He's known as one of D&B's best, though Sub Focus in fact roams the world of bass, from dubstep, to electronica, future garage to straight up club classics. We loved his single, Falling Down, with Kenzie May (as did 1.5 million other people), and have fallen even harder for the new track, Out The Blue, featuring Alice Gold.
Beginning his career in jungle after leaving behind his teenage indie band, Sub Focus has since toured the world as a DJ and producer. Like other greats before him – Daft Punk, the Chemical Brothers – this self described ‘audio geek’ is really pushing the boundaries of both live and recorded music. We counted at least seven different types of keyboards in his studio, but were most impressed by the motion sensor he’s had made, which allows him to alter both the pitch of a tune and a light show with his bare hands! “I'm trying to incorporate some improvisation, but in an electronic way. It’s a massive light show, basically. I want to take the ideas that have gone before and push them that much further.”
We had a chat with Nick 'Sub Focus' Douwma about the track, as well as his forthcoming album...
How do you describe the music you make these days? Dubstep, D&B, electronica...?
I think my sounds are always hard hitting but melodic underneath.I don't want to define it too much because It's always a work in progress for me. I'm inspired by the trends that have changed over the past few years. Especially in dance music now, there's not much pressure any more to stay in just one genre. People were tribal in what they would and wouldn't buy in the early days. I remember being weird about D&B producers when they started writing more housey tracks. It was almost frowned upon. D&B people are just into their scene though. Coming out of that, it was refreshing. I like writing different types of music, so I threw caution to the wind and started putting stuff out and the response was great. The whole scene is evolving and a lot of people are doing that now - branching out without fear of the stigma.
You produced Kickstarts for Example, remixed Dizzee and worked with Chase & Status. How does your own material differ to when you work with other people?
It's a different discipline. When I'm writing for myself I'm trying to please myself and I write to my own criteria. I want to feel like a credible artist in that respect. I'm wary of doing anything too poppy. I like my music being popular but without being commercial I guess. It's the holy grail of being a musician - trying to strike that balance. That's the aim anyway. I think it's important for me to do something credible. It's nice writing for other people but when you do that you're aiming to please them rather than yourself. It's a different set of rules.
What can you tell us about your forthcoming album?
There will be another single after this one, and then the album won't be out until around October. It's quite a long term thing. Right now, I'm trying to get together things that I like, so I'm looking at all sorts of things. After a while, I'll find a common thread. The last record I had sort of worked out - everything I was doing had to revolve around the bassline. This album is a similar thing but I'm trying to weave in elements of other music I like. Stuff that's different from what I'm known for doing. I like Friendly Fires, M83, I'm even feeling those future garage guys called Disclosure. When I can make all that stick together, I'll know the record is ready. I like pulling threads from places that maybe aren't meant to go together. It's how I sort of look at music - in a magpie-esque way.
What's next for Sub Focus?
I have ambitions but I try not to set myself any targets (laughs). I'm going to play Coachella this year, which will be awesome. I guess I always listen to music and think, not in an arrogant way, but 'I can probably do that better'. I'm just competitive with it.