Maybe it’s a problem of location. What UK/EU promoter is going to fly out three guys from Australia when a bigger, nearer name will draw more people and cost less money? “If you live in the UK or Europe,” explains Danny, “You’re only two to four hours away from thirty-three countries that you can tour in.” If you base yourself in Melbourne, it seems that simply producing music just doesn’t pay the mortgage. Danny supplements his income teaching music production courses and doing part-time AV tech stuff, while Mike reproduces and designs pinball machines. Only Jase manages to work full-time on his choonage. “Unless you have a top ten hit in this country, a decent publishing deal, tour constantly, sell a decent amount of merchandising or do commercial work it is very, very hard to maintain a regular income,” he explains. “Believe me!”
Yet Australia has its advantages. There’s no shortage of local clubs to keep breaks DJs busy on the weekend and fed during the week, and annual outdoor affairs like Fuzzy and Field Day program breaks centre stage. Melbourne is home to arguably the world’s most forward-thinking breaks bunch, with guys like Luke Chable and Phil K, along with NuBreed, all getting overseas attention for their meticulous production and complicated mixing. “I think we use [our location] to our advantage,” says Jase. “Everyone helps each other out using new programs or if someone needs sounds everyone shares the knowledge. It goes beyond making music in a lot of cases as a lot of people are friends.”
But there’s a downside to isolation. Oz is notoriously incestuous when it comes to breaks – in essence it’s a tight-knit, exclusive group of guys collaborating, remixing, and dropping each other’s tracks in their sets. But when your critics are your friends, you can live in a bubble, and inbreeding is a well-known cause of family members looking alike. While compilations by Chable and K have always showcased tracks from the Antipodes (Andy Page, Dan Mangan, and Vance Musgrove to name a few), the sound is more often chin-stroking than booty-shaking, indicative of long hours in the studio as opposed to the club. The upside is that separately and collaboratively, the Melbourne massive have forged a sound that is rich, unique and instantly distinguishable from its UK/EU counterpart. But is the world listening?
NuBreed’s change-up from breaks to electrohouse on ‘Electric 02’ could make all the difference. From London to Ibiza, 2006 has been a watershed year in dance for genre blending, sound blurring, and boundary breaking, so they can hardly be blamed for jumping on the shit-hot electrohouse wagon. “Over the years, we’ve put a lot of effort into albums and releases which barely see a return compared to the amount of hours that go into our songs,” explains Jase. “Every artist wants their music to be heard by as many people as possible, and we all produce different types of music, so putting all our eggs on top of the breaks basket would be a waste. Cred and rave reviews don’t pay the mortgage, bills, bills, bills or support future kids!”
Nu-skool breaks, electrohouse, etcetera – whatever’s spinning on NuBreed’s plates, the fact remains that they’re a trio. Three heads are better than one when it comes to laying down a production, but they’re bound to butt together behind the decks. Even King Unique, who provided the second disc of ‘Electric 02’, are touring separately despite being a duo. Left to their own devices, each of NuBreed’s members has a different definition of a dancefloor deadly: Danny’s likely to whip out next-level 4/4 stompers, whereas Mike and Jase are apt to dust off old-school hip-hop joints. “We all have different tastes in what we would play as DJs,” says Jase, “You’d be hard pressed to find a DJ that isn’t drawing on other forms of music like electro and house because there isn’t enough breaks out there unless you are playing you're whole back catalogue.”
NuBreed are also their own management, splitting marketing and promotional responsibilities three ways. So without a recent opportunity to tour together, Danny has been designated as solo international ambassador of promotion for ‘Electric 02’ (he recently dropped a mix on Digweed’s ‘Transitions’ radio show). But is it enough to break the big sales and sold-out shows? If they packed up and moved shop to Europe like Phil K and Luke Chable did, NuBreed could find a bigger audience, and pick up a few new ideas outside of Melbourne along the way. But they’re reluctant to leave. “Unless we move there, which I doubt will happen as we love this country so much, I guess we won’t be as big,” says Danny with a shrug. Is Nubreed’s pride – for their country, for the Melbourne breaks scene, for the group’s sound – getting in the way of their success?
It’s survival of the fittest in the dance world, and the winners are the DJs who can pull new tricks from their vinyl sleeves night after night. Dance seems to be travelling in a tougher direction, with minimal turning maximal and breaks pulling rap, ghettotech and booty bass wax out of its crate. For the moment NuBreed have placed their chips on nu-skool breaks and electrohouse, but if that proves to be a flash in the pan, will their next effort be a Darwinian leap into uncharted territory? Do they have a plan B? “Mongolian grindcore with a touch of piano accordion,” Mike laughs.