Enigma Dubz: Interview and UKBMix053
ENiGMA Dubz has just released his latest EP The Eyes on DUPLOC and it’s four tracks of sublime dubstep with the title track leading things off in fine fashion and it keeps up the same high standard throughout. Don’t sleep and check out ‘The Eyes’ now and catch what he has brought out this year and also keep an eye on what he brings out in the future. ENiGMA Dubz is definitely an artist who is pushing things forward with his music.
Next up is his second release on Slime Recordings following his Moonwalk EP earlier this year so we caught up with him to have a chat about the EP, his prolific releases throughout this year, his upcoming live dates in the US, the Dubstep scene in North America and in the UK, what music he has planned for the future, his various remixes and what tunes and DJs he’s feeling at the moment.
As well speaking with him, he also did an exclusive and brilliant mix for us so check that out after the interview.
So the next release you have coming up is a second EP dropping on Slime Recordings following your Moonwalk EP?
Yeah that’s right, it’s called ‘And I’m Gone’ and is coming out at the start of November, the 8th to be exact. It’s the follow up to ‘Moonwalk’ which came out earlier this year and, like the first one, is on a more downtempo/chill vibe. The title track ‘And I’m Gone’ features a really cool vocalist called ‘Lylli’ who’s been great to work with and I’m really excited for it’s release as it breaks the Dubstep releases up nicely.
Your last release The Eyes EP, DUPPLATES Vol 4 on DUPLOC, has just been released. What has the reaction been like so far?
It dropped last week and it’s been great because it went straight to number one in the Deep Dubstep chart on Beatport which is brilliant and had a lot of interaction on social media about that one as well, particularly on the on the title track ‘The Eyes’, so yeah, it’s been great so far.
What was the vibe like when you were making the tracks? Did you record all the tracks on the EP together?
Yeah, The Eyes came first. That came probably about eight months or nine months ago, and what it was is, I’ve connected with DUPLOC for a while since when he first started, I think it was 2012. We’ve waiting for the right time to put out a solo EP, and rather than rush it, he just wanted me to keep pushing any ideas I had over to him. He was going to collate them all and pick his favourite four tracks. So I think they came together over a period of about six months in between other projects.
With the rest of the tracks you made in those sessions, will they be coming out at some point?
Yeah. So what it is, pretty much all the tracks I’ve been making are being used as either singles or on EP’s. I’ve got a release that’s being lined up at the moment and hopefully going ahead with Deep, Dark and Dangerous, so they’re taking a couple of those tracks, and then I’ve got a release in January at the start the year on vinyl with a label called Dub Sector in St Louis, America, and there’s a couple more tracks coming out in between, but we’re just finalising things.
You’ve had a very prolific 2019, releasing so many big tracks like Crank, Troll Dub and Feelings. Are you at the stage where you want to get as much of your music out as possible?
So from the beginning of my ENiGMA Dubz venture I’ve always been very productive. I have a very busy life and outside of my own music I work as a sound engineer, but never the less, I’m still making music of my own on a weekly basis and I try to get as much of it out as possible rather than tracks gathering dust for too long. I’ve also got management now called ‘Subcon’ and they have helped me a lot by handling most of my social media and staying active. Social media is so important in today’s scene and industry, so with them on board it’s helped massively . Subcon is run by a good friend of mine called Brandon over in America, he’s been my booking agent, and now he does management as well. So we’re just making sure that every month we’ve got a release coming out whether it’s an EP through a label, or as a single through his label Sub Concentrate. It’s just about keeping grinding and keeping music coming out. I tend to make music in a variety of different styles, all in the bass music spectrum. By keeping the releases regular I can make sure my fan base are kept occupied throughout the different styles I do.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Yeah, so at the moment, just this week, we’re sending out a dub pack. There’s four tracks in there for the DJs to get the traction going, before we put any more singles out. The next single is due to drop this month and is called ‘Shaolin’. It’s one for my more hype/harder heads and it’s produced a bit faster than the usual 140bpm, but only a little. Then in December I’ll have another single dropping called ‘Chestburster’ and it’s straight savage. I named it after the alien in the film ‘Alien’ which bursts through the guys chest. The original prop alien from the film was called the ‘Chestburster’ so it only seemed right to use it for the title after sampling the film throughout the track too.
You’ve released a lot of EPs and singles over the past few years. Will there be a follow up full length album to The Journey So Far albums?
Yeah, totally. I’ve had a few people ask that you know, the difficult thing with those albums is that I have to be in the right headspace to be able to write them because I don’t really approach them for club circuits. I just approach them as straight writing music and more for listening purposes, but I’d say there’s about three or four tracks I’ve got stacked up which are ready for part three. It’s just finding the right time because alongside my sound engineer work and producing music under 4 different aliases, I don’t like to rush the albums and prefer to finish them properly, rather than just putting things on it for the sake of it, but it’s certainly in the pipeline!
Will that be for a release next year?
Yeah, that’ll be for next year.
