HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Domu Interview

Domonic Stanton, also known as Domu is a gifted young producer from West London. He's established a following in the UK producing a wide range of music from broken beats to House to more downtempo tracks under alias's such as Umod, Yotoko, Yaceo, Zolter, Rima with Volcov from Archive, and Bakura with R.Martin that released tracks on Esecial Records.

He visited Japan in July this year to promote his original album released under his UMOD alias 'Enter the UMOD' as well as his latest EP 'Discotech EP' that was released through Psychic Phenomena on 25th September. Higher-Frequency caught up with him when he was in Japan and got the lowdown from one of the UK's up and coming producers.

> Interview : Laura Brown (Arctokyo)


HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Where have you been so far? Last night you had a gig in Oita? How did it go?

Domu : Really really fun. Lovely warm happy people. It was a smaller place, but you get the impression that everyone knows each other. They were a lot more open and a lot more dancing and having fun, not so serious clubbing. But inevitably, you end up playing a lot of classics because it's more of a party. But really good.

HRFQ : Can you tell us a little about your musical background? What did you start out doing?

Domu : I started DJing playing Jungle, Drum & Bass in '92. I was 14 then. Within a year or so, I started playing at raves and illegal parties and that. Another year went on and I started producing, making D&B and then really started getting into other music. I really started getting back into Hip Hop, because Hip Hop was my first love, but I only started DJing D & B and then I got into Hip Hop again, then into Jazz, Funk and Soul. Also, when I first signed, I signed to Reinforced with 4 Hero and they were really into Detroit and Detroit Techno, so I got into that through them. Then I met Enrico who runs Archive, which is a label that I've worked for a lot - the first Domu album was on. And he's really into that, but he's also into House and Disco and quite heavily into Brazilian and I just took in a lot as I've grown up, a lot more music really. My DJing has started to reflect all the music that I'm listening to and liking.

HRFQ : With Enrico, you do the Rima project, correct? You've got quite a few aliases, so can you talk about them a bit?

Domu : It's not to confuse people. If I work with someone else, it's nice to give it an identity and I just work a lot. I make a lot of music - I'm very prolific and it's going to happen that I'm going to have lots of different names... I enjoy following people with different synonyms, seeing their music come out from different countries on different labels. For me, part of the fun in making music is to network in this way so that I'm free to do these projects with whomever I choose.

HRFQ : You've previously mentioned the London club night Co-Op Live Sessions. Are you still involved with them?

Domu : I still play at Co-Op. Every couple of months I'll play there. It's a very much as a follower of the broken beat scene, to hear very new stuff. All the producers go there to DJ and a lot of other producers go there to hear the new stuff… It's a music lovers club really. There's a good vibe there.

HRFQ : Are you doing any residencies regularly?

Domu : I don't have a residency unfortunately. In London, the only way you get a residency is to do your own night and I don't have the time to run a night. Because it is very rare for someone to run a night and give you the honor of being the resident. Because they would probably rather be the resident because they are running the night. But I get enough London gigs here are there. But I think it's not the club mecca that people make it out to be. The really really good nights are few and far between - well established. It's very hard to start a new cool thing in London.

HRFQ : If you do play out, where are some of the places you like to play?

Domu : Well Plastic People is Co-Op, but they do other nights which are just as good. Sometimes 333. There's lots of places around Old Street - Purple, Cargo. Then there's Fabric, you know, the bigger clubs. But there aren't so many small clubs really... Not a great deal in London. I play around in clubs around England, Manchester, Bristol have a good scene, so actually the night in Bristol is called Scene. I don't like to think of it as just London. There's a scene in the UK which is growing steadily.

HRFQ : As you're from Bedford, outside of London, how did you first get into this sound that's associated with West London? Who were your main influences - people who attracted you to the scene?

Domu : Because when we was making D & B, I sent demos to Dego and Mark of 4 Hero/Reinforced. They are based in NW London and as I was influenced by their music, I guess it was inevitable that their sound, because they are from W London, influence me. Although I'm not from W London. So I'm never conscious of the fact that I'm making W London music. It's just that a lot of the people who make up the core of the scene are from there, but that's just because they know each other and live near each other. It's nothing really to do with the geography. It's more about your influences and the music you're trying to make and your attitude. But I would say that 4-Hero is my biggest influence from that time. When they started to branch out from making D & B, started to make live jazzy stuff. And also they made techno and Hip Hop and all the kinds of music that I like, under different synonyms over the years, so they're my main influence and inspiration really.

