We kicked off the artist feature section in July with one of our longest-running dubplate clients, Bristol Dubstep pioneer, DJ Pinch.
How important is cutting dubplates from a producers point of view? Does it help your production?
Personally I think if you attend a cutting session of your own tracks then it's a great way to develop as a producer.
Even if you don't know what is being done to the tracks it just helps to be able to hear a corrected version, as you can reference back for future productions. Its an on-going process though, as you straighten up certain aspects of your tracks and engage in dialect with the mastering engineer, you can pick up a lot of tips on the way - especially which parts of the track could benefit from cuts and boosts at different positions along the EQ range. I've learned a great deal from getting plates cut and attending the vinyl mastering sessions of records I've been involved with releasing - as well as for my own tracks.
What difference does it make to your set performance-wise. Why not just burn a bunch of CDs or use DJ software?
I much prefer the hands on approach for vinyl and dubplates - I never play out cds and I don't use Serato or Final Scratch. It can often be a struggle to run 'plates and the acetates do wear out over time, but the reason I always come back to cut more is cos, tried and tested - they sound better. There's a natural compression effect that vinyl has and it also warms the bass up. I don't like the coldness of a purely digital sound and since I make my music on a computer, the analogue warmth of vinyl is - for me - an essential part of the process towards getting a sound I'm comfortable representing.
What percentage of your set is made up of dubplates now?
Ooh - probably between 80 and 90%. I like to keep it upfront.
Of all the formats available at Dub Studio, which is your favorite and why?
I used to get a lot of the plastic plates done when I started out, mainly attracted to the fact that they don't wear out. They're also more durable than the acetates when cueing up the record (they don't 'jump' on the first beat) and they seem to sound brighter too. However, they lack the bass warmth of the acetates and also some of the compression factor that acetates have. Sometimes I struggle with the acetates but overall I think they're worth the effort for the sound alone. The 12's have a bit more room so I think the 12" acetate is my favourite weapon of choice! Even though it's only a matter of time before I put my back out carrying them around!!
When it comes to dubs and vinyl, what's the most important thing to you, loudness or quality?
Well you will always need the record / plate to be cut to a certain volume in order for it to sound good out - but this level is constantly being pushed too far. It's really not hard to look at the gain levels, which flash up on 99% of mixers, and adjust accordingly... I don't really understand why people would want to compromise the sound of their cut by over-compressing the mixdown, squashing it all through a limiter into a wall of sound.
What makes a tune worth cutting to dub?
Well it has to be something you'd want to play out...
What's your most played-out dub ever? What's the hottest dub you're playing right now?
Tough one to call.. I cut a lot of dubs, the idea being to keep up a level of fresh beats when I play out - I try to make a point of cutting at least 1 or 2 new plates for every weekend batch of gigs. I guess one of the hottest dubs I've been running for the last several months is a Loefah rhythm called 'Jus a beat' (probably a working title) - its heavy weight action and probably one of the only things he's made in the last year so its an honour to be carrying it in my arsenal (I don't think he's really given it out either). Similarly I've hammered a Skream tune for about a year called 'Oi Kum Ere Sun' which only him and Benga have otherwise.. Sick tune!
What gigs have you got coming up? What's in the pipeline release-wise?
Just had a crazy last couple months for gigs - Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Athens, Leipzig, Cologne, Fabric, Ministry Of Sound, South Bank Centre.. loads of other UK things too. Summer is a bit more chilled now - got a few festivals - Belfast, Norway, Poland - but really the busy months tend to be spring and autumn/leading up to xmas..
Release-wise I've just had a plate out on Soul Jazz 'Chamber Dub', and I've a couple of remixes as the next move, including 'Rise Up' by Henry & Louis meets Blue and Red ft. Steve Harper and Daddy Ants (forthcoming on 2 Kings). Very fond of that one actually..