Real Ones: Dr Dubplate Speaks

The doctor will see you now. Prescribing the best dubs one record at a time, Dr Dubplate and his ec2a label launched in 2019 through a virtual friendship with UKG bubbler Main Phase, and since then the label has gone onto be instrumental in pushing the sound of many of the most exciting emerging names that are bursting onto the UK scene, from Bluetoof to Daffy and ANSZA to DJ Crisps.

Killer UK club music with a contemporary edge, Dr Dubplate has been busy touring up and down the country since the re-opening of clubs; sharing line-ups with close friends and label family such as Interplanetary Criminal, Yushh and Sicaria Sound, and inviting Jossy Mitsu and Coco Bryce to join him the Rinse FM airwaves, where he holds down a residency.

One of the most genuine characters currently operating in UK club music, and a real one in every regard, we caught up with the Doc to chat about dubplates, ec2a and the melting pot of modern dance music.

What was the inspiration for ec2a? It’s home to what I would call the new school of UKG and UK club music. Artists like Daffy, Bluetooth, Main Phase. What do you make of the contemporary garage circuit, what do you feel they are doing differently?

I feel like they’re not constricted as much. Our generation has had all of it. We’re existing at a stage when the sounds aren’t exactly being pioneered. We’ve got dubstep, techno, jungle, y’know? We’ve got all of these things, so it’s just a big melting pot of genres.

I remember talking to people from the older generation and they were saying they would never mix certain tracks on a garage beat, or a jungle beat. Now I think people are doing whatever the fuck they want. Not that people weren’t doing that before, but having all of this music that we’ve grown up with, now you can just proper hear it. It’s a fusion of everything.

Photo by Jordan Core

Are the releases built on already existing friendships? There seems to be a real nice community of you guys coming together in London, Manchester and Leeds.

I knew Main Phase before, we met online when he was making music under a different alias. Through that we would always chat and I pitched an idea to him which was ec2a at the time, which was inspired by Plastic People and the time I had spent at the venue. At the time he hadn’t released anything and we went ahead with the Kung Pow edit, and from there [in 2019] everything just, sort of, organically progressed. 

Then we got introduced to other people. I mean, SoundCloud is the biggest plug isn’t it? Half of these people, especially considering the label launched just before lockdown, I wasn’t able to physically meet them. That virtual friendship with Main Phase was the spark. It was a dub-limited release, which there weren’t many people doing in the more garagey, breaksy space. Same goes for DJ Swagger, I knew him under some of his earlier aliases like Interstate and that. 

Everyone was really hungry to do something a little bit different. The main thing that was popping at the time was this, sort of, lo-fi sound. There was 2-step releases from Dr Bananas and that, the only real difference was I wanted to put out music that was current, whereas a lot of places were doing reissues, not prominently, but I just knew a bunch of artists that I thought maybe didn’t have the recognition that they needed, so we thought let’s just put on some releases and see what happens. We expected nothing, we just wanted to put out the music. You know, some things just need to be heard.

With music now so accessible, do you feel the dubplate still has the same impact as it did before? Is that the point of releasing them on vinyl only? To create sought after moments? In many ways I think it’s what modern dance music needs.

I feel like the only reason I wanted to do the dubs was because I was speaking to Green King Cuts who do all of my vinyl. They were telling me they reckoned we could get something popping with the sound our mates were pushing, and the vinyl timeframes were, and still are, pretty mad, but I still thought it was a cooler approach to give these lesser-known artists a physical release out in a quick time. 

The vinyl records we use are slightly different to the normal ones, so they’re made out of PVC and aren’t as expensive, and you can get copies back within four weeks instead of four or five months. Dance music is a lot more disposable, times change a lot quicker, so it was really about capturing a particular sound in a particular moment in time.

Photo by Jordan Core

Favourite owned dubplates? Anything that’s really went off recently?

There’s a Zero FG ‘Bump n Grind’ edit, that’s the main one that’s been popping off. I’ve been playing a lot of afrobeat and Baile funk as well recently, they go off. They’re just cheeky edits, innit? Afrobeats, they just have a different groove.

What’s next for you and the label?

We want to start pushing more original music, less sample heavy, on a bigger scale. The dubs have always been about pushing lesser-known artists and to try and get their sound out there. 

I’ve got a couple projects that are real big coming up, on what are going to be off-shoot labels on ec2a, as I try to achieve a more varied spectrum of music. I want it to represent dance music culture, as opposed to a particular genre. I want it to be a feeling.

22nd February 2022