UK artist East End Dubs considers himself a DJ first, and a producer second. You wouldn't guess as much if you took a look inside impressive his home studio in London, however.
On one wall are longtime staples of the East End Dubs sound like the Roland JP-8000, Roland D-10, and Korg R3. Opposite those is a Eurorack modular synthesizer console whose arc towers over everything else in the room like a tidal wave.
"I’ve caught, as I call it, the Euro bug, and I’ve just been collecting things," says East End Dubs. "I can’t stop at the moment — I love it. I love the unique sounds you can come up with, the tone and quality."
These recent additions show that East End Dubs still actively seeks out things to get excited about as an artist. Perhaps more importantly, they stand testament that he's brave enough to expand on his sound signature after more than two decades in electronic music.
East End Dubs first started DJing at school dances at only 15 or 16. He further refined his skills by playing parties while attending Richmond University. After graduating, though, a career in the IT industry occupied his focus—but that all changed when his company went under.
"When I graduated, I start working as an IT manager for a big company," East End Dubs says. "Then the company went bust and I said, ‘Okay, I'm gonna take some time out and fully focus on music.’ This has been my journey for the past 12 years, literally nonstop gigging. But, you know, I've been doing music for over 20 years now."
He didn't always play and release music as East End Dubs. "I had a couple of other projects before, and I’ve done some anonymous stuff," he explains. "I also used to DJ for a couple of major clubs in London here and there. But after all that, it took some time to basically find my identity and decide on the sound that I really enjoy."
2012 marked the launch of the East End Dubs project, and it's been a whirlwind of clubland magic ever since. In 2014, he founded a record label called Eastenderz which now counts well-known artists like Priku, Arapu, and Sidney Charles among its signees.
Eastenderz also gives a home to music by promising up-and-comers. "We've been recently working with an artist from Argentina called Rigzz, and he seems to be ticking all the boxes right now," says East End Dubs. "He has already released two EPs on his own terms, and we're working on the third one. Rigzz is definitely up there, and I can also name another guy from New York called LaRosa. He’s also released quite a few EPs and is going to release one with us soon."
East End Dubs released the most commercially successful track of his career in 2019. Appearing on an EP of its namesake that came out on FUSE London, "bRave" has amassed more than 1.5 million streams on Spotify alone.
For the most part, though, East End Dubs produces music to play exclusively in his own DJ sets. "To be honest, I think the milestone tracks have been the ones that I didn’t release, or only released limited white label copies," he says. "I don't specifically enjoy releasing music. I make lots of music all the time, but I don't like putting it out. I basically just try to keep it all for myself, and play it out myself. That's what makes my sets quite exclusive in a way, because I play my own music most of the time."
When you consider this approach, it makes perfect sense that East End Dubs would still identify as a DJ first in spite of his obvious skills as a producer. There is nonetheless good reason for house music fans to anticipate his upcoming recorded music releases.
"The stuff that I'm producing right now is quite different from what I actually play, and what I’ve released so far," he proclaims. He says his latest music is "quite emotional" and "heavy on the synths"—undoubtedly a result of his more recent foray into the world of modular synthesis.
As far as house music as a whole is concerned, East End Dubs is optimistic that recent commercial interest in the genre could lead new fans to the underground. "I don't mind it," he says. "I read a couple of articles about that, and recently, people have said, ‘Oh, this is going to bring uneducated people into the scene.’ For me, I think people can start with Beyoncé or Drake and then fall in love with house music. It's a beautiful thing. Why not? You know, it's something that we share together. So I don't mind people getting to know our music that way and then going a little more underground to discover us."
What's to say that several more years into his career, East End Dubs won't embark on an entirely new creative direction? Only time will tell how his sound signature evolves. The world of house music will simply have to wait and see.
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