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Six By Six: Sub Focus

The drum & bass producer talks us through his record collection

2009 Aug 01      Issue: 115
2 Bit Thugs

The man known to the taxman as Nick Douwma picks 36 of his all-time favourite tunes - and reveals his secret grunge past!


La Roux - In For The Kill [Skream's Let's Get Ravey Remix] (Polydor)

"Obviously this has been massive recently but I just love the way Skream's done it. It's such a simple idea - the acapella vocal over a dubstep backing - but it just works so well. Love the D&B outro, too."

Spor - Aztec (Shogun Audio)

"A big drum & bass track at the moment and as soon as I heard it I knew it would fit into my sets. A big influence for me at the moment is trying to incorporate the sounds I'm hearing in techno and electro into my D&B stuff, and this is a track that's in that vein and works really really well."

Simian Mobile Disco - Synthesise (Wichita)

"I chose this because they've used a classic old vocal sample from Todd Rundgren. I'd had the very same sample sitting around for a while thinking 'I've got to use this' but then I turned on the radio one day and found they'd beaten me to it!"

Major Lazer - Pon De Floor (Mad Decent)

"This is Switch and Diplo's dancehall project and I've been really into all the tracks I've heard but especially this one. The main riff is a tiny snatch of vocal that's been stretched into a hook which is just a really cool idea. I'm looking forward to hearing the album."

Chase & Status - Eastern Jam (RAM Records)

"Chase & Status are friends of mine and this is a big dubstep tune they did last year. Like the Simian Mobile Disco one - not that I had this sample!- it's just a great sample used really well and it's probably one of my favourite dubstep tunes. I quite like the D&B/dubstep crossover. D&B has always been a bit cut off so it's nice to have another genre that's closely allied to it now!"

Daft Punk - Around The World (Virgin)

"This is just one of the all-time great dance records I think. A couple of years ago I bought a talk- though and realised that the phrase "around the world" is one of the easiest to make intelligible with it! They're quite hard to use because you have to put the tube into your mouth and things with lots of Ps or Ts, for instance, are quite difficult. 'Around the world' is very easy!"


Brian Eno - An Ending (Ascent) (Editions EG)

"This is a classic ambient tune. It's from the Apollo album he did to soundtrack footage of the Moon landings. I listen to quite a lot of ambient stuff when I'm not listening to dance music."

Massive Attack - Hymn Of The Big Wheel (Wild Bunch Records)

"This is one of my favourite Massive Attack tunes. It's kind of a dance tune I guess, but it's just one of those tracks that always inspires emotion in me."

Friendly Fires - Jump In The Pool (XL)

"Friendly Fires are one of the bands I'm most into at the moment, probably because they incorporate elements of dance music so again this is quite dancey. I think I first heard this on Annie Mac about six months ago and I just love it. It's got really good rhythm and percussion."

Vangelis - Bladerunner OST (East West)

"Again coming back to the ambient stuff and Vangelis is someone I listen to quite a lot. I think historically he's been quite a big influence on drum & bass and certainly a lot of D&B producers have sampled this soundtrack."

MGMT - Time To Pretend (Cantora)

"Along with millions of other people I've really got into these guys over the last 12 months or so. I haven't really got much to say about this, I just love the tune, it's fantastic. And again I guess it's kind of dancey."

Sigur Ros - Staralfur (FatCat Records)

"This is probably my favourite Sigur Ros track. All their music I find very emotional and it's something completely different from what I normally listen to. This track in particular is quite orchestral."


Sub Focus - Airplane (RAM Records)

"Obviously this is one of my own - one of my bigger tunes from a couple of years ago. It was about the time I really started playing out a lot on the circuit: this was a favourite of a lot of my friends and it still gets a great reaction now."

Fresh - Signal (RAM Records)

"A big big tune from about five years ago now. It's just a really tearing drum & bass record that stands up really well even now, sonically, and still always gets a really good reaction whenever you play it."

Moving Fusion - Turbulence (RAM Records)

"An all-time classic drum & bass tune from 1997. Again, it still stands up sonically so you can still play it and it also reminds me of when I first started DJing when I was about 16. It was one of the first twelves I bought."

High Contrast - If We Ever (Hospital Records)

"This is a more recent track but it's quite old skool-influenced and it just always works really well. It's one of the tunes of the last couple of years that you can hear going on to be an all-time classic."

Matrix & Fierce - Tightrope (Metro Recordings)

"This was one of my favourite twelves from the days before I was playing out regularly. It's a techy roller basically and just a classic, classic tune from 2000. It was a bit overlooked I think."

Logistics - Girl From Mars (Hospital Records)

"This is another one of those tracks that not a lot of people play but it's just a classic sound. I always end up reaching for it if I'm playing late in a night, it's just perfect for a certain time. It's very simple and it just works really well."


