Nathan sits down with the legendary DJ Bubbles to talk vinyl, Jazz and making love music.
“Either you can moan and complain, or you can say, “Hey, here’s what we’re doing…” And blaze your own trail.”
Bubbles is the kind of guy they had in mind when they coined the term O.G.; everything about him exudes an easy self-assurance that says, “I’ve been there, done that, printed my own t-shirt.”
So, who is DJ Bubbles?
Bubbles is (after a pause) a vinyl junkie, crate digger, lover of music and all things eclectic.
What was it like watching House and Hip-Hop coming into their own as musical genres?
I didn’t really know what it all was at the time, but you could see how much the youth were into it, whether it was hip-hop, dance music; it was just a privilege to be around during those golden years and watch the growth of all these movements and all of them produced the DJ you see before you today.
How did you get involved mixing the Flipside House compilations?
Flipside Records put out an ad requesting mixes, so I submitted and on my way home I got a call from Lady Lea who said, “How would you like to mix the next Flipside House compilation?” I was like “Word?!” Flipside House 2 came out in September 2000, and it was basically house played at 33 IDM instead of 45. My style was always gonna be different ‘cos I favoured a lot of jazzy stuff.
Your sets are unpredictably eclectic and played only off vinyl. There a philosophy behind this?
As a DJ, when you invite me to play, I’ll play what I’m feeling. Pandering to a crowd is no fun, it becomes mechanical, and you end up just playing whatever records are hot. I try to stand out and bring something fresh. Some DJ’s get nervous and play what they think people want to hear and more often than not lose people.
How different was the scene when you were coming up to how it is now?
Yo man, a lot has changed. In Pretoria there were so many night clubs, there was variety, before commerciality took over. Even radio was cool, you weren’t bombarded. Then the majors figured out how to infiltrate and start dictating trends. One youth station, back when they started out, they were more open to different stuff, nowadays, not so much. The biggest problem right now is when producers/ labels get lazy they start conforming to popular taste and become complacent.
Tell us about your label, Urban Touch Recordings.
When I joined USM, they had been going a little mainstream and then they started bringing in more off-beat stuff. Then they got swallowed by a bigger label and things changed. So I decided to start Urban Touch Recordings in 2005. My vision was bringing out Love Music – I want it to be a platform for cats that are already creating music that they love – music that when you hear it, you’re blown way and in that way I’m contributing, positively, to making it (the industry) better. It’s all about the integrity of and love for the artform and respect for it, if anything it’s how you respect it that sets it apart from all the whack shit. Either you can moan and complain, or you can say, “Hey, here’s what we’re doing…” and blaze your own trail.
What should we be anticipating from the label in the near future?
There’s a bunch of talented guys who are making amazing music right now; Mac P, Mo Nexus, Blue Buttons, and Soul Speak. I’m also getting together with Soul Sista, who’s written quite a lot of material; and with the producers mentioned earlier, we’re putting together something really special. Compilations these days have one or two strong tracks, the rest are fillers; what we’re trying to do is make albums that you’ll wanna keep and maybe hand down to your kids; quality over quantity. If you put your all into something, and people go out there and buy it, then I think that’s a fair transaction. We’re trying to be honest, keep integrity intact and let the product sell itself; we might even get back to selling from backpacks, actually connect with people. That’s what we’re creating.
Check out more from the Urban Touch.