Pinch, aka Robert Ellis, is leading the charge of non-London producers taking dubstep in new, exciting directions. The man behind respected 10” label Tectonic and the chest-rattling Subloaded events – as well as cooking up a storm in both the studio and the DJ booth - gives some lowdown.
How did you get into dubstep?
I was playing jungle and drum'n'bass in local clubs and in Newport, where I grew up, but had got bored of the sound. Then towards the end of 2003 I went to (weekly London dubstep HQ) FWD>> and heard Kode 9 play – and it opened me up totally. I instantly fell in love with the music.
What made you get involved in terms of actually doing something?
I was DJing already so I didn’t learn from scratch. My night Context started in Jan 2004 and ran for a year, by which point I’d started Subloaded. I started making beats because there wasn’t enough records being put out to make a set that I wanted to play. Qawwali was one of the first tunes I wrote, in 2004. First one is a beat called Deserted Island which never came out. I got involved because I knew this was something special. It touched me.
Why do you think people get so obsessed and involved with dubstep? People seem to dive headlong into it once they first get converted…
When you first hear the music and connect with it, it’s a very deep feeling. As I say – it’s not for everyone – but if you feel it, you feel it deep because it’s not like anything else out there – even though it references the familiar.
How important is the soundsystem to your event?
With bass, the space you put the speakers is as important as the system itself. The shape of a space makes a huge impact on the sound and the pressure. I’d still say the bass was more fierce at Subloaded II than I’ve heard elsewhere, ever. But the council fitted limiters in that club after that one and it never sounded quite the same, which is why I’ve moved it to a new venue.
You’ve got a very different style to most other dubstep DJs. It’s more like the way a techno DJ might play. What do you do differently?
Just what I want to without boring the crowd too much! I like a deep session but I also play to the moment – sometimes minimal/deep is right – other times it’s better to belt out some big riddims cos it’s that time.
You’re DJing with techno don Ricardo Villalobos on Mary-Anne Hobb’s Radio One show…
I’m just repping a ‘techno-referenced’ edge of dubstep for the show, showing some Bristol sounds.
I played one of the releases on your Tectonic label, Loefah’s System to my friend and it made a picture fall off the wall. Have you had similar experiences?
I played Skream’s Bahl Fwd in Berlin once and it made everything jump off the table – including someones laptop and the mixer itself.
There's a global scene too – how important is it to dubstep?
This music is global because it makes sense to people beyond their immediate cultural surroundings. That is very important for the music to grow and touching to see. It’s gone global so quickly because of the power of the internet – resources such as Rinse FM online and Barefiles.com have given people access to the sound, undiluted.