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First Look: DJ MetroGnome

dj metrognome

Hip Hop’s not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Indianapolis, Indiana.  After Peyton Manning, Bobby Knight, and Reggie Miller, but somewhere before Purdue and Glenn Robinson (sorry, it’s science) is the public’s consciousness of Nap Town’s Hip Hop scene.  While the country at large may be sleeping on this Midwestern city’s beats and rhymes, there are plenty in the Circle City that are doing their thing.  The city is a hotbed for some of the most skilled DJ’s in the Midwest, most notably DJ Topspeed.  Speed’s dexterity on the decks, and music knowledge is perhaps only outshined by his willingness to mentor other upcoming DJ’s to ensure they grasp the past while moving into the future.  One such DJ that has come under Topspeed’s guidance is DJ MetroGnome, a turntable technician in his own right, who got his name from a vertically gifted friend.

“I was sitting at my computer while recording and saw “metronome” in the bottom corner of Cool Edit Pro. Well, a good friend of mine is 6’7″ and gives me short jokes all time the time, so I put a ‘G’ in the word and made it my own: MetroGnome.”

MetroGnome has also been able to craft his own style, one that regularly includes mixing classic soul and funk with the Hip Hop beats that they have spawned.  His unique live show has made him a favorite on Indy’s Hip Hop scene and MetroGnome can be found spinning somewhere almost every night of the week.  MetroGnome recently hit us with a live mix and after bumping it around the office, we felt it was time to take an RH First Look at one of the Midwest’s best kept secrets on the 1’s and 2’s…

RubyHornet: When did you get turntables?

MetroGnome: I bought my first turntable/mixer set-up in September of 2002.

RubyHornet:  When do you feel you officially became a DJ?

MetroGnome: I guess I really felt like a validated DJ when I had my first gig (and name on the flyer) for this event in June of 2003. I still had a ton to learn about the art and craft, but it was a step in the right direction.

RubyHornet: Where did the name Metrognome come from?

MetroGnome: The name “MetroGnome” came when I was working on a mix really late into the morning sometime in the winter of 2002. I was sitting at my computer while recording and saw “metronome” in the bottom corner of Cool Edit Pro. Well, a good friend of mine is 6’7″ and gives me short jokes all time the time, so I put a ‘G’ in the word and made it my own: MetroGnome.

RubyHornet: Vinyl or Serato?  If Serato, do you still dig for records?

MetroGnome: I use Serato when I play out now, primarily because I can have my whole library on hand and won’t have to guess at who might show up and what they might be into. I still dig for records fairly regularly, but not as much as I could/should. I usually dig at odd places now… odds and ends shops, places others might not look. Plus, I have some heavy hitters to compete with in the city (TopSpeed, 2 Deep, Jerb, Scott Matelic, Hellhammer, etc… some cats that have REALLY dope collections and will find what you’re looking for if you aren’t on top of your game!)

RubyHornet: Who would you say has had the biggest impact on your growth or development as a DJ?

MetroGnome: Hmmm, interesting question… there’s a number of cats that I’ve learned from watching and playing with. DJ TopSpeed has world famous skills and knowledge… he has to be at the top of the list. Definitely learned a lot from DJ Wu Shu, who put me on with my first residency… DJ Sleeper, Scott Matelic, DJ Limelight, Action Jackson, Hellhammer, Roosevelt Treasurechest and many others taught me a lot in different ways… Indianapolis and central Indiana is filled with dope, well-rounded DJ’s… definitely a sleeper cell for ill cats on the decks.

RubyHornet: What’s a song you’ve added to your crate in the last week or so?

MetroGnome:  Lots really… “Get Down” by Curtis Mayfield, “Me and My Sneakers” by A-Trak featuring Lupe Fiasco, and some ill remixes from a homie, Chicago’s own, DJ Intel.

RubyHornet: What is a record you’re happy to be done playing?

MetroGnome: Haha, without a doubt, most of Fergie’s catalogue. Luckily, I wasn’t playing too many gigs where I had to play her stuff all the time.

RubyHornet:  What’s the Hip Hop scene like in Indianapolis, IN?

MetroGnome:  The Hip Hop scene here is really growing and coming together. There’s some top-notch talent, such as my partner alpha. He’s a very dope emcee who the world will be hearing more of. He was featured on some Rhymefest projects, etc. There’s a handful of cats that have taken the lead and are booking better shows with out-of-town acts, as well as some noteworthy heads making dope music: Twilight Sentinels, Yeti and Lorax, Grey Granite, Dovinci, and many others.

RubyHornet: Most prized record?  Why?

MetroGnome:  Wow… I don’t know that I can pin it down to one, but here are a couple picture covers I cherish: David Porter’s “Victim of the Joke? An Opera” album with some famous samples on it (esp. “Masquerade…”), Common Sense’s “Take It EZ/ Soul By The Pound”… also a gang of funk/soul 45’s by groups like Ripple, Little Royal, etc. Really hoping to come up on some classic Indianapolis funk 45’s soon by goups like The Highlighters, Ebony Rhythm Band, Billy Wooten, Billy Ball and the Upsetters, Amnesty, etc.

** People can check me out on Myspace..Send me a friend request! Also, I keep my schedule updated as well so that’s where you can find me spinning. I’m usually in Indy, but you can find me playing in Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Atlanta, etc sometimes too. To book me to DJ in your area, hit me at: ticktockmedia@gmail.com

Alexander Fruchter Alexander Fruchter All posts by Alexander Fruchter

Alexander Fruchter (DJ RTC) is a lifelong hip-hop head, writer, DJ, & former EIC of Ruby Hornet. He currently works at the indie label & management firm, Closed Sessions, and teaches music business & marketing at Columbia College.

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