Published on February 5th, 2014 | by Vekked6
Interview with DJ Dwells (2014 NY DMC Champ)
For those who missed it, DJ Dwells made a bit of history this week by winning the NY DMC regional at just 13 years old, becoming the youngest DJ to win a US DMC regional. A lot of people have been wondering how he got started so young, let alone how he got good enough to win NY DMC, so I caught up with him for a quick interview. Before reading, check out this video he put up a couple days ago of some of the material he didn’t end up using for his 6 minute routine (his B-sides):
How old are you? How long have you been DJing? When did you first get turntables and how did you get them?
I’m 13 years old. My mom got me my turntables on Christmas of 2011 when I was 11 years old. Still using the same ones!
How did you get into using turntables and scratching and juggling? I think most of us didn’t even know what it was at your age, haha.
I get asked this question a lot but never really have an answer. I’ve always been interested in music and I always kinda wanted to be a part of it. I always thought DJing was cool, but not the kind of DJing where you play at a party and nobody’s paying attention to you. I wanted people to watch me and I would be able to show off. Turntablism was exactly this. The first time I saw it was when I met Rob Swift at the Scratch Academy and he did his “Rob Gets Busy” routine right in front of me. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and I guess that was the beginning.
What’s your practice schedule like? Do you practice scratching and juggling equally? How much time is spent on routines and how much on just practicing techniques and stuff? How many hours do you practice every day?
I usually get home from school and head up to my room to practice for a couple hours. I definitely prefer juggling over scratching as you can probably tell from a lot of my routines haha. I feel like scratching gets kind of boring to practice but that may just be ’cause I’m not good at it. As for my DMC routine, I spent about 10 months working on it. It went through massive changes since the first day obviously. I practice maybe 3 to 4 hours each day depending on homework, but I break the practice into parts.
What DJs have helped you so far? Scratch academy/mentors/etc? Other influences?
YouTube has probably been my biggest help with the DMC. I’ve watched just about every DMC out there since ’92. I even dig deep to find some regional clips from the 90s. In terms of DJ’s who have helped, DJ Noumenon has been a huge help ever since I started. I’ve also had some help from Esquire and other people at Scratch like Dirty Digits and Rugged One, but I’ve come up with all the patterns and routines that you see me do.
What do you like better, scratching or beat juggling?
Who are your beat juggling influences? Scratching influences?
This is a very long list. My main juggling influences are guys like Babu, Roli Rho, every X-Ecutioner (Including Precision and Boogie Blind), A-Trak, Craze, Swift Rock, Shiftee, Rob Swift, DJ Statik (Denmark guy), Crazy B, etc… Definitely missing a couple hundred but you get the idea.
Scratching influences: All of Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Tigerstyle, DJ Noumenon, Rafik, Grandmaster Jay, Melo-D, and a whole lot more.
What are some of your favourite routines?
Dexta’s 2000 DMC routine is my all time favorite. Tigerstyle’s “You will lose” Feedback routine from Supremacy is also one of my favorites. Craze’s 1998 routine is another and also DJ Noize’s ’96 routine. These are just off the top of my head so I’m definitely missing a bunch.
Favourite jugglers? Favourite scratchers? Favourite DJs overall?
Mostly all the guys I mentioned in the question about DJ’s that influence me. Some of my favorite DJ’s I didn’t mention are Premier, Roc Raida, Kentaro, Dummy, and Klever.
Favorite song that you don’t have a routine with yet?
Lookin’ for the instrumental to People Under The Stairs’ “Gamin on Ya” with the Galaga sample to flip. Also gonna try to incoporate some jazzy scratching with John Coltrane or Ella & Louis or something like that into my routines.
How did your parents feel about you wanting to get turntables and start DJing? How do they feel now that you’re the New York champ?
My mom has always been pretty supportive about my DJing. She also thinks it’s pretty cool that I won NYC and she doesn’t ever have to pay for a 62.
There have been some rumours going around that you’re actually DJ David’s son, is this true?
Totally. “Luka” is actually German for DJ.
Are you Sara and Ryusei’s half-brother then?
Yes. They got the Japanese half.
“Today on Turntablistworld.com, Vekked asks Dwells about his family.”
What’s next for you now that you won NY?
Go to US finals I guess. If I win that, people might just explode in anger and never attend a DMC event ever again. I don’t really have any exciting plans other than that.
Where do you want to take your skills in 5-10 years? Are you going to do clubs and mixes, make scratch music, make beats, keep battling forever?
Battling is good, and I won’t stop until I win DMC! Even if the prize by the time I would win is a golden Rane 124 mixer. I guess it would be fun to tour with someone when I get older, too.
Any words for the haters chalking your win up to your age?
Please stop talking about the battle. Stop saying “Congrats” every 2 seconds and sharing a video of me from a year ago when I sucked saying, “BRO THIS KID IS THE FUTURE HES A-TRAK MAN.” Those are the kinds of things that would make people believe that I won ’cause of my age. I just did the battle for fun and to try to get my skills up. I’m not here to sign contracts and go on your radio station to do a set. Didn’t know winning a regional could be such a big controversy. Things like this that would drive people, like me, away from a DJ battle. I don’t wanna go to a battle knowing that if I win, people are gonna be pissed. People are talking about the whole thing, both negatively and positively, way too much.
Any last shout outs?
Shout out to sidewalks for keeping me off the streets!
Shouts to Dwells for taking some time out of his homework to answer some questions for us, and good luck at the US finals man! You can find Dwells on Facebook here:
Or on the Turntablist World forum where he’s a moderator for the Inspiration section.