Just a few nights ago New York didn’t know what was coming for them at the annual DMC regionals. With the return of Rholi Rho from famed battle jocks the 5th Platoon, people were kind of betting on a easy triumph, little did they know what 13 year old DJ Dwells had up his sleeve. The Connecticut DJ was a student of long time DJ insitution, Scratch Academy, and word on the street has had some solo sessions with Precision and Shiftee. Having shocked the crowd and giving everyone flashbacks to 1997 when a Canadian young buck named A-Trak took the DMC World Finals, things are looking good for Dwells. We caught up with him for this exclusive interview…
How long have you been DJing? What made you get involved?
I’ve been DJing for about 2 years now. I started when I was 11 when I got my first turntables. A strong love for music was what really got me involved.
When you started DJing, were your eyes set on being a battle / turntablist or did you have other aspirations?
I didn’t know what turntablism was when I first started. I would just do mixing until I met Rob Swift at the Scratch DJ Academy and he did his “Rob Gets Busy” routine right in front of me. That was really cool to me because I noticed that when he was doing it, people were watching him and paying attention to him, where as in when you DJ at a party or a club or something, nobody is acknowledging what you’re doing. Turntablism is really exactly what I was looking for.
Though I didn’t make it out to the DMC NY, I saw some of your older videos online and can’t help but notice the strong 90s presence in your selections. With your age being a young 13, your formative years are basically about to happen. Yeah long set up for this, but how the hell are you so into the 90s sound?
I like all kinds of music but 90s Hip Hop is just one of those things that works so well in a set. As much as I like Jazz or other types of music, it’s really difficult to incorporate it into a routine while still keeping people awake. Not only that, but I’ve always love 90s Hip Hop and music.
What’s your DJ rig like at home? Favorite equipment? DJ gear?
It’s pretty much your basic setup. 2 turntables and mixer. My favorite piece of equipment is probably my Rane 62 mixer that I won.
Note: this is not the routine that put him in first place.
Also within the DJ battle circuit, maybe right around 2001, things just got TOO technical for some. The funk was lost. Your style seems to balance both old and new. Can you touch on that at all?
I don’t think battling has really lost any type of funk since the 80’s. Sure, a lot of things have changed like the style of routines but that’s just how stuff works. In the 90s, it was all about funky juggles and clean cuts, in the early 2000s, people got more creative with feedback routines and stuff like that. Then in the mid to late 2000s, more people started to use routines that were pre-produced. Although I’m not very fond of pre-produced routines, who am I to judge what you do in your routine? This happens way too often in DJing and you can relate it to nearly every subject, like Basketball. When someone said that a peach basket shouldn’t be used for a hoop, but rather something different, I’m sure people were upset and had their negative opinions because a peach basket had always been used before that, but it improved the game, rather than destroyed it! Kinda like DJing and the direction its heading in.
Leading up to the DMC NY, what was your practice schedule like?
I tried to practice a couple hours each day. How much I practiced really depended on how much homework I had each night.
Favorite DJs and why?
Dexta for his creativity and distinctive music choices. All the X-Ecutioners, Swift Rock and Babu for their head bobbing juggles. A-Trak and Craze for their well rounded turntablism skills. And Noize for his wordplay and disses.
Are there any other DJs coming up in the battle scene right now that might be some competition?
Dopez from Texas. He’s 19 and can scratch like Q-Bert. Not sure if he’ll battle though. I have no idea who is and isn’t battling this year so we’ll just have to see who my competition is at the US finals.
Favorite DMC routines?
DJ Dwells’ 2014 routine was pretty good (this guy) but other than that…
Dexta’s 2000 Routine
Craze’s 1998 Routine
Noize’s ’96 Routine
I-Emerg’s 2004 Routine
With DMC NY already conquered, what’s your plan for Nationals?
I’ll do my best to come up with the best routine imaginable. I’m coming up with all new juggles and routines just for the battle so we’ll see what happens. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything more than to win DMC Nationals.