DJ Yoda interview
With a new album called 'Chop Suey', we put DJ Yoda's culinary skills to the test
DJ Yoda's latest album, released on November 5, is titled 'Chop Suey'. But just how good is he at cooking the dish? Not great, as Alexi Duggins finds out.
'Look, I can scratch, okay?’ grins DJ Yoda nervously, before thrusting his hand out. ‘Look at my fingers: they’re all fucked up and misshapen. That’s from years of scratching. Well, that or all the wanking.’
You wouldn’t think that DJ Yoda would need to justify his skills as a decknician. After all, Q magazine declared him ‘one of the ten DJs to see before you die’ due to his flamboyant, smash-and-grab approach to musicmaking. Yoda constructs dayglo hip hop from country and western, big band and classical samples. With his new, collaboration-heavy LP, ‘Chop Suey’, he claims: ‘Cooking one is the same as making hip hop: you take whatever ingredients you have to hand and throw it together.’
Yet from the moment he steps into the kitchens of Dumplings’ Legend – the Chinatown restaurant Yoda’s transforming into a pop-up shop for a week – he spends 20 solid minutes botching the making of a chop suey. Over the next few days he’ll be offering a bespoke menu themed to reflect his album. He’ll be selling gig tickets and CDs from the shop. He’ll spend one evening DJing there, projecting his VJing on to the facade of a disused Gerrard Street building. But what he won’t be doing is manning the stove.
‘Long enough!’ shouts a Dumplings’ Legend chef as he lunges for the wokful of simmering vegetables that Yoda’s on the verge of reducing to the consistency of baby food. ‘Put oil,’ he instructs. Yoda drizzles some into the wok, throws his veg back in and smiles amiably, leaving it to sizzle with a total lack of urgency
‘Put salt!’ urges the chef, thrusting a salt cellar at Yoda. ‘Put garlic!’ ‘Put pepper!’ A hail of peppercorns rains down. ‘LITTLE BIT!’
The chef fiddles with the hob and lifts the wok in preparation to toss the ingredients. Flames shoot up, and there’s a noise like an F16 jet engine taking off. He flicks the pan like he’s flipping a pancake and a jumble of vegetables dance in mid-air. Then it’s Yoda’s turn. He flicks the pan, and a solitary disc of carrot shifts position slightly. ‘It’s in the wrist!’ yells the owner. ‘Like scratching!’ It doesn’t help.
The result: a sloppy mulch of veg that is so spicy it makes your nose dribble. Not the greatest. ‘Yeah, even with a chef doing all the work for me, I managed to fuck it up,’ concedes Yoda. But what about the chop suey-hip hop link? Surely, he’s either making it up or he’s as much of a virtuoso of cack-handedness behind the decks as he is behind the wok? ‘Okay, if I’m totally honest, I don’t make my own music,’ explains DJ Yoda. ‘What I do is, I get a Chinese chef, stick him in front of the drum machine and have him make the beats.’ We knew it!