DJ Chris Karns Scratches His Way Into the Lead of SMIRNOFF’s “Master of the Mix”
For any club-goer, or anyone for that matter, Monday is by far the worst day of the week. Not only are you still recovering from the weekend, but it's just the start of the five-day waiting period until the clubs are packed again. Thanks to VH1 and SMIRNOFF’s Master of The Mix, Mondays might just become the best thing to happen to clubs since the invention of Friday night. Master of The Mix, which airs at midnight EST on Monday nights, pits some of the nations best DJs against each other, competing for the illustrious title of Master Of The Mix and $250,000. If that wasn't enough, the winner will also be pegged to become SMIRNOFF’s official DJ.
If you have already been following the competition then you get a shiny gold star, but for those who aren't hip to the game, DJBooth is here to help you get caught up. Since episode one, in which the competitors introduced themselves to the judges - jack of all trades, Ben Maddahi, Cali trendsetter DJ Mia Moretti, and the legendary DJ Kid Capri - the final 12 have been whittled down to the elite eight after series of challenges that had the DJs create crowd-rocking sets in a cut-throat environment.
One of the DJs who has excelled is Denver’s own DJ Chris Karns. While some of the DJ’s come from strictly club backgrounds or battle competitions, Chris is a renaissance man. In addition to rocking the clubs, he is also a hardened battle veteran, winning countless battles, often against some of the worlds best. In addition, Karns has ample experience DJing for hip-hop artists. In fact, when he was invited to compete on SMIRNOFF’s MOTM, he was manning the boards for DJBooth favorite and Shady Records' young gun, Yelawolf. His achievements become all the more impressive considering he is a self-taught DJ. His father was a musician as well, but Chris, a bonafide hip-hop head (crediting hip-hop with his love of music), had no help learning the secrets of spinning, just his own two hands and keen ear for transitions, scratching and beat rolls. With all that talent, its no wonder he has some serious swagger and confidence, occasionally causing some strife with the judges (see episode 3). But to quote Mohammed Ali, “its’ not bragging if you can back it up”.
Although he did not start off particularly strong, finishing in the bottom two on the second challenge, "Shake It Up,” he has been killing as of late. His steady improvement culminated in and incredible set last night for the “Ode To Miami” challenge. Just how good was it? Ben Maddahi called it “one of the best DJ sets I have ever seen in my life!”
While some of the artist took a futuristic spin on the challenge by capturing Miami’s electronic side, Chris kicked it old school looping classics like “Tootsee Roll” from the 69 Boyz, JT Money, and “C’mon N’ Ride It (he Train)”by Quad City DJs in with his seamless transitions and crafty, behind the back scratching and beat rolling. Chris admitted in the show that challenge made him nervous at first, due to his lack of familiarity with the Miami scene, but he told me that despite his reputation as a battle rapper (he won the 2011 DMC World Championship), he has ample experience in the club. That experience definitely outweighed lack of knowledge of Miami’s scene because he rocked the club by starting out with some Pitbull, am Miami club favorite, and mixing it with Enrique Iglesias’ “Tonight Im Lovin’ You” (which judge Ben Maddahi has a publishing placement on). Chris won the challenge, but the more important victory was winning over the Miami crowd. Luke Skyywalker of the legendary 2 Live Crew, started rocking with Karns behind the boards and DJ IRIE, the Miami staple, channeled his inner Maximus, barking “Miami, are you not entertained?” at the crowd.
The set is all the more impressive when you consider the conditions in which it was put together. I got a chance to talk with the Karns about the pressure packed creative conditions. Only having a few hours to complete a set is much different than how he normally works. Chris likes to be relaxed and take his time with his work; needless to say he can’t do that on the set. Each DJ has to share the equipment, which means they really only get a few minutes (five to ten on the first episode) to get behind the tables. Chris is unfazed, however, as he told me, “It's a difficult situation for people to be put in, but that’s what separates the masters form the average DJs.” That attitude and the fact that he now feels at home behind the boards on set
(as he said after destroying the Miami challenge) is a dangerous combination and one that will have him in the running to be the Master Of The Mix.
If DJ Chris Karns is your favorite competitor, and he should be, as he is looking like the favorite after last night, be sure to keep it locked to The DJBooth as we will have recaps of every episode as well as special content from Chris himself. To see him in action, be sure to check out SMIRNOFF ‘s Master Of The Mix, which airs midnight on Monday nights and is also available on VH1.com.