Dusky is a name that should be familiar to most dance music fans. Since emerging in 2011 with their debut album Stick By This, released on Anjunadeep, the London doublet of Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman have come on leaps and bounds, establishing their own platform for emerging artists in the form of 17 Steps, producing a critically acclaimed record and developing a live show.
I caught up with the guys recently for a brief chat about returning to Ireland, their favourite happy hardcore tracks and art of balancing the yearning for something new with what an audience wants.
The name Dusky has evolved into one of most popular names in dance music. How do you combat the need to maintain a big room sound with embracing the best creativity that dance music has to offer? Do you still get to play what you want or is it about what the audience wants?
Alfie: It can be a tricky balance to achieve in some situations and it’s something we’re conscious of, but we play a wide variety of venues so we get a chance to explore a wide range of sounds within house and techno.
Nick: Some tracks that could be considered more challenging and that we might initially be worried about playing to a bigger audience can often end up going down really well anyway, so there are no hard and fast rules about what’s “big room” and what isn’t. We only play music that we like and we feel is high quality, so we play what we want but make adjustments based on the audience. Every gig is different so you need to be able to adapt, that’s an important part of DJing.
You’ve created a live show now. Was this just a natural progression as artists?
A: It’s something we had wanted to try for a while and our most recent album had a lot of music on there that wouldn’t fit into our DJ sets, so building the live show was a way for us to present that music that we otherwise wouldn’t have had an opportunity to play.
I’ve read that your musical interests stretch far beyond the now fashionable sounds of house and techno. Do you ever see yourselves producing something completely alien to the sound Dusky have become known for?
N: Yes at some point. We both work on other music when we have time, just for fun and to explore new ideas but we’re really busy with the Dusky project at the moment so it gets the most attention.
I read in an interview with Skiddle that you have listened to your fair share of Happy Hardcore back in the day. What is your favourite happy hardcore track?
N: Hard to pick a favourite but it would have to be ‘Above The Clouds’ by Sunshine Productions closely followed by Fat Controller, ‘In Complete Darkness’. We actually sampled the same vocal as Above The Clouds in our song ‘Runny Nose’ as a little tribute.
A: It’s more straight up hardcore rather than happy hardcore but mine would probably be Marc Smith vs Safe and Sound – ‘Identify The Beat’.
What kind of direction do you see the label taking in the coming years?
N: It depends really, the direction will be determined by the music that we’re sent and what we discover in the future. We don’t have a strict musical vision for what the label should be, maybe that will develop over time but at the moment we just look for quality music and artists with integrity.
Looking forward to bringing the tour to Ireland? What do you make of the Irish scene?
A: Yes of course, Ireland is one of our favourite places to play! The scene is really strong at the moment, the crowds are always receptive to lots of different music, and there’s always so much energy on the dance floor. There’s nowhere else quite like it.
Dusky play the Telegraph Building, Belfast, on Friday, 23rd February, and Dublin’s District 8 on Saturday, 14th April.