DJ Makem is a man of many names.

“People call me Makem [but] I like to call myself Eugene Kensington III [or] Sir Scratch Popovich, that’s a funny one, I just like to have fun,” he says.

In the hub of where most of his ideas are formed – his basement – the sound juggler conjured up his stage name a few years ago to represent his outlook on life: Money and Knowledge Equals Music, or Makem for short.

“Everything I thought I could do like woodworking and building houses went out the window when I fell in love with music.”

A master mixer with an impressively varied taste in music, DJ Makem is now a name known throughout Toronto and surrounding areas as a respected turntablist. He often finds himself going head to head against other DJs in local and international battles.

“I’ve actually been battling since 2009. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’ve won a couple Red Bull Thre3style battles, placed in a DMC battle and I’m still doing DMCs as we speak,” says the party rocker.

“I’m not trying to take the title of being a battle DJ, but I just seem to find myself involved.”

When he was still just a toddler Makem and his family left their home in Hong Kong to immigrate to Toronto. They moved around the city’s core for several years before finally settling in Kitchener, Ontario where Makem attended college. It was around that time that he channeled his passion for music into a pursuit of DJing.

“When I was growing up, I wanted to be a lot of things,” shares Makem. “It’s funny because throughout the years my interests narrowed to one stream of things I liked: art and music. Everything I thought I could do like woodworking and building houses went out the window when I fell in love with music.”

“It’s almost surreal to me that I made it this far and to see Starting From Scratch give me dab…”

A proud music fanatic Makem would experiment with tracks that propelled rock bands like Queen and The Doobie Brothers, while simultaneously studying the different messages and samples woven into The College Dropout, Kanye West’s 2004 debut album.

One of Makem’s most prominent influences in music, however, has always been local veteran DJ Starting From Scratch who he had the pleasure of working alongside during his time at radio station FLOW 93.5 FM a few years back.

“Meeting and working with him was like walking into a celebrity situation every time. How do you stay professional when you’re thinking ‘You’re Starting From Scratch’?”

This past fall DJ Makem had the opportunity to re-connect with his hero at the Rumble at the Roundhouse sound clash event for the 2015 Manifesto festival of community and culture. There he faced off against eight DJs from around the city, placing second to DJ Bambii.

Throughout the battle Makem flaunted his beat juggling skills by blending tracks ranging in genre, era and melody that you normally wouldn’t expect to work together.

His method added some well-needed shock value to some of the repetitive scheme of the evening’s performances. This tactic especially paid off in the final round. Makem combined a mix of creative transitions, a dash of Bob Marley, a little KISS, and to the amusement of the crowd, inventively called out Bambii just before the end of his set.

Despite the loss, Makem left a lasting impression on the audience and his fellow mixers.

“I grew up just like everybody else idolizing people, thinking that one day maybe I’ll make it. It’s almost surreal to me that I made it this far and to see Starting From Scratch give me dab and to see the guys I grew up with listen to what I did and say it was clever. I just feel like I’m walking on a cloud right now.”

Photo By. Sadé Powell © Urbanology Magazine

Sadé Powell is a freelance writer and illustrator based in Toronto, Ontario. With six years of experience in the journalism field under her belt, she has had the freedom to dabble in a range of topics including music, technology, culture, fashion, local and international daily news.

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