HRFQ : Are you currently working with any other artists now? If so, what kinds of collaborations do you have going on now? Your Rima project for example...

Domu : None of the people from the W London scene really. I rarely get to work with them because they live in London and it is a bit of a chore to organize regularly meeting them to work. And also we're all a bit slack really. They do their thing and I do my thing. I've just worked with Seiji and Mark de Clive-Lowe. It's a half-hour dance presentation with visuals and they wanted original music, so I did half and hour of the beats and Mark de Clive-Lowe did the music, Bebe Singue did the vocals and Seiji kind of arranged and mixed it. And they did the show which was more of a showcase to get funding to do a bigger, grander 2-hour show. And then we'd get a lot more budget to do strings and choirs and fully orchestrated original piece of music. So that's something I'd like to work on more with people from the scene. Interesting things like that. But the other people I work with are just my friends from Bedford. There's someone, the guy I do Bakura with, he's just a friend of mine and we DJ together a lot in Bedford, and he was in the band that I was in when I was young. He was the bass player and we just jammed together and we made that sound. And the guy who runs my website, he's called Shifty, and we do Yotoko, the one on the Dutch label and we do that together. You know people come around and say, 'oh I've got these ideas', and we make something and if there is a label for it, it happens. Sometimes I make music with people and nothing happens with it and it is pushed to the side and I'm then on to the next one.

HRFQ : You feature vocalists quite a bit. Are there any singers in particular who really inspire you, or who you've written for?

Domu : I wouldn't say my vocal work is greatly accomplished. I haven't really gotten to the point I want to yet. I still working on it. The person from Bedford that I work with a lot is called Nicola Kramer and she did stuff on the Rima album and the Domu album. And I've got a lot of songs with her that I'm demo-ing now and trying to get signed. So she is someone I work with a lot, but I haven't written for anyone else outside of the people I know Valerie Etienne for Galliano was on the first Domu album, and I thought she did a really good job, and I'd like to work with more people of that nature. Like Bembe Segue and Vanessa Freeman. That kind of level of singer because they are into the scene and the music and they understand what is going on. And they are also creative in their own way and professional. I'll get to that point soon. It's just the writing - I need to have the ideas for the songs - for the lyrics and that doesn't come to me all the time. I'm more of a beats and sounds and arranging person. But when I have a song idea and the words come, then I'll find the right vocalist.

HRFQ : When you produce, what is your artistic process?

Domu : I usually start with a beat really - just a break-beat and start chopping it and get a groove and then maybe do a bass line and work some music over the top, have one piece, one sort of groove and then do another different groove with the same sounds… and then start the arrangement. And arrange it all out as my idea of the song structure, and then go back over the finer points and then if it's enough, then that's enough. But if it needs a vocal, then the record will sit there until I've written a song and I've found the vocalist and it comes together in that way. But usually I work daytime 9am-5pm. I wake up in the morning and work. If I have no ideas, then that's that. You can't create everyday. It's really hard. So on those days, I just do admin…

HRFQ : You've just had two new releases -- Enter the Umod under UMOD name (released in mid june) and Discotheque under DOMU name (released in mid july), from Sonar Kollective and Psychic Phenomena respectively. Can you tell us a bit about these releases?

Domu : Enter the Umod is out, but Discotech isn't out yet. It's coming on a CD for Japan only through Psychic Phenomena and it's going to come out in the UK and Europe on Neroli which is Enrico's label. It will be out very soon, but it is more of a House, kind of Theo Parrish, kind of Moodymann slow, chunky deep. Because I've been getting into that a little bit lately. It's just an excursion into that sound. But the Umod album is kind of electronic Hip Hop-styled album, influenced by my time in America really. I heard a lot of interesting electronic music in the states and it switched me back into a Hip Hop mode, but with a twist.

HRFQ : You say your time in the states. Touring or living there?

Domu : Yeah, touring. I haven't lived there. I toured in 2003 and this year as well. I had about three weeks of quite hardcore touring. Different state every day, for two and a half weeks, so I got a good taste of what it is like to be into music in different cities in the states and it's quite lonely traveling on your own to that extent. Time in airports on your own and flights on your own. It kind of gets to you a little, so when I got back from there, I had this built-up need to - I don't take a laptop with me, I don't make music on the road - so I got back and I had a big kind of inspiration and a mixture of feelings that I need to get into song-form.

