INTERVIEW: DUB PHIZIX

For those of you that have been hiding under a rock for the last three months, Dub Phizix is one half of the Manchester based, production partnership (along with Skeptical) that gave birth to the tune ‘Marka’, back at the end of December. An instant YouTube sensation, garnering nearly a million hits to date, helped out by a shit-hot video, featuring Strategy of Broke’n’English fame, tricked out as a possessed Native American; the tune is the biggest, baddest thing to come out of the underground Bass Music scene in a while. The man himself is a stalwart veteran, with over a decade of kicking out filthy beats under his belt and is heavily involved in Manchester’s Estate Recordings, one of the best independent labels going. JAM took him out for a pint in the sun, to talk tunes, scene, label and dinosaurs. Enjoy. .

JAM: You’ve been producing in Manchester for a long time now, since 2000 I believe. How do you think the Manchester Bass Music scene has either improved, or changed in that time?

DUB: Its gone in waves, I mean, when I first started UK Garage was big, that was big news. D’n’B and Liquid Funk, I’m talking real Liquid, you know, the likes of Marcus Intalex, Carlito & Addiction, Blue Sonix people like that, that was big at the time. I was more of a D’n’B head, a lot of my mates were in to Garage, they were the two main focuses at the time. Then Garage progressed into Breaks and then into Grime and eventually into Dubstep and throughout that period D’n’B went a little bit dry. There wasn’t a lot going on, there wasn’t a lot of nights and Manchester had a reputation for a lot of trouble. The clubs were a bit moody, so it was hard in Manchester. The good nights were in limited supply and Manchester didn’t really get them. There was only really Soul:ution that we had up here. Then as a Dubstep came about, it opened news doors, a different kind of people got into the music you know, it became a more studenty crowd. You know, a lot of people don’t like that but I think that’s a good thing, it opened it up a lot and nowadays its probably as good as its ever been, you know, Soul:ution is back, we’ve got Hit’n’Run every Monday, as well as other nights like Foundation and Pandemik.

JAM: Speaking of sketchy nights, did you ever play at Saki Sessions?

DUB: Yeah! I played there but there used to be a club down here called Darkhouse and that had bullet holes in the ceiling and everything, Saki was nice compared with that shit. I mean to be honest, I’d consider Saki from the good era. When I’m talking the good era, I mean the last six years or something. Certainly pre-2002/3 it was fairly moody.

JAM: Everyone always refers to you as a D’n’B producer but I know you’ve produced at least one Hip-Hop EP.

DUB: Yeah, I’ve done some stuff on DRS’ mixtape, but that was a House tune and a Dubstep remix of the House tune. I don’t know really what you’d call that Skittles remix I did, I suppose Broken Beat if anything. Obviously, working with Estate [Recordings] as well I’ve been doing bits. I’d certainly like to move into that a bit more. It all goes under that banner of Bass Music I suppose. I mean it’s certainly not what it was years ago. I think you have to be an electronic artist these days or a Bass Music artist as opposed to just straight D’n’B.

JAM: Obviously Manchester is known for the big Indy bands of the 90’s and onwards. Growing up in the city, what were influences when you were first trying to find your way?

DUB: Well, certainly that era of bands, Oasis, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, all the Mad-chester stuff, but then Hip-Hop, Wu-Tang, A Tribe Called Quest, Biggy, things like that, a lot of East Coast Hip-Hop. Certainly the Manchester bands were a big part of that.

JAM: Were you part of the Pirate Radio scene was it was strong in Manchester?

DUB: No, originally what was one of the pirate stations, I don’t really know if I should say this. Do they advertise that, Unity?

JAM: Everyone knows they were anyway.

DUB: Yeah before Unity was Unity, they were quite a big pirate station, one of the main pirate stations in the North. I met them just after they’d closed down as a pirate but was there right at the beginning of Unity Radio and for the next two years, maybe. At the time it was official it wasn’t a pirate, it was Internet radio but it was one of the first, I mean nowadays everyone’s got an Internet radio station. At that time it was one of the first. It hardly ever worked though, most of the shows that we did, didn’t really work but it was cool. It was that kind of culture where all the local guys had a show, you had to pay your subs every week, you know, I think it was like fifteen pound a week or something. Obviously that’s gone on to bigger and better things now; that’s a full FM station.

JAM: Since the Marka tune blowing up, have you had any offers from any major labels?

DUB: Not really, I mean, obviously I talk to those people now where I didn’t before. I’m doing a remix for Atlantic at the moment and there’s a few A&R guys who we speak to and stuff but there’s certainly no offer on the table. We do speak to those people now though whereas we didn’t before.

JAM: Who was it that shot the Marka video?

DUB: It’s a guy called Tom Doran, who lives local. He did Skittles’ Dot-to-Dot video as well. Tom more than anything is a Cinematographer and he’s great at just capturing really striking images. He does that full time, that’s actually his job, he works for a company doing it. The idea, you know, was Strategy’s. We actually found out recently that he’s had a fetish about dressing up as a fucking Native American for most of his life. He’s been trying to get Dell DRS to do a Broke’n’English video where he dresses up as one for years but he’s never let him do it. So I was just like ‘fill your boots mate’. To be honest though, we put more work into that video than the tune. The tune was made in a day, but the video for Marka took a month of really fucking hard graft. Strats nearly got arrested and everything. We rented the outfit off some guy who turned to be an absolute fucking nutter, obsessive collector of Native American memorabilia. We ended up having to speak to the police and all sorts, about it. Still got it though, so fuck you Dave! Strats wears it in his house; he has showers in it and that.

