Just Be chats to Dubzy about making music, new releases and playing Space Ibiza and DC10
Dubzy: This is Dubzy every week here on unity radio, we speak to leading artists on the dance music scene for our real sound of the city feature and today I’m joined by a true legend in the scene known by a few names. First of Matthew B, secondly Bushwaka and more recently Just Be. How’re you doing mate?
Just Be: I’m doing just great thanks, how you doing?
Dubzy: Ah, I’m good I’m good. Just before we chat about what you’ve got going on currently, can we touch on your past, just touch on it as I know there’s a lot to cover.
Just Be: Absolutely
Dubzy: Brilliant, so how did you get started out originally?
Just Be: Well, actually I was 14 years old in 1986 and I went to a non alcoholic disco for under 16s in the basement of a church and the DJ that was playing was my old partner in crime from middle school till I was the age of 11, and we hadn’t seen each other since middle school days. We’d been separated at school because we got into trouble, and I reconnected with this guy and absolutely was loving what he was up to, and the next day I went round to his house and had a go on his decks and the rest is history really, I got really into it. I was actually a bit into it before that but I’d never tried mixing two records together and I tried to teach myself to scratch with a load of old electro records in my dad’s garage, with one of those suitcase record players that opened with a speaker on top, and I tried to mix things together by recording tape of another tape onto another tape, and I think it was kind of in my blood to get into the Djing stuff, and then producing. I was classically trained as a percussionist and I was in the London school symphony orchestra and kind of tinkering around on the piano, on the drums long before that. So that was how I got into Djing and the music production. The acid house thing, I was in the right place at the right time and I left school in the summer of 88 and got a job in a disco center and was hiring out sound and lights to people putting on warehouse parties and I got invited down and yeah, life changing experience.
Dubzy: How did you find it when your first release came about?
Just Be: My first release was in 1990 on a label called desire that double trouble were on, and it was done with an old friend of mine that used to run my labels for me actually and we put a track out called A Rhythm To Make You and we went in the studio for the first time and it was all a big experiment, and it did alright but it wasn’t something that I’d pull out now and be like ah wow check this out but it was a starting point. But I think the early days of putting music out I found kind of petrifying actually until later on a few years down the line and I’d had a few things out and started to be a little bit more confident, hearing my music about and playing it out, cos I’d always be comparing the sound to other people’s tracks, what was going on out there, not the actual music itself but the sound of the production.
Dubzy: Of course. So how would you describe your style and its progression over the years, because you have seen quite a few years of house music I must say?
Just Be: I mean I’m at a point now where I kind of have become a little cynical so there’s lots of great music out there and it rocks and there’s also lots of average music out there that does the job, but for me I feel like I’ve heard a lot of things before and that have repeated themselves more than several times now, in the big scheme of things a lot of the time I think the music is the same with a few little things changed around. But I think that’s a natural thing because I’ve been doing it for a long time. What I’m up to at the moment, I’ve spent a few months experimenting with soundscapes and a bit more futuristic ambient electronica and kind of messing around in the film area of music and really enjoyed that and I wrote a lot of stuff that was either beat less or a lot of beats and I’m going to be going back to that in the winter but now I’m back in electronic dance music mode and I don’t know how I’d describe my sound. For me I just want to write in that kind of genre, say if its electronic dance music I just want to write music that works on the dance floor and makes people dance, that’s my only prerequisite, there is no other reason for me to make that music other than to make people wanna dance. I mean, its just such a kind of massive ocean of tracks out there, I’m not trying to change the world with my dance music.
Dubzy: When you’re making these tracks, do you have different places in mind? Like this would work at DC10 or this would work at Space, you know different kind of venues like that or do you just go with what you feel?
Just Be: I don’t know, I do, you know up until very recently I was definitely on that vibe, I wrote a track called the magic rock which came out on Seth Troxler ‘s label and the magic rock was referring to Ibiza, but I wrote that track specifically with a mad memory I’d had of being on and off the decks at DC10 in the vibe of that track for that peak moment where DC10 used to be a day time club and it was just sort of starting to get dark and everyone had been in there all day and a bit weird. And that’s what it was aimed at, and I gave the track to Seth just before the closing, a couple of years ago, and he played it and loved it and ended up putting it out. And then there’s been other things that I’ve written with specific DJ’s in mind or specific club nights or moments in mind and I’ve enjoyed doing that but right now I’m very open with it, I just want to mainly move around, so that’s where I’m at.
Dubzy: So let’s talk about Ibiza now, you mentioned some tracks are designed for out there, you’ve been playing out there a lot this season, you are holding down a residency for dance 88/89.
Just Be: Yeah, I’ve been playing every Wednesday at Sankeys in the lab for dance 8889, which has actually been really good fun. The most surprising thing of all for me, for that night is the young people that have come down to check it out. I thought it would all be people around my age and a bit older because to be honest when I started going out and DJing I was 16, 17 years old and most people were 5-10 years older than me at that point. So I was expecting the club to kind of be full of 50 year olds and it has been, and its been full of 20 year olds, its been great. People have been pulling out tunes that I haven’t heard ever or for a very long time and its been really good to get to hang out with my DJ peers and mentors that I’ve grown up with, so that’s been a great night, I’m sort of clucking to play modern music on that sound system cos the sound system’s so good in there as well. But what is really nice is that it stands out from everything else because its just doing its own thing, it’s a niche night you know
Dubzy: So are people, the DJs, they’ve been proper crate digging, its not just been the same old tracks you hear everywhere?
Just Be: No, there’s been sort of the bigger tunes from back in the day that I haven’t really heard over the summer either, you know, its been a little interesting actually. Mr C is always pulling out amazing acid house and Eddie Richards, you know Frankie valentine came over and pulled out music that I’ve never heard before, half of it, and we used to live together back in the day then. And, Graham Park smashed it every week, every time he plays. It’s been really good to get to know him; he’s a legend you know.
