Before the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship in 2016, people were talking about how long it has been since the last time Cleveland won a major sports title. However, when it comes to the turntables, 20 years ago in 1996, Dj Swamp gave Cleveland a major DJ championship by becoming the DMC USA National Champion. In a historic performance in San Francisco, Swamp shocked the world by taking home the title in his rookie year of competition. Since that time, Swamp’s career has taken many amazing twists and turns and he is well known for delivering the most amazing and unique live shows of any DJ in the world.
A lot of people like to use the term Rock Star DJ, but nobody embodies the persona quite like DJ Swamp. This Fire-Breathing, Equipment Smashing, Mic Ripping terror on the turntables has left an indelible mark on DJ culture uniquely all his own. Part DJ, part emcee, part magic, DJ Swamp can rock the decks then pick up the Mic and then set the show on fire. From touring with Beck, to scratching on The Crystal Method’s track “Name of the Game”, to innovating skipless scratch records, to recording his own albums as DJ and emcee, it would be an understatement to say Swamp has done a lot. We recently caught up with Swamp to find out more about his amazing career, new album, and special projects he has been working on.
1. What was music scene like where you came from and how did it influence you?
There were a lot of dj’s and rappers and people doing music in my neighborhood. I was fortunate enough to grow up there thinking it was just something everyone did.
2. How did winning the DMC help your career?
There was so much attention on me immediately because that was the only contest that mattered at the time and people were starving for dj battle vhs tapes at the time. The contest was also broadcast on MTV, where Beck saw me on television in Europe and was initially interested in working with me.
3. You are one of the rare DJs who also is a vocalist, tell us about your new album.
It’s a variety of styles from my hip-hop roots as a foundation. I incorporate a lot of trap, drum n bass, turntablism, witch house, and classic rock. Being from Cleveland, the home of rock n roll has always made me instinctively incorporate rock into my music.
4. Your shows are amazing with you on turntables, on the mic, and performing fire stunts. How did you learn about using fire in your shows?
It just seemed natural, I grew up seeing Jimi Hendrix light his guitar on fire and Kiss breathing fire. I was very anxious to be the first person in rap/hiphop to bring the fire.
5. You also have a collection of 3D videos, how did you come up with that concept?
In 2009 I did a show in Phoenix and someone took 3D pictures of me and showed them to me right after the show. I said this a cool as hell! I asked him if we could take some more 3D pics while I was in town. We took some girls out in the desert to do a photo shoot and I asked him if the camera took video and he said yes but only 12 seconds of video. I said well if we keep dumping the video to a drive we could make a 3D music video, so that how the first one was made. After that I bought my own camera and just kept it going until I got obsessed with my drone.
6. What tips do you have for upcoming DJs?
Keep your nose clean.
Check out 5:00 in… #Smash
Thank you Dj Swamp for taking the time to answer our questions. To stay up to date with DJ Swamp, check out his links for more information