ENiGMA Dubz returns with his new album Awakening.
It ranks as his most ambitious and eclectic collection of music to date, combining the dubstep he is known for with a whole host of other influences.
We caught up with ENiGMA Dubz ahead of the album’s release to talk to him about it and it’s creation as well as his music, new things that he has coming up, scoring documentaries and what he has planned next for his ever evolving creative sounds.
Your new album Awakening is out soon. How excited are you to get it out there and share it with the world?
The album was done and dusted early last year, so I’ve been waiting patiently for this for over 12 months! Very excited to say the least.
It is your fifth album as ENiGMA Dubz and your first full length album in seven years. Did you feel any pressure at all with making it or did it just flow naturally as you have been prolific with your music over the last few years?
I didn’t feel any pressure with it as I never really feel any pressure with ENiGMA Dubz projects. I’ve been producing music under this alias for around 15 years now and I’ve always stayed true to myself with it, so I think that really helps as it’s never forced and always feels natural.
How did the process of actually creating the album go?
Most of the tracks for Awakening were written during 2020 and they were all tracks that were written and then put in the ‘Unreleased’ folder. I wanted to make sure the album was a true reflection of where I’m at now as a producer, so having it span all the genres I have a passion in was the main objective when choosing which tracks should go on it. One of the tracks however, Lost Souls, has been in the unreleased locker since 2018 and it finally felt like the right time and project to release it on. We put a lot of thought into the track sequencing for both the digital and vinyl editions, it’s a real trip!
The album leads with the massive Up In The Safe with S.O. How was the experience working with him on that track?
Working with S.O. was completely fluid and just fell into place perfectly. I wrote the instrumental one evening after a wave of inspiration to write something really cold and bleak. After finishing the beat I knew straight away it was crying out for a vocal. At the start of last year I signed a publishing deal with ‘Black Rock’ and S.O. was one of the artists I was introduced to after joining their team. It seemed like a great way of starting the ball rolling with new artists and he had written, recorded and smashed the vocal literally days after sending it over to him! What a vocal it is too, so charismatic and edgy on the beat.
You should definitely do more stuff with him! Have you talked about that?
Yeah, no doubt, we’ve had some other projects in the works outside of bass music too, but another collab under my ENiGMA Dubz alias really does need to happen.
Hedara, Queen Of Hearts and CoMa also feature on the album. How was it working with those artists and what did they bring to the tracks they appear on?
Both Hedara and Queen of Hearts are also artists published by Black Rock, so working with them was a similar situation to S.O. Both of the tracks were written as instrumentals initially and then shared with the vocalists to see if they vibed with them etc. They both came back with brilliant melodies and vocal performances, so I instantly knew they’d work great on the tracks after finishing off the production and finalising the arrangements etc. With the CoMa track though, this is a track that’s been in the locker for around 3 years and I’ve been itching to get it out. I just love working with CoMa’s vocals and a new track from us both is well overdue.
Where do you feel that dubstep as a sound is at in 2022?
I think dubstep is thriving in 2022 and has been in a very fresh and exciting place for the last 2/3 years. There’s so many producers in both the deeper scene and also the harder scene putting music out and there are a constant wave of new releases coming out weekly on labels and self releases too.
What artists are you feeling at the moment?
Ternion Sound, NotLö, Mythm, Alix Perez, Tsuruda, Truth, Drone, Infekt, Logan & Unkey are just a small selection of artists that constantly get my bass face turning. There’s also artists on the harder side such as Svdden Death, Leotrix & Trampa that get my inner beast going too. There’s just so many artists out there creating killer music right now though, too many to mention!
As well as your dubstep sound, Awakening features liquid drum & bass, trap, downtempo electronica and future garage influences. Did you want this album to incorporate all your musical influences?
Yeah absolutely, I love being able to have a project that is fully open to all my music tastes and influences. I’ve done the same with my previous albums, wanting to take the listener on a journey through all things ENiGMA Dubz. The album format really allows you to explore all these different vibes and sounds.
Do you feel that this album is a musical awakening for you and is this what inspired the album’s title?
I feel like it perfectly sums up the journey I’ve been on since my last albums back in 2015. A lot has happened since then, lots of life events, work opportunities and world changes too. I’d say that my music journey really stepped up a gear in 2020, which is somewhat of a contrast to the situation worldwide due to COVID. I teamed up with a new manager and I’d say I’ve finally found someone to work with who add’s a huge amount to my career and they’ve really helped solidify a lot of areas which were proving difficult to do, alongside everything else I have going on. From then the concept of the album really felt like the next chapter for me, the next chapter of ENiGMA Dubz and the start of a shift in gear for my career.
Are you looking forward to taking Awakening into the live arena and can you tell us about your upcoming live dates?
I really am, I was able to play a few of the tracks in various venues on my US tour at the end of last year, and also at a few UK events in 2021 too. Having renewed my US visa last year, I’ve got 3 tours planned for this year and the next tour, next month, is to celebrate the album. Then, I’m having an album launch night in my hometown of Birmingham UK, alongside two absolute legends in the scene in Distance and N-Type. Big up to C-BO & Cuttah aka Deep Tempo for putting on the night – the line-up is absolute fire!