Dubzy: What do you think of the venue you mentioned; you’re keen of the sound system?
Just Be: Yeah, I mean the venue’s fantastic, I haven’t actually been into the basement this summer cos I’ve only gone on Wednesday’s and we’ve just been doing the labs and the roof terrace. They’ve got this great pioneer digital sound system in there that just sounds fantastic on the dance floor and the room’s really nice, it kind of reminds me of an old Hacienda heaven type venue the way they’ve got it done out. So yeah it’s a pleasure to play there.
Dubzy: Brilliant stuff, and another place you’ve been playing this season, Carl Cox, I mean you must have been able to get away with some more modern stuff there right?
Just Be: Yeah 100%, Carl’s one of my closest friends in the DJ community and has been since the beginning of the rave scene, and I’ve played at his party for the last 8 or 9 years, every year now, I was going to it since year one when they first started their residency in Ibiza but I used to play a lot more on the Sundays. It’s been amazing, I went to check out loca dice and N Cole and for me I think it’s the most fun and one of the most energetic and best parties on the island. I was privileged enough to play there a couple of weeks ago, I played on the terrace before fat boy slim. Yeah its just fantastic, its rocking and Carl smashes it every week, he’s relentless, he’s a machine you know, but he’s such a lovely guy, its so nice to be friends with him and to play together.
Dubzy: 100%. How do you feel about the venue closing and how is the atmosphere in the club as well, can you sense it?
Just Be: I’m one of these people that believe that its good to stop things when they’re on a high and nothing is forever. I’m not against the fact that its closing, its still gonna be a club when it gets taken over, I’ve no idea what their plans are, what they’re gonna call it, what they’re gonna do to it, or how they’re going to remodel it. But its still going to be a dance floor venue. I’m not emotionally attached to it, not enough like I was with the End, when the End closed cos that was my partner’s club and we did it every month for 14 years and that was our collective, our crew, our home base. But I will have a hell of a lot of memories hitting me when I come and do the closing on the 2nd of October which is gonna be amazing and Carl’s closing on the 20th September, which will be ridiculous as well. I’ve had some of the best sets of my life at Space so I will be sorry to see it gone but I know when one door closes another door opens. I’m interested to see what comes next in Ibiza.
Dubzy: I think we all are, its gonna be a big gap to fill
Just Be: Sure
Dubzy: So what else is there lined up for you in Ibiza this season?
Just Be: Well I’ve been doing my own party every month at Pikes, once a month on a Friday called Planet of the Brakes, which is kind of a labour of love and a guilty pleasure, it’s a free party that I do playing kind of old school hip hop, electro, funk, go go, rare groove and then break beat which of course I used to do a lot of years ago and don’t ever get to play that stuff anymore and its been a really fun party night. Kind of a different crowd, different sound, and that’s been a really exciting thing for me to do over the summer cos its just out there, its not competing with anything else, I just like doing something that we really love to do and I’ve become really excited about that. That’s kind of it really apart from Carl Cox and Sankeys every week but that adds up to a lot of gigs.
Dubzy: Yeah, defo I was gonna say that’s still a lot going on
Just Be: There’s a few private things here and there, but that’s enough for me
Dubzy: Great stuff. So, moving on, what can we expect from the next few months release wise?
Just Be: I’ve just finished a new EP for rebellion, part of cross town rebels called dip your finger which I’ve done with the fantastic Jessie Monroe who’s sung with me before on projects including my last cross town rebels release and lamb bushtracker albums, and that’s coming out mid September. I’ve just done a release with chaos for Kerri chandler which is called snakes in the bed, I’m doing a remix for Viva warriors and I’m actually gonna be working on quite a lot more music with my amazing singer Jessie to release in the next 12 months. And I’m putting the finishing touches to a couple of remixes which I might not be supposed to talk about, but one of them is for Fat Boy Slim and the other for Afrika Bambaataa. I won’t say the name of the tracks but they’re kind of big projects with my release schedule at the moment. On top of that, I’m actually finally releasing digitally my entire back catalogue for my labels oblong and plank which should be ready to launch in the next month or so. There’s about a hundred tracks there that have never been available anywhere other than on vinyl, and I think that’ll be really exciting for the new generation of electric lovers cos its great for them to be able to get hold of that stuff. So there’s quite a lot coming out.
Dubzy: Its great to hear everything you’ve got going on and it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you today. Just before we go, could we get some advice off you for younger listeners that are wanting to get into the game?
Just Be: I just think be true to yourself, if you really love the music and you really love either mixing and DJing or the idea of it, give it a go and put your all into it, the main advice I could give anybody about it right now is do it for the right reasons, don’t think about selling records, making money, that kind of thing, you know you can make a career and a job out of it, but first and foremost it has to be the passion and if you put enough work into it and really turn it into something then what will be will be. I just think approach it with the right attitude and be cool, be cool with everybody.
Dubzy: Nice, be cool, that is the way to do it. And finally what’s the best place for all your listeners that want to keep up to date with everything you’ve got going on, where can they check out?
Just Be: Well, the Facebook page usually spills out most of the information and Soundcloud as well, I think, I don’t know where else does one look these days. I seem to spend all my day getting all my news and information from Facebook, which is terrible really yeah.
Dubzy: Its pretty much the main outlet though in it, Facebook or Twitter its one or the other.
Just Be: It is yeah. But I keep things updated on there and hopefully they’ll be enough updates on there for people to find what they’re looking for.
Dubzy: Great stuff. Once again mate it’s been a pleasure and thank you for taking the time out for the chat.
Just Be: Thanks a lot, good to speak to you.