The Bristol producer explores a range of tempos and textures.
Pinch is among a core of dubstep figureheads who have helped define the very meaning of the term. From his Bristol base the producer, real name Rob Ellis, has headed up the highly respected Tectonic label and Subloaded parties since the mid-'00s, releasing groundbreaking bass weight from Loefah, Skream and 2562, while engraining dubstep in the psyche of the city's club goers. In terms of his own productions, Ellis has often played away from home—Planet Mu, Soul Jazz, Punch Drunk and Swamp 81 have all welcomed his deeply meditative music down the years—while tracks like "Midnight Oil" and "Qawwali" could rightly be termed as classics. Ellis' deep-seated appreciation of dub's origins was formalized late last year as he enlisted pioneering producer and engineer Scientist to rework a collection of new music from some of dubstep's biggest players.
House, techno and a bit of Brian Eno inform the first half of Ellis' mix, before the screw is turned and the tempo raised for a rousing and bass-heavy finale.
What have you been up to recently?
Aside for the usual fare of running the labels and gigging on weekends, I've been busy with a bunch of collaborative production projects. Out soon is a 12-inch on Tectonic featuring one by myself and Loefah (my knackered dubplate crackling away in the mix here!), on the flip will be one I've done with UK funky producer Roska (though the track we made together is at the 140 BPM tempo of dubstep rather than funky). I also have an ongoing project with Distance under the alias of Deleted Scenes—expect to see some more 12-inches this year finally(!) and I've also been working a lot with Shackleton, working on a project that hopefully we'll finish up this year and will see light of day as an album of sorts. I'm also hoping to get stuck into a full length LP this year of my own to follow up on 2007s Underwater Dancehall. Also gearing up for a full weekend at BLOC; once again I'm pleased to say that Subloaded is hosting a room there on the Friday, with a totally killer lineup to boot!
How and where was the mix recorded?
I used two turntables and a cheap two channel Gemini mixer—basic ingredients—and I played all vinyl or acetate as I usually do. I then put the mix into Logic and laid down some subtle atmospherics and short film samples to add to the texture of it. It's generally quite subtle but you can pick out bits and pieces easily if you're listening for it.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the idea behind the mix?
I guess I took the opportunity to do something a little different here than people may expect of me—I usually have stuck to the dubstep tempo (around 140 BPM) in the past, however, I wanted to play a mix of tracks I'm mostly feeling at the moment so the first half is at the slower tempo of around 128 BPM and the latter half at around 140 BPM. I wanted to give the mix a bit of a journey vibe rather than a straight up dancefloor selection. I decided to layer some additional samples to give the mix a bit more a unique 'Pinch' flavour (i.e. dark with lots of strange reverb!). Some of the mixing isn't exactly perfect but I like the idea that these imperfections give it a bit of 'life'—something I personally find a little lacking when DJs seamlessly mix with CDs/Ableton or whatever. [But it's] just a personal preference really.
How did the hook-up with Scientist come about for the compilation?
I got his phone number from George who co-runs the BLOC festival, late 2009, called him up at his home in California and just took it from there really! He's been great to work with and over the course of 2010 I got to know him fairly well just from regular long phone calls and later in the year a two week tour in support of the release. He might come across a serious guy but he's got a really good sense of humour about him too!
Do you feel like there's been an under appreciation of dub in the narrative of modern dance music?
Yes and no. I think if pushed any half-decent electronic producer will happily give a nod to the golden era of dub music and will concur that it's had a huge influence on dance and electronic music. In terms of the space dub creates—use of reverb and delay/FX to create soundscape spaces as part of a subtractive process rather than an additive one—along with a general mindset of the originators of the sound, who favoured experimentation and progression over "playing it safe"—no one can really deny that dub flipped the script completely. Overnight it turned a mixing desk into an instrument and that helped massively to break away from the tried and tested 'band' format of music making and open up a path for manipulating sound itself as a means of creating music.
On the other hand, we don't have any commercial representation for this music. Not even BBC1Xtra has a dub show—there's absolutely nothing on commercial radio dedicated to support this end of reggae music. Dub is real underground music. It's had a huge influence yet gets little overt recognition or support and despite this there are still dances every weekend in the UK and across Europe in particular, there are pirate radio shows—people working hard to keep the music alive for no real profit of their own—some 35-40 years after its initial impact on the world. Do your bit: go buy a 7-inch from your local record shop today, check out a dance if you see a flyer for a soundsystem night—it's the original immersion music!
What are you up to next?
Cup of tea and watch the news. Might have a biscuit too...