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Cutmaster Swift stand up and appreciate!!

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For well over a decade, Cutmaster Swift has been one of the world's elite turntablists. A Londoner through and through, he has consistently held his own in a scene traditionally dominated by American DJs. Indeed, after being crowned UK Champion in '88, he went on to win the greatest prize of all the

following year: the Technics/DMC World Mixing Championship.

 

Turntablists are a rare breed; our mission was to spare no effort or expense in tracking him down for you, wherever he might be. (But, in truth, we didn't have to go far, because he actually works here at DMC, since 1996, giving classes on DJ technique and organising the World Mixing Championships.) So here it is, the Cutmaster Swift story, in his very own words. And believe you me, he can talk as fast as he cuts...

 

When did you first get the DJing bug?

 

I've always been a music lover because my Dad used to have an old reggae sound system. He used to build speakers and play out and I always wanted to be involved in what he was doing. When hip hop came along it wasn't hard for me to make the transition into it around 1982. The only trouble was the basic equipment. Because I had an inkling for electronics I modified what I could afford. But I'm the type of person who has to know how something works. I used to work for Dolby laboratories in fact - electronics would have been my occupation if the DJing thing hadn't worked out.

 

Were you an original b-boy?

 

I was! I was a full-on b-boy from the age of 14 to 16. I started off breakdancing in a crew called Crash Crew - that was how I established my name. It was hard to move into DJing and be taken seriously because at the time people were either full-time breakdancers or full-time DJs. But I was collecting the music and knew my history. Eventually I joined a DJing crew called the Imperial Mixers - the Imperial Mixer, you might remember, used to play with Tim Westwood on LWR. He was the first DJ I knew with a pair of Technics 1200s - they were very expensive at the time. From 85 to 87 we played a lot of parties together. After that, I kept it up when priorities came in the way for the other guys in the crew - I suppose I didn't have much of a life!

 

Were you scratching from the beginning of your DJing career?

 

I caught the scratching bug pretty much as soon as it started. It was Grandmaster Flash's 'Adventures on the Wheels of Steel' that did it * the concept of it. I used to use my Mum's hi-fi - though I'm glad she didn't

know at the time! - to do pause button mixes, pausing and looping the breakbeat part. Getting that accurate made it easy to move onto turntables. 'Adventures' is timeless because it's so musical. A lot of scratching today, most people just stop and watch it - but that was a party record. The trainspotters want to see you do skills and I'm up for that, but at the same time you've got to acknowledge the crowd that want to hear great music played greatly. You've got to be able to do everything to be a great DJ.

 

What are your trademark tricks on the turntables?

 

I invented the 'Copycat' in 88, demonstrating it at the DMC in '88 - it's when you cut back and repeat fragments of a phrase as the record's going forward.

 

How much do you practise?

 

It's essential to practise. You've got to practise even when you're listening to music. You've got to maintain a certain amount of hunger. When I didn't have a job I used to practise fifteen hours a day! Believe me,

there are DJs doing that now, and I still practise hard. One of the things about being a world champion is you have to maintain that world champion standard. You've got to show people why you once deserved the title.

 

What records have you been involved with?

 

My long-time friend and collaborator DJ Pogo, did The Breaks compilation on Harmless and I've done The Breaks 2 as well as my Battle Breaks series. Pogo and I were always notorious on the underground scene - we weren't originally partners but everywhere we went we were together so we ended up being a

dynamic duo, doing remixes for people like Carleen Anderson. It was he who first got involved in the DMC championship, and I followed. I've also been working on my own productions for years, starting a club night Notorious Flavour Of The Month and DJing on Choice FM in Brixton. As you know, I also

work for DMC - I see myself as an ambassador and spokesperson for the scene.

 

You were away from the DMC championships for some years. Why did you return

in '96?

 

The championship had beome quiet for a bit. I felt the UK DJs had become complacent - the real street DJs didn't seem to be involved. I took it upon myself to make a stand and start making people take notice of the UK again. I was also part of a team that won the UK team title, The En4cers, with DJ

Pogo, DJ Biznizz and Madcut - in fact, we're all currently working on some productions together.

 

Where are you playing at the moment?

 

All over. For instance I'm playing Mass in Brixton this week, before heading off to Sweden. I'm constantly on the move. I don't have any residencies - I'd rather play everywhere. That way everyone gets their own exclusive show. I pretty much give a history of hip hop - old school, new school,

instrumentals, breaks. I want to give people a hip hop party they can remember without being predictable.

 

What would your all-time favourite DJ line-up be?

 

I'm a strong fan of the old school - that's what I was brought up on and those were the pioneers, the people who made something from nothing. So Grandmaster Flash, Grand Wizard Theodore, Jazzy Jay and then more modern DJs like Wiz Kid, DST, Cash Money, Jazzy Jeff and present greats like Roc Raider

and Q-Bert (US) and from the UK, Mastermind Roadshow, Imperial Mixer, Cosmic Jam, Quick Cut Jay, Streets Ahead and my current crew The En4cers.

 

What are the most outrageous turntablist tricks you've ever seen?

 

Well, no one will ever forget DJ David spinning on the turntables in '91 [see chart below] - at that very moment, everyone in the place was like 'Jesus Christ!'. And one time in the American heats a DJ called Bad Boy Bill actually pulled his dick out and started scratching with it!

 

If your house were on fire, which three records would you rescue?

 

My house would never be on fire! I've heard about those things happening to DJs and it's something that I won't even contemplate. They all have to go or I'm going with them!

 

What would your motto be?

 

Know what's best and stand out from the rest.

 

Wise words indeed. Cutmaster Swift's Battle Breaks 3 & 4 will be hitting the shops later this year. You can catch him at Flavour of the Month at The Subterania in London, and at DJ Pogo's monthly at Camden's Jazz Caf. Heats for the DMC World Championship are coming up shortly, with the finals planned for winter 2000.

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Originally posted by Rodney Trotter

Damn son, I hadn't finished appreciating DJ Supreme yet. I guess I'll have to appreciate them in tandem.

 

 

haha, I managed to get hold of "the horns of jericho" luckily..On Resevoir Records tho has the instrumental too..yepeee

 

 

Give it a few days and we`ll ahve to appreicate Pogo too :)

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