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Interview: DJ Rob Swift

on January 13, 2011, 11:00am
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music turntablism dj rob swift 11 Interview: DJ Rob SwiftWeird and eerie sounds like the basis for a lot of the bands on The Architect’s label, Ipecac Recordings, run by none other than Mike Patton who Swift worked with on the “pop” album Peeping Tom (of which Swift hopes to be part of on the next album) and the eccentric DJ battle of General Patton VS The X-ecutioners.

“I’m just really glad that I was able to put The Architect out on Ipecac Records,” he says. “It was just perfect. It was like you couldn’t write the story any better, you know.”

Though Patton wasn’t so involved with The Architect, Swift still made a point of thanking him in the liner notes for influencing the album “from afar.”

“Mike influenced me a lot,” Swift starts. “Working with him on projects like Peeping Tom and General Patton and getting to know his style and approach to making songs was definitely an influence on this album because he’s one of those guys who doesn’t limit himself to just one thing. I remember there were times I was working on songs for The Architect and I would hear his voice in my head saying stuff like ‘Use whatever you want man, just go crazy. Do whatever you want.’  It’s the approach that you have to have, especially when you are doing this kind of music and you’re incorporating things and sounds from other genres. You can’t limit yourself. And that’s what hip hop is. It’s actually using all of the music and sounds that exist in the world and making it yours.”

If that’s not a poetic take on the value of hip hop, I don’t know what is. Given the way a lot of critics and listeners can be a bit snobbish towards hip hop and DJing as an artform, I’m curious to know whether Swift thinks people have become more accepting of scratching as a legitimate form of composed music.

swiftimage2 Interview: DJ Rob Swift“To be honest with you,” he admits, “the art, the DJing that I do where I am expressing myself through turntables and scratching, and like you said, composing music, it’s been accepted by some people but I also think there’s a lot of people who don’t recognize it as being actual musicianship. So that’s why for me I’ve always been on this sort of journey to make that that statement that the turntable is an instrument and it can be as effective as a piano in communicating. That’s kind have been my whole goal, to convince those that don’t recognize it as an art or music, that it is.

My album The Architect really accomplishes and hits home the fact that, look I’m using the genre of classical music to express the thoughts I have as a scribe scratch DJ. When you use symphonic sounds like a violin, you really become a violinist on the turntable and I think the album definitely helps drive that point home.”

Currently, Swift is promoting his online radio show Dope on Plastic on Scion Radio, as well as working on a DVD DJ Rob Swift Live:  The Documented Movement that combines interviews and live performance footage and goes behind the scenes of all the tours, showing the preparation that goes into each show. As for touring this year, Swift plans to hit the road with his Live Movement Tour at the end of January and spread the dates throughout the next 12 months, hitting the USA as well as Australia, Europe, Canada and Asia.

“I’m really excited about it because it’s going to be like a cultural thing with B boys, artists and DJs all being collectively creative together in one setting and one venue,” he says. “Then I have other dates, I may be going to Europe in March. Thankfully the 1st quarter of the year looks like it’s going to be pretty busy.”

Being busy sounds like just the kind of state that Swift thrives on, considering everything that he managed to succeed at in 2010. I ask Swift to sum up his feelings on the past year.

“This year has been amazing,” he enthuses. “I think that I’ve been able to accomplish a lot. I dropped an album, and an EP, visited places I have always been interested in visiting. I worked with some very, very talented and skillful artists and MCs and DJs throughout the year doing scratches and production work. It’s just been non-stop but it’s not like I’m tired, I still have energy. So I finished the year strong, I started it strong. I’m really thankful and looking forward to making 2011 even better.”

With Swift’s track record, we have no doubt it will be.

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