Saskatoon DJ salutes hip-hop anniversary at Regina Folk Festival

Sean Grant, aka Charly Hustle, shares his favourite hip-hop memories and talks about what he's looking forward to at this weekend's festival.

Charly Hustle says he's looking forward to the collaborative workshops this weekend

Sean Grant a.k.a. DJ Charly Hustle is performing at the Regina Folk Festival this weekend. (Britainy Robinson)

A computer meltdown is not a happy event for anyone, but when you're a 21st century DJ performing at a music festival, it's essentially a doomsday scenario.

Sean Grant, aka Saskatoon DJ Charly Hustle, is facing this at the Regina Folk Festival this weekend.

"It's not ideal for someone who uses a laptop as basically their career," he said with a laugh.

"It is the main component, the limiting factor in most of the setup that I have. Everything runs through a laptop."

He told CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend he's working with one of his old laptops that he can hopefully "Frankenstein together" to play some music this weekend, the 44th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop, as recognized by a popular Google doodle.

Hustle said hip hop has been with him for a long time.

"I was in a breakdance crew when I was in kindergarten and Grade 1," he said. "I believe the first time I ever really saw breakdancing was when Herbie Hancock was on the Grammys performing Rockit and he had some breakdancers with him, and that was probably a lot of people's first exposure to the scratching.

"So thanks to a jazz musician, I was exposed to hip hop at a very early age."

The Beastie Boys originated as a punk band around 1980 before transitioning to the genre of hip-hop. Here, the group performs in 1989. (Capitol Records/Associated Press)

The Beastie Boys also have "always had a special place in my heart," he said.

He said they were a gateway to discovering hip-hop for many North Americans.

"They're the first hip-hop album to go number one ever. In '86, you loved Beastie Boys if you loved hip hop."

A few years ago he remixed their song Root Down.

"I felt country funk would go well with their voices. I hope the result shows that."

Nothing too sacred?

He said, in general, there's no pop music too sacred to sample or mix, but a project he worked on recently made him conscious of issues around cultural sensitivity.

The project involved remixing songs from the records that were put aboard the two Voyager spacecraft that left the solar system. The records had selections of music from around the world as well as sounds of nature and greetings in many languages.

He said that one of the cultures represented  was not happy about having their song on the record "and I made sure I didn't use that song because I knew that was an issue for them."

He said he's looking forward to the collaborative workshops at folk fest that he says are "always intensely nerve-wracking and fun."

"You're working with a bunch of musicians you've likely never worked with before. You probably have a low exposure to what they've done...  possibly heard a song or two, and you're given no prep time to just come together and make an enjoyable set for people," he said.

"Everyone I've ever been involved with, it's worked out but getting to the working it out is extremely stressful. But that in turn makes it extremely enjoyable and rewarding."

The Regina Folk Festival runs until Sunday at Victoria Park.

with files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend