CP Interview: Dubfire

CP Interview: Dubfire

by Michael Maryanoff
03.11.2009

If you were to introduce someone to Ali Dubfire’s remix of Radio Slave’s Grindhouse Tool, they would probably have a hard time imagining that the remixer also posses the ability to cultivate enough mass appeal to earn themselves a Grammy, an award usually adorning the mantles of Britney Spears and Shakira.  But if they knew enough about Ali Dubfire, they wouldn’t be very surprised.  Alongside fellow DJ and producer Sharam, Dubfire gained international dance music stardom as one half of Deep Dish.  They have since parted ways, and Dubfire has since amassed a unique body of work loved by house heads and techno mavens alike, remixing everyone from Plastikman to 
Axwell.

Still not content, he also founded the label SCI+TEC which he is not only using as a launching point for his own selection of productions, but also as a way to introduce dance music fan’s to up and coming talent.  While there are a lot of DJs who will tout a holy-as-thou attitude, Dubfire is putting his money where is mouth is and actually giving any DJ with the ability to record a mix a shot at 
opening for him this WMC.

Clubplanet: So I've been told that one of your goals with SCI+TEC is to nurture new talent around the world. What is important about nurturing new talent?

Dubfire: Well, simply put, it's giving back to the community that gave me a shot when I first started out. I'm in a position to help others who are trying to get their foot in the door; similar to the artists in the early 90's who helped Sharam and I. It's a very satisfying and fulfilling feeling to playing a hand in realizing someone else's dreams.

Clubplanet: A lot of times when you see contests with record labels it involves VIP access or some music, but why such a massive prize, the opportunity to open for you?

Dubfire: (laughs) I don't look at it as being a prize. It's an opportunity for the winner to showcase his/her talents or simply give them the confidence to pursue a professional career in electronic music. But it's up to them to really impress everyone!

Clubplanet: Dance music has long been filled with jovial, optimistic lyrics. House still sticks to this formula, but techno can occasionally get a bit dark. You have some somewhat dark tracks such as your remix of Grindhouse and Spacebird. Do you think it's good to get a bit dark when you party?

Dubfire: I don't look at things as 'dark' or 'light.' There are many shades to life and music and I tend to just go with whatever is appropriate for the track. Oftentimes, my mood at the time influences the music. It's purely organic and not as regimented as one might think.

Clubplanet: You have some songs, such as your remixes of transit time and Jamaica, that are quite lengthy and complex, which stray from the typical structure of a dance song. At a little under 15 minutes that's about a quarter of the length of some sets we'll be hearing at WMC. Why do you choose to construct songs like this? Is it a protest to the instant gratification of the 16 bar breakdown or is it less deliberate?

Dubfire: Well, sometimes, I see things in chapters or parts. It's simple to just knock out some drum patterns with elements of the original track spread over top and slap your name on it. But that to me is laziness. It's a lot more fun to shake things up a bit and do the unexpected. There are no rules to doing a remix - anything goes. And each remix presents it's own challenges and creative opportunities. For instance, with both 'Jamaica' and 'Transit Time, I tried to first pay my respects to the original work and then go off on my own tangent. It's also fun for me, as well as other DJs, to drop a track that will just mutate and evolve into something completely different as it progresses.

Clubplanet: I don't think many people would call you a typical or conventional DJ and producer, but you have enjoyed a large degree of commercial success. How do you strike a balance between commercial appeal and a unique approach to music?

Dubfire: I'm still trying to figure that out! (laughs) I dunno. I just try to make music that stands out and will remain somehow timeless. That means that it may take me more time or make me more frustrated in the studio but that is the path I have chosen to take. And I guess that it has resonated with more people as a result. I couldn't answer that question. I just try to satisfy my own creative vision without regard to commercial recognition or accolades. But who doesn't want as many people as possible to appreciate their music?!

Clubplanet: Who outside of dance music has influenced you the most?

Dubfire: Well the work ethic I have is all attributable to my parents. And being that I love the film medium, I tend to be influenced heavily by not only what's in the frame but the painstaking and sometimes thankless work that goes into the back end. Film and music to me are interchangeable and limitless in their beauty and ability to evoke emotion.

Clubplanet: Last time I saw you I saw that you were using Traktor. How does this help with your live sets?

Dubfire: It's revolutionized the way I play music. Of course I miss the visual aspect of vinyl art when DJing but with Traktor, I have limitless creative possibilities. These days everyone has access to the same music so how you play, in my case using 4 decks internal to tear apart a song or build it back up, or even create a new song out of 4 loops, is key to making my sets unique to others. Traktor has no equal, in my opinion, in it's sheer flexibility and power; It's the standard by which other apps are measured.

Clubplanet: Your productions always cause quite a stir. What do you have coming up, and how will they differ from your previous productions?

Dubfire: It's complete torture for me in the studio these days, trying to not repeat myself and come up with new ideas. But it's also challenging and fun. I've done a remix for Paul Ritch where I took his 'Split' and 'Walk The Line' trax and combined them to make a sort of 'megaremix.' I've got loads of originals in various stages of completion as well as the next installment of my on-going collaboration with Oliver Huntemann called 'Fuego', which I'm really excited about. As always I'll be plugging these and more beginning with the WMC in Miami.

Clubplanet: What are you currently up to, and when and where can we see you when you come back to Miami?

Dubfire: I've been working on a visual setup incorporating LED technology which we'll be debuting a scaled down version of at the SCI + TEC party in Miami during the conference that I'm excited about. And as far as Miami goes, I had an amazing gig at Mansion last month so I'm looking forward to the next one there on the 4th of July.

For more info on Dubfire, click here.

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