Dubcast Vol.10 with Duppy Interview
For this edition on our Dubcast series, New York’s DJ Duppy brings a bass-fueled journey across sounds and styles. Adding to the mix’s depth and dynamism is NYC activist and vocalist, Flav. The pair will make their debut on Dub-Stuy’s Tower of Sound for Echo Chamber X with Vibronics and Dubamine on Saturday, February 18th.
Ahead of the show we caught up with Duppy by email to discuss her musical influences, inspirations as well as her experience moving to the Bronx from Jamaica as a teenager.
You’ve talked about growing up in Jamaica and discovering bass music after moving to the Bronx as a teenager. How would you describe the evolution your sound and style?
I grew up around a lot of dancehall music as a child. I wasn’t drawn to it at first because I felt that world can be a bit shallow at times. I especially couldn’t identify with the music after moving to America. My family members were always playing old school reggae and club style dancehall. I was a bit rebellious as I got a bit older- I can vividly remember listening to Bjork and Metallica’s ‘Saint Anger’ as a middle schooler, and bleaching my hair as a way to disconnect myself from what I was around. I’d heard bass music from artists like Skream and artists on Deep Medi but had no idea what the genre was called. I worked at the Bronx Museum of The Arts as a teenager for an outreach program and I was introduced to Mike SKinner’s The Street’s album, ‘Original Pirate Material;’ that album had different styles of UK bass music and I was instantly hooked and researched all of the styles that influenced him. Jungle and Dubstep were a few styles I discovered along the way and I had to delve deeper. Unfortunately, I was mislead and believed for the longest that dubstep was an American creation. I had no idea about it’s roots and how much my home country had influenced these genres. Even when I was new to the sounds of Junlge and Dubstep, I could instantly recognize songs and dancehall lyrics I grew up around, but all with a new twist. Dub music made me proud of my country again and I finally discovered other caribbeans and people from all over who wanted to push the sounds and culture forward.
What was your first exposure to sound systems?
My first exposure was going to 5 am after hour events in Manhattan as a teenager. I’ve never felt so moved by music emanating from sub woofers before. I felt like I had a spiritual awakening and I just wanted to share that discovery with people in my community. A few years later I learned how to mix and arrange Dub and Bass music after spending time with a producer by the name of Chris Homenick, aka 3RDi. For the longest time I was absolutely addicted to house music (Todd Terry, UK Garage Todd Edwards) and old school techno (Juan Atkins/Model 500). Dub and bass music eventually took over my heart. I feel like there are people who refuse to acknowledge what influences the things we hear in the mainstream world. I wish that people would open their minds and discover producers that aren’t following a formula in order to create a finished product.
How did you decide on your DJ name, Duppy?
Duppy means ‘ghost’ in Jamaican patois. I chose the name as a play on superstitious Jamaican beliefs and my angst-filled rebellious adolescence . I love horror films and the occult, so I felt like that word just seemed so fitting!
How do you approach putting together your mixes?
I like my mixes to have a certain flow, almost like i’m telling a story. There’s a lot of dramatic and heart wrenching build up until the pace picks up. I also love beat matching and chopping up sections of songs in order to turn my blends into a remix. I’m heavily influenced by techno and the breakdowns of Todd Edwards. He rearranges vocal phrases in almost all of his songs in order to create melodies.
I like my mixes to feel like you’re lucid dreaming and having an out of body experience.
Speaking of out of body experiences, you’re open about spirituality being important to you. How does spirituality inform your approach to your life and music?
My father is a Rastafarian and the other side of my family are seventh day adventists. So to sum that up, I grew up around a lot of spirituality. We’re all a bit scattered because of immigration, so I grew up in a bit of a broken household. I also grew up with other challenges- unhealthy home life and the passing of two friends, one to gang violence and another to substance abuse… In the face of these circumstances as a teenager, I poured myself into learning and art making. I also learned about yoga and meditation, which helped me to heal myself and stay focused. Also, discovering DJing allowed me to pour myself into the music and practice my technique as a healthy outlet for what was going on around me.
I hope that what I do can influence other women and people to find outlets and not give up during times of hardship.
If you could assemble a dream lineup of like 4-6 artists, living or not, who would be on the bill?
Bjork, Barrington Levy and Flowdan would be my vocalists. I’d have Mark Bell, Bop, Kemistry + Storm, Lone and Kahn. I feel like I gave a bit too much.
I shouldn’t have cut the list at 4-6! Are more you’d like to add?
If I can add more, I’d have Congo Natty, X5 Dubs, Rx Bandits, Nightmares on Wax, Roska + Brackles, El P and Lady Miss Kier. Oh! And Oshun.