You’ve got a few dates in American next month. Are you looking forward to those?
Yeah, really looking forward to those. Between now and Christmas I’ve got about seven or eight shows confirmed in America, which is going to be great. I’m just keeping it to weekend runs at the moment because my wife and I recently had a baby so I don’t really want to be spending too much time away with a young baby and a four year old daughter at home as well, so I’m kind of not not doing too many shows between now and Christmas, but I’m still flying out three or four times.
Has fatherhood changed your music at all?
I don’t think it has you know, I think it’s definitely changed my workflow in terms of how much time I get to produce music and then when you do have time, quite often because I work full time in music as well anyway. My ENiGMA Dubz music and other personal projects have slowed down a bit. If you look back five years ago, how much I was putting out, I’m still releasing as much music, but I don’t have quite as much expendable time on my hands. I don’t actually think the ideas and the vibe of my music has really changed since having children though, I still love to make vibesy music and also feeding the beast in between. And by ‘The Beast’ I mean my inner beast for dark music, not my son who’s growing up far too quickly!
Going back to playing in America , have you played over there much in the past?
I’ve done a few shows out in America and it was quite a lengthy process to get a visa, but I finally got my visa sorted this year with the help of my management ‘Subcon’. I’ve now got a visa now for the next three years so I’m going to be over much for shows. I’ve been having a lot of requests in America over several years but for various reasons, I’ve not been able to fully commit myself to actually going over there more often. Now the Visa is in place though, this year’s definitely the start of more stateside appearances.
What is the scene like over in the States at the moment?
It’s amazing. The scenes absolutely thriving in America. I mean, it is in Europe and of course in the UK too, but it’s a huge country and you’ve got both the deeper/more original vibe going really strong and also the really hard side of dubstep out there too. The scene stateside is on fire and there’s a lot of producers coming through and keeping the scene/genre alive and exciting.
How did your show at Valhalla Sound Circus in Canada go earlier this summer?
That was really cool because it was a sunrise set I was playing and I don’t actually very often get booked to play shows where I can play more downtempo and chilled music, so as soon as they put me on the lineup I was excited to play my deeper, more vibsey stuff. The forthcoming release on Slime Recordings ‘And I’m Gone’ was a perfect fit for it alongside my other melodic garage and chill stuff. So yeah, it was really cool, despite the weather nearly cancelling it, we managed to hold off, so it was good. Also, the guys running the stage I was playing on were ’40hz Soundsystem’ and that system is so good and that really helped make it special.
Have you got any upcoming dates in the UK?
At the moment, I’ve got nothing booked in for sets in the UK. Its a strange one because I’m obviously UK based but I don’t get as many requests. There’s a few promoters I’m in talks with at the moment to try and organise something, there’s a place in Leicester called Deep:artment and I’m trying to sort something out with them, but the majority of the shows coming up are either in America or Canada.
What do you think makes a live performance stand out and one you won’t forget and what do you do to make sure that happens or does it depend on the actual show?
Yeah it just depends. I mean, luckily, my management’s very clued up with which promoters are good people to work with and how reliable they are, but another big part of it for me is the sound system. It really makes such a difference when the system is on point, especially with bass music, so if they have a good system it’s even more appealing. I also try and make sure I have new, unheard music for the crowd alongside tracks which I draw for regularly.
Do you still get as big a thrill as you always have when you play a new track, or an exclusive dub out?
Yeah, it’s a difficult one. Sometimes you do get more of a thrill with something you’ve recently put together because you haven’t really listened to it as much yet, but when you’ve got a good system to play on, the thrill of playing something relatively new and actually hearing it properly and feeling it as well on the system…yeah, that’s pretty special stuff that doesn’t really go away.
What’s the best show you’ve ever played and what made it so memorable?
Wow, I think that my favourite show that I’ve played to date would be the first show I played in Denver for Sub.mission. They now do there shows at the Blackbox, but I played my first show at their old venue and it was SO good. The sound system they’ve got there is called the ‘Basscouch’ and it’s been tuned to perfection, I really can’t get over how good it is. Alongside that, the crowd out there at those shows is just so well educated and into the sound, it was just an absolute pleasure to play there. Not to mention how well they handle their shows and artists.
Are there any upcoming DJs and producers that you can recommend that you’re feeling at the moment?
Well, I’ve got quite a few newer heads that I support music from, I don’t know whether to call them up and coming because they’re mostly recognised through the scene now. People in particular, I’d say: Glume and Phossa, Chad Dubz, Mr. K, Ternion Sound, Dalek One, Repulsion, Khiva, Pushloop just off the top of my head, but there really are so many.
"I tend to make music in a variety of different styles, all in the bass music spectrum. By keeping the releases regular I can make sure my fan base are kept occupied throughout the different styles I do."
You did a great remix of Street Life by AZ few years back. What was the reaction to that one like?
Yeah that was a hip hop track. I kind of just did that as an as an idea that came to mind in a day and I like the original track anyway. It seemed to go down pretty well. That’s really taking me back man, wow.
