Interviews with Ramsey Anderson - Writer/Producer
Ramsey Anderson A.K.A. DJ Ramdogus [ram-dog-uhs] performed as a DJ in a nightclub while serving in the U.S. Army in 1995. While DJing one night he asked himself, "Can DJs do more than just play their own music?" It was in that moment that Ramdogus designed challenges that he thought would be entertaining and educational for DJs. That night while sitting at the bar he drew on a napkin the first version of the "Wheel of Steel". He imagined a world where DJs were in the spotlight for their skills and knowledge, rather than being mysterious music players.
In 2002, with the help of many of Ramdogus's friends, he produced the first episode of THINK YOU CAN DJ, The First Nightclub DJ Game Show. Over the years the team has produced more than a dozen episodes at nightclubs, TV studios and festivals.
"My goal has always been to excite people on the abilities and intelligence of the humble DJs that I am surrounded by at clubs. Behind the decks I get to see their enthusiasm, determination and love that goes into performing. Nothing makes me more excited then showcasing and testing their skills to the eager audience. I want them to succeed and stand out as brilliant beyond their years."
Since Ramdogus has been producing the DJ game show he has been able to involve Ken Jordan (From The Crystal Method), DJ Gruv1 and many of the skratch DJs such as: Turntablist DISK, DJ Quest, DJ Vinroc, DJ Ricky Switch and many more. This project has truely been a vision that has worked it's ways up from the dance floor to the masses.
Click the image above to watch an interview with Ramsey Anderson in 2015
Click the image below to read an interview with Ramsey Anderson in 2016
Below is an interview with Ramsey Anderson in 2014
For XTRAVA Magazine by Deanna Johnson
I am very thankful that you would like to know more about my online video program, THINK YOU CAN DJ, FIRST NIGHTCLUB DJ GAME SHOW. I have spent the better part of 18 years working on producing this half-hour show at TV studios and festivals. My over-arching goal is to produce a series of online video programs that are educational and extremely entertaining (Edu-tainment).
TYCDJ is a project from the heart because I have been a club DJ for almost two decades and I want to bring on board all the veteran DJs that created the amazing scene in the 1980s and involve the young DJ performers that are just getting started. Both of these groups can learn from each other and neither is guaranteed to win the DJ game show. The show is focused on DJ skills, knowledge and stage presence. Because of that, the show is exciting and also full of new electronic music ready to be heard by the masses.
Thank you in advance for reading a little bit about my story.
1. Who is responsible for thinking up this insanely great idea of a show?
My name is Ramsey Patrick Anderson and I created the DJ game show while a nightclub DJ in the Army at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina in 1995.
2. Tell us a little about the history of the show.
When I was in the Army in 1995, I would DJ at an underground nightclub off-base and many nights I would stare up at the DJ booth wondering if DJs could do more that just play their own music. I also felt DJs are able to do a lot more than mix because we had to in addition to DJ'ing run the lighting, projection and run down to to use the restroom or to the bar to get our drinks during our shifts.
Having fond memories of game shows growing up because they reinforce social mobility and equality I went to the book store and bought The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows in 1995. That is when I learned about the huge success of Marv Griffin, who produced some of the greatest game shows in America. At that point I was hooked to blending the DJ environment with game show excitement.
The first concept was of a 'Wheel of Fortune' style "Wheel of Steel" with different genres of electronic music to land on and have to mix. Then as I studied all the game shows since the 1940's and listed my top 15 favorite elements I created 30 challenges. They ranged from Price is Right (Been in the audience of six shows) to Name That Tune, Jeopardy and Supermarket Sweep.
3. What factors were responsible for the show stopping back in the day?
My friends and I started shooting the DJ game show in 2002 at a public access building in Northern California and we were almost run out of there. We were a wild bunch of DJs that thought we were the next Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. At that time, my budget was $1,000 and I spent $300 on the first giant turntable prop called the “Wheel of Steel”. The six foot by seven foot Wheel was a total piece of wooden crap. Fast forward to 2008, I had two business partners and we were shooting episodes in a modest TV studio in San Francisco and at the HowWeird Street Faire. I thought the logical step would be to move to Los Angeles and make some connections since I had a reel and website.
After a short break to pay off credit card debt and two years of making industry connections in L.A., I realized that I needed to move back home to the Bay Area because I would not be graced with a ‘hardy handshake’ and a big check just because I had a good idea and a pilot video. So after a short break since 2008 we are back and have lots of experience and team players to bring for the upcoming episodes.
4. What has made you bring it back?
Very simply put, it was my wonderful wife, Hope, who insisted that I finish what I had started or never talk about it again. Put in those terms, I felt that I had one more good year in me to see what I was worth. I harnessed all my Airborne training, got all my friends together again and everyday we push through personal boundaries for the greater good.
We are creating life long memories and I am making friends everyday on Facebook or at nightclubs, while producing TYCDJ; it is a beautiful thing. There is a big part of me that feels this experience is not about the show, it is about a group of friends that support each other and the relationships that are formed.
