Congratulations to the new DMC World Portablist Champion!

The journey of DJ Swordz already includes retiring from his DJ career once, but the passion and dedication to DJing and the DJ community have brought him back in the game! Swordz - his real name Tom - has been DJing since the late 90s and just took the biggest title of his battle career by becoming the World Portablist Champion. This is the perfect occasion for DJ ND to get in touch with the man behind the title and an old friend.

DJ ND: Hi Tom. Congratulations on your DMC world title! How does it feel to win this battle? 

- It feels great! And it is a big accomplishment after all these years of dedication! To be honest, I didn't put myself under pressure in the first round. I just chose a beat from a looper of DJ Sparky T, hit the record button, and uploaded a one-take video. That was it! 

DJ ND: After the first round, you were able to confirm your advancement to the next round?

- True. I was positively surprised. You know, it's always difficult to judge your own performance and anticipate how the jury will react. I saw some good videos from other competitors. The level was high. So yes, I was very happy with the result.  

DJ ND: Was your mindset different than that from other battles?

- Yes. A bit more relaxed than in previous competitions that I entered with the ambition to win. Maybe this chill mindset was an asset to deliver my best combos. 

Picture of Swordz by Ekaterina Baz

DJ ND: Did this world title give you new opportunities?

- For sure! DMC is certainly the most prestigious competition on the DJ/turntablist scene. It gives good visibility, especially when you win.  

DJ ND: The DJs who know your journey will notice two main periods in your DJ career: The early 2000's and the big comeback a decade later. Can you comment a bit on that?

- Well, it is true that I've been active on the battle scene between 2000 and 2006-2007. After that, I retired for about ten years. I settled down, bought a house, and got in touch with DJs and people on the scene again - especially Belgian DJs. It gave me a boost. Slowly but surely, I got into scratching again.

DJ ND: You decided to get back in the game, you won a local contest in Belgium, and it seems that nothing could stop you after that?

- (laughs) Thanks, man! I started with a small battle in Belgium. I won against DJ TMB, who is another big name of the Belgian scene. I decided to focus on my freestyle skills more than routines. I like the idea of sharing sessions with friends and learning new combos. And after a while, I entered all major battles again.  

DJ ND: Can you give us an overview of your titles?

2021 DMC World Portablist Champion - Winner of the "Cut and paste" community scratch BBQ freestyle battle (online event) - 4th place at the Ortofon 2020 World Battle - 3rd place at the IDA 2020 World Scratch Finals 

DJ ND: About your scratch game: Do you have typical combos that you use or don't use, depending on the beat, type of beat and speed?

- Most of my combos are doable on beats between 80 & 90 BPM. I do a lot of Swing Flares, and I like combos with waves & drills. And, of course, I have some signature moves. 

DJ ND: Are you adapting your flow to the device you use - turntable vs portable turntable?

- Not really. I try to do every combo I know on both my turntables and portable turntables. It's difficult, of course. But using 7-inch records also has some assets: The drills sound crispier. I feel like waves are more challenging to do, though.

DJ ND: Four short questions about your... 

Favorite BPM: I like electro beats more and more (130-140 bpm). For a long time, I focused on 80 and 90 bpm instrumentals. 

Favorite combo: One of my signature moves is a 4-click-Transform forward with a 4-click-Flare back. 

Favorite turntablist ever: Q.Bert. Because of his skills & never-ending passion for scratching.

Favorite discipline: Turntablism or Portablism: Each discipline has its place. On holiday, I would say Portablism, and Turntablism when I'm back home in the studio.

Watch the video of DJ Swordz performing an impressive freestyle at Ortofon Skratch Nerds. Weapon of choice: VNL

DJ ND: How would you define your style, and who are your main influences?

- Good question. For the past 20 years, I've been influenced by so many Scratchers around me: DJs from the Belgian scene like the Mixfitz, DJ Odilon, TMB, ND, BeatButcher. It's difficult to give you just a few names. Of course, like most of the Scratchers, big names like Shortcut & Q.Bert are living legends for me. 

DJ ND: What cartridge do you use, and do you have a favorite from the Ortofon DJ range? 

- I've been using Q.Bert Concordes for years. I switched over to VNL, and I've been super impressed by the quality of the product. VNL is the needle I have been waiting for. Stable, loud, good sound quality - a game-changer.

DJ ND: You're invited to the Ortofon Instagram Livestream on July 18th with Odilon and ND. How do you feel about that? 

- Excited! I have been practicing a lot during the lockdown. I have a good feeling, and I'll be ready to perform on my best level. It will be fun! 

Make sure you log in Sunday, July 18, 2021, at 6 PM (CET).