Sunday, 10 May 2009
Rob Ellis, known to the global music community as Pinch, is one of the lynchpins of Bristol’s dubstep scene. Having released music on Soul Jazz, Planet Mu and his own Tectonic imprint, he also finds time to run Dubloaded, his midweek night in Bristol, DJ around the globe and impart vital business acumen on friends helping bring about the birth and maintain the running of the ‘Earwax, Kapsize and Caravan labels.
With his label surging from strength to strength, weightily carrying the ‘bag on sight’ reputation, he stands on the cusp of releasing Tectonic’s 2nd ‘Tectonic Plates’ compilation featuring huge tracks from producers like Martyn, 2562, Peverelist, Joker and Flying Lotus. We grabbed him on the blower to discuss his plans for the CD and its accompanying launch party.
Sonic Router: Can you give those who may not know you a little bit of background info?
Pinch: The first thing I did that touched wax was the first Tectonic release that I did in conjunction with Ginz, that went under the name P Dutty and was the start of Tectonic. In the mean time I was putting on nights in Bristol, bringing the London dominated dubstep sound over to Bristol and just kinda started tinkering with making beats myself. I got a couple of things together and the next year they came out on Planet Mu. In the meantime I was just building up the labels, I was involved in ‘Earwax and doing some other bits and pieces as well. Just kind of letting it all build on itself really.
Pinch & P Dutty - War Dub
How did you get into making music?
When I started playing dubstep nights, I mean I’d kinda started tinkering around with making jungle stuff before then, but barely anything, like 3 or 4 tunes, the drive to start making them came from having not much to play and being aware of this kind of dubplate culture that was going on and thinking well I’ve gotta have something to trade with at least if I wanna get hold of some other bits and pieces, so that’s what pushed me to do it really.
What’s your production set up like?
My production set up is very sparse. I’ve got a PC, I’ve got a couple of monitors and i use Fruity Loops to program everything and a bunch of plug ins and various things like EQs and mastering things but yeah it’s a pretty simple set up.
What are some of your influences on your sound?
A lot of things from deep Basic Channel techno, rolling jungle, a lot of UK based dance culture as its emerged over the last 15-20 years really, everything through acid house, early hardcore, jungle, garage... y’know the whole evolution of the sound as i see it and at the same time other bits and pieces. I was always drawn to the Bristol sound of dub, reggae and sound system culture music and resistance music. Anything that was about resistance music... rebel music.
Can you tell us about the up and coming Tectonic Plates compilation?
It’s been a long time in the making really. It’s kind of an extension on the idea of the first Tectonic Plates series which was the idea of being Dubstep Allstars with each vinyl plate being a double A side and then a collection of the tracks on CD, kind of like the label highlights, with an upfront dubplate mix on CD 2. So it’s kind of the same model in that sense but this time, it’s a different thing in so far as the scene has grown and changed and there’s more attention on the people playing a part in there but this time we have 2562, Martyn, Skream, Benga, Joker, Flying Lotus and a track by myself and Moving Ninja, a Peverelist track remixed by the Hardwax Berlin guy Shed and there’s a few label highlights on CD 1 and CD 2 has the upfront mix with beats from Distance, Loefah, Skream and loads of other people y’know, just the best bits from the bag that I could get my hands on.
What have you got lined up for the launch party?
Its a combination between a Dubloaded [Pinch’s Bristol based party] London takeover and a launch party for the Tectonic Plates so there’s been a lot of crossover there between people we work with and there’s a bunch of the artists from the actual Plates CD and the regular Tectonic family so it’s gonna be a good night that stretches from the deep to the heavy with everything in between.
We’re working with the Numbers guys on Room Two and then Room Three will be drum and bass which is actually hooked up by the guys helping promote the night [We Fear Silence] from the London side.
Bristol is your manor. What is it about the community that produces such a vibe?
It’s a real difficult one to say, I mean it’s the essence of who is in it and what makes up the community is what makes the vibe, I mean people make a vibe. People make the vibe in a dance and people make the vibe in the community. In the Bristol community you’re looking at people that produce from the deep Peverelist and Headhunter to the energetic sounds of Jakes and Joker and there’s not like just one thing.
