Nevermind turntables. Stephan Gaulon, aka "Tape Mastah Steph" likes to mix with cassettes.
Born in France and imported from the San Francisco area in the early 2000's, we briefly spoke to Tape Mastah Steph in December while gathering a year-end salute to some of our loved lost locals (Tape was close to late DJ Quick Chris), and found a pretty compelling story in his endeavors after Gaulon relocated here from the Bay area 10 years ago and becoming not just a local hip-hop scene fixture, but a local music fan in general, an avid collector and supporter in our record stores, and a damn fine example of upstanding character for the next round of kids that are watching him spin.
Did your interest in turntablism start in Northern California?
It began in good ole France. My Father is held responsible for teaching me guitar and drums so he naturally gets the first credit. In '87 I remember seeing B-Boys hitting the scene, breaking circles under the Eiffel Tower on the square and it dawned on me how big hip-hop really was. I was into skateboarding, punk rock chicks, hip-hop, new wave, funk and everything '80s naturally, so It just made sense that music was more universal than what I was exposed to in the US.
Sounds like you had a lot on your mind when you were a kid. Were you able to focus on classes much?
I always got into trouble at school during class when I would drum patterns on my desk, annoying teachers every chance I had. I started messing with pause mixing and eventually started to manipulate tapes to create beats. A lengthy process which I don't care to explain at the moment.
Ha! It sounds like a head scratcher to the layman, for sure.
And then of course there's my old skate buddy Jonny Manak, who introduced me to his older brother Chris Manak, aka Peanut Butter Wolf. I met Wolf back in '91. Jonny told me I should meet Chris to demonstrate what I was doing with tapes and eventually that relationship grew into me buying the EPS Ensoniq 8 track sampler and sequencer. That shit changed my entire life as an aspiring young producer. Which also leads me to give credit to Joey Santos and Alvin C of old school mobile DJ crew (Unlimited Play) out of San Jose, Ca. Without those two key people in my life for taking me under their wings in '88 I wouldn't have met cats like the homie D-Styles, and a host of others DJs in the Bay Area. That's my cultured youth right there, Chief. The Urban Northern California hip-hop scene shaped me into the artist I am today. Hip-hop isn't just a music genre with different sounds, it's a lifestyle.
Share a little about the ups and downs of your journey carrying the flag for your style of DJing.
There's always gonna be ups and downs in any music community you're involved in. That's just something you have to accept and be willing to let it roll off the shoulders. It's all part of the territorial bull ride. It's about keeping it moving with those that are rocking steady on your team. Don't sweat the small shit. Who are some performers from around here who were cool about welcoming you in when you arrived in TX?
In 04, I made the transition from the Bay Area to Dallas. Since then I grouped up with Molek Ular of Neva Dug Disco, that was right around '06. He was the first to recognize my history as a DJ/Producer and embraced me into the crew. That's how met DJ Quick Chris, may he rest in peace, D-Teknics, Eazy Eddie D and other super DJ's like Nemeses who reminded me of the Bay Area. Rob Viktum at (Low Post Music) has also been very instrumental with support as well as teaching me new techniques with production software tools. That's my dude right there. I'm not sure what's it's like for others but there's definitely that sense of Southern hospitality in North Texas.
How about people behind the scenes in DFW hip hop that have given you support?
That list is also long but to name few in particular.. my good buddy Moody Fuqua at The Crown & Harp who blessed me and DJ Buddha Fingers with the return of Second Fridays monthly "Funkology" series, since our dear friend DJ Quick Chris passed away. Leo J at Too Fresh Production for always reaching out to me with shows. Christopher Mosley at D Front Row. Also can't forget the fans.
Outside of the hip-hop genre, who are some musicians from around who have struck you?
The Black Dotz & PVC Street Gang are my favorite bands in Dallas right now. #JustSaying.
You're quite the record store supporter here, too. Thank you. Any crazy finds?
I just came up on Booker T and The MG's"The Melting Pot" on 45! I've been seeking it in stores but actually found it on discogs.
Do you have a favorite moment of local live hip-hop performance since becoming a Texan?
Been watching DFW Hip Hop since 2004 and I don't really have a favorite moment. I live in the now so every moment is an opportunity for something epic to go down. DFW is an equally proud and thriving community cultured in the arts.
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