With his current single 'Speak & Spell' riding high, we catch up with one of the hardest-working men in drum & bass
Known to his Mum and the taxman as Peter Chapman (though actually we're guessing his Mum probably just calls him 'Peter'), Erb N Dub should need little introduction to the D&B faithful, having put out a steady stream of club bangers for nigh-on a decade.
For anyone who doesn't know, though, he first emerged on the scene as a cohort of the legendary Micky Finn in 2007, the two serving up a string of co-productions on Finn People between 2007 and 2009. Since then he's gone on to release a series of well-received solo outings on respected labels such as Technique, Dope Ammo and Playaz Recordings. He's also part of live project Wicked City, alongside Krafty Kuts and Dynamite MC, as well as being an in-demand remixer for the likes of Foreign Beggars, DJ Fresh, Jaguar Skillz and The Freestylers. And that's not to mention his 'other' jobs, managing a studio complex and running music production workshops for disadvantaged youngsters.
Right now his single Speak & Spell is causing a bit of a stir on the world's D&B floors, with its distinctive vocal sampled from Texas Instruments' iconic kiddy computer toy of the same name, which dates all the way back to 1978.
We were intrigued, so now seemed like a good time to grab him for a quick chat...
Let's start by talking about your current single, Speak & Spell. You look a bit young to have had a Speak & Spell as a kid... what inspired the tune?
“Well, I do kind of remember seeing them when I was a kid, but mainly at car boot sales! The studio next door to mine had one, so I borrowed it and set to work, sampling and twisting up sounds from it. The toy is very limited so it took me a while to piece together words I could actually use.”
...and then let's rewind right to the beginning. Some of your first releases - nearly 10 years ago now! - were with Micky Finn. It's not every beginner who works alongside such a legend of the scene, so how did that come about?
“Wow, is it really 10 years? That's nuts! Yeah, Micky Finn is a good friend. He had his record shop Bitin' Back in my local town of Gravesend, I passed him a demo and it just all went from there. A year later we were making tunes together.”
You're known as much for your remixes as your productions. So far, though, it seems to be mostly artists within the D&B/breaks/bass music arena... ever fancied taking on, say, a house track? Or even a pop act?
“I have my live band Wicked City, and that allows me to co-produce and perform a different genre of music. Currently I'm very happy keeping it to that, but in the future I’m sure I will turn those well-earned DNB production skills to more genres at some point.”
Ah yes, Wicked City. How's that been going, and what's new and different in Wicked City world?
“Wicked City has been going for a year or two. It's a side project for us all where we get to make any music we want, without any restrictions. It's great fun, and great fun to play live. Check out our website to see and hear more!"
You've got your own studio complex... is that all just for you, or do you run it as a business?
“2020 Studios was something I set up originally for me and a few other musicians to make music in. We do have some paid studio sessions, but 99 per cent of the time it's used to make our own releases. If anyone wants to know more, they can find us on Facebook.”
And you do workshops with local youth as well! Tell us a bit about that...
“After I left university, I wrote various youth music programmes, and raised over £20K in funding to set up projects to help deprived communities. From there I appeared on a BBC Children in Need Dragon's Den special, won The Prince's Trust Young Achiever of the Year Award, built a community music studio and helped thousands of kids throughout the journey. Sadly I now have less time to run music workshops, but I still do the odd lecture every now and then."
DJ, producer, remixer, drummer, teacher, studio boss... you wear a lot of hats! If push came to shove, though, which could you live without, and which gives you that 'I'll do this till I die come what may' feeling the most?
“I’ll always be a live performer. Studio work is great, but I come from a live background and will always feel at home on a stage.”
Anything else iDJ readers should know about right now?
“My new single is out, please buy it!”
Words: Russell Deeks
Erb N Dub's latest single Speak & Spell is out now on Technique Recordings - get it here.