Dub Elements July 2017 Interview
Since storming onto the D&B music scene in early 2009, Seville based duo Dub Elements have swiftly merited a reputable and solid name for themselves from the start: With their distinctly unique sound which boasts infectious bass hooks, compulsive beats and slices & bleeps, this bass-duo quickly caught the ears of certain big names into of the scene such as Chris Renegade & Spor (aka Feed Me) who helped spread the gospel and gain support including "Vandals" in one of their massive Lifted Music Podcasts. We get an exclusive interview with the Spanish duo.
Q.1. Thanks for taking time out I know you guys are really busy! Can we start with you hailing from Spain? What area and have you guys lived there all your life?
A. We're both from Seville (South of Spain), the most beautiful and hot city in southern Europe. We’ve been living here forever, tough some times we thought about moving to another city with better professional perspectives. Nowadays, being both of us daddies, it’s be hard to get out of here ☺
Q.2. How did you guys meet?
A. We met about 10 years ago when we used to play in free parties and raves, when we fell in love with dnb so we just tried to bring the scene to our city, and make the people from the rest of the world to know about the dnb scene in Seville. Antonio already organized parties with his crew, Resistance; it was the beginning of D&B in the city. Selu started to produce music before when he was 16, but when he began to get interest in DnB, he was around 24 years old; it was then he joined a Spanish dnb forum community called “bajopresion”, there he met a guy called Humberto, partner of Antonio at Resistance, and after some nights hanging out and talking about our same interest in D&B, and playing b2b in some events, we decided to create Dub Elements and until now :)
Q.3. What format did you guys learn to mix on and what is your preferred DJ set up now?
A. We both started playing vinyl, we had 2 Technics at home and a big collection of dnb classics that we keep like gold… Sorry, firstly we had 2 decks (acoustic control) super low cost xD… Later we only used cdjs as it was easier to play the latest and hottest dubplates by us or other artist, not released on vinyl yet. Our set up is actually 4 x pionner cdj 2000 + 2 djm pioneer 800 or 900.
Q.4. You have played all over the world including the famous Space Ibiza and Creamfields! Where has been your favorite place to play?
A. We are lucky because we've played in so many countries that really enrich your life as a musician and as a person. We love to discover new cities, people, places, and food… so any place where we’ve played has a place in our heart. To be honest we love to play in our city, the vibe is amazing, people always goes mental and we're always surrounded by friends. And of course we love to play in Ibiza, it’s the craziest place in the world. Summer of 2014 in Privilege was magic! One of those nights, in what is to be said one of the biggest clubs in the world, we shared the bill with Dirtyphonics, Borgore and Kill the Noise; in the VP were Skrillex and Steve Aoki, who somehow ended djing alongside the rest of us. A legendary b2b set!!! Also, we love Dreambeach as it happens in the south of Spain; we're close friends with the people who work there, promoters, technicians etc, and it’s one of the biggest festivals in Spain right now.
Q.5. What prompted you to start producing?
A. There is a guy in our hometown called Julian, he is Selu’s uncle best childhood friend. He is a dj, he started to play in the 80s so he is a true pioneer, and we spent hours and hours listening and watching him play in his studio, we just fell in love with the breaks he used to play and we started to get curious about how the music we like was produced. We bought some future music and computer music magazines and we discovered that it was possible to make that sound with a pc, so Selu misled his mom to buy a pc for the “school tasks”… nothing could be further from the truth… Just in the moment when the pc arrived, he installed and impulse tracker and we started to write music, it was so tedious and funny, and very different from today!
Q.6. Dutch label Prspct picked up your "Bass In The Tope EP" and "Popim" which is a pretty heavy hardcore release! You also produce breaks so can you expand on how that transition went to drum and bass?
