Heads up: The Others – MyStyle 004 is out two weeks today.
A genuine contender for dubstep mix of the year, Dub Police artist Alex Crawford has followed in the footsteps of Caspa, D1 and Subscape to create the next mix in the label’s MyStyle series. He’s gone to great measures to ensure his mix is worth your money, and we mean great measures – he’s included eight brand new productions that have been previously unavailable, which are due for release on the 17th of November. That’s almost an album’s worth of new material!
“Doing a mix like this is something any DJ or producer would love to do,” says Alex. “It’s a proper showcase of what you can do. So when I was asked to create my own MyStyle compilation, I started writing new tunes straight away, keeping my ears close to the ground to find new tracks.”
Stand out productions come from every angle. Earlier this year we shared Voyager, one of the many creations Alex has created especially for the mix. The Others productions include a VIP of Amazonia, All The Way Down and monster co-labs with the likes of Mydas, Youngsta and the mighty J:Kenzo.
“I’ve always enjoyed collaborating with other artists,” he explains. “On my album I worked with Joker, Breakage and Emalkay. That was the highlight of Red Planet; bouncing ideas and sharing inspirations. So when I was asked to make this mix I wanted to work on more collaborations because they’re really exciting projects.”
You can file MyStyle 004 under ‘exciting project’ too… A great calling card for where The Others is at as both a selector and producer AND a solid snapshot of where dubstep is at in 2014, we wanted to find out more about the mix… And how we can switch his hard work into advice for any aspiring DJs looking to follow in his footsteps and make a mix of this level.
It’s all about showing how you do it in the club…
“The idea with the MyStyle mixes is to try and capture where you’re at in the clubs right now. For me I’ve tried to feature a lot of artists I’m heavily into at the moment – Icicle, J:Kenzo, Subscape – so this mix will really represent what you’d hear when you see me in a club: how I mix, what I mix and the overall vibe. So my advice is to think about the sets you play in a club and trying to replicate that. I’ll be embarking on a 27 date North American tour with Caspa this month, and this mix is definitely a taste of what I’ll be playing out.”
Don’t get too technical…
“That said, there’s a fine line between exactly replicating what you do in the club and how it’s presented on your mix. It’s important to show off technicality and dexterity, but also you need to let the music breathe. Too much technical stuff can put off listeners who aren’t in the club context.
For example, the first variations of my MyStyle mixes were packed! They had loads more tunes in them than the one you can hear now and they had loads of teasing tricks. I love teasing in snippets of tracks when I’m playing a club. But I found during this process that it doesn’t work so well on a mix CD.
If you’re mixing the very best quality tunes you need to let them breathe. In the case of MyStyle I made a lot of fresh tracks for the mix which people will be hearing for the first time so I had to let them breathe and give people the chance to hear them and soak them up.”
The first cut isn’t always the best…
“Try loads of different versions. I wanted to take my mix on a journey and the different variations helped me realise what I wanted to do. The good thing about a studio mix is you can do this. A club mix is a lot more spontaneous. Spontaneity is great but it has its place. Sometimes I’ll leave a club thinking ‘wow, how did I do that?’ But other times I’ll leave wondering if I should have done a particular mix in the way I did. So a studio mix gives you time to work out combinations and flow, which will, in turn, help your club sets.”
But make sure you’re not giving promoters the wrong impression…
“I would say, though, that a studio mix shouldn’t be too far away from how you’ll mix in a club. The technology debate is old now; no one cares how you make your mix, just make sure you’re not trying to be a type of DJ that you’re not. That said, using technology like USBs and Rekordbox means DJing is more accessible and that these crazy mixes you can perfect in the studio, can also be done on the fly. For me, though, personally I come from a vinyl background and I do think it’s important to learn the classic methods if you can… You never know when you’re going to turn up to a club and find ropey equipment. And I still think to this day you can’t beat the sound of vinyl or a dubplate crackling away.”
Listen to it in different environments…
“Check your mix out in as many different scenarios as possible. When I was making my MyStyle mix I’d check out the different stages during other activities in my day. On the tube, in the car, wherever… Listen to it to see how it fits in different places and spaces. A good mix should fit every scenario.”
Take time over your selection!
“It’s your job as a DJ to pick up on things early. Keep your ear to the ground, look out for exciting new artists. I know it’s easy for working DJs to say this because we get tracks early from friends. When I started the early process of selecting tunes for the mix, Under Control by Bukez Finezt was brand new, and I chose it because I really liked the track. Now that we’re near the release date it’s gone on to do well and has become really popular. A DJ is a tastemaker so really dig deep and find hidden gems.”
Finally, take your head out of the genre every now and again…
“I don’t listen to much dubstep in my spare time as I like to draw influence from sounds outside of the genre I produce in. I do enjoy house and techno and I listen to a lot of hip-hop. Try and escape from the bubble whenever you can and find inspirations elsewhere. Don’t get lost in one genre. Listen to some jazz or something far out from your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised where you’ll find inspiration. Most importantly, though – have fun. That’s what it’s all about, right?”
For more details and North American tour tickets – http://www.othersdubstep.com