East End Dubs: Finding balance
Despite being one of the leading artists in the deeper shades of the house music scene, the story behind artist East End Dubs is one that remains a mystery. The biography section of both his Facebook and RA profiles remains blank and there are very few interviews online. When Trommel was offered the chance to meet up with East End Dubs in his home studio, we jumped at the chance of meeting one of our favourite artists and discovering a little bit more about the man behind records like Swing Riddim, Space Cadet and most recently, Enhance on FUSE sub-label Infuse. Trommel writer Andrew Leese headed to East End Dub’s studio thirty minutes outside of London to talk DJing, production and everything in between.
East End Dubs’ home studio is split into two halves. One end is for East End Dubs, the DJ; the other is for East End Dubs, the producer. The first thing you see as you walk in are stacks of vinyl on the floor, leaning against white cabinets filled with yet more and more vinyl sleeves. To the left of the door are two Pioneer technics and a CDJ mixer. To your right is a number of different pieces of kit, an Apple Mac and a number of flashy keyboards that must be worth a bob or two.
I’m immediately attracted to the Roland Juno 106. Anybody who knows anything about the production of deep house will know that this is a classic piece of kit. On the other side of the room, there’s a modular synth on the floor and a smart looking MOOG. I’ve never considered myself much of a tech-geek but right now; I’m in my element.
A lot of music heads who are familiar with East End Dubs will think of him more of a producer than a DJ, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. “Everything in this studio is designed for me to be a better DJ. You may see photos of my studio and think of me as a producer but it’s all in the name of art. DJing is an art. Making music is an art. At the end of the day, I’m an artist”.
Chase moved to London over two decades ago. On the day we meet, he’s dressed in a standard grey hoodie with a black snapback, blue jeans and plain white trainers. If you didn’t know him personally, you would think he was a British artist but the faint twang of his accent is audible when he talks. It’s clear that his experiences of London have made him into the man he is today. The more time I spend with him, the more I realise this is an artist who is very comfortable with his current life in and out of the studio. Chase is not the first DJ to move out of the city for a quieter life with his family and he won’t be the last.
One of the biggest challenges to being a successful artist is ‘finding your sound’. For many, it will take years of experimenting in the studio and releases under a number of different aliases to find something that truly fits. This is true for Chase and his alias East End Dubs.“One of my biggest challenges was to come up with a sound I will enjoy playing and producing. I have achieved this after spending tens of thousands of sleepless nights in my studio. I’m still improving my sound. This challenge will never end.”
Before the East End Dubs and Eastenderz labels were made, Chase was a resident at two of London’s biggest clubs, The Cross and Turnmills. When he realised he wasn’t playing the music he wanted to be, he made the brave decision to leave and try something new. This was a ballsy move but it’s one that’s paid off.
The East End Dubs project was born five years ago through a conversation with a friend. “I was making this dubby house music with no real name attached to it. When playing it to a friend we got talking and he said ‘what about East End Dubs?’. I told him to stop right there. Everything just clicked into place,”.
If you have followed the two record labels since the beginning, you will have noticed that most of the releases come from a small family of producers. He doesn’t accept demos and only sends the music to a select few despite getting hundreds of message requests each day. “There are about 50 artists that I send my music to when the record is ready to be released. I want my tracks to be played in clubs by DJ’s around the world, not listened to by people on their Apple headphones.”
The conversation then moves on to social media and the way East End Dubs presents himself and his record labels online. “I do believe social media is very important these days. It’s almost impossible to avoid it but I prefer not spending any valuable time on it. I prefer to put my mind and soul into music.”
The approach seems to be working. Right now, East End Dubs as an artist and his two labels are flying high on the Juno charts. His long-awaited debut release on FUSE sub-label Infuse has been in the Top 10 Best Sellers in the Minimal-Tech charts for over two weeks, alongside Cosmjn’s release on Eastenderz. Up next is his latest release ‘Hope’. The two-track EP is scheduled for release in early January and has been a regular fixture in both his and Enzo Siragusa’s sets throughout the Ibiza season.
With Chase getting so many requests for tracks, it brings us to one of the things that really grinds on me as a music fan. As a social media manager and journalist, I feel the ‘Track ID’ culture online has gone way too far. I find it frustrating that people don’t want to dig for music anymore despite finding a track that you’ve been after for months being one of the most satisfying feelings there is. Now, as soon people see a video clip online, they instantly want to know what it is and seem to forget that not all music is made to be released. Unnamed tracks seem to be another emerging trend in the vinyl surge. Releases on labels like Hostom are becoming collector’s items due to the mystique and unknown identity behind them.
This brings us to another East End Dubs project that is receiving a lot of hype. Chase has been working on a project called ‘Social’ for a while now, receiving support from the likes of Raresh and Barac from the beginning. “I’ve been getting requests for these tracks and next year is finally the time to release them. It’s one release of 30 unnamed tracks on multiple pieces of vinyl. It’s kind of like 3 mini-albums without the pressure of a title and a concept.”
With offers coming in from the more commercial side of house music, Chase knows it’s just as important to say “no” as it is to say “yes”. The music he is producing is turning heads with the offers and requests coming in from all corners of the industry. It’s evident that East End Dubs as a product will not compromise from its beliefs anytime soon.
East End Dubs plays FUSE London Daytime at Village Underground w/ tINI, Enzo Siragusa and Rich NxT on New Years Day.