Drum 'n' bass in Dubai

Drum 'n' bass legend comes to Dubai. Time Out catches up with Doc Scott as he prepares for his regional debut and discovers a man with music in his soul.

DJ feature

In the 90s Doc Scott helped shape the UK’s growing drum ’n’ bass movement. Now he’s spreading the word to Dubai. James Wilkinson finds out what’s up.

Drum ’n’ bass isn’t too big in Dubai, so give us a bit of history.
Drum ’n’ bass was born in the UK out of the rave scene: house, techno and breakbeat were forged together in rave parties in England, and the UK and drum ’n’ bass was one of the by-products.

Isn’t it a bit too hard for Dubai’s predominantly house scene?
Drum ’n’ bass is like any musical genre – you get different flavours. You could walk into a techno event for the first time and think that because the DJ is playing hard as nails, that’s what it’s all about, but as you get into these things, you start to discover that there are tunes with soul. And there are all kinds of soulful, musical drum ’n’ bass tunes with vocalists and real instruments, and it’s really warm. I get away from the 18-22-year-old testosterone-fuelled drum ’n’ bass. The music I play is more mature, simply because I’ve been playing it for a long time. I’m 37 years old, so I play music that appeals to me first and foremost. I generally find that my music appeals to older and younger people all over the world. It has a wider appeal, if you like.

You play a lot abroad then? We thought that drum ’n’ bass was a very British thing.
Last year I toured Australia and New Zealand and they were celebrating the 10th anniversary of when I first went out there. I love going to places where a scene may be very small and in its infancy, because I’ve been doing it since drum ’n’ bass first went overseas around 1995 and 1996. I was one of the first people to go to Australia, America, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand back then, and I still go to new places like Korea, China and Israel. I love going to new places, so when this offer came along I was like, ‘Wow, sure'. It’s what keeps me going.

So what do you know about Dubai ahead of your first gig here?
All I know is that it’s going to be hot. Very, very hot. But I don’t like to try to build things up or have low expectations either. I only ask that the crowd is open-minded and willing to go with me, and that they enjoy it as much as I will. The only thing that’s been said to me is that the crowds don’t tend to go that hard, but I don’t tend to play hard stuff anyway. I can turn it on if I have to, but I’m much more comfortable with rolling, smooth drum ’n’ bass.

What have you got planned for the future?
I’ve got a compilation album coming out, Kings Of The Rollers: The Album, which I’m doing because the EPs under that name have done very well.

Do you get a lot of tracks from prospective musicians?
Yeah, I get on average between 80 and 120 tracks a week. Some tracks, you can know in three or four seconds if it’s going to appeal to you or not, but it can be time consuming. It’s not always an enjoyable process, but it has to be done. For example, I was at an event in Perth and some guys came up and said, ‘Hi, we do drum ’n’ bass, can we send some stuff?’ And I said yes and that ended up being the biggest drum ’n’ bass track of that year. I love finding people that not other people know about.

Anything else?
I’m playing a big festival with Goldie later this month that’s supposed to be 10,000-15,000 people. That’s great – don’t get me wrong – but you can’t really connect with the crowd, whereas a club with 500-1,000 people, tops, that’s perfect. Once you’ve been fortunate enough to play big crowds you realise it’s not that important any more. It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality.

Doc Scott plays MoJo on June 27.

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