Having made a name for himself as both a world-class DJ and producer in the eight years since he first burst onto the scene, New Zealand’s finest delivers his long-awaited debut LP on Commercial Suicide on 2 June 2014.
From the hard and heavy to the deep and hypnotic, Dose flexes on all fronts and proves that he’s not only hitting his stride in the studio but the best is yet to come.
Only weeks before the album hits the streets, Kmag checks in with Kiwi’s finest for a broad discussion on his own journey through the drum & bass trenches before jumping into an exclusive mix.
Before we get into this monster mix you’ve got lined up for us let’s take a step back to your childhood – what sort of musical influences do you remember growing up?
My parents were always playing various 80s music around the house so my ears always have pricked up when 80s classics are heard. Other than that I can’t say I was ever really a big “muso” nor did I ever grasp any instrument. I love music but never really was a hardcore fan of any particular band. I was more the sporty type to be honest; footy, cricket and all the outdoorsy stuff!
At what point does drum & bass, DJing, and production enter the picture for you?
I was around 16-17 (1998-1999) and my brother’s friends took me along to a gig (Ed Rush and Trace possibly?) at Christchurch’s infamous Ministry club. That was a life changer for sure, such an epic night and it opened a train of thought and experiences I’d never imagined.
From there on in friends and I were frequents at all sorts of “raves” but eventually d&b was the one to take anchor as the favourite. The more I went to these gigs and became involved, the more I discovered what an amazing art form it is.
DJ Mosus, Bulletproof, DJ Presha and the 1080 crew were all pioneers in our small town and paved the way for very healthy parties with loads of acts coming through every year. The feeling these nights created, the vibes and the community of people I met and became friends with struck a deep note and awakened an energy and desire to partake and be a part of it.
I would have music in my mind for days after gigs and eventually this drove me to act on the burning desire to get creative. Some of my friends had already got into the DJing side so we were always around it before gigs so I eventually got to try it out and this further fuelled the fire which in turn led to DJing, promoting and eventually producing.
I had access to DOA [dogsonacid.com] and this was my main source of production tips. I used to print and read tutorials from here and spent a lot of time trawling for samples and Q&As.
What sort of software were you using back then? Were there other local producers you were collaborating with or turning to for advice?
My first software was Making Waves which I had first read about in Knowledge mag! Total Science had actually recommended it as a great starting point in an interview and from there I went to Fruity Loops, Reason, Cubase and eventually Logic. I like Cubase but feel more at home with Logic.
Artists like Teknik, Menace and Trei all played a big part in learning the ropes of production. It was a journey we were all undergoing and something we were all fanatically into. Overall, the NZ circuit is really tightly knit. We mostly all know each other well and have played alongside each other over the years so it’s a great circle.
The Upbeats and Concord Dawn both helped me get my tunes out there initially and The Upbeats passed one of my tracks to Optiv who signed “Derailed” to Red light recordings back in 2006, so I was ecstatic when that happened. The big New Year’s events such as Gathering and Phat always brought everyone, including international acts together as well so that helped expand my network.
Speaking of ‘Derailed’, 2006 was a breakthrough year for you – looking back, what were some of the highlights and at what point along the journey did you realize that you were hitting it big?
Like I mentioned, in 2006 Optiv signed the Redlight 12″ and this was followed shortly after by Klute signing my first Commercial Suicide 12″ with ‘Valium Express’ and ‘Lost Inside’, it was unreal. Eventually I got to play a 5-date Australian tour and this is when things really started to hammer home.
Being flown around to play music is unreal and seeing people enjoy your music is even better. I’m so grateful I’ve experienced what I have so far. I love writing and playing music; it’s pretty crazy a hobby has come this far for me and taken me around the world and I’m excited to see where it goes from here on in.
When did you move to London? Has there been any noticeable influence on your process or sound now that you’re in the d&b motherland?
I moved to London in 2010. It’s been great to be here; not only to pay homage New Zealand’s motherland England, but to experience life in a different culture and society is an amazing experience. Being in the UK gave me the chance to see and access to such a vast range of music and artists. My pallet and taste for music and production always change as they would for any artist so I guess having access to a nightlife like London and Europe’s plays a key part in that evolution.
Since then, you’ve had a massive run culminating in this long-awaited LP for Commercial Suicide. An album is always a huge undertaking so give us a sense as to how long this has been in the works and at what point Klute came on board and helped shape the final product.
It’s taken me a long time to be able to get to the point where I felt comfortable finishing an LP. I think I released about 50 odd tracks before I’ve gotten to this point. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride as I went through various stages of my life and I came quite close to packing it all in at one point through frustration and questioning my own ability as an artist.
At some point though the coin dropped and I really started tuning into what my instincts were telling me and focusing more on writing for me rather than anyone else. It was actually a conversation with Klute a few years back that really steered me in the right direction around this. From here on in my output really improved and I seemed to be able to finish tracks a lot easier.
I have always been a big fan of Commercial Suicide and Klute has always supported artists doing their own thing. About six months ago I had a load of tracks that I sent to Klute and he gave me some really positive feedback and his full support for an LP. To be honest it was the nudge and confidence boost I needed to complete the album and I’m not sure if I would’ve managed otherwise as I was close to just splitting them all into singles.
From there it’s all fallen into place and I sincerely think Commercial Suicide is the right place for this project and I am really grateful to be releasing my debut LP on it. Thanks Klute!
What do you see the album representing in terms of its reflection of you as an artist? Does this tie into the “Mind the Future” title as a theme?
The title “Mind the Future” and it’s meaning to me is about focusing and thinking about what you want in life. Each track has its own story for me which ties into a different part of my life. Overall, I wanted the album to show, as my DJ sets do, that I write and play a wider range of d&b. I don’t normally or often write experimental or other tempo tracks so it didn’t feel right to try them out for the LP just for the sake of it. But I think that I’ve managed to write a diverse range of tracks that hold true to my sound and instincts, and are representative of my journey into drum & bass and in life.
All the budding producers out there want to know what sort of hardware/software rig this LP was created on so give us a sneak peek at the basics and at least one of your favorite plug-ins that you feel makes its presence felt on this LP.
I use Logic and an iMac and Macbook Pro. I also now use mostly the Audeze LCD-3 headphones – before that it was Mackie’s. I’m a big fan of hardware although I’ve never owned much more than a Virus C (Rack mount) and an EMU sampler. I found there are enough samples and software out there to keep me busy.
The advice I’d give to budding producers is to back yourself, be yourself and listen to your instincts. I really upped my output when I stopped focusing so much on what everyone else was writing and how I could fit in or compete. The whole point of being an artist is doing your own thing and some of the best artists in history (not just music) are artists who strayed off the beaten track to a negative reaction initially.
As if an album wasn’t enough, we have to ask what’s next on your plate and what we can be expecting from you in the coming year.
I’ve taken a month or so off writing to reflect and have a break. From here on in I’m not sure of the exact direction, but my passion for writing has never been stronger and I’m gagging to get back onto the beats and start the next chapter for Dose.
Before I go though, there’s loads of artists and people who have inspired, supported helped me and offered feedback and guidance along this journey and I really want to shout out to them and big up all the people I’ve met along the ride!