Words by Olly MacNamee
**Mr Switch (Mr, DJ Switch… think Hip Hop not House) will be performing at Scratch Club on Saturday 14th November, hosted by The Dark Horse in Moseley. At the time of writing, Scratch Club were promoting a donations-on-door policy; for more direct gig info, click here.
First debuting back in 2006 with a simple mission statement that stands true today: bringing that beat back (to paraphrase the great Flava Flav), cutting, scratching and all things Hip Hop to Birmingham, Scratch Club has found a new base of operations at The Dark Horse in Moseley.
Having hosted heroes of Hip Hop in the past, such as the aforementioned Flava and Public Enemy, as well as DJ QBERT and The Scratch Perverts, Scratch Club is now hosting Birmingham’s own Mr Switch – five times (and current) World DMC Mixing Champion. I mean, why look to foreign shores when we have the world champ in our own back garden? Remember, Brummies, what this city has to offer the rest of the UK, let alone world. It isn’t all UB40 and hobbits y’know.
All it needs now support, and the love that Birmingham has given nights dedicated to this still thriving counterculture. A culture that started off at block parties in the tougher neighbourhoods of New York, before dominating the mainstream media as one of the 20th century’s most vibrant and explosive socio-economic movements.
Birmingham Review caught up with Mr Switch and talk to him about the past, the present and future plans for our champ.
Birmingham Review (BR): What’s been happening in the world of Mr Switch since winning your 5th World Championship last year?
Mr Switch (MS): Well, I suppose one of the biggest things I have been involved in is a BBC project going out to all schools in the country called 10 Pieces. The BBC has taken ’10 pieces’ of Classical music and asked schools to create something original and creative with it. It could be a dance piece, poetry, art. Anything really, and it will be released on DVD with the 1hr programme also appearing on the BBC at some point in the near future.
The ‘pieces’ are available at the moment on the BBC website. This came, in some small part, from me doing the Concerto for Turntable and Orchestra about 7 years ago now, and led to me being the first DJ to play at the BBC Proms back in 2011.
Last year I was lucky enough to play the closing set at Shambala, set to fireworks, which took some co-ordination in regards to the live sequencing alongside Two Tigers, in charge of fireworks. I’ve also toured a few countries such as Finland, and in the New Year I’m ready to do a countrywide tour too.
BR: You sound like a very busy man. Getting back to the here and now. What can people expect from Scratch Club this Saturday?
MS: If you’ve been before, when we were at The Yardbird (now shut due to the development of Paradise Circus) then you know what to expect; there will be a good mixture of Hip Hop and freestyle battles. And open mic sessions, which have given us some of the greatest moments of glory and fun too. It’s a friendly crowd and, all will feel welcome at The Dark Horse, and we’ve got some of my favourite MCs, such as MC MR FX, playing as well as some of the best DJs around.
BR: And you’ve roped in some friends too – Dead Pixels is teaming up on the night. Were you a gamer growing up?
MS: Not so much. With the money I got, it was a choice between music or games. Guess which one I chose?
BR: I’m not that great myself. Maybe we can battle it out on Mario Karts on the night?
MS: Yep. I would imagine that people may hear the odd reference or two thrown into my set that are more than a nod to old school gaming and gamers. Expect some 8-bit action on the night as well as plenty of new bits added to my set too.
BR: Sounds good to me. Before I let you go, is there a chance of this becoming a regular night at The Dark Horse?
MS: Well, we have a good relationship with the owners and I’ve played here myself in my band, Boom Operators, so here’s hoping.
Mr/DJ Switch plays at Scratch Club on Saturday 14th November – alongside DJs Automaton, The Doctor, DJ Spats, Deviant, Nick Morgan + live graffiti from That Bloke Wilson and Liskbot.For direct event info, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/905352259542816/
For more on Mr/DJ Switch, visit http://dj-mr-switch.com/
For more from The Dark Horse, visit http://www.darkhorsemoseley.co.uk/
N.B. If you want to know more about the BBC/Mr Switch project 10 Pieces, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0647v1v
Educators should click on the ‘10 Pieces Primary’ or ‘10 Pieces Secondary’ links for further information on how their school can get involved.