Dubbed-out, danced-up, deep-hitting mix
ClashMusic DJ Mix Podcast - DFRNT

Edinburgh-based producer DFRNT takes over the Clash DJ podcast with a dubbed-out, danced-up, deep-hitting mix.

Known primarily for his sprawling, beat-infused take on dub ambience, DFRNT – Alex Cowles – finds his way around some very appealing, purer dancefloor territory in his Clash mix, alongside lush, upfront dub textures, of course. Julio Bashmore, Maya Jane Coles, Martyn and Spaceape, and Trevino all make appearances.

Clash chatted to Alex about his mix and some unusual funding methods for his new album, ‘Fading’.

It’s quite an eclectic mix, and perhaps more dancey than some of your own material…

This is basically a mix of stuff that I enjoy right now, and also, almost every track here is the sort of thing I play out when I DJ. I think people feel that when I DJ, I’ll play my own stuff or play some mad, super-deep ambient stuff – but I prefer to play danceable stuff. Deep, yes – but still stuff you can get down to. People never realise till they hear me play. I’d like to hope people were pleasantly surprised.

Give us some musical background on yourself:

I started producing dubstep around 2005/2006 and initially took a year or two to find my feet in the deeper stuff. I put out my debut album, ‘Metafiction’, in late 2009 and then a string of EPs over the past few years until now, where my second album, ‘Fading’, is dropping very soon.

Would you say that there’s a specific DFRNT sound?

Yeah, I guess there is, although I’d like to try and develop it. I often ask my friends to do blind tests – I’ll play them my stuff and other people’s stuff and see if they can tell my tracks. More often than not, despite picking similar tracks, they can always pick mine out. I think there’s definitely my ‘thing’ – mostly synths, melody and the way I use chords, and maybe what I do with them – but I don’t know exactly, it all comes from me, so I think there’s inevitably always going to be elements of ‘my sound’ in there, even when I’m trying to push my boundaries.

It’s been a few years since your debut. How would you say your sound has changed in relation to your latest album?

It’s miles on in terms of a development for me. The sounds are more meticulous, the tracks feel more confident, and I’m happier to take things slightly more experimental. I’m also trying very hard to step further away from the clichéd, churned out post-dubstep stuff that seems to be saturating the underground. Everyone who’s not doing tear-out or ‘future-garage’ has figured ‘post-dubstep’ and this sort of weak, wishy-washy 140 stuff is the way to go. Problem is, I’ve heard it all so much before, that really I tend to only notice when a tracks strikes me as something considerably different, or at least produced in a way that doesn’t just remind me of all the years of deep, chilled dubstep I’ve been listening to.

There seems to be a Deepchord vibe to a couple of tracks on the new album – was Deepchord an influence? What about other artists that may have influenced you?

Huge influence, yeah – from Deepchord, and Rod Modell’s solo stuff, and Echospace back to Basic Channel and their Rhythm & Sound stuff, plus Quantec, Pablo Bolivar and stacks of other lesser-known dub-techno. Even things like Shed’s albums – there are some amazing moments on them that will spark an idea. More recently, the likes of Darling Farah has been blowing my mind, but yeah, any of the dub-techno, deep techno and even the traditional dub stuff has been really influential for me in the past few years.

You took the decision to crowd-fund your latest album. What sparked that and how successful was it?

The decision was basically a lack of money and the desire to do something with the tracks that wasn’t just a digital release that would go un-noticed. And in terms of success, it’s been very successful. I’m actually planning on documenting the whole process from start to finish, since lots of people have asked me about it. It’s been something I’ve definitely learned from, but there’s been a great sense of empowerment and achievement gained through doing it, which has been ace – and the support from everyone, from producers, to engineers, stores, promoters, fellow DJs and distributors, has been amazing.

‘Fading’ is out now on Echodub.

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DFRNT tracklist

01. Will Saul & Tam Cooper - Sequential Circus (Sideshow Dub)
02. Kura - GoGo (Lulu Rouge Remix)
03. Robosonic - Worst Love
04. Dusky - Every Day
05. Dino Lenny vs. Hardrive - A DJ Deep Inside (Shadow Child Vocal)
06. Maya Jane Coles - Little One
07. Beat Pharmacy ft. Spaceape - Ghostship (Deadbeat Remix)
08. DjRUM - Mountains Pt. 1 (Pedestrian Pirate Radio Remix)
09. Kid Kombat - Chinga (Shadow Child Remix)
10. Claptone - Cream
11. Julio Bashmore - Ask Yourself
12. Shigeru Tanabu ft. Akane Del Mar - El Camino (Paxton Fettel Neurofunk Mix)
13. DFRNT - Everyone Is Moving
14. Dub Resort - Rising Mind
15. James Walsh - Nastro Azzuro
16. Aaron Shallow - Occupied
17. DFRNT - El Spirito
18. DFRNT - El Spirito (Beatless Version)
19. Claptone - Shook
20. West Norwood Cassette Library - Blonde On Blonde
21. Owen Howells - The Seen (Dexter Kane Remix)
22. Andre Crom - Reality (Dusky Remix)
23. DFRNT - That's Interesting
24. Deepchild - We Can't Go Back
25. Genotype - Injury Time
26. Kloke - Maki
27. Bombe - Tell (Riffs Remix)
28. Valta feat Mudimbi - Colera (Koloah Remix)
29. Friendly Fires - Hawaiian Air (Seiji Remix)
30. Kamikaze Space Programme - Lawn
31. Paul Woolford & Psycatron - Stolen (Dub Two)
32. Martyn & Spaceape - Is This Insanity (Ben Klock Mix)
33. Rx - orbit (Zeppy Zep Remix)
34. Sunday Roast - Troitech
35. Trevino - Tweakonomics

Check out the previous episodes of our Dj Mix Series on iTunes HERE or individually on ClashMusic.com HERE

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