In anticipation of TOIGHT! this Sunday, we got the scoop on Dubwar resident, Alex Incyde about UK dubstep in years past, writing for Big Up Magazine and why he is going to rock LOVE’s soundsystem this Sunday. FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD of “I Know” by Incyde included below!
Alex Incyde speaks softly and exudes a zen-like aura. He’s modestly spoken and when he talks, he chooses his words carefully. This is quite the opposite persona you’d expect from someone who spins a face-twisting selection of rough, in-your-face bass-heavy dubstep, a musical genre that is known for its raw, sometimes aggressive character. But then again, Incyde is at the forefront of NY’s bass terrain particularly because he takes this formula to another level. Incyde infuses dubstep’s brittle veins with warm soul, emotive melodies, rich instrumentals and obscure details – a sound that is a pure extension of his cool vibe and meticulous style of expression. As a resident of the legendary Dub War NYC parties, Incyde has been a staple of the East Coast dubstep scene for several years and, like his compatriot Dave Q, is one of the driving forces behind the scene’s current success in the city. On top of playing at numerous events, he’s also got his hands full with producing, running a radio show on Sub.FM and is the label manager of Scuba’s Hotflush Recordings, one of the leading labels at the forefront of contemporary dubstep. In anticipation of TOIGHT! We got the inside scoop on this talented artist about UK dubstep in years past, writing for Big Up Magazine and why he is going to rock LOVE’s soundsystem this Sunday.
Let’s start with some background – when you discovered the dubstep scene while on a study abroad program in the UK, what intrigued you about the music?
Dubstep was just a completely new sound to me, and it was really refreshing to hear a lot of different musical influences going into one thing, there was a lot more space, lots of bass, and hints of reggae, garage, and techno. What really struck me about it at first was that it was heavy and intense and it also had this chill, relaxing vibe to it at the same time.
I understand you discovered dubstep while on a study abroad program in the UK. What about the dubstep culture there was different and more intriguing than other dance music scenes you’ve experienced?
The culture was very interesting, especially when I first got involved there was a really strong community vibe going on – not only in London but also through the internet. Almost anyone who was doing it in any major city was part of this worldwide family that was keeping in touch so it was really nice to feel connected to everyone. You could really feel that when you went out too because everyone knew each other. The other thing is that dubplate culture was pretty prominent back then too. Everyone was mostly playing vinyl and dubplates. Almost every DJ had their own unique set of different types of dubstep and the branches they were connected with.
In light of producing - what are you specifically working on these days, sonically speaking?
Well, my roots are in techno. That was really my first love. So I suppose what I’m doing now is inevitably some sort of concoction that combines the methodical aspect of techno as well as the heavy bass of dubstep, weird sounds, and syncopated rhythms, rather than the standard 4/4 drum pattern…trying to make interesting percussion work with the dancefloor aspect - making danceable techno dubstep I guess.
I want to ask you about your experience as label manager of Hotflush. Has Scuba been an influence to your musical career?
Well we sort of just get down to business when we work together… [but] I’ve inevitably been influenced by his sound, as he's one of my most respected producers. I suppose mainly that’s inspired me is his value for quality control and really keen ear for what sounds good and what’s original. He’s always been able to curate a very interesting and unique aesthetic, whether it’s through the label, his DJ sets, or the Sub:Stance night he co-runs in Berlin.
You also have a very sharp ear for details in music and songs. What makes music good by your standards?
One of the most important things for me is production value…That really makes a huge difference in how well something will go down. Aside from that I really enjoy sounds that are completely new and sort of weird and trippy, and sounds that are layered underneath the surface…Some sounds are not always right in your face but when you listen closely then it sort of reveals a new level that you hadn’t previously noticed. It gives more life and longevity to the composition, I think.
On top of DJing, managing a label and producing, you also write for Big Up magazine. You’re a great writer! Have you also written about music?
I didn’t really start writing publicly until I got involved with music myself. A lot of reviews really annoyed me because they weren’t really talking about how the music actually sounded, and most importantly how it made you feel, which I found unimaginative. Either that or they were quite snobby and spoke about things aside from the actual work that was being reviewed, or they were just a completely biased praise. When I first started writing about music I wanted it to invoke imagery, I'd just listen to something and write whatever goes through my head. I feel like when you read a review that way it really encourages you to actually listen to it.
I read some of your more introspective, personal posts on your blog. There are a lot of musings there on the metaphysical universe and connectivity. Would you call yourself a spiritual person and does that influence your music at all?
I wouldn't call myself a spiritual person, because I'm not sure what that actually means. I don't believe there is a "god" separate from us, I believe that we are all unique manifestations of It… Regardless, I love studying the universe, exploring its infinite beauty, and looking at celestial objects... nebulae are especially gorgeous. I could think about that stuff all day pretty much! I’m also very influenced by Eastern philosophies; Zen, Buddhism and Taoism. Musically, I just search for sounds and melodies that please my ears, and I hope my state of mind is transferred into that, and maybe people will connect with it. Lately I've been treating good music like brain food, so I guess I'm trying to create some appetizing new concoctions.
What should we expect to hear from you at TOIGHT? Do you plan on spinning a different kind of set than your other gigs, because of the musically mixed line up?
I usually play it by ear up to the minute. I try to make sure the music I play fits within the setting and contributes to the flow of the whole night. At Dub War I usually play the opening set, so in that setting I start deep and build the energy up…But at TOIGHT I’ll definitely be going for a lot more energy, trying to draw some lines in bass music as a whole, between dubstep, techno, and most importantly, the weird stuff that we don't know what to call yet.