On the release of his brand new album 'Torus', Sub Focus' sound has evolved as rapidly as the industry around him. Off the back of a packed out summer schedule and ever increasing international fan base, I sat down with him to find out what has gone in to making his latest record and manage to uncover his secret guilty pleasure when it comes to his musical taste.
How did you balance such a busy festival schedule and writing your album?
With difficulty. I think I always forget when I write albums that I've needed to take a lot of time out to do them so I try and alternate touring with a few weeks in the studio. Being away is inspiring but the majority of times that I get really inspired is when I'm in the studio for days on end.
Where was your favourite place that you played across the summer?
I think Glastonbury's always a highlight. I actually ended up playing three times. Reading and Leeds were a highlight as well because the crowd there are always the maddest. Door Festival in Belgium is really good and EDC in Las Vegas was another highlight. It's mad how big dance music has become in the States in the last few years. I used to go out and do little tours when I started putting out tunes with people like Chase & Status. We were playing tiny little venues. Now we are on the main stage at EDC which I think was apparently one of the biggest stages ever erected in the world. It's just amazing how much money there is and how much people are putting effort into production of the events out there. It's really nice to see that scale in dance music.
How does it feel to be part of a scene that has grown so rapidly?
I've been lucky enough to witness a few scenes grow like that. When I was growing up Drum & Bass really evolved and it's nice more recently to see this new bass music movement with Dubstep becoming massively popular in the States and all of the types of music we're writing becoming massively popular. It's really, really exciting.
Do you ever feel pressure as an artist to evolve with that?
Definitely. I've seen lots of peaks and troughs since I started writing music. When I started going to the States, the whole dance music scene was in a low point. Sometimes you're going to be in the right place at the right time and sometimes you're not. I think it's important not to consider that too closely when you're writing music because you don't want to be just jumping on the latest treads all the time. I try and pick what I like from music and try and incorporate that into what I'm doing. Since I put out my first album I've definitely made a conscious effort to make all kinds of dance music. I really didn't want to be stuck in one genre and I'm hopefully becoming known as someone who writes a whole mixture of dance music. When I started out I was in a rock band in my really early teens and then I started making all sorts of dance music. I then got really heavily into Drum & Bass so became known for that but I was still writing bits and pieces of house music on the side. In the last few years the audience has become much more receptive to hearing multiple styles in one. When I was heavily into the Drum & Bass scene in the early 2000s that was quite frowned upon so it's a nice new development in the last few years that people can really express themselves and write whatever they like and don't have to feel too confined to one thing.
Tell me all about the album. When did you first start making it?
I started making it about three years ago. I was touring a lot after my last record and about six months ago I had to move studios so that held up the process a little bit. It's been a cool process I wanted to make this album much more of a listening journey than my last one. My last one was quite a club album so I approached this one differently. I also wanted to work with more session musicians and more vocalists so I produced more songs with slightly more played and organic elements than the last one. My last record was very electronic, I think a lot of the time artists think of their albums in terms of a reaction to the last one and that's kind of how I started thinking about it.
MNEK features on the album, how was it working with him?
He's a ridiculous talent. I had him in the studio and he's one of those singers I was just amazed at technically how good he was. Such a good singer and in one take and it was perfect. I had this little idea for a house track and it really came together by working with him, we just spent an afternoon in the studio and it was done. I think he's definitely set for big things in the future.
Which other artists are you listening to at the moment?
I love what Disclosure have been doing they're amazing. I've been really enjoying a lot of hip-hop recently as well, like Kendrick Lamar and ASAP Rocky. They are doing some really amazing stuff that's quite interesting musically. I've always been quite a big Kanye fan as well and I really like his albums. I guess I was quite impressed by the Daft Punk album this year as well in that it was a real statement. It's not my favourite album start to finish but I love how much of an event it was. It was a real cultural event, there was so much anticipation and I really like the concept behind it. I think it's definitely something I've started thinking about more as it's quite easy now to make music with machines. it's a cool statement to leave that totally alone.
If I was to pick up your iPod and delve into it, what would be one of the tracks in there that you wouldn't want me to know that you've actually been secretly listening to?
That's a tricky one, I shouldn't be admitting this in an interview but I downloaded an Ace of Base song the other day, 'All that she wants', it's amazing. I'm quite enjoying revisiting a lot of early 90's music at the moment. I actually really like that 'pop-reggae' I guess this stuff's kind of cheesy as well but a lot of early 90's dance as well. It's quite fun listening back to that. I think there are a lot of techniques being brought back from that whole era. In a funny way I think a lot of it's quite badly produced, and I think people are copying that now but it's got a lot of character.