Calibre is one of the most respected and revered artists in electronic music today. A talented producer, writer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ, his taste is as broad as his skill. So whether producing drum and bass, techno or beyond, his catalogue of music is vast, with an abundance of incredible output to explore.
With the recent release of the sixth instalment of his Shelflife series, Calibre has compiled a glorious collection of tracks providing a tantalisingly fresh taste of his drum and bass production following the atmospheric soundscapes of his last album, Planet Hearth.
We were offered the rare privilege of catching up with Dominick to discuss Shelflife Six, his career as a musician, working with Craig Richards and longtime musical ally DRS, his elusive social media presence and longevity as an artist in an informative and fascinating chat with the musical maverick.
Does the Shelflife series in particular allow you to keep coming back to drum and bass, a genre where you have so much history?
Yes, it allows me a different type of collation as opposed to the usual time spent on an album, building it and writing for excess etc, this series allows me a bit of freedom and less responsibility, but I would rather say that drum and bass is still there in my production. I have always been making different tempos of music simultaneously and hope to continue to do so, it’s what I love.
As a drummer initially, do you think that gave you an advantage when it came to creating drum and bass music?
I think it added to my personality and understanding, but I also think any time spent with an instrument can only help, be it your voice or tin whistle or drumming, I think the presence of any art form can give you wisdom in other places.
You’ve collaborated extensively with DRS, is he someone you are comfortable enough working with (on a track or a set) that it’s an almost telepathic experience of how you gel together?
Delroy is a dear friend of mine. We have spent many years on the road together, some of that fairly bumpy so we know each other, and I guess that helps and feeds into the larger picture. DRS has this multi dimensional quality to his work which shows with his understanding and lyrical prowess in the studio in combination with many years of experience on stages around the world, so he’s always been great to work with.
How did the experience of working with someone like Craig Richards compare to working with artists in the drum and bass world? And is this something you would hope to do again in the future?
It’s been a pleasure working with Craig, he is a fantastic character, I always learn something after spending time with him. The music he plays is very diverse and demands much knowledge and skill to put together, so it’s always good to know he’s playing something as I rate him so highly. I hope there will be more on the Nothing Special, and I look forward to that in the future. I think music is diverse and the people there also reflect that. It’s a wonderful mixture and I’m not sure I can see a difference that I can really talk about in regards to drum and bass and the rest of the music scene.
The island of Valentia has long been an inspiration to you, your music and your creativity. Is that still the case today and what is it about the place that inspires you?
I’ve pondered this question before and realise that music can be made everywhere; beautiful things come from dark places, but in other ways solace and beauty work too, and Valentia has been that for me, plus I love that part of Ireland very much. It’s romantic to feel the mountains capturing you against the sea.
You must have travelled extensively throughout your career for shows. Do you take inspiration from visiting different environments or is it too fleeting, flying to a show for example, to make a connection that inspires you?
The thing I find most interesting is the sensation and feeling of a place, its difficult to explain, and it’s both internal and external. It has this uniqueness bound to each place and it gets more detailed the more time you spend there. It’s like the emotional landscape replaces the unknown, but sometimes a place just feels more familiar even though it’s the first time you are there.
Was your virtually non existence online presence, which is rare for an artist these days, a conscious decision from the get go?
It became that way, initially I was interested and liked the idea but noticed the amount of time some of my contemporaries would spend on it, and that was in the early days… so fast forward to today and it feels like I made the correct choice for me.
How difficult a process has it been to be selective in choosing what gigs to play? Or is that something you have always wanted to do, not just playing anywhere for the money?
It’s a question of balancing things, your time and your income with your health, I like to have more time and regard that time spent being creative to be more important, so the DJ world supplements that. In a way I work for my time not for money, so it’s more about regulation of my energy and effort to each thing. And after doing it for a while I guess you have to include your health to a large extent, and that dictates the time on the road more than anything.
What do you credit to your longevity as an artist and would you have done anything different along the way?
I think I am a very slow learner… and work for my own pleasure, it’s maybe hindered me as much as it’s helped me, but I’ve enjoyed working away in the undergrowth and doing my thing not trying to dominate just being who I want to be.
Biggest Influence on your music?
My parents my brother Chris, Fabio, Marcus Intalex and ST Files to name but a few.
Last track you listened to?
Vivian Weathers – Pull Up 38
What track do you wish you’d made?
Joe Jackson – Stepping Out
Chet Baker, if he was alive
Favourite piece of music kit?
My monitors made by Mo Stern
Last album you listened to start to finish?
Chi Factory – Travel in Peace
Favourite record label?
There’s a few… Dug Out, Wackies, Dub Store, Mississippi Records, Finders Keepers, Music from Memory, Trunk, UR, Astral Industries… and I could go on.
Favourite crisps?/Favourite lockdown snack?
German crisps aren’t great, I’m currently in Cologne, so I’ll go with the delicious and healthy pecan nuts I’ve been eating.
Buy/stream Shelflife Six 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.