Italian born Dabs has been associated with one highly acclaimed d&b label Dispatch for a while now, and March sees the release of his Ep, Subsidiary, on that very label. The first artist Ep on Dispatch, it sees Dabs further forge his dark, techy dance floor sound through a collab with Amoss, Stendhai and a remix by Survival and label boss Ant Tc1, who give Oh the Horror an amen workout. The collab with Safire, Time Carrier, steps away from the dancefloor slightly with a deep, rolling break following an atmospheric intro that adds a nice slice of variety to the release. With the Subsidiary Ep set to destroy the dancefloors, we figured it was about time to catch up with Dabs to get the full low down on it from his side.
Hi Dabs, explain a bit more about yourself firstly. Where abouts in Italy are you from and what do you do outside of music?
Hi everyone! I grew up and am still livin’ in Rome, I have another a part-time job in a big company outside of music. I reckon that it helps me in focusing more in what I do, keeping my mind always on and…. it pays my bills!
Who would you describe as your main musical influences?
I am influenced from all sides, but speaking in genres, I could say hardcore Hip-Hop and old Electronic Music / Warp recordings. When I started producing stuff other than Hip-Hop beats it was about 2000. Techno got me into it through the illegal raves that were spread all over Italy pretty much all weeks..
Perhaps I’m just ignorant to it, but there doesn’t seem to be much d&b out of Italy, what’s the scene like out there? What other Italian artists are you into?
Yea not many d&b artists are still living here and export d&b beats from the country. Names I could mention are Maztek from Rome and Arp-xp & Maurs from Sardinia.
Do people tend to be more into a particular sub genre of d&b over there or is it fairly spread out like in the UK?
People at parties expect pretty much hard beats over here. I never could drop a very deep minimal tune here without making the crowd escape out to smoke. The UK, as well as Australia and other places where I played, are totally different.
So how did you get into drum and bass, and when did you start producing?
It was about 2001-2002, when I heard my first tapes and records coming from UK played in techno raves, it was Jungle and old tech-step. I was enormously attracted by Ed Rush & Optical first LP’s, I would never have started producing d&b without listening to that kind of sound. It’s so dark, and yet there’s so much funk at the same time. I thought: ‘Damn, I wanna do this shit!’
I read you used to make hip hop beats for friends, is the hip hop scene in Italy strong? Are any of those instrumentals still floating about at all?
No, It’s not strong at all unless it goes commercial. I’m not much into the Italian hip hop scene anymore.
How do you feel coming from a country where d&b isn’t as big and international as the UK (for example) has affected your path through it and influenced your output?
Good question! Yea it probably influenced me to do just what I like. Today I’m still making music from the inside, I’m not into some kind of showbiz/market environment that could drive the artists view in any way. I’m feeling 100% free in what I do, because not many people really know what this music is like over here.
If I was going to travel to Italy, where would you recommend I go?
I don’t need to think much about that. ROME! Also Puglia and Sardinia are nice if you’re looking for beaches and summer holidays.
The press release for your new Dispatch release, Subsidiary EP, mentions that it wasn’t originally planned to be an EP but just naturally grew. Which track(s) started it off and how did the idea to enlarge it into an EP come about?
It started with Time Carrier. I just felt that kind of deep vibe had to match with something more solid, so I started to write Subsidiary. I had a very good response from Ant TC1 and we decided to put together something bigger, so I finished that other collab with Amoss. All tracks sounded really good together, so we had no doubts. It’s such an honor for me to have the first artist solo EP on Dispatch ever!
Do you think making tracks without the initial idea of them going together as a full EP effects the output or creative process in any way?
I’m not sure. Maybe writing tunes with no particular goals helps to be more creative, with no limitations.
Give us a quick walk through of that EP, how would you describe the sound of it?
Subsidiary is one for the dance floor, but also one for purely listening, I tried to work on both aspects. Time Carrier with Safire is clearly a deep one, whereas Subsidiary is more like a funky ‘old-school vibes’ dance floor roller. Stendhal with Amoss is in the middle of that and the great Oh the Horror remix is definitely what the batch was missing: the great contribution of artists like Ant TC1 and Survival. I’m looking forward to sharing the studio with them at end of may!
What was the thinking behind making Subsidiary the title track and what is it that drew you to that particular word?
In my opinion, an EP must include as much of an artist’s views as possible, every track is subsidiary to the whole plan. It naturally grew up like that and I liked the word, it didn’t sound obvious like many d&b tunes titles are, so I decided to give my solo track that name.
You collab with Amoss, on Stendhal, and Safire, on Time Carrier, what mate you choose those collaborators? Did you travel over to the UK to make the tracks or was it done online?
Safire is a good friend of mine, we had great time when I was in Australia. It’s good to see his artist profile growin up day by day and always a pleasure to collaborate with him as I’m really into his soundscapes. Amoss is a great uk duo, they are so productive and young! I collaborated with both through the net, it’s much quicker!
What else is forthcoming from you?
I’m working on many things now days. Other collaborations with Safire and Cern, some solo tracks and I did a remix of Cause4Concern track Crash Test which was gonna be out soon.
But I’m especially busy with my new label Avantgarde for our next 12”. It will feature Dabs & Safire – Hideout with the special contribution of MC LowQui lyrics, backed with L 33 – Complex Things. We are so keen and happy with that, hope you will be the same!
What releases from other artists are you currently looking forward to?
All new Dispatch forthcomings which are absolutely smashing! Looking forward to the next Ed Rush and Optical LP on Virus and new things from artists and friends like Break, Chris SU, Octane & DLR, Xtrah, Sabre and many more.
Cheers for the time mate! Any final words or links to share with us?
First of all thanks to BrokenCulture for the chance!
You can keeping yourself up-to-date about music through my Soundcloud page plus ‘like’ the newborn Avantgarde Recordings Facebook page.