“Using the SUBPAC has really helped me with fine-tuning sub bass in my mixdowns. It’s especially useful when mixing kick drums against the sub – something that until now required a heavy element of trial and error!”
Rob Ellis – Pinch – is one of the dubstep generation’s true philosophers. Always understated in person, but with a bone-dry wit and encyclopaedic knowledge of music and underground culture at his fingertips, he has operated at one step’s remove from the hustle of genre fads and shifts: watching, learning and adapting all the way. His trips from Bristol to FWD>> nights in London, and return journeys keyed up with the possibilities for bringing the nascent dubstep sound to his hometown – already well versed in soundsystem culture – are the stuff of subcultural legend, as are the Subloaded/Dubloaded nights and Tectonic label that grew from this inspiration.
Originally from Newport, over the bridge in South Wales, and primed by his older brother’s On-U Sound albums, Ellis moved to Bristol in his late teens and threw himself into the jungle / drum’n’bass scene. But his questing mind grew frustrated with its predictability around the turn of the millennium, and inspired by the twin poles of Basic Channel’s dub techno and early grime instrumentals, he explored other tempos – and so was perfectly primed for dubstep. His flagbearing for the sound made Bristol dubstep’s second city, and was instrumental in its national, then international spread.
Again, though, he never settled into an easy groove. His ‘Underwater Dancehall’ album pioneered vocal dubstep, Tectonic broke out into more abstracted sounds from the likes of 2562, and has since touched on everything from broken neo-soul to heads-down techno to raging junglist breaks. His DJ sets have always navigated between these various poles, and most recently his collaboration with legendary UK dub experimentalist and On-U Sound lynchpin Adrian Sherwood has brought everything full circle, bringing together a lifetime of influences united by one thing: bass. “If your chest ain’t rattling, it ain’t happening” he once said of Subloaded parties – and that remains true of everything Pinch does to this day.