He’s not been long in the game, but the latest addition to our FatKidOnFire Presents series is one of the most prolific producers on the scene. Proxima’s responsible for a stupid amount of anthems – both released and dub – and calls the legendary Tempa Records home. Oh, and he’s Icicle’s cousin. The two musicians are machines when it comes to producing killer DnB, even more so when the tempo drops to 140bpm – an area that seems to have been Proxima’s recent focus.
Hey Gijs, how’s it going? Where are you in the world and what have you been up to? Heya, I’m very good thanks! I moved to London with my girlfriend about 7 months ago – it has been an excellent decision in terms of my musical endeavours. There’s so much to do here, and I’ve had the chance to properly link up with so many interesting people. My label is pretty much just around the corner as well, which has made the last stages of my album go really smoothly. So it’s safe to say I’m doing great!
Looking back at you starting up, you’re one of many talented DnB producers who’ve slowed things down and started making 140bpm. How would you describe yourself as a producer – free of genre ties maybe? Thanks, I did indeed make that choice a couple of years ago. I was sort of stuck in DnB; wasn’t really motivated to make music. After a while I though I’d give dubstep a try and started listening to Youngsta’s RinseFM show every week. The love for bass music returned instantly, and so did the days in the studio!
I’ve been doing dubstep for a couple of years now and it has been so much fun. Because of my DnB background, the tunes that I made (and make) have quite a DnB-like sound to them. Something that has been picked up by a lot of people it seems. This has proven to be a perfect combination for me; I just love those sounds at 140! It has opened up a whole new world, while I am still being able to keep doing something that’s familiar to me. It has really been a fresh start. In your opinion, what does the expertise gained from making DnB bring to dubstep? Why do DnB producers make such good dubstep?! Good question! I would say that the mixdown definitely plays a part here. I think DnB tunes usually have mixdowns that are bit louder and balanced a little different in terms of frequencies, so perhaps implementing these techniques into dubstep has allowed for this.
Also, like I said before, the combination of a DnB background and a 140 framework might lead to new ideas and insights in how a dubstep tune could come about.
What’s your production set up like at the moment? And what’s your process for making tunes – is there a particular way you sit down and produce? At the moment my setup is very modest, as it is already taking up half the living room! I’ve had to leave some gear behind, such as my subwoofer and my distortion unit, because we simply don’t have the space for it and I don’t want to start a ruckus with the neighbours just yet. A separate studio probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon because London is not cheap, but I’m quite happy with the way it is really! It’s just a computer, soundcard, studio monitors and Virus keys. I work pretty much completely in the box so I don’t really need much else anyway. Would be good to have a sound treated room once again in the future, but for now I can do anything I want and need.
Lie Detection. Trapped. Thermal Vision. Formal Junction. You’re not long into the dubstep side of your career but you’re already responsible for more anthems than a lot of the more ‘established’ producers. What’s your recipe for success?! I don’t know really! To be honest, one of the things I’m still struggling with sometimes is keeping things simple and recognisable. I’ve got a lot of tunes that make complete sense to me because I made them, but would leave people in the club slightly confused. Maybe even more than slightly. Those tracks you mention were deliberately kept simple (in various degrees), and that’s what made them strong I think. They get stuck in people’s heads easily, and that’s how the notice starts. Trapped for example has that very recognisable lead sound, which has made it so distinguishable I’d say. Even when there’s a lot going on in your tune, it needs to have something that gives it a clear identity.
You were picked up by Tempa early on in your dubstep days, and they seem to be your go-to label ever since. How did the relationship come about? That’s true, they were interested in my dubstep ventures from pretty much the beginning. This interest started when my cousin Icicle gave Youngsta a couple of tunes I’d done. He liked them very much and started playing them on the radio etc, soon after that we were talking about my first release for Tempa. An offer for a deal followed pretty quickly, and we’ve been working together ever since. Obviously very happy about that! They’re a great label and they’ve made big things possible for me.
In terms of new material, you’ve obviously got your debut dubstep album dropping next month. You’ve caught up with Trusik to discuss the release – so we won’t spend too much time on it. What’s your favourite track on the release? Maybe it’s no surprise, but that’s a difficult one! I’ve tried to capture a lot of different styles within the confines of dubstep for the album, so I like each track’s specific sound. Playing the Arp and In Vacuo definitely stand out to me because of the arpeggiated lead sounds they use, which is a pretty rare thing in the deeper dubstep genre still. Even pretty much non-existent when I wrote them a year or two ago!
How would you describe the album – dubstep built from a DnB perspective? Like I said in the previous question, I’ve really tried to make a versatile, whole album. It definitely incorporates heavily DnB-influenced sounds, but there are other musical elements on it as well. I tried to step out of a single genre and looked for possible combinations that were something different but still worked. To me it has to be an experience, rather than 11-12 random tunes chucked on a medium of your choice.
With digital music retail’s success and the streaming platform’s rise in popularity, do you think albums are still a concept worth pursuing? Maybe less and less commercially, but for me personally still very much so. I’ve wanted to make an album for so long, so when Tempa offered me to do it I was very much up for it. It’s still the perfect way to show the world that you can do more than just one single sound at the same BPM over and over again. It’s a lot more definable in terms of being an artist than just singles and EP’s in my opinion, and you learn a lot from it as well. Even if a significant amount of people will just grab the “hits” off it, there’s still an equally significant amount of people that actually takes the time to listen to the whole thing. And if they end up only buying a selection of album tracks as well, they’ve still heard the rest and hopefully will have a different opinion of you as an artist.
You’re playing Fabric on Boxing Day – joining Contact in Room 3 – and then again with the Chestplate gang in January. Looking forward? Looking to test any new material? Definitely! I still haven’t played in Fabric, so it’s about effing time! Both nights are going to be amazing I’m sure – and I will certainly bring some new beats to try out. I’ve got a lot of unreleased new tracks still lying around anyway, like Nasty and Housestep, they will surely be making an appearance. I always play out my latest things so who knows what else has came out of the studio by then!
In terms of other events you’ve got coming up, where can people catch you playing out? It’s has slowed down a little bit in terms of bookings this year, because I haven’t released anything for a while now. Unavoidable when you’re working on your (first) album I reckon. I do have a couple of gigs taking place within the next two months I’m very much looking forward to. These are those two nights in Fabric – I’ve also got gigs in Romania and Manchester. There are a couple of album launch nights in the making as well, more info on those to follow soon! There’s even something special happening on the day of my album’s release, December 8th, so keep an eye out on my socials for that!
What can you tell us about the FKOF mix you’ve put together? I wanted to do something a bit groovy and energetic, keep the listeners moving. I like it when there’s a lot going on. It contains a lot of my own stuff, new and newer, a bit more than I planned but hey I’m happy with the result! There’s some fresh stuff from Icicle, The Others, LX One, Genetix, Matt U and more in it as well. There’s even a little surprise at the end!
Release or dub, what’s been your favourite tune this year? I’d have to say Problem by Icicle & Skittles. Such a skanker that one. So recognisable but still containing intricate layers of music. If you’ve lived in a hole in the ground these last months: he has released his second album recently and it is brilliant. Go grab it if you haven’t already!
What are your plans for the DnB side of your music – what have you got lined up? I’m actually doing a lot of DnB at the moment! The inspiration has returned in full and I’m enjoying it very much again. I’m planning to seriously chase that up again as well, next year will definitely see a couple of releases and developments!
Any final words or shoutouts? Good luck with the album release! A big shoutout (that goes without saying) is to Icicle, my cousin and one of my best friends. He’s been a big influence over the years, we’ve always been into the same things anyway. He’s truly an inspiration to me, in terms of music and what he has achieved so far (and undoubtedly will in the future). That man is simply unstoppable.
A quick comment as people still wonder about this: although Icicle has taught me a lot in the past, I’ve made it my mission to master everything I want to be able to do in the studio myself these last few years. I’ve taught myself to use a lot of different synthesis instruments, have my own way of constructing and processing beats, went on discovering how to get the mixdown right etc. etc.
Another big shout is to Youngsta, the man I was picked up by from the very beginning and has supported me ever since. A true deep and dark music lover, and a superb DJ. He’ll be at the forefront of good music forever!
Click to DOWNLOAD (124MB)
- Proxima – Playing the Arp [Tempa]
- The Others – All the Way Down [Dub Police]
- Icicle – Acidacid [dub]
- Icicle ft. Proxima & SP:MC – Hyper Velocity [Shogun Audio]
- Proxima – Trapped [Tempa]
- Proxima – In Vacuo [Tempa]
- Proxima – Dance [dub]
- District – Alpha House [Chestplate]
- LX One – Cloud City [Wheel & Deal Records]
- Genetix – Point Insertion [Wheel & Deal Records]
- Tony Rocky Horror – Toxin [dub]
- The Others – Empire [Dub Police]
- Icicle – Need a Techno [dub]
- Proxima – untitled [dub]
- Icicle – Want It [Shogun Audio]
- Proxima – Nasty [dub]
- Proxima ft. DRS – Smog [Tempa]
- Proxima ft. P Money – Pressurized [Tempa]
- Icicle – Amp [Shogun Audio]
- Matt U – Totemica [dub]
- Proxima – Fallout [Tempa]
- Proxima ft. Dnae – Afterwards [Tempa]