Versus, aka Dave and Scott, have forged a unique path over the years to pursue their dreams. Specializing in all things house and techno, their Rinse FM radio show has allowed them to connect with the greater dance music community and break new artists. At the same time, they've kept up a release schedule that's earned them the praises of Marco Carola, Jamie Jones, Carl Cox, and Skream. Their growing catalog of upfront bangers have landed them sought-after releases on venerated labels like Armada, DFTD, Gorgon City's Realm, Solardo's Sola, and Ultra. The latter being a rave-tech remix of Kathy Brown's iconic "Turn Me Out."
They came up in the UK, hustling and doing anything they could to get a foot in the door of the world of electronic music. After meeting at a local radio station, the two developed a friendship and moved through the industry on parallel paths.
Over the years, they each secured residencies at local clubs, and as they began to network and discovered more genres of electronic music, their paths diverged. The two friends eventually decided to team up and produce music. Their unmatched creativity has led them to boundless sound that eschews genre boundaries. Drum n' Bass, hard house, and UK garage are just a small sampling of some genres that influence their music.
When they brought their combined knowledge together, it accelerated the growth of their project exponentially, and as Versus, they've established a growing footprint on the live stage. Their infectious stage presence has put them on stage for some of dance music's most reputable brands, including elrow, The Warehouse Project, Sankeys, and Ministry of Sound.
You guys had a chance introduction at a local radio station in South Manchester. Can you tell us this story and how you knew immediately that the two of you wanted to work together?
Dave: We both managed to get shows on Wythenshawe FM, a community-based radio station in the center of the biggest council estate in Europe. God knows how we even got on there! I did the 9-11 pm show playing UK garage, and Scott did the 11-1 am show playing club land and hard house. We knew each other back then from having some mutual friends. We didn't know we would work together as we were both on our musical journeys.
For each of you, what's the background on your discovery of electronic music? The UK, of course, has a vibrant scene, but how did you both find this passion?
Scott: I grew up listening to D&B. I would always buy tape packs listening to Mampi Swift, Ray Keith, Kenny Kenn, Randall, and Brian Gee. I started going to the Hysteria raves, following these DJs up and down the country. I liked the harder sound. It led me down the path to discovering speed garage going to raves in Sheffield, and then into the dance world and club land, hard house in Wigan Pier. So yeah, I've been about electric music alright!
Dave: I was a resident DJ at a few bars in Manchester, playing Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. I played R&B, hip hop, and bar music (not house).
After my set finished one Saturday night, a friend and my cousin said to me, "Wanna come to Sankeys with us?" I didn't even know what Sankeys was. I remember getting out of the taxi and seeing a HUGE queue down the road. Bare in mind I was DJing in small bars on Deansgate Locks, so I didn't see queues like this. I remember the rumble of the bass shaking the building outside. We walked in during Solomun's set (at the time, I didn't have a clue who he was. Oops!). The whole place was electric, with whistles, cheers, smoke machines, strobe lights, and that famous sweat drip from the ceiling in the basement. Everybody was absolutely having it. I was hooked, and every Saturday after my set in the small bars, I would go there partying all night, learning about this new music I'd discovered, listening to DJs mixes, and getting my ear around this new electronic sound.
Scott, you ran a record shop which Dave joined you at after your connection. What was that time in your lives like? Was this the beginning of your DJ career, or was it simply a phase of pure musical discovery?
Scott: It was definitely a phase of musical discovery. I'd been DJing and producing for a few years when we opened the record shop. We used the money from the first vinyl record we put out to open the shop. I look back at that time of my life as a big learning curve. I learned a hell of a lot about what to do in the music industry. And a whole lot of what not to do. It was fun, and it was great to get all the latest vinyl first. Plus, I also got to see what tracks other DJs would buy and become huge hits which I suppose influenced me in so much as learning what elements make a banger.
Your influences range from artists like Chris Lake to Boris Brejcha, and your music reflects it. Certain tracks are acid based. Some are piano-heavy. Some are pure uplifting. Although this question may seem generic, I have to ask you guys how you would define your sound?
Scott: We're influenced by a lot of artists. Who doesn't love Chris Lake and Boris Brejcha? They're dons, but both have different styles and sounds. You really can hear both our musical journeys in the tracks we make. You will hear elements from D&B to speed garage to hard house to UK garage. We like to bring elements from the past into the future. We love big dirty synths. The kind that Bad Company would make a few years ago in their D&B productions, we like to mix it up.
Coming up in the UK, did you feel it was hard to break through because of how much competition there is, or is there simply enough going on in the nightlife scene that there's space for everyone to get gigs?
Dave: it's not hard to break through if you go out networking and put yourself out there meeting the right people at the labels. There are endless interviews with label managers on YouTube from ADE, IMS, and Ultra Music. Watch them, see who the person is managing the label, and search their name on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Add them, message them, and chat with them. They won't come knocking on your front door if they don't know where you live! There's enough space for everybody.
How do you feel the nightlife/electronic music scene has changed in the UK throughout your lifetime? Are there any cities or clubs that you think fly under the radar?
Scott: I feel the smaller clubs go under the radar. We've had some incredible nights playing at smaller clubs around the UK. Sadly some have closed now. Everybody wants to attend the big supers, the Printworks and Tobacco Docks.
2019 felt like a breakout year for the project. With releases on Sola, Solotoko, Armada, and Realm, you guys were starting to get some recognition. What does this feel like as artists who have been working for years to get heard? Do you have any advice for upcoming DJs?
Dave: Thanks! To get any recognition is the best feeling in the world. You spend hours and weeks working on a track, questioning if it will be any good, will people like it? Then when people play it, it gets signed, release day… it's the best feeling ever!! Advice? Don't watch others. Focus on your musical journey. Don't be too precious with your music. Learn to deal with no's from record labels and the big one network, network, and network!
Do you have any software plug-ins or pieces of hardware you like to use regularly in the studio?
Scott: Our Ableton Push has been a game-changer in the studio. If you haven't got one, we highly recommend checking it out. It will increase your workflow by ten. Moog Minitaur, Serum, Diva, Fab Filter, and UAD are pretty much what we use.
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