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In Conversation: Sub Focus

In Conversation: Sub Focus

Nick Douwma - better known by his bruising DnB alias Sub Focus - is more than a DJ, producer, mixer and music maker. While, Douwma the man enjoys the energy, spectacle and polished production of live shows, as Sub Focus, he plays the role of a somewhat modest creator. Never boasting about his name being attached to tracks alongside huge artists like Example or Chase and Status.

Maybe that’s because Douwma is simply a music fan, with an eclectic taste that may surprise some - from his own associations with the DnB sound to the likes of techno, electronica and styles even further afield. To learn more about the man, we caught up with Sub Focus for a quick-fire chat ahead of his extensive UK tour, hitting London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol.

You’re known for having quite an extensive and eclectic music taste, how important do you think it is for music makers to appreciate music outside of their associated genre?
It’s essential in my opinion!

What new artists are you most excited about this year?
In the DnB world Dimension is making some of the most consistently strong material at the moment.

How do you go about selecting for a DJ set - do you always prepare or do you go off the atmosphere and feel of a crowd?
I always do a lot of preparation when I DJ but with options of different sections and directions that I can take the set. I tend to taylor the music I play to the place quite a bit - different styles work better in different territories.

You’re hitting Brixton next week for a live set to kick off a tour, how are you preparing for that show in particular?
There’s a ton of preparation that has gone into this show. It’s a brand new version of my live production and we are doing it at Brixton for the first time. We are using transparent holographic projection screens which are a pretty groundbreaking new material.

As a producer there’s a lot of focus on the live concepts for your music, do you prefer playing live as opposed to a DJ set?
I really enjoy both but playing live gives me more of opportunity to dissect my own tracks - I’m taking the elements of the songs and effectively remixing them on the fly - twisting up the elements and adding new ones.

You’re known for big productions in your live shows - what can audiences expect on your upcoming dates? Will you be debuting any new sounds at this show?
I’ve spoken a bit about the new lighting production already but there is also a lot of new music in the show, there are three brand new tracks not heard before in the set alongside new versions of older tracks and my brand new collaboration with Wilkinson ‘Take It Up’.

Can you tell us how the bass scene in particular has changed since the beginning of your career?
It’s really opened up a lot in the last 10 years. I remember wanting to play more mixed genre sets back then but at the time it was unheard of. There was a few of us in the DnB scene who started to fuse genres a bit more and having Dubstep emerge helped to connect our scene to others in the late noughties. This went hand in hand with people’s listening habits becoming more diverse through the internet, now hearing a broad mix of genres is much more the norm in DJ sets.

Jauz will be joining you at this show and warming up proceedings, tell us a bit about him.
Jauz is a big up and coming talent from the US - we hung out recently when I played his stage at Electric Zoo festival in New York and was great to have him come over here and play at our show. He is heavily influenced by Uk genres like Bassline but with an American slant.

Finally, we always finish on a track, what’s currently your go-to party track?
Probably have to choose my new collaboration with Wilkinson for this, it’s been getting a huge reaction in my sets over the last few months.

See Sub Focus at London’s O2 Academy Brixton on Thursday 29th March, Birmingham’s Boxxed venue for a DJ set on Friday 30th, Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse on Saturday 31st and finally Bristol’s Motion venue for a RAM Records takeover on Friday 13th April.

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