First Time / Last Time: Variations

Variations Press Image 2014

Freshly signed to Dub Police last year, Variations like their dubstep deep, dark and aggy.

Out now, their second full label release – Be Seeing You – sees the duo levelling up like never before. We felt it was high time we found out more about their past and present to see if we can work out what to expect in the future. From Mr Oizo epiphanies at the age of 12 to complete warehouse party devastation, Variations tell their roots, inspiration and experiences with colour and clarity… First Time / Last Time style!

It wasn’t until I heard dubstep in that room, how dubstep is supposed to be heard, that I thought, ‘That’s sick!’ It needs to be in a dark room – no light – big soundsystem, sweatbox!

First Performance

Thom: It was a Myspace vs Facebook party in 2008 at a club called Remix in Stevenage that mainly did D&B events. We weren’t playing Dubstep back then. I worked in the vinyl shop downstairs and someone had pulled out so we weren’t prepared. We did mess up a couple of times! We opened with one of our own tracks. There was mainly house before us and I think everyone was looking for some D&B, so the little Myspace whipper snappers went in!

Last Performance

Nick: We played the Dub Police Warehouse Party in Wapping. Following the Dub Police residency at Fabric, they found a new place just for hardcore fans, so it had great vibes – dark and dingy…properly back to the roots! Playing the graveyard shift, there were no boundaries; you could just go in! Caspa was jumping around on the stage behind us.

Thom: We’ve been going to Dub Police nights as fans for about five years so hearing those guys saying great things about the music we’re making is really cool.

First Ever Record We Bought

Thom: PJ and Duncan!

Nick: Yeah, Ant and Dec got us to where we are now! We both bought Fatboy Slim and Chemical Brothers.  I got into trance and garage around the same time, listening to any compilations you could put on your Discman.

Thom: We had both been into metal at school. We started getting into Nero and Spor around 2005 when we were still greebos. It was when I started working in the vinyl shop in 2007 that I started getting into London Elektricity and Hospital. We’d been listening to such techy stuff and this was really jazzy and different.

Nick: Yeah… he woke up one day and he wasn’t angry anymore!

Last Record We Bought

Thom: Coldplay! All the albums I buy are not really credible as a dubstep producer. We’re in to so many different things.

Nick: Dubstep-wise it’s probably the Never Say Die series and Haunted Harmonics EP by Thelem. Fortunately we get sent quite a bit, a lot of the stuff we used to buy was from Dub Police. We do still harass people for stuff though!

First Club Experience

Nick: We were going to metal clubs all through our teens, and we went to Fabric around 2007 for a True Playaz night. However, our first dubstep experience was Bloc party at Rainbow Warehouse in Birmingham. They had the Valve soundsystem in the swimming pool at The Custard Factory so we saw Youngsta, then went round to Rainbow and saw Benga and Caspa. I heard Emalkay’s When I look At You dubplate I thought ‘Wow!’ The atmosphere was almost hostile in there but it had a great vibe!

Thom: Nick was more open to it than me. I’ve got a weird problem where I don’t like things until they prove themselves to me. It wasn’t until I heard dubstep in that room, how dubstep is supposed to be heard that I thought, ‘That’s sick!’ It needs to be in a dark room – no light – big soundsystem, sweatbox!

Last Club Experience

Thom: We went to Tunnel Times the other week at Club No. 65 in Vauxhall. We saw Sadhu and Genetix. To be honest I can’t even remember who else I saw, it was pretty messy!

Nick: We try and go out a lot. We’ve always been ravers at heart, so there’s no need to stop!  We feel like one of the main reasons we’ve got to where we are now is through talking to people and keeping our faces about in the scene.

First Musical WTF!? Moment

Nick: This was easy! When we were twelve we discovered Analog Worms Attack by Mr Oizo, when Flat Beat came out for the Levi’s adverts, I got my mum to buy me the album.

Thom: A lot of the reviews were slating it because he’s such a fantastically weird producer, no one understood it. I had a sleepover party and when everyone had gone to bed, Nick and I stayed up listening to it on my old Hi-fi. That whole album is fucked… in the best possible way! It’s always inspired us to have no boundaries. It’s best to make something that’s fucking mental and then tame it down afterwards, if it needs it. We did a bootleg of one of Oizo’s tunes just so we were reppin’ Oizo in our live sets in some way!

Last Musical WTF!? Moment

Thom: It’s a lot harder to find that moment once you’re involved in the scene. You kind of become immune to the whole WTF factor in a way.

Nick: There’s an Emperor tune called Control – a D&B tune, nothing really wacky, but the sub is so distorted. He didn’t give a shit, he just put the sub as loud as possible – it’s got such swagger to it. It took us back to Fabric room two; it’s the perfect tune to hear in there.

Nick: Dubstep wise it would probably be Tun Up (ft. Bunji Garlin & Stylo G) Diskord Remix. We really like the whole dubstep/trap blend. A lot of people are hating on it. It feels like people are scared because they can’t label it, but that winds me up… You don’t need to dislike it just because of the genre!

First Release

Thom: It was our first EP – Thanks For Coming – which was released last June. It had a really good response and was at number 25 in the iTunes chart. We built a good relationship with Caspa from going to his shows. One day, when he was playing at Junction in Cambridge, we tracked him down and forced a CD into his hand. The EP all stems from that original CD.

Nick: The lead track Circles was a collab with Mojo, that’s definitely a favourite tune that we’ve made. That EP set us up for different road trips around UK, we played in Fabric room 1 which was a proper life tick! We’ve also taken over Hatcha’s show on Kiss FM a couple of times and done GetDarker a couple of times too.

Last Release

Thom: Be Seeing You is our latest EP, it’s three tunes that we feel are quite different.

Nick:  Endlessly Empty and Subbington are like crossover tunes, still dubstep but they have trappier / hip hop elements. Caspa was on tour in America when we sent him Endlessly Empty. He loved it straight away, so we were getting random videos of fans who had recorded him playing it.

Thom: The other track is to be pronounced as it’s written… Ermahgerd. However you say it you’re going to sound stupid. Caspa refuses to call it that now.

Nick: If you buy it on Juno Download you get a free track with it, which is called Guinea Pig Beef, because it basically sounds like two guinea pigs having a row! Go check it!

Thom: The next step is to work on some stuff with other dubstep artists, it’s hard to get in a collaboration with three people sometimes, but for instance with Mojo it just worked. Our next EP is basically already done, so keep your eyes peeled!