Excerpts from Diggin’ for Beat Diggers – Jesper Jensen Interview
So, how did this film get started? Did you know right off you were making a film on beat digging, or more just videoing an interview, or what was the genesis?
Yes, i wanted to make a documentary about digging and beat making right off. I had worked with local TV here in Copenhagen, Denmark, interviewing US rap acts touring in Europe, and made a couple of short documentaries and stuff. I was a hip-hop fan and record buyer, and got the idea to make a documentary about how the renowned producers like Show, Diamond, Beatnuts, Q-Tip etc. actually did their craft.
My brother Ras Beats worked at a record store in NYC called Second Coming; and he was telling me these stories about name producers like Havoc, Premiere, Evil Dee and Godfather Don shopping there, hanging out and telling stories. So I started imagining how to attack it from there.
Did you come to NY for the movie, then, or were you staying here anyway?
Yes, I flew over for two or three weeks to film it., and stayed with my brother there. I did everything myself: planning, filming, interviewing, editing, promotion etc. I had some help with contacts, ideas and inspiration from Ras, but that was it. One man indie guerilla filmmaking!
Yeah, one of the great things about the film is that some of the guys, especially The Beatminerz, seem pretty open about what they’re doing, records they’re using… You used to think of old school DJs soaking their records to get rid of the labels and producers keeping their all their samples top secret. Did you have a hard time getting everyone to go “on the record” or were they all pretty open?
Everybody who appears in the film was very open and happy to talk. Even back then in 1997, Evil Dee said: people used to be secretive but now they all had all the same records anyway, so it was about how you used the samples and stuff. Which was cool for me as a filmmaker ’cause then they would show certain sampled records on camera and stuff. But more than just records, they would also talk about their broader approach to beat finding and producing tracks.