Production aficionado ENiGMA Dubz is no stranger when it comes to creativity in his work, and over the course of this tastemaker’s career, he’s proven this time and time again with his arsenal of releases that span genres. There’s no doubt about it, he’s been a hugely influential part of the dubstep scene over the years and continues to do stun with everything he does. On top of his ENiGMA Dubz project, he also has his side alias, Itona, where he taps into the more emotive side of his mind, and has a chance to experiment with the softer sides of his creativity. But no matter what he’s cooking up in the studio, it’s always unique and amazing.
While a lot of the ENiGMA Dubz project has leaned on the heavier dubstep side, he also has countless other tracks that show off a more sentimental side like tracks such as “Hard To Smile,” “The Journey So Far,” and “All On You.” His ability to capture different emotions within each and every frequency, no matter the style, has paved the way for an incredible career and made him a very well-respected artist whose sounds are rinsed out all over.
More recently, he’s started putting out tracks like “Haven,” (his first breakbeat track), and “Fluid,” a captivating liquid DnB track off the Geater Dubz EP. Now, he’s releasing his first all drum and bass project, Connect on his imprint, Morii Records, a cathartic journey that provides healing frequencies intertwined with ethereal vocals, which add even more depth to the already moving tracks.
The EP starts off with “Only You” featuring the beautifully chilling vocals of Shyam P; from the moment the track begins a wave of warmth washes over listeners, giving feelings of love and deep, once-in-a-lifetime connections. The track is full of emotional layers intertwined among its liquid elements, allowing listeners to feel at peace amongst the frequencies. “Connect,” the title track is up next, immediately bringing an energetic feel and groovy bassline that hints at summer days, dancing under blue skies while the sun kisses your skin. Music is a beautiful connection to be able to share, and this track is the perfect representation of that.
The EP wraps up with a DnB edit of “You Are So” from his Itona alias, an already emotive track originally, but now with even more tender feels. This is honestly the perfect way to tie the journey of Connect together, it felt like the end of a set that filled you with joy and had you dancing for hours with friends to the genres you hold near and dear to your heart. There’s something really special about liquid drum and bass and this EP is packed with every single one of those elements and feelings.
ENiGMA Dubz is a very humble, and talented individual, and this interview is a reminder of just that. Read on to hear what he had to say about Connect, the scene now, and so much more. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Stream The Connect EP On All Streaming Services Here – Connect EP Fanlink
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me again, it means a lot that I get to cover so many of your projects! How has 2023 been for you so far? You’ve been playing tons of festivals and events, any favorites so far?
Always love chatting with you, Ali!
2023 has been amazing so far, really has. I kicked off the year’s shows with my ‘Dungeon Tour’ which was focused on the darker and deeper side of my sounds and my Deep, Dark & Dangerous ‘Dungeon’ EP release that came out in March, featuring the tune ‘Severed’ which went off everywhere I played and was my first upload on UKF’s YouTube – so a landmark moment in my career.
I’d say Las Vegas was a standout show on that run, such a vibe there, and being my debut made it even better, too. The last two shows of the tour in Montreal and then my hometown in the UK, Birmingham, were also VERY sick.
More recently, I’ve just got home from a weekend run in the States, including Sound Haven Festival – and to be honest, all three shows were amazing. My Dallas debut was unreal and then LA for B-Side was NEXT level. I last played for them in 2019 and to see their growth as a team and also the scene that’s grown with them is brilliant.
This DnB EP is phenomenal btw (no surprise there though), and really shows off the range you have when it comes to your creations. You’ve dabbled in DnB subgenres like breakbeat and liquid, in Haven and Fluid, what drove you to make an entirely drum and bass EP?
Thank you! I’ve been a fan of DnB since I was around 14 after buying a compilation called ‘Breakbeat Kaos’. Then, when I was at Uni, I started to delve more into the liquid side and I found such a strong connection to it. I’ve always loved it to be honest and over the years I’ve released around five or six DnB tracks, but this is the first EP fully focused on the sound.
One of the reasons this project came about was from the original ‘You Are So’ track, which I produced under my other alias, Itona, and has become a fan favourite. I’ve been playing it at the end of sets over the last 12 months and I always mixed it out of the DnB section cos its BPM works perfectly at halftime. Every time I did, I’d hold the previous DnB track in the mix over the top, hearing them together always sounded DOPE too, so I knew a DnB flip of the original needed to happen.
After that, it just felt right to put out a full EP and the response to the singles has been next level! I’m very excited for the whole thing to drop. Also, now having my own record label, Morii Records, gives me full creative license to release what I’d like to, and can keep pushing the limits of ENiGMA Dubz.
This genre is really something special, watching it really flourish in the states has been such a great experience. What’s it like being from an area where it’s been such a predominant force throughout your life?
Absolutely, it’s really starting to connect in the US now and the traction of the genre worldwide is so strong right now. The UK has always had a very healthy DnB scene, it’s one of those genres that never goes away, has its moments in the charts and more mainstream attention, yet it always surges in the underground.
Due to the wide range of styles, it reaches a lot of different people, the liquid sound being something more palatable across multiple audiences I think. Then on the other end of the spectrum, it goes as hard as you want for the bass heads. Plus, the roots that grew from the Jungle scene are also still very prevalent and it’s from there that I got into it all.
Tell us about your influences in DnB? What about them influenced you towards that sound?
Most of my earliest influences were from the harder and darker side, producers such as DJ Hazard, Friction, Clipz, Original Sin etc. When I went record shopping back in the mid-2000s I’d always be drawn into the DnB section, firstly due to the sick cover art on the vinyls and then with the absolute monster sounds and energy from the Jump Up and dark rollers. I used to DJ at lots of house parties and whenever we started spinning DnB, it would just tear the party up! So those were my early memories of DnB.
