Catchdubs And DJ Ayers - Start Spreading The News
New York, New York, it’s a helluva town. We know it, you know it and Nick ‘Catchdubs’ Barat knows it. 3D’s Nina Bertok speaks to Catchdubs and DJ Ayers about their love of NYC and its importance in the musical world, ahead of their set at Chinese Laundry.
Getting noticed in a city most consider as the world’s entertainment hub isn’t easy – but if you’re lucky enough to be New York-based DJ Ayers and Nick Catchdubs, standing out among the crowd is pretty easy. Welcome to the future of the hip hop/electronica crossover.
As both DJ and co-founder of Fool’s Gold Records with New York’s other rising star A-Trak, Nick ‘Catchdubs’ Barat is well aware of the kind of competition he is up against.
“I feel like the cream of the crop always ends up being from New York City, or at least based here,” he claims. “There are so many DJs in New York that you seriously have to fight just to be noticed, period. Once you do make it, though, it’s cool that this is the kind of city that lets you get to the top of your game. Everyone that is a part of this New York scene, and especially with our label Fool’s Gold, we all support one another, though. It’s an expensive city, not just compared to the whole country, but the whole world. New York is the hub for all media and entertainment, so if you’re going to stand out, you really have to do something special and put absolutely everything into it.”
And while the tunes must be nothing less than top-notch, Barat points out that most of the city’s artists tend to have a distinct, instantly-recognisable New York sound about them – whatever that is.
“You can get a group of artists who are doing completely different things, yet a lot of the time you’re also able to tell that they’re from here – it’s strange. Maybe it’s the vibe more so than the sound, I don’t know. All I know is that when we play other places, so many times people have come up to us after hearing our DJing style and said, ‘oh, you guys are from New York, right- I can tell!’”
Fellow New Yorker DJ Ayers, knows exactly what Barat is talking about. Though born in Mississippi, Ayers Haxton relocated to the Big Apple where he started The Rub at Southpaw – one of the city’s biggest, no-bullshit dance parties that pretty soon also saw Barat join its fast-growing DJ family.
As Haxton adds, from a DJing perspective his decision to move to New York was possibly the best he’d ever made at that point. “It’s an awesome city in that, if you wanted to go see the best house DJs in the world, you could go out on a Friday night and see them, it’s as simple as that. Or if you wanted to go see the best hip hop music, or even a mainstream party, whatever – you can find it all in New York City every night. There is an energy about the place, it’s such a huge melting pot. On that note, I will also say that even though a lot of great music comes from New York, music in general is becoming de-centralised which means, I think, in the future it’s going to matter less and less where you come from. And the genres are blending into one another, which is good for DJs like us who have been doing that for a while already. Hip hop people are more aware of house music, New York rappers are aware of Swedish and Norwegian pop stars… Everybody is watching everybody else. Five years ago, you wouldn’t have thought that could ever happen.”
But it’s all for the best, as Barat adds, especially when all you’ve ever dreamed about was to show the world that genre-bending can work when done properly. “I actually didn’t realise what I really wanted to do until I finished college, which would make me kind of a late starter,” Barat laughs. “I’d actually played in bands at the time but I’d always listened to DJs and I had a huge record collection. A couple of artists that instantly come to mind are Mark Ronson and Spinbad, mostly because I thought their music was pretty unique, and that’s around the time that I figured I’d give DJing a chance.”
Meanwhile, further down south, Haxton was growing up on a strict diet of blues thanks to his parents’ musical tastes. At the same time, while attending a high school where the majority of the student population was black, Haxton soon developed an equally strong passion for hip hop music and claims he has ever since tried to combine the two genres.
“My dad played lots of blues in the house, but he didn’t like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin because he thought they were stealing from the blues, so we didn’t have a lot of rock in the house. My mum would also play Michael Jackson. Where I grew up is one of the most black, African-American states in the whole of the United States. I went to a high school where 80 per cent of the kids were black, so I think my surroundings poured into my music.”
Haxton recalls he and Barat first crossed paths several years ago when Haxton’s superclub The Rub was still in its infancy.
“Nick was doing flyers and some web design so I got him to do some stuff for us at The Rub but he’d started DJing around the same time so after a year or so when he got really good, he came to DJ for us. From there, we’ve worked on a bunch of stuff together ranging from production to DJing parties to the Flashing Lights party that we have residency at. I think the biggest thing we have in common is that we’re both obsessed with hearing new music and I think we’re both eclectic in our style.”
And that’s why Haxton and Barat will join forces as well as play solo sets around Australia later on this month, the visit getting Barat excited about doing the most extensive tour alongside Haxton so far.
“It’s funny because when I started DJing professionally, Ayers was one of the very first guys who I started working with. We ended up being part of the same scene and sharing lots of friends. Honestly, we’re just on the same wavelength so to be able to take this trip with him is almost like coming full circle. We’ve worked on a lot of projects together and we’ve done a lot of gigs together but Australia will be one of the biggest things we’ve done side-by-side.”
WHO: DJ Ayers and Catchdubs
WHAT: Play Club Club at Chinese Laundry
WHEN: Saturday 30 May