JAM: Were you surprised by the backlash on YouTube about the accent that Strategy was spitting in?

DUB: Its mad! I think its absolutely brilliant though, there’s at least thirty comments on there saying this guy is white… he’s definitely not white. What’s really funny is that when we did the Blowfish video for Chimpo, it’s got a child superhero and a student walking through the estate and two black guys mug them. People have commented there “Typical, two black guys would do the mugging, ra, ra, ra.” Strats was one of the muggers, so in that video he’s black and in the other he’s white, it just depends what people want to pick holes in. We had loads of comments on the Marka video saying it was racist but to be honest, once you’ve got a racism argument on a YouTube video it makes it a proper YouTube video! Until that point it’s just a bit of a shit one, you know, it’s just an upload. It only becomes a YouTube video when you’ve got an argument about race, then someone brings up the war or blames it all on the Americans. So yeah, wicked. Smashed it. There are some absolutely insane comments on that thing, I mean, some of the things that people write to each other on YouTube just make me think “What is going on in the world?” These people are mental aren’t they?

JAM: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen written on YouTube?

DUB:  There’s one on Marka that says “This makes me want to snort glass and rape kittens”.  Wow, really? Does it? You should not be allowed the Internet… Actually, probably the greatest YouTube comment I have ever seen was under one of those American video blogs where they just rant about nonsense. Underneath it just said, “Americans should not be allowed the internet”. What a quote.

JAM: I recently found out you’ve done tunes for some quite large ad-campaigns.

DUB: They weren’t massive, no. They were for big companies but not particularly big things. There’s a guy up here who used to work for Fat City Records, he’s a great DJ called Jon K, used to run a night called Eyes Down, he moved into sync and licensing stuff and he runs a company called Snip-Snap Music. So he said if I had anything to keep him posted. I had a few things by then, done a tune for a Nokia advert and through him I’ve ended up doing stuff for 4Music, BBC, Waterloo Road, MTV.

JAM: Waterloo Road? That’s a bit niche isn’t it?

DUB: I know, it’s a bit mad in’t it? It was a bit of a weird one, it was like a custom made tune that was actually part of the story line but I ended up getting to know the music supervisor there, who also used to work at Fat City, so there’s been a few things since then. I think I was on there last night actually. Its one of them things, you cant make money really, out of selling tunes like you could before so there’s always a transitional period where, for anyone making music, you stop doing your normal job and you start doing your musical job. There’s always a period of one or two years where you’re absolutely broke, where maybe, ten years ago, you would have made a little bit of money, enough to survive. Now there’s a tipping point where you have no dough, then you start making money and you have to fill that gap in some way. I was lucky that I still had those kinds of jobs, when I had time on my hands and no money was when I was really trying to push those out.

JAM: It seems that grassroots crowds in Bass Music scenes don’t really have a culture of financial support like, say Punk crowds where everyone goes and buys the £3 CD off the distro-stand to keep the band going.

DUB: Yeah, there isn’t that but maybe we need to take responsibility for that. You can’t go and buy our album for £3, you can’t buy our demo tape for £3, we want £5 or £10. So maybe there’s something to take from that in Bass Music where we have a look at what they’re doing and encourage the fans, give them a bit of a reward sometimes, you know what I mean? They give a lot of support and a lot of the time, don’t get that much back. It is our responsibility to try to make it work, its our industry, its our jobs. Grassroots is the way to go though I think, I mean, with nights run by Estate, the bosses of the label are at the door greeting you and I think that’s important.

JAM: Estate Recordings is really blowing up, you seem to have all the biggest underground artists in the area at the moment. Are there any plans for expansion?

DUB: It’s a case of seeing where it goes, we’re all mates, we’ve been mates for years. It’s only been in the last two years that we’ve put our heads together properly. Estate is only part of that, you know, we have all kinds of stuff going but it’s a focal point, where all the other stuff comes together. Hopefully it can grow, hopefully it can be a big label. Its not like we’re sitting down going “come on, lets be the next EMI!” but we’re hoping it can grow. We’ll have to see.

JAM: Have you got anything new coming out soon?

DUB: May is the next thing, my next personal thing. Its on Critical, it’s a tune with Fox, called Never Been and it’s a double A-side with a tune of mine called Codec, which has been nocking around for a while. There were plans for release a while back and it never happened so it’s ended up finally coming out on this.

JAM: You’re on the line-up for Outlook festival, are you on any other festivals this year?

DUB: I know for a fact that I’m doing Dimensions the week later. Noztock I know I’m at, a few others as well that I cant remember at the moment.

JAM: One final question. What’s your favourite dinosaur?

DUB: That’s a good fucking question. You know the one at the end of Jurassic Park where it’s a proper arrogant little twat, with the things that come out of the side of his head. They’re pretty sick, they’re like the scally ones aren’t they. In the 90’s they’d have had dog-ear hats and Rockports on. They’re pretty cool, they’ve got the most character but T-Rex is the Don. You just can’t fuck with T-Rex. Even though he’s a bit of a mongy looking thing.

JAM: So if it comes down to it, is it the weird little scally one or T-Rex?

DUB: I recon loads of people have said T-Rex so I’m going to say the weird little scally one, Scrotasauras. That’s the one.

To check out Dub Phizix or any of the artists on Estate Recordings, follow the links below.
Interview & Images by Benjamin P Smith
Advertisements

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: