DFRNT - Dubstep IDM

DFRNT aka Alex is an old friend of Sturban Clothing, in fact he is responsible for the logo that we current use, he has done a podcast for us in the past and is a very multi talented guy.  We just thought it might be interesting to chat with him and just show the struggle some people have, Alex holds down a very challenging full time job has a graphic designer and in his spare time DJ's, runs a few record labels, has run a magazine, puts on nights and try's to keep up blogs, most relate to dubstep, IDM and design, so lets jump in.

Hi Alex so last time we spoke you had just come back from the States and was planning to move there for a year to see how things went, what's happened?
Not a huge amount. I'm still planning the move, but visa applications and paperwork tend to delay these things far beyond what anybody expects, so yeah - I'm still heading out there, and at this point I'm hoping it's going to be within the next month or two. Hard to say though.

You were DJing over there is that how you intend to earn a  living?
No, I was just doing that as a bit of fun. I spoke to promoters wherever I was going, and hooked up a few gigs. I'm going to be working full time for the company I work for over here in the UK, but out there in the US. We're opening an office in NYC, which I'll be heading up.
Your daytime job is as a graphic designer have you been doing much lately I know you gave up your job?
I didn't ever give up! haha I'm still working as a designer day-to-day. Still really enjoying it actually. I moved job about a couple of years ago, but I'm still working with web and digital design. I tried to cut down on freelance work though, just so I had a bit more spare time for music and stuff, but I do still take freelance jobs on now and again.
Echodub do you want to explain about the label?
We moved from being a collective/label to just being more of a regular label - and really the only release in the past few months has been my own album and EP - Fading and El Spirito respectively. I'd like to do more vinyl and I have one or two releases set for release, but it's a case of time and more importantly, money.

I don't like to be pressured in to doing releases or having any sort of expectation for the label, so I'm just taking it as it comes.

Most of the Echodub releases seem to be free downloads, why is that?
Most of our releases are paid digital releases - it's really "Cut" that handles the free releases now. We did a small handful of free releases with Echodub back when the label started to get us out and about - which did wonders for our audience, and reaching places far and wide - but I switched to doing regular digital releases to build up a catalogue, and beyond that I'd like to do more physical soon.

But yeah - Cut is where all the free or pay-what-you-like releases sit now, I've retired the idea of free music from Echodub for now, to allow that distinction to grow.

So what's the difference between Echodub and Cut?
Well primarily Echodub was the first label I started, just as I was learning about how to do these things - but Cut started in January 2011 and became where I wanted to focus the free releases. I felt there was room for a pay-what-you-want net-based label but packaging the music properly, with nice artwork and presenting it as a thing of value - as opposed to producers just bunging things up on Soundcloud or Mediafire. THat bothers me, because it's like they don't value their own work. I felt Cut would be a better place to present that stuff on a proper platform, and build up a nice audience for it.

So far, so good!

What ws the main reasoning behind starting a new label (Cut)?
The catalyst for starting it was actually making the logo - after I'd created that, I thought "actually, I could use this..." and the label idea was born out of that!

What do you have planned for Cut?
One day it would be amazing to be able to do free physical releases - but that's budget dependent, and really we'd have to get crazy-popular for that to happen. In the meantime, I'll just continue to put out good music as and when I hear it. The artists we've had on board have been very good about the whole thing, and I'd like to hope it's at the very least got them a bit more exposure.

With your move to the States do you see yourself putting out more realeases from US artists?
To be honest, I never bother about where producers are from. If it's good music - I'll support it. I think these days location is totally irrelevant. Interestingly, when I speak to local promoters - many of them didn't ever realised I live in Edinburgh!

Do you think the idea of selling music it these digital time with file sharing etc is dead and do you think artists should be looking for new revenue streams and if so got any ideas?
No, I think people can still sell music, but I just don't think there's as much money to be made. There's no sort of renaissance, or secret way to make money from music, you just have to be wildly popular, or have people who want to buy your stuff.

There was a good amount of people professing that live or DJing was where musicians could make their cash too - but unless you're prepared to drop everyting and really go at it full-on, I don't think there's really enough of an equivalent to a proper wage to be garnered from live or DJing. You still need to build hype and a name before you can charge anything that would make DJing worthwile I think. Unless you're looking to use that to just supplement your income.

I think people forget that in order to make money from the music scene these days it seems like you have to have fingers in all the pies. Labels, nights, DJing, production, promotion - all of these then add up to give somebody involved more of a reasonable wage. I can only speak from experience, but this is the way it seems to me. I tend to tell people there's little money to be made from selling music at the moment.

I do remember a bunch of online blogs come magazines are you still doing these?
I still write SittingOvation (sittingovation.com) although it's in waves of updates - some months I'll do one or two a week, sometimes it's once or twice a month. Just when I have time really.

I recently retired the idea of doing another physical magazine - I had done "Modus" a while back, and released it as an actual magazine people could buy, but the uptake was miniscule, so I didn't bother taking that any further really. I felt like I'd put so much in to that, and it's disheartening to see how little people were bothered, so I just thought - well, there's other ways to make a difference.

I started musicdescriptions.tumblr.com recently as a wee enjoyable project to host all the daft descriptions of music I get sent - it's been really fun to do actually, so that's going well.

I also started more of a personal/design blog at nothorrendous.com which may prove interesting to readers, although it may not, since it's not hugely music-centric.

So another alter ego of yours DFRNT any remixes or productions planned?
Well I'm working as "Hero Hero" for some hip hop production stuff, and AGC Esquire for some 80s inspired retro stuff, but as DFRNT, I have one or two things planned. A couple of remixes should be coming out this year, and I'm getting approached a bit more for remix work which is nice. I've also had an EP signed by a label for a vinyl release which should be this spring, but I can't really say much more at this point. I'm not sure what the label have planned in terms of promotion etc.
Your top five tunes of all time?
Man, this is a hard one. I never really have just five tracks that I can define as being my top tracks - I go through a huge amount of "oh, this is my favourite" type tracks. Here's five that I've been LOVING recently...

1 Function - Inter
2 Action Bronson - Bird On A Wire
3 The Cinematic Orchestra - Burn Out
4 Simple Minds - Real Life
5 FaltyDL - She Sleeps

...man that was tough. :D

So what's the future IDM/dubstep?
Very hard to say I guess. I don't have any real predictions if I'm honest. I'd just like to see people get on with whatever they're doing and enjoy it - as long as everyone's enjoying what they do and not just doing it for money or greed, then they'll get by fine and we'll all get along.

Everyone is intrinsically nice, but I think naivety and false promises leave us all with a bad taste in our mouth. I think people should just say what they mean, and save the promising to those who can deliver.

and Alex?
Another hard one. I thought I had it all worked out, but it turns out some other people in my life didn't think the same way, so I've got a move to NYC and we'll see what happens from there. Anything could happen - and I'm quite looking forward to that prospect!
You can further connect with DFRNT or listen to more of his noise on Soundcloud