Straight Up: Dusky
Dusky is the project of Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman; by no means a new project, but one that has only recently spread its appeal way beyong the traditional house circles of its early days. In 2011, Dusky released a full-length album, ‘Stick By This,’ and three singles on the specifically minimal label, Anjunadeep; but it is since then that their widespread recogniztion has come about.
Their ‘Flo Jam’ EP on Maya Jane Coles‘ Dogmatik imprint opened up their sound to the swarms of people more swayed by modern hybrids of house music through regular plays by the likes of Loefah and Boddika. A guest slot on the Swamp81 boss’ Rinse show, non-stop dates alongside bass acts, and an EP on Will Saul‘s ever-on-point Simple Records later, and, here we are – Dusky, without any significant stylistic changes, become one of the most in-demand duos in UK dance music as a whole.
We chatted to the pair ahead of their performance at the Eastern Electrics festival to get more of an idea about the people behind the music, what’s to come later this year and why if Claude VonStroke was British, things would be different…
Do you both have solo projects separate from the ‘Dusky’ moniker?
A: Yes, I also produce under the name Alfred Taylor and have had recent releases on Anjunadeep, Lower East, and Dogmatik.
N: I work on other creative projects outside of music, so don’t have time to work on anything except for Dusky.
It must help a lot sharing the workload between two people. Are there any downsides?
N: It definitely helps in a productivity sense and it’s more fun working with someone else than by yourself.
A: Yeah, it’s also cool when we go and DJ as you get to go and party with your friend rather than having to jam by yourself.
Do you both have particularly different DJing styles, or have you all had to agree on one?
A: We have a similar philosophy about DJing and our mixing styles are very similar. We like to mix harmonically and let the tracks breath so we don’t do many really fast mixes. Producers spend so much time arranging tracks so they’ll work well in the club and people only play them for 2 minutes, it doesn’t make any sense.
Dogmatik, and obviously Maya Jane Coles herself, tend to push fairly straight-up house music. Do you see the Flo Jam EP as typical house, or more of a ‘bass’ release?
N: It’s definitely straight up deep house. If we weren’t from the UK then nobody would even consider it as a “bass” track. It’s like Claude VonStroke, he’s a house producer, he’s American, so people accept that. But if he was from the UK everyone would be like, oh he’s a UK bass producer. It’s possible to have British house music, not everything has to be labeled ‘bass’.
We couldn’t agree more. You’ve been shown a lot of support from the Swamp81 gang – is that a label that fits your sound, and are there any release plans with them in the future?
A: I don’t think our sound would necessarily fit on Swamp81. They also have a tight knit group of producers that works well for the label and they’ll most likely stick with that as it’s been really successful.
You followed up the Flo Jam release pretty quickly with ‘Henry 85′ EP on Simple Records. Do the same ideas run the through the production of both, or are there concious differences? If so, what are they?
N: We made the tracks for both EPs around the same period so there may have been some cross pollination of ideas but to us and to most listeners they are all individual tracks that have their own distinguishing features and moods.
You’re playing at the Eastern Electrics festival. Will you DJ together? And, which other acts are you looking forward to seeing?
A: Yes, we’ll be DJing together. We were really looking forward to watching Kerri Chandler as he’s one of our biggest inspirations but we’ve got another gig in Birmingham so won’t be able to stick around and watch it. Definitely check him out if you get a chance!
What is still to come from Dusky this year?
N: We’ve got several remixes due out including a remix album of “Stick By This”, our album from last year. That’s out in August and features some amazing reworks by Midland, Synkro, GoldFFinch, Andre Crom, and Thomas Langner. We’ve also got a 2 track EP “Calling Me/Muriel” due out in September.
Catch Dusky at the Eastern Electrics festival on Saturday, August 4.