Best Of British 2011: Best Breakthrough DJ - Subb-An | DJMag.com Skip to main content

Best Of British 2011: Best Breakthrough DJ - Subb-An

THE NEXT PLATEAU: After years cutting his teeth as a live performer, Birmingham house cat Subb-an’s move into regular DJing has seen him step it up — big time…

In early 2011, Berlin-based Brummie Subb-an, AKA Ashique Subhan Subban, decided to move away from the live performances with which he had made his name. 
“I love DJing, I have so many great tracks to share and it's a lot of fun for me to DJ after playing mainly live for nearly three years,” says the One Records co-chief down the phone from New York City.  
And what a decision it proved to be in light of winning this, DJ Mag’s prestigious Best Breakthrough DJ award.

“I’m very overwhelmed!” he enthuses.  “I was surprised to see I had been nominated in the first place, let alone finding out that I won.”  Given the stiff competition from the likes of bass darlings Julio Bashmore, Jamie xx and T. Williams, what is it that has set Subb-an apart in the last 12 months?  Well, it could be any number of things. 

Firstly, having cut his teeth at Birmingham’s Below parties for years, this man has a handle on how to control a club at opening time, peak time and just before home time.  So, too, though, does he have a healthy arsenal of his own analogue tech and house productions to call on, as well as the others he enlists to release on One Records, the label he runs with pal Adam Shelton.
Amongst his own big hits this year have been a summer-owning remix of Noir & Haze’s ‘Around’ as well as deeper offerings in the form of ‘The Lovers Night’ on Spectral Sound and an epic nine-minute workout on Crosstown Rebels.  Surely informed by his endless travels around the world, each of these releases — as well as efforts on LA-based Culprit and Leeds’ 2020 Vision — offer something dancefloor aligned-yet-suitably discerning for the modern house fan.
“The year has been fantastic and has included a lot of hard work, a lot of parties and a lot of fun,” says the man in the middle of another three-gig weekend. “Main highlights have been the live show with my vocalist Beckford in the Dance Village at Glastonbury in front of several thousand people in the mud, but also my debut live show at Katerholzig [formerly Bar25] back in August… it was a Sunday, it was rammed and it was, again, a lot of fun.”

How, then, does this rising star ensure each gig is better than the last?
“With a DJ set, there's not a lot of preparation, although I am super-organised. I use Traktor so my iTunes is really categorized, neat and tidy. I remove any un-needed information, such as 'Original Mix', and have my 'Artist' and 'Track Title' columns wide apart from one another. All this makes it easier when scanning through, less info to process. It's sound OCD, but it works for me!”

Of course, every gig must be assessed on the night rather than planned out hours in advance, with different countries liking wholly different things, as Ash has found out whilst constantly traversing the globe and playing places like Sonar, Garden Festival, Space, WMC, both Americas and all of Europe along the way.
“Every country is very different. You have different cultures mixed with different musical backgrounds and different laws which all have an effect on the scene within a country,” says the man sagely. “At some places, the vibe is more intense; more up for it, and at others, it can be a bit more mellow. I must say, being from the UK, we are very spoilt for choice with parties here and in Europe.”

Behind the scenes, details must be considered, too, with Ash citing “really great and supportive management” as a big help in 2011, whilst his recent move to the techno capital of the world, Berlin, has also had a big impact. “It's been a great decision to make the move. It’s benefited mine and Adam's label hugely, what with meeting new artists and hosting some great label parties.”

How can 2012 be any better? Well, there are plans for plenty more studio collaborations and plenty more releases on One Records, as well as some more personal musical goals. 
“I really need to step up and learn to play the piano,” says Ash. “It's holding me back and I want to get super on top of it. I'm also trying to learn French, so we'll see how that goes…”

If it goes as well as his DJing in 2011, Subb-an will be fluent in no time…

<<< Best Live ActBest Breakthrough Producer >>>

  The Other Nominees

Jamie XXT.WilliamsJulio BashmoreJordan Peak