HRFQ : Are you interested in any new technologies, like Final Scratch for example?

Domu : No I haven't ever… I'll never say never, because there might come a time when I'm into that. But I said that I don't have a laptop so I'm not really 100% sure of the integration of laptop into the live environment and it is very safe and stable, but I haven't practiced it, so I don't do that yet. I'm quite into the idea of having effects and stuff. I like the Pioneer mixers and delays and stuff, and at home I have a Korg mixer that has the chaos pad in it, and I can do lots of pre-set effects on that. But I'm more into the original art of DJing. Having an idea and trying to do it live. If it goes out, then you push it back in. I don't like this tight- this idea of completely tight synthesis of music. There's a seamless continuation. I don't find that perfection, and I don't strive for that perfection. I'd rather listen to a human begin make a mistake and correct it, and from that go on to make the next mix which is amazing and redeem themselves. It's just not human to be so computer-tight all the time.

HRFQ : What new artist have you been listening to recently who has challenged you?

Domu : Well last year, I'd definitely say it was Gil Scott Heron and a lot of the Plug Research and a lot of the American stuff I got into. Strange music, people like Daedelus. A lot of programming. It depends on how they get the sound. It's intrinsic. The sound, to the way it comes across to you. It's all very intentional, and I appreciate that. But that is kind of ultra-modern music. I also kind of appreciate very simple music at times and I can appreciate Pop music as well. In the Hip Hop world, Waajeed, and the Platinum Pied Pipers got an album coming out on Ubiquity and Waajeed is the main guy from that. It's all based around the Jay Dee, Detroit kind of sound. I'm really into him at the moment. A lot of Detroit stuff really. The 3 Chairs album I just got, which I really like. That is inspiring me. Currently Kyoto Jazz Massive are making some good stuff right now, very strong. And Mark de Clive-Lowe's new album is very good - very strong. So it's kind of a random mixture. I spend a lot of time finding new-to-me old music that I like. I'm constantly inspired by that. I can't give you any names -- it's a sea of music that comes to me and inspires me.

HRFQ : What are the trends in the next few years?

Domu : It depends on how quickly people get bored of this 80's thing. Because that is a trend. Looking back to the 80's. When I was a teenager, looking at the 70's was trendy but I've never stopped finding the 70's interesting. But now people are like, 'oh you can't… disco sucks. I'm listening to Electro-Pop.' And that is the trend at the moment, so maybe after that it will be like early 90's House maybe - Strictly Rhythm sound revival, you know, things like Ce Ce Peniston and things like that will kind of come back. People will be quite sore after those originals, and then maybe after that, there will be a big rave, kind of hardcore maybe acid thing going on as well. People playing that sort of stuff. But that's all trends are - trends are just revivals because the music, then scene that I'm kind of said to be involved in, the W London scene, is a new music. Is a very interesting, challenging music and is a parallel to the stuff in the states. IDM, and they are not big. They are cool and cult and followed by their fans, but they are never going to be trendy or popular because people can only associate with things that have a look. You know this 80's thing has a look that everyone can buy into. If you don't make music that doesn't particularly correspond to any fashion, it's hard for kids to buy into it. I can't really predict that my music, or the music I like, will ever be trendy. I think it will always be fairly underground.

HRFQ : What is the best way for people to do send you demos?

Domu : The can contact me through my website and I'll be happy give anyone my address to send me a demo.

HRFQ : Do you receive demos much from Japanese?

Domu : No, when I was in the states, they gave them to me. And people would randomly email me and say 'I have some stuff' and would send it to me. There's not a great deal I can do because I don't have a record label. I only can play it and pass it on to someone who does have a label, but sometimes just playing a track is enough to get the ball rolling because people are like, 'what's this? What's this?' And the people that have labels can come over and say, 'what's this' and push that record to come out. But people shouldn't be under the impression that as soon as you have one record out it's going to be your career, or you've made it. It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of networking and commitment to get to that stage. Because my first record came out in 1996 and I didn't work full-time on music until 2000-2001, so it took a long time, just working my way up. But I keep trying. It's not to give up. The point is that you have to work hard.

HRFQ : Any messages to Asian fans?

Domu : Stay as hardcore as you've ever been because you know more about me than the people in my hometown that I've known for 10-15 years. [The fans] really are strong followers and I appreciate it greatly. I hope that they stay interested in the music that I make, because I enjoy coming here and I enjoy DJing here. Thanks to everybody who supports.

End of the interview

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