After this, I started to discover the liquid sound, producers such as Calibre, High Contrast, Logistics and I soon realized I had a serious passion for this side of DnB. I’ll always remember being at Uni with my wife (girlfriend at the time) and on a daily basis, rinsing the High Contrast remix of ‘The Streets – Too Late’. As soon as I hear the intro to this track I get immediate goosebumps, In fact, as I’m writing this I’ve got it on and the nostalgia is unreal!
What’s your favorite thing about producing DnB?
The energy and flow is just infectious to be honest. With liquid specifically, it’s very therapeutic, like when I’m producing downtempo electronica tracks. On the other side, I’ve been producing some darker DnB tracks and the mixture of the dark, dirty bass and the pulsating energy of the percussion is like a natural high.
Being from the UK, you were likely introduced to a wide range of electronic music early on. What are your earliest memories of this music, and how does the music scene in the UK differ from here in the States?
As I mentioned earlier, that High Contrast remix of The Streets has such nostalgia with it. However, going back further, it was tracks like ‘Original Nuttah’ by Shy FX, “Chopper” by Ray Keith, and a load of early Jump Up tracks that turned my head to DnB/Jungle.
Honestly, though, the DnB sound is so universal and varied, the sounds that are popping stateside are very much the same as what the UK is pushing too. Obviously, you’ve got the more hyped-up and harder side of DnB that’s more prevalent in some parts of the scene, just like the ‘Riddim’ side of Dubstep. But it’s evident from my experience stateside that the true roots and sounds of the genre are very strong too. When I play DnB in my sets, I play a mixture of vibey tracks and also darker/harder bits too. They both go off just as well!
“Only You” really hit deep, there are so many emotional layers that stay consistent throughout, especially combined with the lyrics. Is there a meaning behind this track? And if so, what is that meaning?
That one stemmed from Shyam P’s vocals. When he sent them over, I was immediately hypnotized and if I’m being totally honest, it felt as though the track was already written and I was just discovering it. I really love it when this happens. Lyrically it painted a picture straight away and for me, it felt vibey and soulful regarding the intimate connection with the person closest to you and the ups and downs that can be experienced, but ultimately the connection is what stays strong – which is the running theme throughout the EP.
Once I started to lay the synths down and had the chord progression rolling, I fell in love with the chill, liquid approach. The synths are a mix of retro and modern sounds, giving it that nostalgic feel that I tend to land on with a lot of my more emotional and vibey tracks.
No matter the genre, you have a powerful ability to pull listeners in and take them on a journey, whether that be through a live set or through your tracks. While music is subjective, what do YOU feel the journey through Connect is like?
For me, it’s a very soulful journey. All 3 tracks put me in a space of good energy and vibes, it’s exactly what I love most about liquid DnB. The EP is there to be enjoyed with people you care about, on the move on your own whilst reflecting, or out on a system where the full frequency range can fully connect. It’s packed full of melody and harmonic flourishes, but there’s plenty of weight in the mixes to be enjoyed in the club.
You are no stranger to the electronic music scene and have been involved in it for quite some time, what do you think about the way things are right now (in terms of social media craziness, creative output, burnout, touring, etc) and how has it affected your creative process?
Social media has without a doubt changed the industry and the way it’s approached both creatively and in business, too. It’s clear when an artist is more focused on their social media than the art itself, but to be honest I’m sure those more ego-driven people and communities were there before social media and utilizing the older forms of advertising etc. I haven’t changed the way I create since the beginning, it always comes from the heart and I can hold onto that forever. Alongside ENiGMA Dubz (& Itona) I produce for a load of other artists behind the scenes, alongside mixing/mastering and also tuition for producers just starting out, so I’m extremely busy and creatively involved in a lot of different genres/scenes. I’m a bit of a freak with it as I’m non-stop, it’s genuinely hard to switch it off, but at the same time, I absolutely love it.
I’d say having a good team around you can make such a difference. I’m lucky to have a very good manager alongside a sick network of people helping my career move in the right direction. It’s still very enjoyable and I think that’s what it boils down to as creative. You can feel it when an artist is making something from the heart and soul, compared to something that’s to catch a wave or purely to get mainstream attention. Don’t let social media fool you into what life’s about, be honest with yourself and search for what makes you happy. And without sounding cheesy, just try to be a good person. I couldn’t care less what music you’re into, how you dress, or what you’re driving. If we can connect in some way, let’s focus on that!
What can the community do to make this scene flourish more and be more inclusive for everyone?
Just be open to everyone’s differences. It can be tough, as it’s toxic out there at times and the internet amplifies that for sure. Once you actually get together though and share an experience such as music, on a big system, those layers peel back and we can get closer to the way we should be accepting, interacting, and living together. That’s what music was designed for.
What do you want fans to know about the ENiGMA Dubz project? What’s next?
I want everyone to know that this train is moving and it’s gearing up for a LOT more. After Connect, the next project is a BIG mixtape, focused on 140 #heaters – keep a lookout for more info on that, as it features some collabs with some big names in the scene that I couldn’t be more excited about. I’ll be back in the States for it too so expect some seriously bass-heavy sets in September! There may well be a new merch line coming and a sample pack too…
Following that, I’m releasing a more vibey mixtape featuring a brilliant vocalist (and producer) called Lauren L’aimant. That one will be a mixture of future garage and breakbeat tracks, with one track in particular that’s been sitting unreleased on my Soundcloud for 9 years… any guesses? Hit me up if you think you know!
Make sure you follow my socials, Bandcamp and Spotify to stay tuned for it all – including my next run of dates.
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