Cutmaster Swift Talks


This weekend the finest turntablists from across the globe descend on London to find out who currently boasts the flyest turntablism skills at the DMC World DJ Championship Finals. But what exactly goes into organising the world’s most famous DJ competition? We sat down with DMC’s Cutmaster Swift and got the inside scoop on everything from venue preparation to superstitions via point systems and partying.

How much effort goes into organising the tournament?

The DMC World championships is organised by a DMC team and headed up by the incredible Event Manager Sally McLintock! Sally has managed the event since 2000 and she's a workaholic. Her dedication to detail has kept us in the number one spot!

What is most of your time spent on?

Originally when I joined DMC in 1996 I worked on the DMC DJ competitions by hosting and judging.  I also produced a DJ Battle breaks series and produced DMC mixes! In recent years I have put my video production knowledge to good use as I  now produce the DMC World championship DVD's and I'm also  currently working  on a epic project with DMC Director Tony Prince as we're producing  a historic  documentary called The History Of DJ!  There's always an opportunity to expand at DMC HQ, if you're willing!

How many people work in the team?

Not sure I can give away company secrets! LOL.  Numbers are irrelevant but I will say that DMC are always looking for new passionate talent. The company's policy is based on family values so there's no us it's we! 

How far in advance do preparations begin for the team?

The World DJ Championships takes up at least 6 months of DMC’s calendar. It does create a lot of media attention throughout the year but DMC supports all types of DJ.  We  produce monthly remixes and offer exclusive online downloads. We have a weekly digital magazine called DMC World Magazine and soon we are re-launching a very exciting division of DMC – DJ Pages! 

What time do you start work on tournament day? Can you talk us through your responsibilities on the day?

Early! We load in to the venue at 10am, and then set up stage which normally takes 2 hours. I’m part of the sound tech team headed up by Pete Roberts who is an absolute genius when it comes to the competition equipment configuration! We plan in detail and co-ordinate all tasks through the DMC team. I am responsible for the DJ’s equipment.

How do you choose the venue?

This is one of Sally’s many jobs! She will discuss ideas with the team and then decides with the DMC's Directors. 

How much time is spent keeping in touch with competitors prior to the event?

We communicate with our branches throughout the year and are always updated on the events taking place around the world so we can keep the DMC World website and social media accounts up to date. 

Have you ever had any last minute panics where competitors go missing or aren't ready?

There's always something unexpected likely to happen! You can't stage a major event like this and expect it run without any hiccups! It’s such a great weekend where the DJ community get together, it’s rare the DJs go missing as they are always back stage hanging out practising in the practise room or catching up in the green room! 

How do you decide on the judges?

All Judges are DJs competitors, so they truly understand the art. We also invite established guest performers which are former legendary World Champions! 

Can you explain the marking system?

DMC's points system is very simple model, its original format used from the competitions conception! 

You simply award 3 points to your top three positions

1st place get 3 points
2nd get 2 points
3rd only 1,

Finally we encourage our judges not to place joint positions!

Are there any behind-the-scenes traditions that have grown up over the years? Any superstitions?

Of course there are plenty of superstitions! DJs can get quite nervous in a event like this so we encourage them to use their own needles, headphones and mixers when possible! If they could they would also insist on their own turntables!

I presume there’s an after-party? What’s that like?

The DMC After party is essential as this is where we all wind down and celebrate another successful year, what happens at the after party stays in the after party!

If you were to re-enter the tournament would you be able to match the current young guns?

Lol. I'm not sure where that myth comes from that the oldies can't keep up with the present!? You only have to be real hungry and practice. Practice, practice!  Anyone can learn and master all the current techniques and know styles but I’d rather be an out of date originator.

To be honest I wouldn't insult any competitors in thinking I could just enter and expect to win  because of popularity!  I understand and remember how much practice time and dedication is needed but what's most vital to me is originality! Finally, if it was ever possible for me first to be allowed to enter as I am a DMC employee, realistically I'd also need a generous sponsor to enable me to lock myself away for at least 3 months  so I can be free of the responsibilities of being father & husband, when I won the DMC World Championships I was so self indulgent, this for me is also a vital requirement!

Dan Leach

DMC World DJ Championship takes place Sunday 5th Oct at the Forum in London. Tickets available after the jump.