From global success in the commercial domain, to equal accomplishments within the underground scene, Dubfire is an artist whose drive, talent and intuition have placed him within the top tier of electronic music artists in the world. He maintains this position within the industry with an unrelenting work ethic and a focused determination to innovate, evolve, and entertain. Whether it’s his involvement with Deep Dish, his solo performances at an extensive list of the world’s most influential clubs and festivals, running his label SCI+TEC, or simply his exploration of audio and visual technology, Dubfire is in a class of his own and is resolute in his forward-thinking ethos. We were lucky enough to have a chat with him to discuss life, music and everything. Here’s how it went down.
By Nicole Jbeily & Maia Khouri
You spent two years crafting a live show to perfection. How did you come up with the idea for HYBRID live? Tell us more about that audio-visual concept you created, how it’s been carried out, and how satisfying the results are to you.
It was something that started a long time ago. While DJing is one thing, especially when performing live for an audience, we started working on a project and a live production that illustrates sound. It was technically challenging and it was very costly, but in the end, it was a success and I am personally proud.
Can you walk us a bit through your creative process, how do you build your tracks from the ground up? What inspires you to start?
Well, to start off, if I were working on a remix, I’d listen to the original source and then work on the material. Back in the days, when I was part of Deepdish, I used to remix all tracks that sounded challenging, but when I went solo, I started doing remixes for friends, especially tracks that inspired me.
When it comes to working on a track from scratch, it all starts with a melody or a rhythm of what is actually going through my head, and when I don’t have any idea of what to play, I start layering and then transform the layers into a single track!
Tell us a bit about your label? How did it come to life? And what’s its driving spirit keeping it all together?
It started from scratch. I wanted to start my own thing in order to give talents exposure and support. I wanted to promote emerging talents who make their own productions and give them the chance to showcase their sounds. And that’s how the label came to life.
Your documentary “Above Ground Level” was released last Wednesday at the Miami Film Festival. Tell us how that project came to life? What’s the movie about? And how’s its reception so far?
The movie is going to different festivals, and there’s a Q&A session after every screening. The Berlin-based filmmakers wanted to present the life of an immigrant. In my case, after I moved to the USA to pursue the American dream, I realized that I wasn’t happy. Therefore, I moved to Berlin, where I opened a new page in my life and achieved the same success that I had had in the US. The difference here was that I found the happiness that I was missing.
The documentary talks about the sacrifices I had to make and everything I had to go through to become what I am today.
You’ve toured the world, probably more than once, playing almost every decent venue around the globe. We know that the Dance Music Syndrome for touring DJs has a huge impact on artists’ health and psychology given the hardships of its timing, setting and vibes. How do you maintain your sanity among all this madness?
It’s insane! It’s difficult and we battle depression and anxiety! In such a mad life, you have to find your way of coping. While for some, this life is all about drugs and alcohol, I personally exercise even when I am touring, and I take advantage when visiting each country! I visit restaurants, go sightseeing, and try to learn about the local culture. I try to look at everything from a positive perspective because otherwise, you get stuck in a routine, well, a different type of routine, of parties and afterparties.
How would you explain your music to a violinist from 1920? (Given you found a time machine and knew how to operate it)
Interesting question! Well, it’s all about the groove and the atmosphere. I actually look at everything this way! Good music can immediately transport you through its groove, that’s what it is. It’s not techno, it’s more of an emotional thing.
Revolver is a website for discovering music, and we’d like you to help us crate dig further. Can you tell about ‘5 essential albums every music producer should listen to’ on top of your mind?
I would start with:
- Speak & Spell – Depeche mode
- Twitch – Ministry
- Jesus and Mary chain – Psycho Candy
- Global Communication – 7614 To me, this is the best ambient album that was ever made.
- The Collection – Ultravox : The melody, the structure, the way it was written! It’s the new wave sound.
What advice would you give to the up and coming music producers of today?
Be original! I mean, it’s okay to want to be like someone you admire, but you are not going to be noticed unless you are different. Present yourself, have a unique presence and personality, be present on social media. All of this, and a good approach, in addition to your culture, your sounds, and most importantly, your originality, will help you achieve success .
You’re coming to Beirut this Saturday to play for us at the Grand Factory. What is your experience with the local scene here?
Every time I come to Beirut, it’s complete madness! My last gigs were phenomenal and I am really looking forward to play at The Grand Factory this Saturday! It should be crazy!
Tell us a bit about your future plans? Anything we should get excited about?
Well, there’s a remix with Gaizer, who is my favorite electronic musician. I am also working on new remixes with Miss Kittin and Solomun. Also, I have a big album coming up that’s called “Decade of Dubfire”, celebrating my 10th anniversary as Dubfire. We are also preparing the 10th anniversary of the label with a compilation of 10 new tracks from different artist.