An Interview with The Disco Twins of Queens
Troy- So take me back to your system, the Eq, the Amp!
Reggie- We used the PSA2 amplifier which we still have to this day. We use a Crown cross over. We also use the pace equalizer at that time, we got that from Richard Long. We also had GLI mixers and 1100 turntables. Then we got the 1200 which everyone is using today. Back then when we bought those 1200’s they were 250 a piece, now they like 700 to $800 today. As far as the mics we used the regular Shore mics.
Troy- Did you have an echo chamber back then or did you use the Reverb?
Reggie- Yes it was a box.
Troy- Your echo chamber was something you held in your hand, stepped on or a dial on the system?
Reggie- It was a dial.
Troy- Did you have a beat box like Master Don or Grand Master Flash?
Reggie- Yes but we called it the rhythm Machine and it belonged to Louie Roman aka Disco Kid, that was around 1977 or 78 around the time we were making plates.
Troy- So you guys may have had it before Flash.
Robert- Well I don’t know because we didn’t know them at that time. First of all we didn’t even know what was going on in Harlem or the Bronx or any of those places.
Reggie- We were mostly in Long island. We did Brooklyn eventually. We later heard about Flash and that was when we decided to hire Flash. He was a crowd drawer. We were smitten and inspired by some of the things he done.
Troy- So 10 years go by and we are now in the 1990’s, was your system pretty much the same?
Robert- It was pretty much the same. Systems change mostly front loaded powered speakers. Everybody is not really using the stuff we are using right now to this day. Everybody pretty much went to digital and they also change their format in their system. Most of their people that were still using their system back then were using Cerwin-Vega and B36’s and L 48’s and other stuff like that. Nobody was really using Bertha’s, only people that were using Bertha’s were in the clubs and you would have to go to the Palladium, Diplomat for some Bertha’s or Roxy’s for some Jay Horns. I don’t remember any one using the Bertha like we were doing out in the streets. Once Donnie Lawrence aka Dance Master got hired by a club he stopped bringing his system outside. Like I said he had the berthas and console first, when we seen Dance Master with his we went to Richard long and got our own console. We wanted everything to be neat. So we got the deck and nobody had a deck at that time, Richard Long was first with that also. Keep in mind those speakers were heavy, so everyone didn’t want to be carrying those speakers.
Troy- You guys also had the folded horns?
Robert- No when we first started we had B36’s and four 21 Altec cabinets with the speakers in it. We also had train station horns.
Troy- Train Station Horns?
Robert- Yes horns from the train station. They were on a level where you could grab them and unscrew the bolts. Me and my brother along with Corey Dee went up in the train station on 30th avenue the RR train line and pulled them down. Today it is the Q and N. We use to go on to the platform of the train station and take those horns. If we blew out those horns we would go to another train station and twist off the back of the magnate and take it with us.
Troy- O.K. so is your system pretty much the same today other then the subway horns and tweeters from the light post?
Robert- Yes, we pretty much went on a hiatus and just chilled. We were doing other things like the Real Estate stuff, building renovating and stuff like that. The last party we gave was with 112.
We did Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz 112 and The Beatnuts. We did a couple of shows. We fell out the scene for a minute and we just got back on. We still got our stuff but we had to rebuild what we had because everything was scattered all over the place and we sold some to King Charles. We also let one of our friends hold a piece of our equipment and we just got everything back together.
Troy- O.K. so with the turntables are you doing like a lot of people are doing today using CDs or are you still with the wax?
Robert- No I am doing it with the Serato, because it is just too much with the vinyl!
Troy- And why do you say that?
Robert- Well the vinyl you have to carry like 10 to 20 crates to really have a lot of records. Now a days you can have thousands of songs in this format today. So we had to conform to what was going on now.
Troy- So back in the days when you guys were making a lot of noise in Queens who’s system did you respect other than your own?
Robert- I would say Infinity Machine with D.J. Divine and Goody were good candidates as well as Phase One and Nu Sounds. Those were the cats we really respected.
Troy- Did the guys you mention or any other crews have any surprises for you and your brother were you might have said, “Yo Robert did you see that, where did they get that from!”
Robert- No, absolutely not! We were very confident in what we had and we always bought the lease and sounded the best and I am not just saying that. We never came with no more than 6 speakers.
Troy- And somebody like The Infinity Machine would have something like 24 speakers in there set?
Robert- Well when they played against us I think they had like 27 speakers or something like that. It was crazy because we had 6 speakers, the altamas, and 2 Berthas. They seen our stuff and they went home and got more speakers which came to 27.
Troy- So with all of that when it was turned on it was basically about the same amount as your 6 speakers?
Robert- They couldn’t even touch us. The way the cabinets were designed we were very efficient and we just took our stuff to the next level. We didn’t have a lot of amps we just felt what we had would be enough for the job.
Troy- So during those days you won a battle by your system not by your d.j. skills or your m.c?
Robert- Well we were known for entertaining. We use to do different things we had gimmicks like we use to bring this guy to our show his name was Ray Charles he was like our gimmick and he would dance on our speakers and we would do different things on the turntables while Smalls was enhancing what we were doing. We had routines where we were running around the turntables, lifting my brother on my shoulders, whatever it took to entertain everybody.
Troy- So you and your brother would do this in shows or parties as well as Battles?
Robert- We never really had any battles. Our only real battle was with Infinity Machine.
Troy- So what bought on this battle?
Robert- What was that Reg?
Reggie- One of them said their sound was better than our sound.
Robert- Then they had a rumor running around we borrowed from Richard Long. We never did.
Reggie- But mostly it was just a rival and talk so we were like let’s just do it. I think we battled twice. One in Long Island at a Roller Skating Rink, at371 Nassau Road. The last one was I.S. 8
Robert- In Jamaica
Reggie- Yeah in Jamaica Queens.