I guess what links it is that everybody’s part of a community where they can feed back to each other and show love and respect where it’s due and then shine on from that.
Dubstep: Bristol - Living Inside The Speaker
To me, I always feel like the dance is different in Bristol, I don’t know what it is about London crowds but they’re always a lot more static...
Hmmm... I think that perhaps the difference is that - the way I see it - in London there’s a lot of people who go to clubs to look good... [laughs] it’s not really the case in Bristol. People go to the clubs to be there and to get involved and be a part of it. The whole FWD>> zombie thing was a real thing that I think happened in everywhere that dubstep was introduced. It happened in Bristol as well, that very static, head nodding, mostly guys being moody, kind of wanting to look a bit ghetto but actually being quite nerdy in the crowd.
I mean Bristol’s somewhere which has had a strong culture in sound system culture and there was a lot of influences brought about by dub and roots music in the 80s which has had knock on effects that, even if you don’t see it now, has influenced people who’ve influenced people. You can hear that dub bassline in everything from Smith and Mighty right through to Full Cycle and everything that’s come on from beyond. It’s a pool of influences that has brought it about.
It’s been a while since your album ‘Underwater Dancehall’ do you have another in the works?
Nah to be honest with you and to confuse the earlier question about my set up I’m just about to switch over and get my head around running a Mac and Logic. I’m gonna hold off from committing to anything in the shape of an album project for a little while until I’m confident that I’ve got the sound I want to put together.
I have got a 12” release coming out on Planet Mu in the next couple of weeks, ridiculously titled ‘Attack of the Giant Killer Robot Spiders’ and ‘Teleportation’. I just did a remix recently for a collaboration between Ashley Beedle and Horace Andy, one of my favourite reggae vocalists, and it was a real touch to get linked in on that. One of the Plates is a collaboration with me and Moving Ninja and I’ve also done a collaboration with Peverelist and with 2562, which in a couple of months might be seeing the light of day and I’ve got a few little pieces on the side which will roll out when the time is ready.
I spent a lot of last year focusing on experimental sounds and just being a bit weird... and then I realised it doesn’t always work out on the dance floor... so I’m looking to make some more dance floor focused music this year. It’s going to be weird but weird with a more [laughs] dance floor edge. I mean it’s all very well and nice to listen to but I want to make people dance.
Speaking of dances, I’ve seen that DUBLOADED has started up again in Bristol, what was your motivation to start putting on raves again?
It’s a combination of things. The club that we used to do it at originally got in touch and said “Look, we’d love to get something going here again, what we can work out?” So we thought about it and thought about a midweek thing, as I’m quite busy on weekends with gigs and stuff and also everyone else we want to book is busy on weekends, so we thought we’d get a mid week thing rolling.
The idea is putting the sound system in that room again. There’s a lot of nights going on in Bristol, it’s really picked up in the last couple of years, it’s almost a bit silly, I mean you can go out to a dubstep night almost every night of the week, but no-one’s pulling the systems, no-one’s pulling the bass weight so its kinda like, OK there’s all this going on but we should stick our oar in and show them how it should roll.
You’ve been at the forefront of the dubstep scene for some time now pushing the sound into new directions and territories, what’s exciting you the most about dubstep right now?
The thing I’m getting back into at the moment is getting back into that tribal sound. For me personally, I mean there’s a lot of things that are exciting me, it’s really good to be able to stand in Bristol and say “Bristol is representing strong right now”. I think that if you listen to what’s happening across the board, there’s some really strong stuff coming from Bristol and I’m generally keen to support that in every way. But on a personal note I’m looking to get back into that conga rollout, kind of tribal rhythms of earlier days.
I don’t know if you can find new sounds when you want to but... I’m always trying to find new sounds and apply them in context, so yeah... that kinda dark, tribal, Metalheadz kind of conga rollout; that’s where I’m at.
Anything else you’d like to say/push/vent on... etc?
Just to look out for the release and the party itself, and keep an eye out for Tectonic in general. We’ll see what unfolds in the next coming months.
Catch Pinch and a whole heap more on the 22nd May: