17 February 2005


One of the people who really took issue with my sharing full-length MP3s was Pinch, a Bristol-based DJ who's been spinning dubstep in my hometown for some time now. But after the initial hostility, we seem to have come to a mutual understanding of each other's position and it's actually led to some stimulating discourse between us! The more I got to 'know' him, the more apparent it became that Pinch is one of the pivotal figures in Bristol's burgeoning dubstep scene, having been one of the first to introduce the sound to audiences here, and continuing to organise and promote events in this city. What follows is an edited summary of our discussions...

How long have you been DJing?

For about 4/5 years now. I started djing Drum & Bass at odd nights around Bristol and at a monthly night in Newport, where I was brought up - I moved to Bristol 7 years ago.

That's interesting, cos a lot of Grime and Dubstep artists seem to have come out of the d&b scene. Why did you move away from d&B?

I started getting bored with it as productions predominantly moved in the direction of Jump Up. I found myself getting more and more interested in minimal electronica and dubbed out techno (all Basic Channel lines).

So how did you make the transition to dubstep?

I was already interested in Garage music and had bought the odd release - bits by Zed Bias and MJ Cole and later some Grime slates - but never got too involved with it due to a lack of any coherent scene for Garage in Bristol, and a wallet already straining as a result of buying jungle/d&b. I discovered the dubstep sound at one of London's legendary Forward nights, which I went to with some friends, including Jamie from Vex'd. I was instantly hooked on it - hypnotised by the sound that took elements of all my main musical interests: drum and bass, garage, dubbed-out techno - even hip hop and electronica to an extent.

And this inspired you to start spinning dubstep in Bristol? When did all that start?

I started doing nights around the start of last year - called Context. The idea was to introduce new people to the sound who I thought would like it. The evening would start with electronica and dub, move into dubstep and sometimes breaks/broken beat, ending in dubwise d&b -
hoping to draw other heads to the new sound. After a few parties the dubstep took up more and more of the night and people seemed to be getting into it (I've hosted Loefah, Cyrus/Random Trio, Vex'd, Search&Destroy, Distance, Slaughter Mob at Context). I also started bringing some of the records up from London to my friend Tom at Rooted Records - Hotflush and DMZ plates, collected from the boot of a car at trips to FWD>>.

By this point I had hooked-up with Blazey - a local Grime DJ (he also played at Context) and we decided to combine forces and host a one-off night called 'Subloaded' - held at the Thekla: starting the evening off with dubstep and then getting progressively grimier throughout the night (we had Kode9, Geeneus, Plasticman, Vex'd, Eastwood and The Renegade Boys alongside me and Blazey), which was an absolute success - that night went off!

After a few more Context parties (the end of last year) the club decided it was too dark a music to have on a Saturday night - they wanted Trance on Saturdays - and I wasn't going near anything like that.

You certainly seem to be building-up some healthy support for dubstep here, anyway. So where will you be playing in 2005?

There will be more dubstep wherever I can get it played. There's a one-off event at the Croft on March 10th (Thursday) with Loefah and Skream (only £1/2 on the door) and Context also hosts the basement floor at Drive By (Level Club) every month. There will be a big dubstep all-nighter I am involved with on April 15th at the Black Swan (with Punksi - promoter for Toxic Dancehall - who also hosted Vex'd last year) - more details to follow - trust me tho - it will be massive.

Any other places or DJs promoting dubstep in Bristol?

There are no other nights dedicated to dubstep but there a few other people who have taken interest and will play an odd slot - usually in a room 2 situation - such as a guy called Triac. There's also a number breaks heads who have got into it and will play some dubstep/grime in their breaks sets - like October who also makes some dubstep style beats.

I heard a great mix by ThinKing over at Drumz Of The South. You know him?

ThinKing is someone I would go to FWD>> with - he's been into the sound for a while now, and likes to play it alongside broken beat and breaks.

Have you tried producing any of your own tunes?

