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Scientist in Outer Space

We speak to the producer behind his new compilation with the likes of Pinch, Hyperdub's Kode9 and Guido

In a groundbreaking new project with Pinch’s Bristol based label Tectonic, released this month, dub step’s leading futurist producers that include Kode9, Shackleton and Pinch have contributed tracks to a 2 part CD release. One part is of original tracks by UK based producers while the 2nd are mixes by one of the most revered dub engineers today, Hopeton Brown aka Scientist. Hopeton comes from the legendary school of King Tubby and his skills are unparalleled when it comes to engineering dub. And on this project he continues to carry on his knowledge and passion side by side with today’s dubstep producer, transposing his deep and hypnotic dub roots onto Bristol born future bass. Dazed Digital talks to Scientist about what he knows best, masterful studio work and reggae.

Dazed Digital:  How did you start working with King Tubby?
Scientist: I was learning electronics and Tubby was like a sea air for me in electronics. I started to buy parts from him for my amplifiers and we developed a friendship and before I knew it he gave me the place to run. 

DD: That culture was built around studios back then, how important do you think it is about having a physical studio with physical equipment?
Scientist: It very important, if you listen to the quality of the records that were coming out back then and you compare to the quality of the records that are coming out now, you find that the ones that are now online are really low quality. What is happening is because of Pro Tools and in the digital age everybody can stay inside their bedrooms and make a number one hit but working in a proper acoustic environment is really, really important.

DD: Has your way of using technology changed over the years to integrate digital technology?
Scientist: Well I’m a big fan of digital if I had a choice between an analogue desk and a digital desk I’m going to choose the digital desk every time because when I look at a digital desk and see the read out is the same type of read out as electronic engineer sees when they develop the gear. Its almost like if you have test instruments in front of you that it’s showing you what’s going on inside of it. So, analogue really is like the Model T car, its really antique, I I can do the exact same thing in producing on a digital desk.

DD: Where do place reggae in the development of modern day music?
Scientist: Well you know without reggae and dub you wouldn’t have all these different type of electronic music. You know we have dub step, all that is a derivative from reggae, they are related, they are like cousins. Hip hop came  out of reggae, now we have dub step and all these different electronic forms of music and if it wasn’t for reggae you wouldn’t have it. You don’t have any other music in the world that has so much different attachments to it or so many different offspring.

DD: What do you think is the most important things about mixing a track?
Scientist: Well before we even get to the dub step part of it and performance part of it the music needs proper blending and balance and everything needs to rhyme in the chorus. That’s the first step and the performance and the cuts and the mutes and effects that all secondary. To get a good a good high fidelity of sound or for example a good nice flat kick drum, you have to start at the first. If you work with a real poor quality samples and the mix is not blended in properly then what you find is that the performance doesn’t come out as well.

DD: What sort of common mistakes that people are making today when they master a track and mix a track?
Scientist: I call it a compressor disease. Compression is a disease to the track. Every compressor when you look at it, says GR, and GR stands for gain reduction. A lot of folks swear that when you run stuff through the compressor you make the bass fatter and that’s not true. Its like someone is sitting there and turning down down down negative negative negative.

Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space is released on Tectonic on 29th November 2010