DJ Swagger is everything you wouldn’t expect him to be

The man is constantly evolving, throwing everything from electro, breakbeat and jazz to hip-hop, indie and R&B into his musical blender on his new album »Chemistry Forever«. Add a dash of his own subtle, slightly melancholic vocals and it all comes together like a super-curated NTS radio show for his mates, or a live set that’s just about to explode. So who exactly is DJ Swagger?

DJ Swagger is from Bielefeld, Germany, real name Lutz Reineke, and was born in 1998. Without a real musical background at home (his dad is a big rock and new wave fan), it was actually the music from skate videos that got him hooked on wanting to make his own tunes. By the age of 10, when he wasn’t shredding on his board, Lutz was picking up the guitar. He also tried piano for a while, but that was not his thing. He stuck with the guitar and later added bass to his repertoire. Now he’s learning the double bass.

At 14, YouTube mashups became his jam —for a while. He wants to progress quickly and learn more. He started DJing in the »dodgiest after-hours venues« to soak up the club culture and get some experience under his belt. By the age of 16 he was being booked all over Germany, and a year later he ventured to France for the first time. Music became his lifeblood, but with one rule: »it couldn’t get boring«. 

Wanting some stability, Lutz got a bachelor’s degree in media design. He uses those skills to create all of his own visuals, like the cover art for »rocks 2nite«, his first release on his label Goddess Music (founded in 2019). He adds more layouts, music videos, merch, even handmade candles as a creative balance to his music.  

His sound changes over the years. Under various aliases such as Interstate and DJ Doom (with Luz1e), he drops a bunch of house and breaks tracks, with some »English influences« thrown in for good measure, and a few fun side projects. His 2022 album »Minor Major Grand Schemes«, released on his own label, is a showcase of his diverse sonic palette, with hip-hop, techno and even some pop elements making an appearance. Think of it as a massive expansion of his stylistic toolbox that crosses every possible genre. It’s the product of a long journey of self-discovery, a changing environment and a constant search for balance between contrasting influences.  

Balancing the contradictions

Even if he’s not entirely happy with the final product, the album marks a new era for Lutz. He wants to connect with his audience on a more personal level. »No more filler tracks,« he says. »Instead, more content which works better and is more comprehensible using vocals and instruments than pure club bangers.« It’s all about musicianship, about understanding the instruments, adapting to a club scene that’s become all about visuals since the pandemic, and the ever-changing listening habits of his audience.

»It’s this whole fascination with instruments that I seem to have now,« Reineke reflects, »which is a complete change from the years when I thought a computer was all I needed.«

DJ Swagger

A DJ Swagger set might start with some thumping bass lines, but end with Bill Withers or Anderson .Paak, leaving the crowd scratching their heads in amusement. Lutz welcomes the confused faces —breaking genre stereotypes and defying categorisation is what »Chemistry Forever«, out on Kommerz Records, is all about.  

After meticulously refining his creative vision from a collection of over 50 demos, Lutz turns to a new chapter, embracing classic songwriting and taking us on a journey through UK-influenced electronica, neo-soul and indie. This album is essentially a personal, expertly curated one-man radio show for your friends, best listened to from start to finish.  

DJ Swagger In Concert
12Jul 2024
Berlin • HHV-Store