DJ Swamp brings his talent to Alaska for two shows

DJ Swamp has long been a familiar name in the world of hip-hop and electronic music. Ever since bursting on the scene in memorable fashion, coming out of nowhere to win the 1996 U.S. Disco Mix Club Championships (think March Madness for DJs), he's been taking his live show around the world.

Now he's taking his talents to Anchorage, co-headlining the second annual spring break dance event Bass Cannon Friday at H2Oasis with up and coming dubstep artist Cyberoptics and performing a set at Chilkoot Charlie's Saturday.

"It's one of the few states I haven't been to, and I wanted to rock out at the indoor water park during the 40-below weather," Ronald Keys Jr., aka DJ Swamp, said about his first time in Alaska.

Even if he probably won't find that kind of weather on his visit, the trip has been a long time coming for Swamp, whose rapid ascension in the DJ world led to high-profile gigs. But shortly after winning the US DMC Championships, he was back to being a street sweeper in his hometown of Cleveland. Still mixing in his free time, he managed to slip a tape of his work to alternative rock superstar Beck's publicist.

"I went from driving a street sweeper to playing the Grammys within a month," he told music site Illuminati 2g about taking over as Beck's touring DJ and maintaining that role for more than four years. He also performed tracks that ended up not making the final cut on Beck's album "Midnight Vultures."

After playing music festivals, awards shows and everything in between with Beck, Swamp decided it was time for him to strike out and create music of his own.

Sporting a sound that, according to him, mixes "hip-hop, electronic, rock, dance and movie samples," he's performed on tracks for an eclectic group of musicians, ranging from Ben Folds to The Dandy Warhols to Vanilla Ice.


It allowed him to found his label Decadent Records, which he also used to distribute some of the innovative technologies he had created for DJs. Most notably, he created the popular "skip-proof" records.

That said, he is best known for his concerts, which bridged the gap between performance art and live music. He's notorious for blending pyrotechnics, fire-breathing and breaking records into his shows.

"Urb Magazine once said watching Swamp torture the turntables is like watching a magic show," the DJ said. "I've tried to live up to that. It's a real show. Not some boring DJ that stands there pumping his fist."

By David Harper

Daily News correspondent