A. We both got interest about in because the breaks, the breakbeat scene, was huge back in the days in the south of Spain. Most of the guys here used to listen to breaks, so it was the first style we produced. In my opinion, dnb is just fastest breaks, so we totally dig it when we heard it for the first time around 1998. Then, as we were young and full of rage and hate :), we introduced some hardcore elements in our productions, and the results were the Prspct releases. I always reflect my mood and feelings in my music, and that was a hardcore period in our lives. We have really fond memories from back in the day…the time we played on a truck at the Dance Parade in Rotterdam and around 100.000 people on the street…but life goes on and your tastes change, so years go by and we don’t feel the same motivation with that kind of sound while others were making our hearts pump. For a few years we also tried dubstep and electro, but there was a time when d’n’b (always inside us) was again giving us very good emotions, so we concentrated back on it.
Q.7. What DAW are you producing on and any favorite plugs or VST's?
A. Nowadays we use Ableton Live. We love its native plugins and we use Operator for bass and synth sounds. Some sounds have been done with FL Studio and Harmor, quite powerful tools… As today, I believe that Daws, Ableton, FL, Logic, Cubase and the such give very good results y sound quality, it is just a matter of you use them… We also have some help from third party vst like Massive, Serum, Izotope Trash, Wowfilter…
Q.8. What production tips can you give our readers to help get tracks loud and crisp, and do you produce in 44.1 or 48?
A. Since we have the new studio (2 years ago) we produce in 48, you get a more definition in your sound. We also have a different work routine… Before, we used to make the different sounds inside a track evolve at the same time the track was being made, but today I spent many hours just making new sounds individually that we later use in our tracks, specifically bass sounds. In d’n’b the bass is key and it requires a long chain of process and post-process, so I think you better make those sounds before using them in a specific track. I also spent a lot of hours making drums that later I file. Intros and melodies are usually created for a specific track, on the contrary. There’s less stress doing so for the pc and a better control of the sound’s dynamics. Less effects, a cleaner and more defined sound. You can add later the final touch regarding eq and reverb… Pd: some weed helps sometimes too… ☺
Q.9. If you had to choose a genre out of hardcore, dubstep, breaks and drum and bass, what would it be and why?
A. To be honest we don’t care about genres, we always say there are 2 kinds of music: good music and bad music. I understand good music as the music that comes from talent and soul, that makes you brain trip; bad music is just made for money porpoises with over-used formulas. Now we're focused back on dnb because it has all the elements we like in electronic music ... energy, innovation, productions skills, and soul.
Q.10. You won the "Best Bass Music DJ" award in 2015. That must of been a monumental moment for you at the international Breaks awards?
A. Always a pleasure to have any kind of recognition so we are really grateful… Best award though is playing in front of a crowd, people listening to your tracks, asking you for a pic and being happy with what we do!
Q.11. You've also won a stack of other awards such as "Best Bass Music Producer" twice and "Best Bass Music Artists" which was the Vicious Music awards by Calsberg and "Best Electro / Dubstep Artist" which is huge.... what would you like to say to all your fans and supporters?
A. Thank very much!!! From day one we’ve felt really loved by them and our aim is to keep the hard work in order to be better and better for a long time. Let’s also say that these awards wouldn’t be possible without the team working with us… management, booking, press…
Q.12. Having quite a lot experience across the different genres, would you say that drum and bass is one of the more technical and difficult genres to produce or do you find it equally challenging as the others?
A. Quality is always hard to achieve and from our point of view you need some technical skills to do it right. But, of course, d’n’b has that plus in difficulty. We are not the only ones saying so, anyone with an interest in production techniques knows d’n’b is harder to compose and produce, and one of the most innovative styles. If you add the music factor and want to make something really good regarding harmonies and the such, you the two parts primordial of the equation in order to make music: the soul or musicality of the track y and the way it’s been made. In fact, I believe a lot of d’n’b producers focus on technique and they forget the music, which is essential!
Q.13. Spor and Chris Renegade spotted you within drum and bass and encouraged you to further on your dnb quest with Futurebound picking you guys up now, and I always look forward to your releases, you certainly have a sound that cuts through on the dancefloor with epic energy. If you could collaborate with 3 people in dnb who would it be and why?
