An Interview With Sub Focus

It has been a mad year for Sub Focus’s Nick Douwma, having had a packed festival calendar,  the release of his new album ‘Torus’ and his UK tour commencing in a mere two weeks, but we manage to catch the one-man electronic marvel to see how this year has been and to get a taster of what’s to come…

Hi Nick. This has been an exciting year for you, with your new album Torus having been released today and a UK tour commencing October 16th. How have you found this busy year, and are you happy with the album?

Yeah, I’m really happy with the album. It’s been quite a tough year at times just because I’ve taken on a lot, especially during the summer when I was playing a lot of festivals and preparing for the album release at the same time. So it’s been pretty mental at times with the work load. But yeah, I’m really happy with how the album has turned out. I’ve really enjoyed creating the collaborations. I’ve tried to make it as varied as possible with some dubstep, drum and bass, house and everything else in between.

This leads me quite well onto my next question… I feel as if your music style has matured somewhat since you released ‘Rock It’ in 2009, would you agree, and if so, how so?

Yeah definitely, I’ve been creating a lot more songs so working with a lot more singers. I’ve tried to make the album a kind of listening journey, so there are not just club tracks on there. I’ve been trying to show people a whole other side to myself with this album.

Yeah, I was very much a fan of yours when I was… god, how old was I then?! Well, in 2009 anyway, and Sub Focus tunes were very much about the hardcore dubstep and ‘rocking-out’ to it, whereas now you can listen to your music kinda more casually.

Haha yeah, I wanted this album to work in different situations, as I said, more of a listening album in places.

Has it been exciting working with artists such as Alex Clare and Alpines, what do you think their voices have brought to the Sub Focus soundtable?

It’s been really cool working with different people; I’ve tried to select artists that I think are outstanding within their style. Alex Clare has this amazingly soulful, raw voice and I love Alpines whole vibe as well. I worked with Kele Okereke which was really cool as I’m a big fan of Bloc Party and I’ve been wanting to do that for a while.

If you could collaborate with any musician, who would you choose?

God, this is a hard one. But at the moment I would choose Grimes, she’s a Canadian singer. I think her voice is really unique.

So your UK tour starts very soon, do you still love playing for a home crowd, or do you prefer audiences abroad?

Every crowd is a bit different, when I’m in America I’ll play slightly different set lists to what I would play here, or if I’m in Europe. But it’s always good fun for different reasons. I really like going to America, to places like LA. I’ve really enjoyed all the nights I’ve played in Australia. Japan is always really cool place to go. There’s a club called Womb in Tokyo which is always a highlight. I also love having my residency in Ibiza.

Apparently you tweeted that Glastonbury this year was the best gig you’ve ever played… how did it compare to other festivals?

I read that I’d tweeted that as well but I’m not sure I actually did, my memory’s quite hazy from Glastonbury. I can’t actually remember what my tweets were from Glastonbury, I was probably a little bit worse-for-wear. It’s definitely one of my favourite festivals, this year I was really lucky to play 3 times over the weekend; an exclusive show for Radio one, my live show and an afterhours set which I finished as the sun was rising on the final day of the festival. That was the best feeling and the atmosphere there was out-of-this-world. The afterhours dimension of the festival is probably what makes Glastonbury extra special because there’s just so much more to it than the main stages, there are just so many weird hidden areas and arty structures to discover.

Your UK tour is set to stop at Rock City in our very own Nottingham on 22nd October, what can our readers expect from your live performance?

For this tour I’m going to be playing a lot of songs from the new album. I’m going to be using a lot of computers and keyboards to kind of change and adapt the songs as I play them, for a live music feel I guess. There’s going to be a light show that goes with it so the visuals will be synced to the music I’m making so that should be pretty fun to play around with. I’ll be using motion sensors, which means I can move my hands in the air above the system to control some of the sounds and create a more dynamic performance.

Sounds very futuristic! Finally, can you give us a cheeky insight into your plans for the future?

None of our plans are particularly secret so I don’t know how cheeky this is going to be… but yeah, I’m just looking forward to touring the world with this album. American in December, Australia in March. I’m having a studio built at the moment which is really exciting, so I’m looking forward to getting in there and writing some more music.

By Felicity Brown