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BeatsInterview: Sub Focus Has Pioneered A Sub Culture Of Electronic Music

Interview: Sub Focus Has Pioneered A Sub Culture Of Electronic Music

UK-based artist Sub Focus and the term “Drum & Bass” are two words that more often then not go together in a sentence. Real name Nicolaas Douwma, Sub Focus has been producing music for over two decades, mainly Drum & Bass.

A genre that is centered around community and connection, Sub Focus and his WORSHIP friends (Dimension, Culture Shock, and 1991) have continued to make waves in the United States over the last few years.

Performing at his first Ultra Miami Music Festival since 2018, Sub Focus has proved time and time again that consistent action and not giving up can reap great benefits.

From helping to pioneer an entire genre, to seeing his hard work take off in the United States and even touring with his best friends around the world, Sub Focus is the epitome of the Drum & Bass genre.

We sat down with Sub Focus before his Ultra set to discuss his journey over the years and how his work has impacted fans globally.

Tessa Paisan

EDM Maniac: You have been working on the Sub Focus project for over 20 years, how has Drum & Bass developed as a genre since you first started? How does it feel to help be a force behind the creation of a musical genre? 

Sub Focus: It’s changed a hell of a lot. Worldwide, it feels bigger than it’s ever been. There’s a big renaissance of the sound happening in the UK.

For example, Chase and Status just won the Brit award for best producers, which is the equivalent of our Grammys. It goes to show how it’s starting to really get mainstream recognition in the UK.

But, I think particularly now it’s really growing, especially out in the States. Stylistically, it’s changed a lot as well.

When I started getting into producing music I was inspired by people like Pendulum who came in just before me, who really raised the bar in terms of this sound quality in production.

I guess I was trying to emulate them when I started, and then, as I went on, I found my own style, and I think my style probably influences other people’s, and vice versa. But it feels amazing to be a part of that sort of musical development. And I’m very proud of the Drum & Bass scene. 

EDM Maniac: Could you take us through the process of working with/going on tour with Dimension and the rest of the WORSHIP team? (Culture Shock and 1991)

Sub Focus: Doing these tours with our group of like-minded friends is amazing. This is our third year of doing it [the tour]. We did it once, just before the pandemic in 2020, and then we resumed in 2023. Probably started out doing one thousand cap venues or sometimes even smaller.

On this most current tour, we’ve been doing 4,000+ cap venues, so it’s a big jump in terms of the amount of people coming out to the shows and it’s really cool to see.

I think we when we came out here we were very keen to do our own parties and we’ve had a lot more control over the way it’s presented.

We love to get the crowd on stage so that there’s people behind us vibing as well as people in front of us. And it’s just a really nice chemistry. We all are friends. We have the same manager, but we’re also friends.

Sam Neill

EDM Maniac: Anything special planned for your Ultra performance this weekend vs. your WORSHIP tour in Miami?

Sub Focus: I’m going to be playing lots of new music in my Ultra set. We’ve got some special guests that we haven’t announced just yet, but some of our friends who we’ve been either working with or closely associated with are coming down to play at the party.

It’s going to be really fun to be in town; there’s people like John Summit, who I’ve been working with recently.  It’s going to be super fun to be back at Ultra for the first time in in a while, and I’m excited to be back in Miami. It’s a crazy fun place to be, especially during this time.

EDM Maniac: One thing that makes drum and bass so special is the community that is brought together. What is your favorite memory (or memories) with fans and the Drum & Bass community as a whole?

Sub Focus: That’s hard to answer. Drum & Bass is always an underdog genre kind of thing. So what’s cool about it is it feels a bit like a sub culture that you secretly know about when you find somebody else who’s into it. It’s a part of a secret society or something.

A secret club that that not everybody knows about, because it’s a bit of an underground genre. It’s insane to connect with people instantly about this, across the world.

You’ll meet people here that have traveled to come to Belgium to see us play this big event from the US. It’s mad, because it gives you an instant connection with people. So we’re constantly meeting people in different places. It’s a real privilege to be a part of.

EDM Maniac: How do you balance going to shows every weekend worldwide and your overall physical and mental health?

Sub Focus: I mean, it definitely can be hard.  I’m always wary about complaining about any of this because I mostly feel very lucky to be doing this. But yeah, it definitely is a challenge on mental health and physical health.

I’ve actually recently been experimenting with being sober. Last summer, I did a few months where I didn’t drink at all. And I was doing that at the start this year as well, and that’s that’s been quite good because it’s never been a problem for me.

It’s something that’s just around, at events, a lot. I have a rider, which is just basically a whole pile of booze, which is nice, but it’s a bit dangerous if you’re predisposed to that kind of thing.

I think most producers probably struggle with their mental health at times, because you’re spending a lot of time on your own, and you’re in a very competitive field where lots of other people are vying for position with you, and you’re traveling a lot.

So you dabble off time to exercise. It’s definitely something to you got to really stay on top of. I think the DJs that do well are probably very health conscious.

I was reading a PDF from a dance music label and they were saying challenges for the years ahead and one of the challenges was is assuming that you have to be wasted to go clubbing.

It really it shouldn’t be like this. Tons of people message me about listening to my music when they exercise or other activities they are doing. It is balance to be struck, you know.

Tessa Paisan

EDM Maniac: What’s next on your radar?

Sub Focus: I’m coming out with a song with John Summit. We’re trying to do something that fuses both of our sounds. He was in the UK recently and he came to my studio and then we sort of hooked up again in one of the studios that he has.

I mentioned I have been working with Alison Wonderland and been in studio with NGHTMRE as well.

Last year I put out my fourth album, Evolve and now I’m getting ready to put out a batch of new music I’ve been teasing on my socials.

I’m getting approached by some really interesting people to work with, you know, singers and producers and stuff.

I’m excited about what I’ve got coming.

The post Interview: Sub Focus Has Pioneered A Sub Culture Of Electronic Music appeared first on EDM Maniac.


By: Maddie Whelan
Title: Interview: Sub Focus Has Pioneered A Sub Culture Of Electronic Music
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Published Date: Wed, 03 Apr 2024 22:58:36 +0000

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