Sunday May 6th sees the welcome arrival to Cork’s Pavilion of one of the seminal names in Dubstep: Pinch. Before this hotly anticipated night, the Tectonic magnate and founder of historic Dubstep night Subloaded takes a moment to chat with Stuart Nealon about production, labels and the importance of dubplates!
By my own admission, I’m not the most well-versed commentator when it comes to Dubstep. Most of the Dubstep of which I’m familiar is of the filthy, wob heavy variety and has always been of limited appeal to yours truly. For this reason, I was somewhat surprised when I was approached with the opportunity to interview Pinch.
Surprised; but pleased that such a fortuitous opportunity had come my way. After all, only a fool would turn down the chance to expand their knowledge into an unknown area; especially when that fool is trying to make a name for himself as a music journalist!
Bearing this distinct lack of knowledge in mind, you can perhaps understand the kind of embarrassment I secretly felt when I admitted this fact to the man during the course of our correspondence. It was only after I started checking out some of the mixes and releases that Pinch has produced and learned of the extent to which he has been involved in nurturing the popularity of Dubstep that I realised just how naive I must have appeared.
Rather than blushing, I decided to make this the foundation, the Tectonic plate, if you will, that would guide the kind of interview I would attempt to conduct: the questions are set by a person who’s just starting to make some serious inroads in Dubstep, in the hopes that those questions would appeal to authorities of the genre and new-comers alike.
And now that all the preparations are behind me, I can say that my naivety has transformed to appreciation: my time spent preparing for this interview has introduced me to some seriously good, thought-provoking and engaging music I probably wouldn’t have discovered were it not for that unexpected offer.
For that opportunity, and for the time taken by Pinch to answer these questions, I am especially grateful.
Grateful and excited, now that I know what to expect over the May Bank Holiday weekend!
What was it that initially attracted you to Dubstep? Were you interested in Dub and other Dub influenced genres of EDM before you discovered Dubstep?
I was bored of everything else at the time – all other scenes of musical interest to me at the time felt like they’d hit a creative brick wall. Dubstep combined and mutated elements of most of my interests – garage, jungle, techno, dub – but did so in a fresh and inventive way. This was back in 2003-4 by the way!
If someone had told you five years ago that Dubstep would eventually transform from a quintessentially underground genre of EDM into the commercially viable phenomenon it has become today, would you have believed it? What was your reaction to this sudden appropriation of Dubstep by a pre-teen audience?
3-5 years ago I might have believed it – but not 8 years ago when it started. I was sure that this was purely soundsystem music that would stay underground as the bass it was so heavily built around wasn’t replicable on radio, TV or iPod listening systems. As the music has popularised I’ve found increasingly less elements of interest to hold on to – it’s been watered down and made more palatable for a wider audience so it doesn’t feel as ‘real’ or as powerful as it did when it was fresh several years ago.
One of the initial thrills I felt when I first heard Dubstep was the unusualness of its sounds or the use of somewhat familiar EDM sounds in an entirely new manner. The problem with this is that new sounds produced in EDM can become stale quickly. As a producer, do you find it difficult to come up with material that you feel maintains that initial peculiarity or put it another way, is the act of producing Dubstep still as fresh and vital to you was it was when you heard it for the first time?
The real trick is to make music that sounds good and fresh several years on from when it was written. Many tracks use sounds that are cutting edge for 3 months then the tracks sound dated and boring. There’s a balance to be found between using innovative sounds and making music that will resonate with the listener beyond the impact of those hearing those new sounds.
One of the things I appreciate about your DJ/ Producer output is the fact that genres seem to dissolve in your work – in Dubstep mixes can be found four-on-the-floor beats usually associated with Techno, for example. Indeed, your recent 30 minutes Fabriclive promo mix had more of a jaunty, house vibe about it than a Dubstep vibe (http://www.fabriclondon.com/blog/view/audio-pinch-fabriclive-61-30-min-radio-mix, see below). Do you believe that having an eclectic taste in music, and one that perhaps reaches outside of EDM, informs the kind of tracks you want to release?
That was a house mix and that’s why it sounds like house music – it is house/techno music! The mix was called ‘Oh No – Not Another Dubstep DJ Playing House Music!’ But to answer your question – variety is the spice of life. Anyone who listens to just one type of music and makes that same genre is probably a right boring bugger.
Searching through Tectonic’s catalogue, you’ve featured releases by some of the most widely regarded acts working in EDM working at the moment. Did you have to put a lot of hard work to get these artists to sign with the label or was it the case that they came flocking to you?
No flocking – just good links and mutual respect that’s helped build the label and roster of artists who’ve featured so far. No arms twisted, no offers of big advances – just honest respect and trust.
In its seven year tenure, Tectonic has become one of the most highly regarded labels operating today in any genre. Do you think that there’s a recipe for success when it comes to establishing and maintaining a label?
Very kind of you to say so! It’s a cliché but I guess it’s important to follow your heart and not to just to release music that you think will make you money, but things that you believe are good and the world should listen to!
I was glad to discover you’re a staunch supporter of vinyl. Can you please explain why sustaining vinyl and dubplates is so important in this age of Hard Disk Jockeying.
They sound better and I like the whole culture around vinyl. I’m not here to tell anyone how they should do their own thing – but vinyl and dubplates works for me. It’s getting harder and harder to play vinyl in clubs these days – the set ups are increasingly CDJ and Serato focussed. It’s much more hard work DJing with vinyl but I still think it’s worth the effort.
Pinch will be assaulting the dancefloor of The Pavilion, Cork on Sunday, May 6th