Jose Manuel Alvarez – also known as Dubbyman – is gracing Chicago’s sonic territories this week with gigs yesterday at SmartBar and this Saturday at Darkroom. What’s unique about this Madrileno is that, in a city associated with harder and tougher sounds, there emerged an artist whose Deep House sounds are sleek, velvety concontions of pure bliss.
With his brother Above Smoke, Dubbyman runs one of Europe’s premier deep House labels, Deep Explorer Music, on which their own productions are released along with other international artists such as Kai Alce, Reggie Dokes, Scott Ferguson, Mike Huckaby, Nick Sole, Sascha Dive, Alton Miller and Black Jazz Consortium.
The one thing that caught my attention right away is that you were from Spain! Is there a big movement there for dubby House, NuJazz and electrofunk? Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s like out there for the dance music scene?
Well, I really don’t see Spain as a center for Deep Music or NuJazz… I think that this is happening in every country. I mean, anywhere you go, there will always be a group of people who resist our music. But people just need a couple of familiar names to start ringing in their ears, and the rest of the world starts to take notice of their country. And that’s what I really think that is happening in Spain.
Yes, me and my brother Above Smoke are putting into circulation Deep House stuff, but there are other artists here in in Spain who are also releasing really good deep shit, like Ernie and Ordell from Minuendo, Hugo Giner, Jose Rico, Jesus Gonsev… and all of them have completely different styles. But I think that we all are running and fighting for the same target: releasing quality music.
We had the Sonar Festival come to Chicago for the first time last year, and many of us are still unfamiliar with it. How is this festival different from others in terms of its acts?
Well, I DJ’d there two years consecutively (2006 and 2007) and the main thing that I can convey was that the Sonar Festival gave me the freedom to take my DJ set way outside of the box for a group of really excited fans. For example, in 2006 I was playing dub and reggae music around 86 bpm to a big crowd and nobody asked me for 4×4 rhythms or Techno sounds – everybody was dancing slowly or just feeling the vibe. That’s something that you can’t usually do in a normal gig.
To me, I think you can really feel the essence and best vibes of the festival during the daytime hours. I mean, during the day you can see clearly all the faces out in the crowd, and all the people are there simply because they really love music and they want to know more about it. But at night, Sonar is different; there is more focus on a Techno vibe maybe… but you can have fun for sure. I really enjoyed playing with Kode 9 and Mary Anne Hobbes one night at Sonar in 2007.
So what brings you here to Chicago? What are some of your thoughts when someone mentions Chicago to you?
I am so excited to be here! When these incredible people from RealDEEP and Eargasmic gave me this great opportunity… I thought that they must be from another galaxy or something like that! After they asked me some time ago if I wanted to come to Chicago, I started to get afraid that maybe they are real aliens and they will eat me raw … 😉
The first things that comes to mind when I think of Chicago are… a Boo Williams 12″ circling on a turntable… the artwork from the Chicago Trax record label covers… and big, BIIIIG buildings with the sound of traffic in the background!
You have your label Deep Explorer Music that you run with your brother. The artists that you have in your label seem like they are all across the board in terms of musical styles. Was that your intention?
Okay, that’s true, all the artists are different, but i think that all of them have the “Deep touch” in their fingers, or at least the tracks released in the label walk in our direction.
There is no rule to edit in Deep Explorer, we don’t care how you make your music (computer, machines, or just whistling!) For us the final result is what counts. We try to put a kind of hybrid music that you can play and mix in a club and also enjoy at home or in the car… that would be the only rule you need to follow.
We created Deep Explorer because, in the beginning of 2000, we were so tired of going up and down with our tracks from one label to another and always hearing the same answer: “Okay, this sounds cool but do you have something more dancefloor?” And this was also happening to many other artists, so we discovered that the only way was to cook it up ourselves and step forward to edit our own and the other artists’ music.
The message behind the name is similar to that feeling that you get when you are swimming in the sea and you are offshore and start to think, “I am afraid that I should go back to the shore… but you don’t want to do it… because you want to explore. That’s when we say “Go ahead, explorers… you have our hand…”
Dubbyman… the name change from Jose Manuel Alvarez. Do you find people have misconceptions about what your name means?
Yeah, sometimes… the thing is that I like many different styles of music, not only dub, and to be honest I play more funk and deep music than dub. But this name was taken when in early 2001, when I was really involved in the Dub House scene mixing reagge with House beats… so my closer friends became a little bit bored of that sound, so they started to say, “Please not again… not another dubby set!” and one day the combination of “dubby” and “man” came to my mind.
We can’t wait to hear you play at Darkroom! What can we expect?
Thank you so much! I never prepare my sets in advance, also because I only play vinyl, I have to fight the night with the weapons of the suitcase that I selected from home. But I can say that it will sound something like James Brown teaching fish the boogaloo dance from the bottom of the ocean… 😉