You released the track Wonder with Vandull last year. How was the experience of working with him?
I love working with Vandull, he’s an extremely talented lyricist and both of the tracks on that EP were very much a dive into the deep end, both emotionally and musically. We wanted to release two tracks that were mostly focused on the journey and subject, rather than straight at the sound systems.
Do you feel blessed that you can work with a whole range of artists from around the world?
I do indeed, I feel blessed with every opportunity I have to reach out to people worldwide and hit their emotions, whether it be with heavy basslines and edgy percussion, or with melodic synth lines and emotional atmospheres. I’ve always approached my music from the heart and to know it’s reaching, touching and even inspiring other people is what it’s all about for me.
Who would you love to work with on an ENiGMA Dubz track in the future?
One person that comes straight to mind is Sorrow. We crossed paths last year in Bristol and after chatting with him, I told him I’d love to work on some music with him. On a slightly different tip, I’d say working with CASisDEAD would be a serious goal of mine. His music and lyrics are always so on point.
Will you be releasing more music under your Itona alias?
Yes, yes and yes. I’ve got a lot planned for Itona this year and beyond, I’m only just getting started on the project really. Another EP to come first I’d say, and then possibly an album…but we’ll see!
Have you ever thought about other aliases to produce music and what would they be?
If I had another day in the week, I’d love nothing more than another alias to explore new sounds. I’ve been working as a sound engineer/producer in the house scene for 10 plus years for other artists, alongside my own aliases, plus I’ve written a fair amount of music under ‘Lam Scape’ which is more focused on soundtrack music and soundscapes.
Are you working on any other new music at the moment that you can tell us about?
Besides the 12 tracks coming on this new album, I’ve got at least 15 other tracks which we decided to keep for future projects, alongside a bunch of ENiGMA Dubz WIPs. There’s also talks of doing a VIP version of a track I released back in 2011, and it still has the most streams/hits of any track of mine to date. More info to come on that in due course though…
How do you feel that you have evolved as an artist from when you first started releasing music?
I’d say the main development I’ve had is on the technical side, honing my mixing and mastering skills. It’s a constant evolution though being an artist, I’m so open minded with my taste in music and I’m constantly listening to new releases, all of which add to my evolution and journey through sound. Another big evolution as an artist has been learning how this industry works, both through mistakes and advice etc. I’ve learned how valuable it can be to own the rights to your own music and be in control of the projects they’re released on, as well as releasing projects on other labels.
You composed all the music for a powerful documentary on footballer Paul Merson. How did that opportunity come about and how was the experience?
So that project came about from an album of music I wrote back in 2019. The album went out through a company called Felt Music and it sat in their production library, waiting for the right project and any interest. Then, last year, Felt reached out to tell me the BBC were making a new documentary and they’d picked my album out as their favorite for the project. After meeting with the producers and editor, it was clear they wanted the soundtrack to have similar elements as the music of mine they’d heard, but they wanted fresh tracks writing for the film, so I basically wrote 9 bespoke pieces of music for the project and I was given the edits of each scene to work alongside as they were filming and editing. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do more of for years and I genuinely loved the project, something I really hope to do more of soon!
What has the reaction been like to both the documentary and your score?
I had such good feedback form the producers of the documentary so I was really chuffed to have had the opportunity. It was also nice to share it on my ENiGMA Dubz socials too as I think a lot of people were intrigued to hear this side of my musical career. Having growin up studying classical music, It’s something I’ve wanted to focus on more for some time now. This year I’ll be working hard to secure more projects like this.
Did you actually get to meet Paul to discuss the documentary?
No I didn’t unfortunately, it would have been great but alongside all the COVID issues it just wasn’t possible – but I had regular contact with the production team which was cool.
How do you approach doing the music for something like that, especially as it is completely different from what you do as ENiGMA Dubz?
These sort of projects are a perfect way of keeping things fresh creatively. I do have a different approach, but as with everything I| do, I go all out and really immerse myself emotionally in the project. I spent time watching the footage, alongside watching other documentaries in order to get my head in gear for the project, and then I’d just lose myself behind the keyboard with instruments and VST’s to suit the vibe. Live piano sounds, string and orchestral VSTs etc
Are you a big football fan at all?
To be honest I don’t keep up with football and I haven’t for around 15 years. Growing up, my Dad was a big Man United fan and both my brother and him still are huge fans. I used to watch a lot of football growing up through my early teens and go to some games at Old Trafford, but once I started to get into producing and messing around with keyboards in my bedroom, I was all in with music and there was no time for football news etc. I do still enjoy watching it though, just no time to keep up with it and, to be honest, it doesn’t hold any value in my life.
Can you tell us about any further plans you have for the rest of the year?
So, for the next month it’s all about the album campaign. I’ve held off on any other releases until the middle of the year so I can really focus on the album as it’s been a big project to undertake and promote etc. In March I’m stateside for a week of shows and it’s tha album launch when I get back. Following that I’ve got a couple of EPs in the pipeline alongside other tracks landing on other projects across the scene. This year I also finished kitting out my new studio space so I can’t wait to get my teeth into new material in the new environment. Things are really taking shape and as always, I’m hungry to immerse myself into everything that comes my way.
Awakening is out 25th March. Pre-order here.
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.