Rob and April Fulstone might be the two coolest young parents in St. Louis. For over ten years they've been staples in the St. Louis hip-hop scene under the monikers DJ Crucial and DJ Agile 1. Following the birth of their twin sons, Lincoln and Radley, two years ago April retired her turntables. While Rob still can be seen about town as a full time DJ every Wednesday at Delmar Lounge, April will return to the scene August 12 at the Gramophone spinning with female companions DJ Sinamin and DJ Anisto as Three the Hard Way.
We met up with the relaxed couple while the boys were with a sitter. In between Rob's '80s skateboard decks and the twin's piles of robot toys, the family's record collection takes up two stories of their University City home. In their upstairs record room we sat down and discussed the expectations of female DJs, Ol' Dirty Bastard and a mind-boggling request to find a lost shoe. This is part one of the interview; part two of their interview will be posted on Monday.
Last Collector Standing: How did you get into DJing, and what were your influences? April Fulstone: I always loved music, but I didn't get seriously into it until high school. I don't know how I got infected with this love for hip-hop. I went to high school in Iowa. That's kind of a testament to how strong the culture of hip-hop was and is. I joined one of those "CDs for a penny" clubs, BMG or Columbia House. I got A Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders, Nas' Illmatic, Enter the Wu Tang Clan (36 Chambers), KRS-One Return of the Boom Bap. I started buying a lot of rap CDs. Before I had some pop music, when I was little. My first tape was Madonna, the self-titled [album], and Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, which is why I still love '80s music.
I became really interested in hip-hop culture, but I had no access to it because I was in this vacuum in Iowa. I moved to St. Louis to go to college, and lo and behold, KWUR [Washington University underground radio station] was this vinyl haven. I had never had a record player. I had never seen a record before college. So it was magical. That's when I was like, "Okay, I need to get a record player, or a turntable, or whatever I can get my hands on."
I started working at Vintage Vinyl, and it's a lot easier to collect vinyl if you're surrounded by it. I started building my collection from there. I [also] went to Deep Grooves. It was in the Loop. It was a little record store that sold mainly hip-hop and dance music.
Rob Fulstone: For me, my dad was always into music. I remember I was a little guy and he would play stuff like the Bee Gees and my sister and I would dance around. In the '80s, my dad was the manager for KHTR, which was a pop radio station. I was in the third or fourth grade and all these promo records would come home. I would have all these records to choose from. It was anything from Beastie Boys License to Ill to the Karate Kid soundtrack to Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi. I got so used to deciding which records I liked because it was just in the house. All I had to do was decide the ones I liked so sometimes I would just pick one up that I had no idea who they were. I would try the songs and find maybe one that I liked. That's how I started picking music, and I made some mix tapes. It would be really random. I would be a little clip here, [and] then I would record the radio for a second. Then I'd go back to the record for a second. That was for my own enjoyment. I didn't think I was a DJ.
Then in my teens I got into hardcore and hip-hop. That's all I listened to for years. I saw the movie Juice. It's not about DJing, but it's a big element for one of the [characters]. He goes to this DJ battle, and I'd never [seen] this before. This was '92 when this movie came out. He had a DJ set up in his room, and he would scratch, and mix, and sell the tapes on the street. I thought that was so cool.
At that point I'm like, "I'm going to start DJing!" I had one turntable. I knew I could find another one. I put two cheap stereos next to each other with the volume control on each one and they had their own speakers. I would mix and scratch with two different stereo set ups. I didn't know that there was a mixer. [April laughs]. I saw it on the TV but [then] you couldn't go to Guitar Center or something. That was the beginning of me trying to DJ.
A Tribe Called Quest, "Electric Relaxation"
April: At KWUR I got a show. They had a set up with a mixer. I wasn't really DJing. I was just playing songs, but it was attracting attention that I was playing underground hip-hop. Then some local DJs started coming and doing guest spots, like Chilly C, B-Money and DJ Needles. Rob was in Carbondale during that time, and he moved back and started coming on the show. It became a way for me to enter the scene. I started getting some gigs and eventually scraped together enough equipment at home that I could practice and learn how to match beats. It was such a long process and it is so amazing to me now that with Serato you don't even have to manually match a beat. You can see the BPM and the soundwaves and just match them up. It took me forever to learn how to listen in just one headphone to a beat, and listen to another beat coming out of the speaker and practice getting that down. You had to tweak the pitch bar. It just seems so primitive now. I feel old, that that's how I learned to DJ.
Everything is so instant now. You can do effects, like push a button and make it echo. The way I learned how to do that was scratch one side so that it's a beat behind and then use the fader to go back and fourth.
Rob: You also needed to own two of the same record.
April: Right. You needed to own two twelve-inches to get that effect. To do any tricks you needed to buy doubles. That's how I got into DJing.
How did you both meet? Rob: I had just gotten back from going to college at SIU Carbondale. We knew each other, but both had boyfriends and girlfriends. I ended up trying to get in the scene [in St. Louis]. I was invited to spin on her radio show at KWUR. I did that quite a few times. For years we just knew each other. It wasn't until both of us had bad break ups [Laughs] and we were still hanging out. It was this slow transition into us becoming a couple.
Is there a song or an album that you bonded over? April: An album we bonded over... what's really coming to mind was when we took a road trip to Chicago a couple of weeks after we really started hanging out. I had brought some CDs I had gotten at Vintage. One of the CDs was Sonic Youth Dirty. I loved it in high school. I don't remember if I knew that [Rob] liked it. We knew each other from the hip-hop community. He was like, "I love this album." We were relieved that we both listened to something other than hip-hop. That kind of opened the doors to talking about how much we love Nirvana and some of the other stuff we listened to in high school.
Our first dance [at wedding] was Barry White "Never, Never Going To Give You Up."
Rob: The extended version (Laughs).
What's your favorite Hip Hop record together? April: Ol' Dirty Bastard Return to the 36 Chambers. Separately, in our own different universes...
Rob: We didn't know each other yet.
April: We both loved that album. Basically I was obsessed with the Wu Tang Clan. Back to Iowa, being in my own little bubble world of being a Korean misfit, I had to escape into something. I was like, "Oh my god, there is a rap group that appreciates Asian culture!" Validation! (Laughs)
Rob: Once it was established we were together, we would be DJing at Blueberry Hill which was a big thing for us; The Science of Hip Hop every Friday night of our lives for years. I would spin, then she would spin and I'd be done. I'd walk down through the crowd and they would see her spin and they'd be like, "Ah, you taught her good!"
I'm like, "No, I didn't!" (April laughs)
It's weird that that still happens.