DC10's brand of back-to-basics clubbing has been an ongoing source of inspiration for DJs and promoters this past decade, and so it was for Subb-an and Below. The party, founded alongside friends Adam Shelton and Lee McDonald in 2005, wore its relaxed, Sunday afternoon credentials on its sleeve, bringing the likes of Loco Dice, Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler and Sven Väth to the Rainbow pub in Birmingham. It proved to be a launch pad for Subb-an. The reputation he gained as Below's resident was further enhanced when he started making groove-heavy, club-tailored house for labels like Leftroom and Immigrant. In 2010, Below grew an unofficial label arm with the formation of One Records, a joint venture between Subb-an and Adam Shelton. Since then Subb-an has spread his wings a little more—Saved, Spectral, Culprit, 20:20 Vision and Crosstown Rebels have all played host—while his DJ bookings have increased exponentially, landing him among our top 100 DJs of 2012 at a very respectable #78.
His RA podcast, as he explains below, has been a year in the making, a 90-minute encompassment of all that is Subb-an.
What have you been up to recently?
I'm with my girl in the magical paradise of Tulum [Mexico]. For the last week we've been totally relaxing doing yoga, reiki and stargazing. This is a truly magical place, it's amazing the energy you can get from disconnecting from the world we know and connecting to the real world that we sometimes forget. On a music tip, I've been lucky enough to be traveling all over the world playing. Over the next few weeks I will be in New York, Puerto Rico, Lima, Toyko, London, Sydney and finally home to my studio in Berlin, which I'm also super excited about!
How and where was the mix recorded?
It's funny, I've actually been compiling tracks on and off for a Resident Advisor podcast for the past 12 months. I recorded the mix at home in Berlin, which took around a month, in between traveling, and I did four different podcasts. It took me a while to do it, as I wanted it to be perfect.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I really wanted the mix to portray what I'm into musically and what I play as an artist. Sometimes I find that many people have a perception of me as an artist so I wanted to take this as an opportunity to really show what I'm about. The main idea was to capture what I play in the club, but for the mix to still be audible in a non-club environment.
Do you feel like The Midlands is often overlooked in the overall narrative of UK dance music?
Sometimes you could say that, yes. However, there has been so much coming out of the Midlands, and it has been an important part of not only UK dance music but UK music as a whole. I always remember growing up listening to reggae and ska, my mum used to listen to all of that scene in which the Midland area has had a huge influence. Artists like the Specials and UB40 all came from the Midlands.
More recently, drawing back to dance music from the Midlands, it has been home to some hugely successful dance events. Miss Moneypennys, Godskitchen, Atomic Jam have all come from the area. I guess London and Manchester are more widely known within the UK, but the Midlands do know how to party, and for sure have some great parties. I used to be based above The Rainbow venues in Birmingham for several years and watched them go from strength to strength. I was lucky enough to see so many artists in my back garden. I remember seeing The Prodigy, Finley Quay, Joss Stone, Temper Trap, Loco Dice and Sven Väth in the space of six months.
Of course, I always return to Birmingham for my residency at Below with Adam Shelton, and having played so many places around the world, there is without a doubt no where I enjoy more than playing Below. It's the UK's best-kept secret, and I think Adam and Lee, who have been running the night for seven years now, made the right move to always leave it as a night in Birmingham, not making any websites or taking the night to other cities or festivals—this was a great move.
How would you personally describe the sound, or vibe, of the house music you, and camps like Crosstown Rebels, Visionquest and Hot Creations, are associated with?
That's a difficult question as all three labels are quite different in their own ways. I could describe the vibe easiest by saying that all three labels have their "crews" and that's what is important. Musically they are all different that's for sure. Crosstown from the start have always pushed different music and have always been versatile. The Visionquest guys have built a label on a very varied, and at times genre-defying, output. And Jamie has done a great job at reinventing his sound and his own brand, and bringing a crew of friends and artists together.
At One Records, me and Adam Shelton have always released what we like to play. We release club music mainly with a real quality, classic house sound, but with a modern edge, mainly from friends but also discovering new talent.
What are you up to next?
I am just finishing my EP for Visionquest. The release features two tracks and it's an exciting project for me. I have featured Footprintz on the track titled, "Rain," and on the other track I collaborated with Tom Trago and Seth Troxler to make a dance floor track called "Time," which I have included on this mix—it's the second to last track. Other than that, I'm halfway through my album so I'm looking forward to getting home to crack on with this.