Michael Jackson - Thriller (Epic)

"All of these are records that represent stages in my musical development. Michael Jackson in general, not just this track, is the first music I can remember liking. I was born in 1982 so I was pretty young at the time! This was almost like my intro to music."

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Geffen)

"Again, just Nirvana generally really. This was the first music I got really obsessed by - Nirvana and a few other grunge-type bands when I was about 11/12/13. I'm still into Nirvana now though, which you can't say for a lot of the other stuff that I liked at that time."

The Prodigy - No Good (Start The Dance) (XL)

"My introduction to dance music really. I had a tape my friend had done for me with the first two Prodigy albums - I think he'd called it 100% Prodigy Mania or something! I liked the Chemical Brothers as well but that was a bit later."

M-Beat ft General Levy - Incredible (Renk)

"Thiswas the first jungle tune I heard and it just sounded so completely different from anything else that I was immediately drawn in and started to seek out other things. I've read since about all the controversy it caused but that's surprising, cos it's not a sell-out or commercial track in any way. It was my route into D&B in the way that, say, Pendulum will be for younger kids now."

Sub Focus - X-Ray (RAM Records)

"This was the big breakthrough track for me back in 2005. It really opened a lot of doors for me: I did this track it did surprisingly well and then things really started kicking off for me. I was suddenly playing out every weekend… and I got asked to remix The Prodigy as well which was obviously a massive honour!"

Bobby Peru - Erotic Discourse (2020Vision)

"This is moving forward to my current listening which in the last few years takes in a lot more house, techno and electro. This was one of the first records in that style that really caught my ear and led me down that slightly different path which has started to influence my D&B productions, too. I'm inspired by a lot of the house and techno sounds."


Lindstrom - I Feel Space (Feedelity)

"A lot of these records are things I associate with going to afterhours parties back at someone's house after DJing. That's where I first heard I Feel Space. This one could also have gone in the 'records I wish I'd made' category!"

Nathan Fake - The Sky Was Pink [James Holden Remix] (Border Community)

"This is another after-party favourite. It's just got this amazing melody and it's very emotional for that kind of music. I'd love to get one of my tracks remixed by one of these guys but it's a bit of a stylistic jump!"

Dusty Kid - Mantrakoma (Kling Klong)

"This is a slightly more obscure track that's got this messy, druggy, afterparty kind of sound to it. It's based around this weird reversed vocal and it's a really good example of that 4am messed-up kind of feeling."

M.A.N.D.Y. Vs Booka Shade - Donut (Get Physical)

"A slightly more recent track. I'm a big fan of Booka Shade and I remember first hearing this at a Get Physical party in Ibiza last year."

Audion - Mouth 2 Mouth (Spectral Sound)

"This is basically the inspiration for my last single Timewarp. Andy C played me it first cos he knew I was listening to a lot of this kind of stuff and I loved the kind of rising sound it's got. I wanted to try recreating that feel in a drum & bass track. A lot of D&B tunes have a rise before the drop - I wanted to use it as the main hook."

Gui Boratto - Beautiful Life (Kompakt)

"It was hard to pick a Gui Boratto track cos I'm just generally into his stuff. I remember putting this on at a house party, though, and it inspiring total chaos. Just a very beautiful track with a major key feel to it that's quite unusual."


Nero - Do You Wanna (Viper Records)

"This is a track that's forthcoming on Viper. It's in triplet time - that swingy kind of beat like on Bodyrock or something. I'm a big fan of Nero's stuff generally and this also goes really well with Timewarp which is also in swing time."

Fresh - Talkbox (RAM Records)

"Another forthcoming track that features Fresh on a talkbox, surprisingly enough! It's got a very electro-y sound to it which is something that I'm really into at the moment."

Sub Focus - Rock It (RAM Records)

"This is my new single and my intro track at the moment. It's inspired by Daft Punk's Robot Rock: I've recreated a lot of the sounds from Release The Beast by Breakwater which is the 80s track they originally sampled. It's taking that electronic disco boogie sound into D&B and there's some talkbox action too!"

Chase & Status - Is It Worth It VIP (RAM Records)

"This is an alternative version of the closing track from their album. They've changed the album version to be a much straighter stepper than the original and it really takes the floor by surprise. Big, big track!"

Pendulum - Ransom (Warner)

"This is a recent D&B track that they've done - it's probably their first straight-up drum & bass track for a while, and let's not forget that they're very good at it!"

Sub Focus - Vapourise (RAM Records)

"This is a track I did about six months ago and that I put on my Essential Mix recently. It's quite experimental-sounding - again, it's in triplet time and it's got a very minimal techno kind of sound to it as well. When I first played it people didn't really get it but it seems to be gaining momentum now with MCs asking for rewinds and stuff which is great!"