philadelphia for the United States Red Bull 3Style Finals.
DJcity: To me, the real standout moment in the trailer is when Chris’ wife notes that alongside developing his Red Bull 3Style set, he’s also balancing being a working and contributing parent in a two-parent household. Can you discuss what it was like to watch him create a work/life balance, of sorts, for himself?
JAL: Initially, what drew me to Chris was trying to figure out how he could balance a career based, [often] around [the temptations of] partying, drinking, drugs, and girls, with maintaining a healthy relationship with his family as a father and husband. I was impressed. The fact that he could buck the stereotype that most DJs can’t do both well was compelling to me as a filmmaker. While filming, I discovered that he and his wife are solid, stellar examples of how a couple can accomplish work/life balance in a music career. Yes, sometimes Chris was stressed out about it. I mean, it’s not easy to try to create a set for the Red Bull 3Style competition while also making time for interviews, wrangling kids, and having a camera following you around. He didn’t shy away from any of it, though. He never complained, once. That was inspiring to observe.
DJcity: I’ve attended the Philadelphia 3Style finals on numerous occasions, and if you’re new to the culture, I’d imagine it’s really quite awe-inspiring and action-packed from an outside glance. What were your thoughts, in general, about the event you attended?
JAL: I had no idea what to expect when I arrived with my crew. I had no idea how big of a competition it was. Of course, once we had completed filming, I watched some of the 3Style World Finals footage from Taipei, and I was like, “holy s**t, this is actually massive!” However, for as big as it is, I believe that it could and should be a larger deal than it already is. It highlights the creativity of each DJ in such a way where the sky is the limit on what they can accomplish. I had a helluva time there. Even while running the camera, I was very into what the DJs were doing and gained a greater appreciation for their talents. Pulling together [a unique, 15-minute 3Style set] is hard. Even crazier because Chris went last, he heard what some DJs did in their sets before his, so he changed this set he’d spent weeks preparing the same night.
DJcity: So, take me behind the camera. What were the moments that you feel really capture the power — outside of Chris’ story — of what the documentary represents to creative people and to DJ culture overall?
JAL: Catching moments — crowd reactions, DJ reactions, whatever — that you wouldn’t necessarily see at first glimpse, live, was exciting. Sometimes there were things like a moment in a 3Style set that a DJ had hyped that didn’t land with the crowd as well as expected. But, they were cool because you could see the surprise on the face of that DJ or someone in the room who felt similarly to the DJ. Or, sometimes — and this happened a lot — there were moments that I thought would kill that really [exceeded my expectation] and to see the crowd respond to those was fun, too. Feeling the energy in the room and capturing it with my lens was electric.
DJcity: Both you and Chris are creative entrepreneurs. Do you see comparisons in your workload, style of work, and scope of work that are comparable?
JAL: Yeah. It’s such a grind, really. We never really have days off. We’re always trying to get ourselves noticed and get our names out there. He, like me, has to both work at his craft and simultaneously build a following. Also, for both of us, our work is also our greatest passion. Making a living while pursuing your passion is special. Also, as I was editing the footage of Chris creating his DJ sets, it reminded me also of when I have to edit an unscripted documentary. Essentially, when I’m sitting behind a computer — just like Chris — and am trying to edit footage into a two-hour documentary, I’m basically making the film equivalent of a two-hour DJ set. No rulebook says that an idea is right or wrong, and you have the freedom to let your creativity guide your craft and work ethic.
DJcity: Overall, what are your most significant positive takeaways about DJ and turntablism culture from working on this film?
JAL: DJs are a tight-knit community, it seems, and great at supporting each other. When one DJ sees something dope that another DJ is doing, they share it with their community on social media and give them a shout-out. I thought that was pretty cool. Also, at Red Bull 3Style, I saw mutual respect between DJs, as they all recognize how hard — especially at that level, in that competition — their work truly is. As a new fan of the culture, I also like learning what I like about a DJ that I feel makes them pretty good and stand out to me [as a great creator], portraying and showcasing the music itself as art.
Watch the official trailer above.
Citing concerns about “health concerns” and noting “the advice of health authorities around the world,” Red Bull has canceled the 2020 edition of the World Finals of their popular 3Style World DJ Championships, which had been previously rescheduled for 2021. There has never been a cancellation in the event’s decade-long history. Emerging from the brand’s music-as-culture aims, the contest has become the world’s largest open-format DJing competition, featuring two-dozen finalists from around the globe.
Competition cancellations for the event’s World Final (previously scheduled for Moscow) were an April 2020 Coronavirus casualty. However, the likely inability to host packed, indoor nightclub competitions with hundreds of attendees over several rounds proved to be the determining factor for the cancellation of the 2021 attempt at the competition. Hosting empty venue or online-only DJ sets as competition would not necessarily be dissimilar or unique compared to any of the thousands of DJ sets already streaming online.
No further details have been offered regarding what could occur in place of real-time World Finals competition. However, Red Bull 3Style has suggested revisiting the 2020 National Finals on Mixcloud.
The 2010 Red Bull 3Style Japan champion’s mix mainly contains newly released hip-hop tracks and a few classic throwbacks.
Watch DJ IKU’s performance above.