Are you big hip hop fan and and is that something you have produced or would produce in the future?
Yeah, I’ve produced odd the hip hop track under ‘ENiGMA Dubz‘ . I do however have another alias called ‘D-VINE’ which I’m producing hip hop/trap music under at the moment and trying to get it into the American market. I’m about to release an album of library music through a publishing company in London called ‘Felt Music’ so it’s definitely something I do love making. It’s just time permitting really.
Is that the same with the future garage stuff? Do you always release that under ENiGMA Dubz or do you have another moniker?
Yeah, I’ll always release the future garage stuff under ENiGMA Dubz, anything which is garage, dubstep or downtempo tends to be ENiGMA Dubz, but I’m starting to realise that it’s quite good to separate the genres with aliases sometimes.
You’ve also done a lot of remixes/bootlegs of other artists like Pink Floyd, Dead Can Dance and Sigur Ros. What has been your favourite one that you’ve done and what do you bring to the original track?
I think that the Dead Can Dance bootleg remix was one of my favourites because I discovered the original music from a film called The Mist. It’s a Stephen King story and I remember seeing it in the cinema with my wife, and the original music by ‘Dead Can Dance’ is used at the end of the film, and we both just sat there blown away by it. Anyone who’s seen that film will know why too with the scene they paired it with. I was getting ideas straight away to piece it with dark, driven dubstep energy. It just fell into place really well and came together just as I imagined it. It still resonates a lot with me and it’s one that I play out in most sets as it kind of sets the mood for where I’m going to take the set.
How did you get into producing in the first place and into dubstep as well.
I got into into producing through doing some work experience back in school, I grew up playing classical music, and I was training to be a cellist but I managed to get a copy of Reason when I was about 15. I used to just spend every night in my room sort of twiddling knobs and finding out what they did, but I already knew how to write music and read music, which helped a lot. Then when I went to university in Leeds, I went to an event called SubDub at the West Indian Centre. That was a massive turning point for me in terms of producing music as I was making a lot of house music prior to that, and hearing dubstep for the first time on that system, the Sweet Potato Soundsystem, that kind of changed the game and put me into the 140 BPM frame of mind.
What was the scene like in that time in your Birmingham hometown at that time and what is it like today?
I mean to start with there was there various nights that were really good for dubstep and bass music like Bigger Than Barry and Drop Beats Not Bombs, there was quite a few and a night called Hype, I remember from the early days. There doesn’t seem to be as much going on at the moment in Birmingham, I don’t really get many Birmingham bookings but the odd one does come about When I first started off, there was definitely more going on there. There is there’s a place in Birmingham at the moment called Vault Studio and they do Vault Sessions. I’ve done a couple of their nights which are really good and they have sick system for it called ‘Assassin Sound System’.
Who are you biggest influences as a producer?
It’s a really difficult question as I get a lot of influences from all all sorts of spectrums. There’s classical and contemporary music influences, such as Shostakovich, Mahler, Max Richter and Philip Glass, but in terms of electronic production I’d definitely say Burials up there, Noisia and also, there’s a guy called Trentemøller, who produces more electronic house music, but I always remember a very early mixtape of his and being completely blown away by the sort of electronic sound design.
You mentioned Drum and Bass earlier. Is that music you making as well?
I make the odd drum & bass track, I don’t do as many but I really do enjoy it, especially liquid drum & bass. There’s a vocalist called Ed Geater who featured on the first Slime Recordings release on the track Moonwalk. He’s got a new EP coming out and I’ve just finished a DnB remix of one of the songs called ‘Fluid’ and I’m soooo excited to get it out. Ed is such a talented musician and producer so I always look forward to working on projects with him, expect more in the future too!
You mentioned about having the time to do things but have you ever thought about having your own label at all?
I did actually set up my own label. The Journey So Far albums were both released through my own label which is called ‘From The Vine’, my surname being Vine. The idea was to set it up and I can release any style of music I want and it’ll all come from myself, but the difficult thing with it is time, I don’t have as much time to go into that label and sign other artists so it was just a way of releasing albums to start with. Maybe I’ll get it going properly soon, I’d love that.
What have been the biggest tunes you’ve heard and played out this year?
Right ok, tracks by Ternion Sound, they’re a collective from America, I’d probably say a track by them called Ukandu Ikandu in particular, what a monster! There’s a track by Dalek One called ‘Cant Walk’ as well, thats just been released. That’s a big track, really big track. And then after I released the track ‘Chapeltown,’ on one of the Journey So Far albums, I did a VIP of that this year and that really, really went off when I premiered it in Denver ,so I’m kind of holding that back and keeping people in anticipation for that one.
That’s brilliant, thank you very much for the interview man.
You’re very welcome, thanks for putting this together.
I’m a music journalist based in the U.K. with a love for bass music in many forms from drum & bass and dubstep to hip hop and grime. Always looking to check out new music as well as digging back for the classics and attending as many events as possible.