Me and 30Hz (who calls himself P. Dutty for dubstep production) got in the studio and banged out some beats - taking form in a techy variation of dubstep (mainly since 30Hz is a techy breaks producer), and I have a few bits on the go that i've done myself (getting play from Kode9, Loefah and Cyrus).

I definitely get the impression that dubstep is taking a firm hold here in Bristol. Would you say that audiences here have a natural affinity for it?

I knew straight away that this was a sound that would fit perfectly in Bristol - there is a lot of tension in the music that carries a satisfactory darkness with it, but its also lazy music. You
don't have to dance hard to move with it - it was born with a reefer in its gob! Lots of the d&b heads here are listening up - MC Jakes loves it - and TC and Amo too.

What about the Grimier sound? Do you still want to push that style too?

I have been playing back-to-back a lot with Blazey and really getting into dubstep 'vs' grime as a sound itself - it keeps the energy of grime and adds the depth that dubstep has. I hope to pursue this further in 2005.

I know that there are people all over the world getting excited about this music, so I can't help wondering why labels like Tempa, DMZ etc don't get their stuff available on the net. There's several legal sites supporting underground stuff, so surely it would make sense to have that extra outlet for exposure and income? I know a lot of overseas listeners would be more inclined to buy the music if downloads were available, and there's so many DJs out there working with virtual turntables now. Is there a conscious decision by the dubsteppers to just stick to vinyl, I wonder?

I think the reason that most labels in dubstep don't have online sales is two-fold. Some artists like Digital Mystikz, Loefah and Random Trio are very much vinyl lovers. They never play from CD - only record/dubplate - mainly because they believe the vinyl sounds better than CDs. Sounds crazy but I also believe there is something that comes from being able to touch vinyl as it plays (unlike with CDs) that gives music an additional edge - the dj is in touch with the sound directly (corny - I know!).

The other reason is that I don't know if label owners are generally geared towards thinking about an international market or money making. Most dubstep records are put out for the love of the sound: A lot of releases only generally sell around 300-400 copies. But you're right - online sales would help provide that little bit of breathing space, financially.

Finally, how would you sum-up the appeal of dubstep for all the non-believers out there?

As a sound dubstep will appeal to jungle heads, hip hop heads, garage heads, grime heads, electronica heads - everyone with open ears. Much in the way that hardcore had a bit of everything in it - so does this (if in an entirely different way). I love it with a passion that I
haven't felt for years.
Pinch was also kind enough to send a me mix on cd-r. Recorded at home last November and originally intended as a primer for some friends of his who were curious to hear this music, it almost runs like a dubstep 'greatest hits', showcasing some of the darkest, dreadest sounds of the past few months, several of which have been featured favourites here at Gutterbreakz. Pinch takes it at a suitably slow, ponderous pace, allowing each track time to breath, develop and work it's voodoo magic on the listener's psyche. Consequently this is a BIG file - 47 mins, ripped at 192kbps, resulting in a whopping 65.2mb of sound. Best of luck to all who want to download - I hope my temperamental server can handle it!

MP3: DJ Pinch - Pinchmix 11/04


Digital Mystikz - Awake (Rephlex)
Kode 9 - Swarm (Rephlex)
Random Trio/Cyrus - Indian Stomp (Dub)
Kode 9 & Daddi Gee - Spit (vox) (Hyperdub)
Benga - Walking Bass (Big Apple)
Digital Mystikz - Mawo Dub (Big Apple)
Mark One - Blow (Planet Mu)
Vex'd - Pop Pop (Subtext)
Digital Mystikz - Lost City (DMZ)
Loefah - Truly Dread (Tempa)
Kode 9 & Daddi Gee - Stalker (Hyperdub)
Plasticman - Shallow Grave (Terrorhythm)
Distance - 3rd Wish (Hotflush)
Digital Mystikz - Twis Up - Youngsta & Task Remix (DMZ)
Loefah - Horror Show (DMZ)

Pinch is also promising to send me more mixes in future, with 'lot's of fresh beats' and possibly Plasticman's 'Subloaded' set. Watch this space!