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Ωhmgrown: The sound of Dub Phizix going deep with DIY

Let’s be honest; Dub Phizix tunes aren’t the most abundant resource on the planet. He has his moments – like that album-sized wedge of tunes from his Fabriclive mix, or that time a year ago when he released two chop-slap EPs on Metalheadz and Exit within six months – but the cold hard reality is that we’re lucky to see more than one key release a year from him.

There are good reasons for this; his simply isn’t the spamming type and will only say something if it’s really worth saying. Also, he’s recently discovered that the speed of his releases has been affected by how, and where, he writes his music… And how he approaches the release process altogether.

His new Ωhmgrown series is a bid to counter this. A steady, regular flow of beats launching this week on his own Senkasonic label, the concept is simple. The entire process is done by Dub Phizix in-house; sampling, sound design, arrangement, mixdown right through to visuals, video and release. Inspired by the new insurgence of DIY talent in his hometown such as IAMDDB and Jus Banco Ωhmgrown is Phizix (or George if you want to pretend you’re mates with him) freeing himself from his old studio habits, challenging himself to learn more and trying to get more music out on a regular basis.

It starts right here with Engage; a cyclical, trippy piece of warped and wonky beat sludge that comes with its own video from the Manchester artist himself.

Landing just weeks after his double remix combo of Levelz – Front Face, which he’s remixed musically and visually, Engage marks the start of new creative trip for bass music’s favourite crisp caresser. Here’s where he’s at right now: 

We heard you’ve changed how you approach writing music….

Yeah I have a bit. I’ve got a really nice studio and pretty much everything I’ve earnt has gone into developing it over the last six years. But, without realising what I was doing, I was putting this pressure on myself like I’ve got to use all this gear. I was worrying too much about the sonics and not the actual music and I found I wasn’t get as much done because of that.

I needed to make it more fun again, so I tried to find a bit more freedom to write ideas. I tried a load of things; One of which was the new Akai MPC is really cool but a bit restrictive for travelling so I got the laptop out again and really started to appreciate what I can do on it. I just put Logic on there, The Native Instruments stuff, a reverb and one EQ. That’s it. I loaded it with samples and found I was writing shit loads. I also started using my this Korg Gadget that dBridge recommended. It’s fucking amazing. I’ve even got it on my phone so I’m playing with ideas while on the train and everything. By the time it gets to the studio it’s almost finished and it’s just the sonics that need finishing or tweaking. It’s a bit of a cliché but I’ve been on a bit of a creative journey.

I know you were using your guitar a lot in your productions a while ago, too…

Yeah I still do that now. I have days when I just make sounds. I noodle through the guitar for hours and get a nice sound through the amp, I make a load of bass sounds, record drum sounds and then load the iPad and laptop with those sounds. I’m actually making the tracks on pretty basic apps but I’m using the best quality sounds I can make. That’s what Ωhmgrown is about. Creating sounds from nothing and taking them right through the process right up to release. It’s the whole journey of literally sticking a mic in front of something or making a tone on a synth and taking it through the mix, the master, the release, the artwork, the videos. Well, if you can call them videos…

Plus you get the music out faster and don’t have to wait in schedules

There’s that, too. But basically there are people who have supported me since day one and I don’t feel I’m giving them the respect and giving them the music they want. I’ve got this music here, I’m sat on it, people want it so why aren’t I getting it out there? I’m not saying there’s people out there itching to get their hands on my music, but people ask me when I’m going to release new music and I know full well I’ve got all this half finished stuff but there’s no drive to finish it. The whole drive is to take something from start to finish.

And you already have the platform to release it: Senkasonic

Yeah and for that I used to look at my tunes and say ‘what’s the best thing I’ve got?’ and I’ll spend time making a video for it and thinking about interesting ways to get it out there. That’s all well and good but ultimately people don’t give a shit. I’ll still do those tunes, and I’ve got something like that hopefully coming later this year, but there are other tunes that don’t need that type of release. Beats I just want to get out there to anyone who wants to hear them.