A. Hehehe thanks! :) Wow, so many peopleeee :S Firstly, with Noisia of course: for us they're the kings of synths. Also Netsky or Camo & Krooked would be great to learn how they write each track and finally get a hit. We'd also love to coincide in the studio with Matrix & Futurebound, they're legends of DnB, we've old vinyl at home, the musicality on their singles is perfect and they work the vocals awesomely! We would like to learn a lot from them on those points, so if Bren is reading the interview, you know we want a jam on the studio together soon, hehehe
Q.14. If you could collab with anyone out of the dnb scene who would it be and why?
A. Mmmm difficult to choose only one but maybe… the first option would be The Prodigy, they're our idols and probably we begun to make music because of them. On a more actual perspective, they might just be Justice… it would be another very good option, hehehe. Their album 'Cross' is in our top 5 of fav electronic music albums of all time.
Q.15. So you have had releases now on Viper, Eatbrain, C4C Recordings and Hospital. What are your goals now for the next 5 years?
A. I don’t know where we will stand five years from now, really. But right now we are on the verge of a “next step” in our career: turn to work hard to keep growing. We take a this new step by the had of Viper Recordings and I am sure it will bring marvelous things…though I’ve never been that good with predictions hehehe…
Q.16. Can you tell us about Dub Elements & Friends?
A. It’s our little baby! We’ve been promoting gigs and d’n’b culture in Spain for a decade but we really wanted to do something that we really felt our own, completely in our way, from the line-up to production tasks or the location. That was the initial idea with our first event alongside friends and artists we wanted close to us. May 2016 was the first edition and we invited three labels that have been important for us: Prspct, Eatbrain and Viper. So, first edition with three different stages each one of them hosted by one of these labels. An amazing experience with artists such as Matrix & Futurebound, The Prototypes, State of Mind, Panacea, Countertrike... and around 1000 people! A total success not only in the numbers but also for the sensation of freedom in doing things our own way. We quickly decided that was just the first stone… Next edition will be held in September, two days, open air, with confirmed artists such as BSE, The Prototypes, Macky Gee, Emperor, Alix Perez, T & Sugah… couldn’t be happier!
Q.17. You shared a poster line up at Space in Ibiza on the Beat & Raw session, with great names like Cypress Hill, Justice, Orbital, Gorillaz or Front 242. How was that night and can you tell us about it?
A. It did not work as well as we expected or as it should. Most people go to Ibiza looking for the party and get fucked up. They don’t really care who is in the booth and Space was one of those place where people just landed straight from the plane… That people was not prepared at the 3 in the morning for an indie concert, for example. Of course, there is always people enjoying memorable gigs as the Cypress Hill one.
Q.18. What do you like to do to chill out?
A. Spend time with my family and friends, trying to disconnect from music. Travelling, the beach, movies with the kids, wasting time with them… And BBQ, Selu is a master in the matter!
Q.19. Glastonbury is on this year, a festival you would love to play? What bands do you listen to if any?
A. It would be amazing! Of course we would love to play in one of the most legendary festivals in Europe! We would listen a lot of bands & artists we love ... Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Major Lazer, Justice, Boys Noize, Fat Boy Slim ...
Q.20. What do you think about the www.jungledrumandbass.co.uk website?
A. We really appreciate all efforts supporting and loving culture in general and d’n’b culture in particular. New generations must have the chance (even the obligation) to get informed about worthy things in life!
Q.21. Tea or coffee?
A. Antonio: Chocolate milk xD / Selu: Beer
Q.22. Clubs or festivals?
A. Both, each one has its moment but maybe festivals in summer and clubs during the rest of the year.
Q.23. Have you ever played a silent disco?
A. No, we haven't but we would love to!
Q.24. Whats the plans over the rest of the summer for you guys?
A. We've a lot of shows in Spanish festivals now, so our plan is touring, testing new music and if we get some free time to spend it with the family. In September, as soon as our festival is over, we will be back in the studio full time.
Q.25. Favourite drum and bass MCs?
A. Youthstar, Verse, Coppa ...
Thanks for your time ..... do you have any final shout outs?
Muchas Gracias!! Please play it loud! :) Big up to Jungle Drum&Bass Crew, speak you soon!
Dub Elements Fire Power is out now : More info here.
Interveiw by Aliina Atkinson