Q&A... Sub Focus
D'n'B stalwart Sub-Focus took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about his upcoming single, his 90s grunge roots and how the internet has affected the music industry.
You’ve recently released a new single, ‘Desire’ with Dimension, how did the partnership come about? Have you guys worked together before?
We’ve known each other for a few years through touring and a mutual respect for each other’s music. Dimension started on my buddies Chase & Status label MTA and now has his studio downstairs from mine in Kings X London so it made sense to link up.
Collaboration has become a more frequent occurrence in the Drum & Bass world, why do you think producers working together is on the rise?
Producers have become a little more open to collaboration lately in general and it can add a bit of extra interest to a release. I’ve been doing a lot more collabs of late: most recently with Rudimental, Wilkinson and Dimension. I worked purely on my own for many years so it keeps things exciting and fresh to have more people in the room.
Do you still see yourself as a DnB artist, or do you think that the genre has become more influenced by other styles of music as the internet has taken over how people access music?
I still make predominantly DnB tempo music but I see myself as a Dance / Electronic artist. I’m not interested in fitting too closely to scene conventions. People’s musical tastes have broadened massively since the internet begun. When I was growing up I remember music scenes feeling more tribal and insular, a bunch of my friends were DJs but you could only afford to collect vinyl specialised in one genre for example. Now different types of music are so much accessible and discoverable via things like streaming and people are more open to new things as a result.
Since you released your last album streaming has taken over how people listen to music, do you think that impacts how you make music now?
People have always tailored music for the format of the day - short singles for 45’s / long disco edits for 12” records for example. I don’t really like the idea of streaming platforms dictating how people decide to write music though - there is a kind of song structure with very short intros that people have figured out has the best streaming success. I don’t personally like to think in such a commercial way about structures because it is limiting to what you make. The good thing about streaming is because people can skip so easily there are a lot fewer filler tracks, gone are the days of having to buy an album just for one great song.
Now that you’re such an established artist how does playing sell-out shows compare to your earlier more underground shows?
I like both but I do really appreciate playing the smaller shows again now, weirdly sometimes the atmosphere can be better in small clubs than at massive shows and they are great for road testing new material. I always like to play my new unfinished material in my sets to see how it reacts.
What did you record collection look like growing up? I know you were into some 90s rock bands, do your early music tastes manifest in the music you produce now?
I was into grunge in my teens, particularly Nirvana. Then got into dance music and jungle in the 90s via acts like Chemical Brothers and Prodigy who were fusing dance with Rock elements. Recently I’ve been drawing on my memories of 90’s dance music for inspiration - it was amazing growing up then and getting to go to some of the seminal clubs of the era - like Metalheadz at the Blue Note and Bagleys.
What are your plans heading into the Winter? Will you be working, touring, or spending some time with friends and family for Christmas?
I’ve been playing quite a bit but now I have a few weeks in the studio and I’m preparing a bunch of new music to release next year. Watch this space.
Listen to Sub-Focus’ new single