In 2012 Dusky wowed you, us and everyone else with the ubiquitous floor killer that was 'Flo Jam'. Without letting up the pressure for a moment, the duo have continued impressing throughout 2013, with their massive EPs released on Naked Naked and Aus Music uniting garage DJs, bass heads and house fanatics alike.
Two of the nicest, most modest producers you could hope to meet, Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman are genuinely all about the music. When asked why their productions stand out in a crowded field they’re loathe to pat themselves on the back, with Granger-Howell avowing that, ”Most of our music conforms to established boundaries in that it falls within the realms of classic house and techno,” before reluctantly admitting that “I supposewhen it comes to the details we often combine techniques and ideas that others might not”.
While they may be reluctant to big themselves up, something is going right. Tributes to Dusky records have poured in across the board, and they are very much the producers’ producers. In a year full of highlights, the Londoners cite homecoming gigs at XOYO, and in Fabric’s main room as particular stand-out moments, noting that they’re due to return to Fabric in March to curate their own Dusky Presents spectacular. “Achieving a No.1 on Beatport with 'Careless' was quite satisfying too,” Alfie smiles.
In some ways the Dusky sound has been almost too successful, and the inevitable hordes of imitators have sprung up around them mining skippy drum patterns and moody bass until there’s little left to care about. The duo are aware of this and have an eye on the future, as Alfie explains.
“Some of the tracks we’re working on at the moment still do have that garage and New Jersey house influence, but the trouble is there’s so much of that stuff around at the moment that feels incredibly generic, so we tend to tread carefully with that sound. People use a lot of retro production techniques to get that old school feel, but with a lot of it I feel like — what’s the point? If you’re not bringing anything new to the sound then why bother? Dance music is about trying new combinations and directions. So yes, we’ve been exploring some new paths ourselves, some of it on a more techno tangent, but still with a lot of melodic inflection. We’re also starting to work on a second album, so we’re experimenting with less dancefloor-oriented material.”
Eschewing analogue kit, Dusky stick to software, writing their beats in Logic Pro, and name-checking plug-ins and synths made by the likes of Waves, Native Instruments, D16, Soundtoys and Spectrasonics. When asked if they feel they’ve used their kit to pioneer any unique production techniques, the duo are modest as ever, claiming that they just like attention to detail, even as they set the pace for the pack. “Although,” Nick interjects, “arguably we’re frontrunners in our pioneering use of the ‘forgetting to press save and then losing all our work when our computer crashes’ technique. We’ve got that one locked down...!”
As their star has ascended, the duo have found themselves invited to play more and more parties — and as producers who started DJing around the same time they started writing music this has always been a pleasure for them. DJ Mag want to know where they stand on the many DJs (we’re not saying who!) getting their hits ghost-written for them to up their profile and their fee. Unsurprisingly it’s not a practice the hardworking team are going to co-sign.
“Ghost writing has always been about, but more so in pop music production than in underground dance music. It’s actually quite natural in a commercial sense, as very few people can maintain a high level of creative output over a long period of time, so to get other writers in to ease the burden makes sense,” Nick starts. “If this kind of collaboration is out in the open, and the artist freely admits they don’t write or engineer all their material themselves that’s perfectly acceptable.
Whereas people claiming to be 'producers', getting ghost writers to write for them, and then pretending that they did it all on their own isn’t cool at all. It’s dishonest, fake, and devalues the time real artists have invested in their craft. “
And being ‘real artists’ is something the meticulous, humble and effortlessly musical Dusky know all about. Here’s to another year of classics...