Dublock Q&A

Ahead of his debut live performance at Emotion Wave 13, we caught up with audio polymath and absolute gent Gordon Chapman-Fox, AKA Dublock…


Can you give us a history of Dublock — where did it all begin?

I’ve always been into music — or as I’ve been told — sounds. I used to play with my Stars Wars figures whilst listening to Jean Michael Jarre. Fast forward 30 years and I got a dodgy copy of Reason 2.0 and a pile of Warp records, and I started from there. I spent 10 years making music under the name Heskin Radiophonic, which I came to hate the name. The change to Dublock marked a switch to a less ambient and more techno based style, and hopefully, a move from sounding less amateurish.

This is your first Dublock gig (lucky us!), any reason it’s taken a while to get a live set together?

I hadn’t performed live for 10 years, until I dug out the guitar to perform at Static Records in Wigan for this year’s John Peel Day. That gave me the buzz of playing again, and I’ve been making so much music lately, it seemed like a good opportunity to mix the two.

There have been two big mental switches to get my head around too. As a producer I’m using to being in total control of micro details, which you can’t have live. The other has been the difference between creating songs and making a live set, even a half hour one. That has been quite a big conceptual shift to understand. You’ll have to find out at the end of July whether it worked or not!

Sirius Tau — out now on Romeda Records

There seems to be a healthy electronic scene up around Lancashire, have you collaborated with any other producers or artists?

The fact that there was a scene in Lancashire took me completely by surprise! I wasn’t aware of it till about 18 months ago when I noticed the review of Preston Field Audio on The Quietus.

Impulse Array remixed a track on my recent Sirius Tau album, but I haven’t collaborated with any of these guys. There’s so much great music coming from Concrete Tapes and these guys, it’s a pleasure to be a small part of it.

I have done long distance collabs — I have two (or three) projects that I’ve made with Trium Circulorum coming out very soon. Martin is incredibly prolific as Trium Circulorum, Kanal Drei, Third Witness and 3dtorus and his music really connects with me, so it seemed a logical step to collaborate.

We’ve got a double album that we did together earlier in the year coming out later this summer on Romeda Records. Martin also rounded up myself, Dub Not Pop and Luke Lund to remix some electrodub he made. That’s some of the best music I’ve made, I’m looking forward to hearing the finished product.

Your day job involves music/audio (I think??), can you tell us a bit about that?

It doesn’t really, it’s more of a side-line I’ve got going! I’m trying to make it part of my day job! I am fortunate enough to live a few doors down from Andy Walmsley, who runs a design and marketing studio in Preston.

Andy much prefers using original compositions to augment his adverts — if they edit or the video is locked, I can sync the music to things happening on the screen. This gives it far more emotional heft than using stock music. It’s an interesting challenge — you need to make compose music that has an impact, synchronises to on screen action and is usually less than a minute long.

I recently soundtracked a video for a sound installation about Northern Soul by Martyn Ware (namedrop alarm!) They couldn’t use the original music for copyright reasons, and the video was filled with the ghosts of Northern Soul — it was filmed in a decaying ballroom in slow motion, so the atmosphere was very heavy. That’ll be live on the web soon, I can’t wait to see the finished product.

In terms of your creative process, how do you set about making music?

My music has kind of veered away from melodic hooks, into more tonal and rhythmic music. So in some cases, the rhythm will come first, in others the sounds and feel. Other things that will inspire me will be a new technique or plugin that I’ll just want to play with, and the sounds just fall out of that. Other times, I’m happy to go for straight theft! I’ll hear a song and there’ll be a fragment that will stick in my head, and I’ll just lift it. But never steal from the genre you’re working in, always lift it from something entirely unrelated to what you’re making.

Tell us about the gear you use — can you give us a breakdown of any hardware/software you use, in the studio and for live?

For the live set, I’m going to be using my new purchase — a Native Instruments Maschine, which is part hardware interface, and part software DAW. It’s meant that I’ve had to learn how to use this new ecosystem at the same time as creating a live set!

I’ve found the Maschine incredibly intuitive for creating beats, pads and melodies, but it can sometimes sound and feel a bit Spartan. So I’ve now got the most complicated creation process… I start in Maschine and get a rough arrangement together there. I then import that in Ableton to get the arrangement firmed up and locked down. I’ll usually add a few more elements at this stage. Then, if I’m feeling energetic, I’ll bounce stems down to mix in Logic.

I love Ableton, it’s just so immediate, flexible and quick, but it just feels a little dry or a little thin for my ambient heavy work. Logic has some amazing reverbs and the Alchemy synth is just incredible. Before I had the Maschine, I’d swing between Logic and Ableton depending on my mood. My process is now incredibly labour intensive, but I hope it mixes and matches the best elements of all 3 systems.

Can you tell us anything about the set you’ll be performing at Emotion Wave?

As it’s been my first, it’s been a steep learning curve! I’ll be playing 30 minutes of all new material — there’s be huge ambient pads, slamming kicks and sub-bass that should shake the floor. I’m hoping to bring a bit of outer space to Liverpool!

I have a new EP I’ve put together, and I’ll be giving out free Bandcamp codes to anyone at the gig. So come to the gig, get a free EP!

Are there any artists/music you’re into now you’d like to share with us?

I love Hypnus Records on Bandcamp. All of their releases sound more or less the same, but it’s just a vibe I love and can’t get enough of. In preparation for this live set, I’ve been checking out YouTube and I’ve been loving the videos from the Cercle channel — they are live sets, often performed in front of no audience in some remote French landmark. They are as beautiful to watch as to listen to.

Any plans for the future?

Depending on how the Emotion Wave gig goes, it’s either more gigs and music or retreat into a cave for the next five years!