1. Foster Sylvers – Misdemeanor
2. Run The Jewels ft. 2 Chainz – Out Of Sight
3. The D.O.C – It’s Funky Enough
4. Public Enemy – State Of The Union (STFU)
5. Megan Thee Stallion – Girls In The Hood – MarkCutz Boyz-N-The-Hood Intro
6. Lil Wayne – Clap For Em – KidCutUp Club Edit
7. Nicki Minaj – Megatoron
8. Tyga – Ayy Macarena
9. Yella Beezy ft. Ty Dolla $ign – Ay Ya Ya Ya
10. Tyga, YG & Santana – MAMACITA
11. DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch – ROCKSTAR
DJ IKU was invited to represent Japan at the Red Bull 3Style Global DJs Charity Livestream for WHO, which took place on May 16, 2020. The 2010 Red Bull 3Style Japan champion’s one-hour set features Afrobeats, funk, hip-hop, house, r&b, and more.
Watch DJ IKU’s full livestream set on the latest episode of GENRE BNDR‘s CH419 above.
1. James Brown – Get Up (Sex Machine)
2. Nelly – Hot In Here
3. S!RENE – It G Hot In Mi Bumper – VIP Edit
4. XNYWOLF – XANDHI PT.II
5. Young T & Bugsey ft. Headie One – Don’t Rush
6. ZICO – Any Song
7. Lotso – senoritaaaaa
8. Bruno Mars – 24k magic – Justin Timberlake – Senorita (Baile Flip)
9. Yuto – Big Poppa (Yuto Reflex)
10. Roddy Ricch – The Box – Adam Doubleyou & Nick Bike Controlla Bootleg
11. YBN Cordae ft. Anderson Paak – RNP Skratch Bastid & Nick Bike Remix
12. Ice Cube & Das EFX – Check Yo Self Remix
13. Too Short – Blow The Whistle
14. Juelz Santana – There It Go (The Whistle Song) – MMR Edit
15. PTAF – Boss Ass Chick
16. Tyga, YG & Blueface – Bop
17. TroyBoi – Say Yeah
18. Terror Squad – Lean Back
19. Tommy Montana – Lemon Back
20. Diplo ft. Angger Dimas & Travis Porter – Biggie Bounce
21. TWRK – Helicopter
22. Fat Boys – Stick Em’ Loop
23. Herbie Hancock – Rockit
24. Fatboy Slim – Slash Dot Dash
25. Jet – Are You Gonna Be My Girl
26. Dillon Francis & Nitti Gritti – Salsabahton (Shake That Booty)
27. Bruna Boy – Pop Ye Coller – Vandalized Edit
28. Burna Boy – Ye (f r a n c h i s e. Remix)
29. Decap & DJ Damianito – BRAZIL
30. A$AP Rocky – Praise The Lord – Beer Petrie Remix
31. The Sugarhill Gang vs Chic – Rapper’s Delight – Jet Boot Jack Good Times 2018 Remix
32. Nick Bike – Hollywood Shack Up
33. J. Geils Band – Centerfold
34. DJ LBR & Big Ali – Real Party – Slynk Remix
35. Midas Hutch – Nas & Ginuwine – You Owe Me Remix
36. Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby
37. Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force – Planet Rock
38. salute – Multiply Dub
39. Teriyaki Boyz – Tokyo Drift – Richastic Remix
40. Soulja Boy – Crank That – MMR Tokyo Drift Bootleg
41. FS Green – Carnage – WDYW (FS Green Remix)
42. Travis Scott ft. Juice WRLD & Sheck Wes – NO BYSTANDERS – Uki & Alamaki Baile Funk Remix
43. Wakanda (Edit)
44. George Kranz – Din Daa Daa
45. Arif Omari & Austin Lebron – Me de Jersey
46. Full Crate ft. Trinidad James & Bryn Christopher – Vogue
47. Travis Scott – Goosebumps – Vandalized Edit
48. Kanye West – Power (f r a n c h i s e. Instrumental Edit)
49. Kanye West – All Day
50. Lil Pump – Boss
51. Fly By Midnight – Hotline Bling
52. Drake vs. Blonde – Call Me Bling (Providence Mushup Bootleg)
53. Camo & Krooked ft.TC – Make The Call
54. What So Not & RL Grime – Tell Me
55. Eliminate – Snake Bite(VIP)
56. Mura Masa – Lotus Eater – Dinpei Remix
57. Kanye West – Mercy (RL Grime & Salva Remix)
58. TroyBoi ft. Healty Chill – Favorite
59. Future – Mask Off (Boston Chery × Uki Refix)
60. Travis Scott – Sicko Mode (Cumbia Edit)
61. Big Sean ft. Nicki Minaj – Dance (A$$)
62. KYLE ft. Ric The Kid & K CAMP – YES!
63. Dawn Penn – No No No
64. Alicia Keys – No One
65. Major Lazer & Grandtheft – Number One
DJ Lena Zozulya in Moscow on March 7. (Source: Abigail Stephenson / Red Bull Content Pool)
Zozulya has a decade of experience as a turntablist. She moves on to the Red Bull 3Style Finals in Moscow, which were initially set to occur from April 20-28, 2020, but will be rescheduled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Listen to her winning set below:
Check out more 3Style sets here.
Related Post: Navarro Wins Red Bull 3Style Chile Final
LYKX at the Red Bull 3Style National Final in Vancouver on Feb. 27. (Source: Abigail Stephenson / Red Bull Content Pool)
Montreal-based LYKX is Red Bull 3Style’s first female winner of their Canadian competition. The producer, remixer, and turntablist will move on to the rescheduled Red Bull 3Style Finals in Moscow. Originally slated to occur from April 20-28, 2020, the finals were recently postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Listen to her winning set below:
Check out more 3Style sets here.
Related Post: GREMLIN Wins Red Bull 3Style South Africa Final
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