Troy- Did you guys win both times?
Troy- So you guys are doing tricks and trying to amaze the crowd what did the Infinity Machine do to amp the crowd?
Reggie- First off we had a routine they wouldn’t even attempt to do because everyone pretty much knew what we were going to do and it was routine that we were playing at that time to catch a groove, I can’t stop, super sperm and Get Down. We knew at the time what the crowd liked and we were basically entertaining. Plus you had d.j.s that played what they liked not keeping in mind what people liked. You try and please everybody you don’t play just for yourself. Plus that is when that plate came in, so we had routines that we knew to get it poppin at that time.
Troy- So the routine actually was ya’ll played records for the crowd, was there anything else other than playing the records? Like a dance or something or taking off your shoes and…say Master Don he use to mix with a British Walker shoe on each hand or spinning a basketball at the same time as he cut the records.
Reggie- Well we would do a lot of switching up amongst the two of us, when we would do spin backs we would take turns, as well we would run around the turntables. Another thing we would do is while my brother is playing I would lift my brother up on to my shoulders, stuff like that. Our m.c.s played a role as well by gassing us up.
Troy- So the crowd would be eating it up and the park jams would be packed?
Troy- So did he Infinity Machine have any tight routine to come back at ya’ll or were they just living off the system they had.
Robert- Well they were really pissed off at that time once we finished our set. Everybody was talking about it, but people that were there knew what happen. There come back was “Oh they borrowed from Richard Long.” I seen an article that he wrote about us saying we borrowed from Richard, we never borrowed from Richard.
Troy- So how would you rate Nu Sounds from a 1 to 10?
Robert- I would give them a 10
Troy- So you would give them a 10 on their system as well as their performance in front of a crowd?
Robert- Right because they were into the mixing. Rickey Grant, JD and Steve were good and I was inspired by them a lot. I think Rickey was a genius at what he was doing. He use to build his speakers in this place called St. James. He was into technology so he was good. He used to be in the Constellation when we were upstairs in the Diplomat. I think he is a genius.
Reggie- Automatically I would also give them a 10.
Troy- So where was they from?
Reggie- Same area.
Robert- And they were a little older than us.
Troy- So you and your brother never battled those guys?
Reggie- No because when we were coming in they were going out.
Troy- The next one is Cipher Sounds?
Robert- Honestly I never heard their system. We knew of them but never heard them play.
Troy- Alright what about Rat and Monkey?
Reggie- Never heard of them.
Troy- Jamaican Sounds?
Robert- I heard of them but never heard their system.
Troy- Phase One?
Robert- He was a d.j. with a sound system I will give him a 10. He too was a genius. He use to build the cabinets for Richard Long and was the one that introduced us to Richard Long. Phase One was from 110th street and Corona, which is just on the other side of East Elmhurst where Ricky and Nu Sounds were at. But with Phase One he was an extremist and I mean that in a good way. On everything he would go beyond the call of duty to make his set right. He was really neat with his records and his sound system was pressteen. Everything he had was exceptional and we learned a whole lot from him. We use to go to his house a lot; we learned how to wire tweeters, speakers etc. and our key was to avoid distortion in our speakers.
Troy- O.k. next up King Charles.
Robert- I know him, I would give him a 7. I think there were too many fingers in the cookie jar wiring up his sound. He had the right speakers but too many people wiring up for him and I say that because I felt it never sounded very clear.
Troy- O.k. Infinity Machine?
Robert- I will give them props and give them a 9.
Troy- What stopped them from getting a 10?
Reggie- Well they had too much stuff, they were trying too hard.
Robert- I don’t want it to sound like we are being disrespectful but I too felt they had too much equipment. But skills as a D.J., Divine was nice, he was up there I am not mad at him. They were doing their thing and they were making things happen, as well they inspired a lot of people during their time when we were both gigging.
Troy- So what bought on these tricks you two were doing while d.j.ing?
Robert- Well we knew that it wasn’t just about d.j.ing we wanted to do more to get the people excited.
Reggie- What we wanted to do was incorporate each other because instead of me playing and then my brother playing we felt let’s do something different. So I said I will master something I like to do and my brother will master something he likes to do and that was how we came about doing all the little tricks. We didn’t want to be completely twins on the turntables; we wanted to show the versatility between each other.
Troy- Was there any other crew just as good as you when it came to that part?
Reggie- Well we were the only set of twins at that time. We didn’t know if there was anybody else out there like us, brother or sister, which did that. But other than Twins I think JD of Nu Sounds were pretty good, he knew how to work the crowd. He knew how to improvise and he had his little nitch. He was different from Smalls, he had his little antics. “Come on Whip it New York.” Just little things he said. He was short winded on some of the words. He didn’t do long stories on the mic like say a Hollywood, Smalls or Eddie Cheba. JD was just good at amping the crowd, he was very sporadic.
Troy- Was there ever a time you battled Kool Herc and the Herculiods? The reason why I asked is Kool Keith made a record called Bust the Facts and spoke about you battling Herc.
” Now swing your partner around, dosey-dosey
like musical chairs and ring around the rosie
The party you pace see, Kool Herc with J.C.
The Herculoids battle, The Disco Twins
Funky rhymes with breakbeats, the DJ spins
for the L Brothers, steppin right in the scene
Mean Gene was maxin, Rockin Rob went to work
While the tables would turn, the old needles used to jerk“
Reggie- We never battled them, never. We never even met Herc back in the days.
(Robert and Reggie never heard the record Bust the Facts until I played it for them on this day.)
Robert- Wow…where did he say we battled them at?