We recently had a nice chat with Rob Sparx, just after discovering “Fear Nothing” (have a listen), the new EP from the collaborative project with MC Task, named Dubstitutes, and coming out on the excellent Nexgen. Besides a recap of their very first sparks, we decided to analyze it extensively with the genius behind it. Fear nothing and check their sound…
Chain D.L.K.: Hiya folks! How are you?
Dubstitutes: All good!
Chain D.L.K.: Are you touring around while replying to these questions, by chance?
Dubstitutes: Nothing so exciting today; about to start a studio session!
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s go back to the days when you conceived the idea of Dubstitutes… What was the spark that ignited the fire?
Dubstitutes: 2004, influenced by early DMZ tunes and a love of dub, hip-hop and jungle/d’n’b.
Chain D.L.K.: The first time I remember seeing the Dubstitutes name was on a very old promo of my collection, coming from Dubting (it was maybe 2008 or 2009)… There weren’t any immediate follow-ups to that drop, right?
Dubstitutes: Actually, we wrote 2 tunes in 2004, 2 Faced Rasta and Jah Jah Dub, which were on dubting001+002, though the Dubstitutes name was only on the promo copy of dubting002. That’s label politics for you; don’t ask!
Chain D.L.K.: Could you make a track-by-track commentary of each piece included in this amazing EP…before, from the technical viewpoint…?
Dubstitutes: Takeover is a nod to the early d’n’b/jungle sound in its prime; it uses a real 808 and a serum 808 for the heavier drops. Another Future is a mad jungle techno quest – Oberheim synths for the arps, loads of 80s animation vocals and the timps in the intro that sound like UFOs have been put through a ringmod. Fear Nothing has an acid and hip-hop theme, with rolling subs and breaks workout + Black Rose deep dubby jungle with lots of brass.
Chain D.L.K.: …and now, more focused on sources of inspiration (whatever you had in mind – another track, a single sound, an idea – when working on each of them).
Dubstitutes: Takeover was inspired by uplifting sounds of classic jungle/hardcore and the classic sounds of labels like Good Looking and Metalheadz. Another Future, alien abduction; Black Rose, pirates; and Fear Nothing, just wanted to bring that acid sound back.
Chain D.L.K.: I noticed that there’s a general return to jungle and ragga sounds together with the techy ones…do you think it’s a temporary trend?
Dubstitutes: Hopefully not, as it’s a nice combo of styles!
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s go back to Fear Nothing…one of my favs is Another Future…you turned an alarm-like message into something almost funny, and what a great puzzle of vocal samples! Where did you grab them?
Dubstitutes: I’m sure http://www.whosampled.com can answer that eventually! Let’s just say they came from some amazing French sci-fi animations from the 80s.
Chain D.L.K.: The more dub-oriented is actually ‘Black Rose’…and another amazing sonic trick you used is that sort of tuning between woohoo-like vocals and that sort of sampled flute…how did you synch them?
Dubstitutes: Waves sound shifter P for pitching, Cubase warp for time stretch and lots of filter + delay.
Chain D.L.K.: Are you going to perform, play or dj in any summer festivals? If yes, which ones?
Dubstitutes: We’ve had a few festivals recently; the rest of summer is gigs, though. We’ve got a label night at Sous Sol @Sub8ten Leicester on 5th August; also, Kachina is playing Marcus Nasty’s bday gig @ Zephyr Lounge in Leamington on 15th July.
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve recently introduced Prangman’s drop on Migration. Any upcoming releases?
Dubstitutes: There’ll be some more stuff from Prangman and Kachina on Migration soon.
Chain D.L.K.: One of the nicest things in the d’n’b scene is maybe the network of support by other artists…who supports ‘Fear Nothing’ at the moment?
Dubstitutes: Doc Scott
Matt the Alien
Chain D.L.K.: Any nice feedback after listening to it?
Dubstitutes: Black Rose seems to be the track everyone likes!
Chain D.L.K.: What would you suggest to the many bedroom producers who would like to land over Migration? What features should a track have to be produced on Migration?
Dubstitutes: Music has to be relevant to the label, but sound original and interesting. We’re really looking for artists who can do their own mixdowns and have found their style. We’re not really looking for “bedroom” producers/DJs; we need people who are passionate about this and proactive with networking, hustling for gigs, and getting involved on socials. Good music alone isn’t enough anymore!