Hawk i talks to Wellington-based producer and selector, DJ Sweep.

First up can you tell the people a bit about your sound as a DJ and also as a producer?

I think with DJing it started off differently from where it’s at now.  I started off playing lounge beats having residencies at clubs round Wellington and playing all over the show.  I had a couple of years playing out quite intensively and I think the production reflects that my stuff can go from being all chilled to to being all party.

DJing is about playing for the people and when I make tunes I do have people in mind who I think, yeah they will enjoy this.

So through your experiences of DJing multiple genres and making diverse beats, do you experiment with dance floors and music spaces in changing up tempos and moods?

I definitely like the idea of setting up a progression, like when making an album you think about the track order, but at the same time when doing it live someone could fall over the decks and break a needle and then you got the choice to calm things down or super crank it up.

Briefly, how did DJ Sweep get to this point?

When I was eight I did poetry, then got into song writing and then rapping.  At first I found it really hard to get people to produce beats for me, I thought I was pretty good but I was too young to get into gigs so I pretty much taught myself how to produce. I got disillusioned with aspects of the hip-hop scene and found myself linking the other elements of the dance scene; techno and reggae were very strong influencing factors.

So you learnt to produce or DJ first ?

They kinda came hand in hand. In Aro St, Wellington, there was one guy across the road with turntables, and I had a next door neighbour who was a computer geek who could hook me up with programs. I was trying to make hip-hop but I didn’t know how to change the tempo or really what it was, so I was trying to make hip-hop at 140 BPM!  I may have to revisit that…

It’s all part of history! So you’ve got a new album coming out? Is this the first album or have you done an EP before this?

Well I’ve done two limited releases before this, the first one was in 2007, I made a stencil of Sweep the dog for the cover.  In 2008 I released a CD called Step In Time.  This is my first release that I’m looking to get out a bit more commercially, at least expanding beyond Wellington. It’s still early days, I’m just getting the cover design sorted and getting things sussed like how to get it pressed up.

So you do some acoustic stuff as well?

Yeah I’ve got another project I’m working on, its got some reggae and a bit of psychedelicness I guess,and some dance-ish tunes. I generally find that with acoustic and song writing I can be more expressive and I think that people understand more what you are doing rather than when you’re standing behind the decks or using CDJ’s, twiddling knobs, when they’re thinking ‘why’s he getting payed for that? It sounds just like my iPod’.

They must have an awesome iPod then?

Haha yeah I’ve seen people play amazing sets, beat-matching being real creative and some people are just not into it.  I think mainly because they don’t understand what’s going on.

So on that tip, in the ‘club scene’ in Wellington and in New Zealand, how well educated do you think people that attend bass orientated gigs are and any do you have any views on the scene in general?

I’m really thankful for what clubs offer but they do hold a monopoly on dance events.  I personally fell in love with dance music from going to underground warehouse raves and house parties with people just hauling in as many bass bins as they could. As far as I know all the bars have noise restrictions and in the morning even if you’re playing the dopest set they are going to want you out because the bar staff want to clean up and go home.

What I really want to see is a lot more outdoor parties and underground events and if everyone was behind it and it was safe then I feel it’s a much better atmosphere than the club scene.

In terms of people being educated, at the end of the day if people are having a good time then it’s all good. I mean sometimes the role of a Dj is to not be noticed and just be the background music, but a lot of people dont know what DJ’s actually do.

At the moment do you have a favourite track or sound?

I’ve been listening to so much stuff, I’ve recently discovered the Soundcloud website.  An artist I’m liking at the moment is Alexis K, she’s from Welly and does dubstep and drum and base.  I’m digging J-Stars new dubs, seeing Mungo’s Hi Fi was awesome and Manrays’ system is just sooo needed, it’s a real sound.  I’d say the Vital Sound is my favourite sound at the moment.

So with the whole Soundcloud thing and being a DJ/producer, how do you feel about copyright?

I think Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead have done really well.  Jim Morrison said ‘the music is spiritual, the business isn’t’ and it’s so true, you do music because it is special, I would get ticked off with someone doing something disrespectful with my work but that’s more of a personal thing.

When I sample something I don’t want to rip someones’ loop entirely and make a big tune out of that but that is where the concept of dub’s have come from and it’s so exciting, as long as your claiming the tune as your own it’s all good, everyone loves a good bootleg! It works both ways if you sample someone and your tune blows up then people will ask where the sample came from so then that artist will get exposure as well.

So what’s next for DJ Sweep?

I want to get back on the road and do some more gigs, do some collaborations, got some remix work in the pipeline, and the acoustic album as well. But yeah, I really want do some shows outside of Welly.

To wrap up, if you could have any three living artists on the same bill, who would they be?

Goodness gracious me, what a question!  Off the top of my head: Mos Def, Horace Andy and Madlib.

Wicked good luck for all the upcoming works.

Bless Up.
Hawk I