This is one man who needs no introduction. Any self-respecting Hip Hop fan will know of The X-Ecutioners, one of the most respected and talented DJs crews to ever rock the 1200s. The recent passing of the legendary Roc Raida has brought the guys to the forefront yet again; well, it’s not like they ever left, really.
DJ Rob Swift has just released a brand new album entitled ‘The Architect’, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Hip Hop, Classical, Turntablism. Actually, let’s just call it good music.
I was blessed to do the first Australian interview with Rob (shouts to the homegirl Tamia!), so let’s get right to it…
Cee: Hey Rob, how’s things man?
Rob Swift: Things are great!
Cee: First up, I checked out the album. All I can say is ‘wow’. This is on some next level shit. What was your main inspiration for it?
RS: The inspiration for “THE ARCHITECT” is the genre of classical music. On past albums, Jazz was the driving force for a lot of my creativity. Listen to my first album “THE ABLIST” and you’ll hear songs with live bands. Even the album cover was intended to invoke a feel of the old Blue Note record label. Pick up my second album “SOUND EVENT” and discover tracks like “Salsa
Scratch” featuring jazz pianist Bob James. But this time around, about one month prior to begin working on what would later become “THE ARCHITECT”, I discovered the genre of classical music. It made such an impression on me that subconsciously I was thinking like a classical composer, working movements and things of that sort. Once I realized this, I embraced it.
Cee: How do you feel turntablism and classical music are related?
RS: Both the classical musician and turntablist compose music. Its as simple as that. Obviously, the way we compose our music is different. Turntablists do not read sheets of music. A classically trained pianist or violinist does. However what ties us together is the way sound, rhythm and tempo inspire us to make music in the first place. Both the instincts of the
Turntablist and classical composer guide him on what sources of sound to incorporate into a piece, and so on.
Cee: Why the move to use more classical sound on this project?
RS: I felt the need to reinvent my sound. This was my way of giving my audience something new to look forward to regarding my music. It also served as a way of keeping the process of recording new and challenging for me.
Cee: Why the decision to only include one vocalist on the album?
RS: Well, I was listening by composers like Beethoven, Mozart and especially Frederic Chopin. Their music captured your attention with out the need of a vocalist. I wanted to achieve the same. I didn’t want to use the presence of an MC on a particular song as a crutch!
Cee: What do you expect to achieve with this album?
RS: My goal on all of my albums was to emphasize the turntable is a musical instrument in the hands of the right DJ. For skeptics that didn’t believe it when release my prior albums, there’s no way than can deny it after listening to “THE ARCHITECT”.
Cee: Was this more of a personal record or something for the people?
RS: I put my heart into everything I do. Thus, this album was just as personal as all my other releases. Likewise, I like to stimulate my audience and challenge the way they hear music so in that sense its for the people!
Cee: How did you meet Mike Patton and link up with his label?
RS: I first met Mike Patton at a show the X-ecutioners collaborated with him on in Canada. This was many years ago. Later on, we recorded an album with Mike entitled “GENERAL PATTON VS THE X-ECUTIONERS”. Most recently, I toured with Mike as a member of his band “Peeping Tom”. All of this allowed us to develop a strong musical connection. So midway through the completion of my album, I reached out to Mike about releasing “THE ARCH…” And after
listening to a rough draft of the album Mike responded in a very positive way to it and offered to draw up a recording deal on behalf of his label Ipecac Recordings.
Cee: How did the passing of Roc Raida affect you both as a musician and as a friend?
RS: As a musician, it makes me appreciate what I do for a living even more. It’s easy to grow tired of the countless hours spent on planes, trains and automobiles on your quest to tour the globe spreading the word about a particular project. It’s easy to get comfortable in what you’ve accomplished in the past and play it safe, only doing just enough at a show or in the recording studio. But Raida passing away is a reminder that you can’t take life and the opportunities life offers us, for granted. Raida showed us that none of us know what’s waiting for us around the corner so its important for you and I to give everything we do 110% because after we’re
gone our work on this earth is what carries on our legacy. As a friend, Raida showed me the important roll we all play in each others lives. Raida and I motivated each other to be the best DJ, producer, musician and all around person. At times we accomplished this through being creative. Other times we accomplished this did it through it was through working out
creative and personal differences. Our friendship was deep. Tumultuous at times because of the passion we have but full of love as well. We were like brothers! I’ll miss him forever and for this reason I dedicated “THE ARCHITECT” to him!
Cee: Tell us about the live show for the album.
RS: The live show is something you definitely must witness in person. Let’s just say you won’t be disappointed. I’m usually drenched in sweat by the finally of the show.
Cee: Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
RS: At the moment, I’m working on a DVD documenting “THE ARCHITECT” world tour!
Cee: What’s the plans for the immediate future?
RS: Work, work, work and work some more to promote my album!
Cee: Are you getting down to Australia any time soon?
RS: Thanks to a fine trio of Australians (Tamia, MJ and Aaron – WHAT UP!) I will be touring Australia this May! It’ll be my first solo tour their and I’m really excited about it!
Cee: Any message for the fans?
RS: I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the various shows I’ll be having in Australia and please support my new album!
Cee: Thanks for your time man!
RS: Thank you!