Hernan Cattaneo live at Moonpark is what Daniel Dubb cites as his introduction to electronic music and it's a good place to start. Regardless of his early fascination, Dubb didn't begin making electronic music until 2008. Hip-hop took up most of his time in the studio, producing beats and learning to DJ as a hobby. "I never even considered it really an option back then. It was just a lot of fun," says Dubb.
While Dubb learned to ply his trade on vinyl, the digital domination of the mid 2000s forced him to switch to the digital side of DJing—all the while never losing his affinity with old school analog gear. The ascendancy into the dance music industry was swift and efficient for Dubb who first released a remix of fellow Torontonian Glen Morrison in 2008. When Nic Fanciulli caught wind of his sound and signed him for a released on Saved Records, Steve Lawler and VIVa Records followed suit shortly after.
"In a year of making dance music, I went further than I ever went doing things before that," says Dubb. "Do I want to keep making shitty hip-hop and try to find some singer that's going to make me or do I want to just do dance music because I can do it all myself?" The decision, albeit easy, required time to fine-tune his sound. Originally making electro-oriented tracks and gradually diving deeper with his sound when releasing on 8bit and Saved, he says he even experiments with hip-hop oriented house sometimes, as an homage to his roots. "It's constantly changing," says Dubb. "I try to keep something that's sort of my style or whatever you want to call it."
Despite such a quick development, a full-length album was soon in the future for the Toronto-based producer. Although, he admits it wasn't a professional ambition that brought him into the studio. The album, Pieces Of The Past was released on June 29 on Joris Voorn's Rejected Records, being the first full-length artist album on the label. "Originally we were thinking of putting it on Green and he said he didn't know if it was a Green thing," says Dubb of showing Voorn the album in his Toronto hotel room last November. "There is a little bit of downtempo on the album and they've never really done that before, it's been mainly pumping dance stuff."
Dubb's inspiration is rooted in his family's recent struggles and it's audible in the jazz groove and soulful lyrics of "Always." After his mother's battle with lung cancer and later breast cancer, Dubb put his music career on hold and spent his time close to home. "It was a stressful, miserable time and I kind of buried myself in music," says Dubb. Transferring his emotions into music resulted in the tone of his album, which seems to suit the direction Voorn's labels have been heading. Initially doubting where this collection of tracks would fit in dance music, Dubb has been reassured. "All this music helped me through a difficult time and having that translate to other people is great."
The emotional significance behind the album is displayed on its cover. Not untypical for Rejected, the photograph binding the release is a monument to Dubb's best friend, who passed away 10 years ago. The bench, which adorns the cover, was a meeting place for Dubb and his friend during their childhood. "This album is driven from people in my past and important things that might not necessarily be around anymore, that's kind of what the album is reflective of." The back of the album bears the initials 'N.V.' in dedication to his late childhood friend, whose voice echoes on the album's intro. While stumbling through old CDs, Dubb found the recording of the two of them in the studio from years prior. "Hearing him speak to me after 10 years of being gone was a trip," says Dubb. The words, 'Should I start?/Take it from the top?' couldn't be a more appropriate introduction to the emotional full-length album.
Regardless of the reception of his newly released album, Dubb says he will continue to play and experiment as he wishes. With releases coming up on VIVa, Saved and his own hip-hop oriented imprint, DV8, the Torontonian will be spending most of his time in the studio, losing himself in old-school synths and wires.
A self-proclaimed analog snob and gear-head, Dubb places value on the tactile quality of old equipment, and it helps when it's free. "When I was getting into synths and stuff, my dad's friend was teaching me music theory and he brought over his Juno 60. He had bought it 30 years ago and it was just sitting in his closet," says Dubb. Aside from one of the most foundational synths, which Dubb uses to create the majority of his music, he also picked up a Roland TR-909 from another friend, Adam K. "He asked me to bring it back a year ago and I just wait for him to forget again," chuckles Dubb.
The message is clear: don't leave your gear at Dubb's house.
Pieces Of The Past is available for purchase on Beatport.