Doctor P is one of dubstep's fastest rising stars having carved out his own sound and co-founded one of dubstep's most successful labels, Circus. This list of achievements is impressive given he's only been at it 18 months. Knowledge caught up with him to find out where he emerged from, how he feels about the dubstep scene and what the future holds...
For those that don't already know, can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
My names Shaun Brockhurst, AKA Doctor P, and I've been making dubstep for about 18 months. Before that I used to produce drum & bass under the name DJ Picto. I decided it wasn't really going anywhere so I switched it up and thought I'd try something new. I'm still doing D&B under the name Slum Dogz with DJ Swan-E.
How's that going? Are you still quite into the D&B scene?
Yeah, we're still putting out D&B, we're working hard at it. We've started getting there, starting to get a few bookings which is alright. I've been putting out D&B for coming up four years now, it's just not really getting anywhere, but we're starting to now.
Do you feel as though it's a harder scene to crack than dubstep?
I think D&B has almost become an old school scene, people don't really seem to be interested in new stuff that much.
So you've started Circus Records with DJ Swan-E and Flux Pavilion, why did you start your own label when there must have been plenty of established labels ready to put your music out?
To be honest I didn't really think anything of it, I wasn't going to bother but Swan-E encouraged me. If you run your own label you have a lot more control. You can also get a lot more of your own music released, as there is no one else on the roster. It just made sense. Everyone in dance music starts up their own label.
You must have been fairly confident when you were putting it out that the music was going to strong enough to carry a new brand...
Well, there is not too much risk involved in starting up small labels these days. When we first started out we were just doing a basic 50/50 split between the artist and the label, but now we've been seen as a success we've had to register as a proper company. It's suddenly become expensive and is more like an investment, but luckily it didn't require too much investment at the outset. It's all been pretty smooth.
You've been putting out vinyl, why do you think it's still important given the expense and hassle?
Well, it's only the top 10% of labels that actually put out vinyl. So to put vinyl out, you automatically put yourself in that category. There is still a market for it and people still buy it. I see vinyl as more of a collectors item now rather than a practical DJ tool. I don't like the idea of just putting out an MP3. It doesn't seem like such a big thing because anyone can do it. It's the way things are going though, I don't even think downloading MP3s is going last that long. I think soon enough it'll be all streaming type services. I don't think vinyl is the future. I moved on a long time ago.
Going back to the music, specifically the dubstep you make, what do you feel you've done differently to make you stand out so much?
I don't know, something obviously made me stand out, because since I started putting tracks out everyone seems really interested in what I'm doing, which I didn't expect. I think it's just because my music is so loud and energetic, that's one of the main things I brought to dubstep. Before high-energy dubstep was about everyone in the rave just standing about swaying to the extreme bass. With my stuff, people seem to be jumping up and down and waving their arms about. It's a totally different thing. I never even really thought of it as dubstep. It didn't fit with the scene at all.
You say you came from a D&B background, it seems to me there has been progression in D&B, in terms of style and subgenres, but it's never swayed too much. 140bpm music seems to evolve very quickly through styles and there is a lot of crossover. Do you think the dubstep has got the longevity to be a lasting scene?
Dubstep blew up so quickly that I wasn't sure what would happen. I thought it may just die out as quickly as it came about. It's really easy to make a lot of music too cheesy, but it's impossible to make dubstep cheesy. So I think that fact could help it stay around a lot longer.
What were the differences and challenges you found when switching from producing D&B to dubstep?
I've found it's really difficult to make energetic dubstep. With D&B the energy is already there before you've done anything. With dubstep it's so slow it's a battle to inject the energy. I find it more enjoyable to make than any other genres because you can pretty much just do what you want. I've got some seriously strange bits in some of my tracks that make no sense at all but still work.
There's a few of you on Circus Records now - Flux Pavilion, Cookie Monsta and I hear you are talking to Roxsonix - are you planning to continue expanding?
We are just doing deal at the moment with Roxsonix. They won our remix comp earlier this year. We think there is a lot of potential in their music. We are on the look out for new people all the time. It's becoming harder to pick people out as a lot of people are trying to make dubstep and a lot of it sounds the same. It's got that stage like D&B did a few years ago where all the kids are trying to make it and they are all making the same thing. We spend a lot of time sifting through it trying to find something that stands out.
I got into producing six or seven years ago, and it hadn't really reached the stage yet where people could download sample packs. So everyone had to make their own drums and make their own sounds. So I learnt how to do it. Then, one day, I realised you could just download pretty much anything, already done for you, but I learnt the hard way and I think that's helped me out a lot.
Can you tell us a bit about your take on the performance / DJing side of the scene and the changes that are going on at the moment?
These days it almost doesn't matter about the actual skill of beat matching. People are doing it on Ableton and chopping it up as they go along with a midi controller. It's just the changing of the times; I don't really think it matters. There is always going to be people who are good at it. When radio first came about all the record companies tried to hold it down because they thought it would kill the music industry. But it obviously didn't kill it, it helped it if anything. I'm sure people will look back and say the same thing about the changes that are happening now in dance music.
Could you tell me a bit about your influences both inside and outside the dubstep/D&B scene...
I take a lot of influence from everything that's going on currently across all genres. Everything that's good I'll try and take some sort of influence from. Most of the music I listen to is completely unrelated, stuff from the 60s and 70s, folky stuff. I can't really listen to dubstep anymore, I've heard too much now, enough to last a lifetime. My brain just shuts off!
What set-up are you using to produce at the moment?
I've just bought a new laptop and I was surprised at how few things I needed to install. I just use Nuendo, Native Instruments' Massive and a few EQs.
What's your background before you started making music?
I did music production at university and graduated a couple of years ago. I pretty much came straight out of it and got into the dubstep scene. My course was highly rated but I don't feel like I learnt that much from it. I learnt a lot about the specifics of hardware, but they didn't really teach me a lot about making music. I thought because I'd chosen music production instead of music tech they'd teach me a bit more about actually making music, but I turned out to be pretty much the same course!
You seem to do a lot with Flux Pavilion, can you tell us a bit about that relationship?
When we were teenagers, we used to walk home from school together. I can't remember exactly when we met, but we were both in to music and playing guitar, so we started making beats together. We pretty much do now what we've always done!
Have you got any advice for up-and-coming producers?
Don't try and be someone else, everyone always looks at the big producers and tries to make what they are making. I only started to get somewhere when I realised that. As soon as I stopped trying to emulate and just made what I wanted to, it became a lot more interesting. I heard Pendulum saying in an interview that they always start off a track by copying someone else then take it in their own direction, which makes sense. That's pretty much what I do. Try and recreate something then let it go off in a different direction.
Words: DJ Pdex
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