So you’ve mentioned videos a few times now…

Yeah, they’re just basic kind of ideas to help express the music. It’s an extra way to get a message across or an aesthetic that people might miss when they’re just listening.

There’s definitely some messages on the Levelz video you’ve remixed. How did it come about and what a finale from Skittles!

He’s a top nob head. We all had this meeting about the video and I said I’d do it because Tarnish Vision are in such high demand. They’re doing everyone’s videos right now, they’re killing it. So I said I’ll have a look at remixing it and I started off with the idea of plastering my head over everything. It took ages in the end but Skitty’s one wasn’t working so I asked him to record a basic thing of him rapping the hook so I could edit his face on mask in the crowd. I told him to film it on his phone but he was like ‘nah that’ll look dead shit’ so he sent that video to prove a point. So I used it.

I’m getting subliminal messages too. Word on the street is Rich Reason enjoys books on an intimate level.

He fucking does. Basically he got these flags made for Outlook and the one he was most excited about said ‘Dub Phizix shags crisps’. He must have sent me four or five picture messages of it before we even left Manchester so I got one made saying he shags books and I saved it until I played on the Levelz stage. There was a snippet of it in the video so I kinda made a thing of it.

During this you must have thought about sexual relations with books. Any particular book you’d like to jiggy with?

That’s a fucking good question! I’m not as into books as Rich is but yeah, give me a minute to think about that…

Your video skills came about when you made the Buffalo video which you told us about at the time. It feels like you’re approaching videos with the same ambition as your productions

I’ve got a long way to go there, mate. But I am really enjoying the challenge and learning something new. The Ωhmgrown series will be an opportunity to watch me learn as I open up this whole new world of creative shit. Things I can do which I didn’t know I could do before. Things I can execute more easily. The Buffalo video took me and Strats three weeks, for example, but now I could do my bit in a week.

Sounds like you’ve got a few Ωhmgrown things lined-up already…

Yeah I’ve got four of five tunes but I haven’t got the videos for them. One’s got a video, one’s got an idea for a video. So there are three things that will hopefully drop before the summer. It means I’m in a position where if I’ve got a few months between the bigger releases I can put out an Ωhmgrown release. I’ll always have something new for people to listen to and haven’t been in this position for a long time.

You sound pretty inspired about it

I’m am inspired yeah. I’ve said this before, but Manchester is where I find the most inspiration and right now I’m seeing this army of young artists who don’t think in the same way the older guys do. Like how  we’re hung up on how we release things or having to do things in a certain way, we’re stuck in this mentality of distribution and bullshit that gets in the way. But these new guys don’t give a shit! They’ve got a tune or a video and they’re like ‘right let’s get this out there’ and they’re fucking smashing it.

Look at IAMDDB, she’s done her graft and she’s killing it. Same with Black Josh, Sleazy F Baby, Stef Smith, Jus Banco – he’s put out two singles and he’s selling out 300-400-cap venues on his own .That’s off his own back. The point I’m making is that none of these are getting caught up in the bullshit, they’re putting himself out there, it’s real and people are into it. There’s all this talent that’s been there for years – they’ve never had the opportunity to come forward. A whole generation now who can do everything themselves and have all the tools to do it. There was a time when it was harder to get things out there and a lot of people, especially people who came through between the vinyl era and where we are now, fell by the wayside. But now all the brightest and best people in the world can’t be held down by the music industry. It’s not even about the tools actually, it’s a different mindset.

The evolution of DIY!

Exactly. And I am really fucking inspired by that.

And I really want to know what book you’re going to have sex with…

I don’t know man. There’s books I like but I don’t think I should be shagging them. Maybe I’ll ask Rich Reason for advice. Actually there’s a book about crisps. There, I’ll shag that. Happy now?

Dub Phizix – Engage is out now on Senkasonic 

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