5. How many people work on the show behind the scenes to make it happen?
Most of the time I feel like it is all me with 22 departments to manage. But the truth is I have an amazing business partner, Andre Champagne, and a group of professional teammates that show up strong when I need it most. Right now with the BIG show next week we have almost 50 volunteers on the roster.
Thanks to a film cooperative in San Francisco called Scary Cow I have been able to muster up a video, audio, motion graphics and post departments just by volunteering for their projects and paying $50 a month. That with my friends and family have made a very satisfying experience.
6. When and where does the show air? How Often?
My goal is to produce the DJ game show at festivals as a live act and also to grow the audience online through traditional outlets like Vimeo and Youtube. We are about to begin our West Coast tour with two festivals in San Francisco (Earth Day Fest. 4/19 and HowWeird Street Faire 5/4) and looking into networking with some other Bay Area and Southern California outdoor events or nightclub venues this summer. We plan to produce a single episode once per month and continue to produce short viral videos to attract attention.
7. Explain some of the games you came up with and how you thought of them.
As a club DJ and one who owns a sound system for over a decade, I have plenty of experiences to draw upon to create difficult scenarios for DJs. Just the other day I was at a huge club and during the switch of DJs the power strip broke. One DJ ran away because the sound stopped while the rest of us troubleshooted for a quick minute to figure out how to fix the problem. The point of the DJ game show is to learn and grow as a musical performer and above all else - Save the show.
Anyone can complain about distracting fans asking about requested music. How about we set the DJ up with having two minutes to make a mix of two songs, they never heard before, while two outrageous women or men try to disrupt your ability to make a smooth mix. To me, that is exciting to be a part of as a DJ or a spectator.
When I play this with my wife, she gets me distracted every time because I am trained to answer the questions she asks. This is a game show and the DJs have to bring their game face to survive.
Once I was playing at a house party and the single light in the room broke. We tried to adjust the lights to re-create the atmosphere of low lighting with the remaining available lights but couldn't do it. So we played the rest of the night with no lights on, just the lights from the turntables and mixer. Not long after that, I asked my best friend/ mentor if he could mix two records blindfolded. He tried it and made it look easy. I try it and get sweaty hands every time. Who knew that a piece of cloth as a blindfold can make life so exciting!
8. Any Big name DJ’s been on the show before? If so who?
I consider myself a rare breed of DJ because I am frequently floored by the abilities of DJs at clubs big and small, on weekdays and weekends. I love the music selection and the stage presence of DJs of all genres. The extremely talented DJs that we have had since 2002 are generally Bay Area DJs and some have toured around the U.S. and have record deals.
The real action is with the judges that we have assigned for the upcoming event on April 19th at the Earth Day Festival in San Francisco. We have The Crystal Method's Ken Jordan as a producer DJ judge and TurntablistDISK (founding member of the Invisible Scratch Pickles) as the scratch DJ judge. And in the near future we have DJ Vinroc (The World Famous Beat Junkies) as a scratch DJ judge. The future is wide open with connections like these. I feel gifted to garnish the attention of these world class performers and I don't see us going away anytime soon. We are open to collaborating with any dance music producers and DJs so long as the focus is about education and entertainment.
9. What’s your all time favorite memory of a past episode and who was the DJ?
Of course there are unique situations in each of the ten episodes that we have produced. Each episode was magical because of the cast and the crew. My favorite memory is from the HowWeird Street Faire in 2008. We put all our money into the project to produce the multicamera shoot and when we gave $100 gift card from Amoeba Records to the winning DJ contestant it was truly special. That DJ earned that $100 and he had a blast buying new records. I recently met up with that DJ after not seeing him for years and he loves talking about the shopping spree he had with that gift card. Our goal is to inspire DJs and our fans and I feel that we have been lucky over the years to align with really wonderful people.
10. How would a DJ be selected to be on the show?
So, in true game show format we ask all interested DJs to bring headphones and stand in line for an hour before the show to register for the chance to be one of the three that are chosen. It is really that simple. We don't want to hear your mixes because the technology can do the mixes for you. We want talented DJs that are willing to put their ass in the hot seat. And for that we promise you mad respect and prizes.
11. Can any DJ try out or is it gender specific?
The main element that I like about game shows is that it is the perfect place for the underdog. We welcome everyone and aspire to continue to reach out into all types of communities to ignite passion for DJ mixing and turntablism.
12. How can people that support the idea get in touch with you to donate/volunteer?
I am truly grateful for everyone that wants to participate and support our project, THINK YOU CAN DJ. I am always available on my personal facebook page (www.facebook.com/djgameshow). If you feel motivated to help us financially then please go to our Indiegogo page and help us thereby giving us a chance to repay you with our perks, ranging from excellent electronic music to t-shirts to us DJ'ing at your event. The campaign maybe ending soon so I encourage everyone to find us and share with friends.
We believe in encouraging everyone to be creative. Our project is an excuse to have fun and share time together. We look forward in hearing from you at our website (www.thinkyoucandj.com) or on our fanpage (www.facebook.com/thinkyoucandj)
Thank you for the opportunity to explain a project that I love to share with others.