Behind The Beat: Dabura
Photographer Credit: Danny Gerhardt
At the beginning of this year, we predicted that 2016 would be a good year for Dabura. He hasn’t let us down. So far, he has been billed on lineups with Jonas Rathsman, Nick Warren, Jon Charnis, Saeed Younan, Doctor Dru, Kolsch, and Anthony Atalla. During Ultra, he played on the Paradigm boat party and at Club E11even for the official resistance after party.
We caught up with him as he prepares for the Onlythebeat Detroit Boat Party during Memorial Day Weekend.
OTB: How did you get your start?
Dabura: I remember sitting by the radio for hours in the early 90’s waiting for my favorite song to come on the radio so I could record it. I was always obsessed with music. Then I was the guy at parties playing songs off CD’s. I remember when the first pioneer rack mount CD players came out. 3 weeks later, I bought my first pioneer CD players and mixer. In 2003 I was doing my own parties in Detroit at Pure and Bleu on Woodward. The rest just seemed to progress naturally.
OTB: What’s the scene like in Detroit?
Dabura: There are so many layers of the scene. There is always something, but what makes Detroit special is that you really have to know to know where to go. What I mean is, everything isn’t always so obvious. The rave scene was huge in the 90’s and then club culture took over in the 2000’s but I’m loving the recent off shoot venue parties. I feel like there is always something different and off site going on. You just have to know to where to go. I Love that the underground is thriving again and people are not afraid to try something different again.
OTB: Tell us what you do in ONE sentence?
Dabura: Music is about feeling, not just hearing, so with every production, and performance it’s very important to try and engage as many of the humans emotions (love, fear, happiness, sorrow) and create a story out of my journey.
OTB: How do you balance your time between playing out and producing music?
Dabura: They go hand and hand. The best part about playing out is being able to play my own music and have people ask me “what track is this.” That’s the best feeling. Likewise when I’m busy producing I can wait to get out and play my music for everyone and I always have a smile on my face because I want to make people feel what I feel when I made the song.
OTB: Take some time and walk us through your creative process in the studio. Each producer is different, what makes you different?
Dabura: That’s funny you ask, many of my producer friends always chastise me because I don’t start with the kick and bass like everyone else. I start with melody. I usually have a melody in my head. I write it out and build from there. Usually melody then drums the I add a bass and my kick comes last. It’s usually that last step of finding the perfect kick and then going “WOW – YES!” And it makes it thump. Everyone is different.
OTB: How would you define your “sound”?
Dabura: Mysterious, enchanting, groovy, sexy and seductive. I don’t enjoy music that’s too obvious or predictable.
OTB: What are you most proud of thus far. It could be a great track, collaboration, gig where you MURDERED IT? And why?
Dabura: Just happy that I have an opportunity to share my passion with people. It doesn’t really matter to me about numbers or “making it.” The ultimate feeling is playing for a small room (200-350 people) and really connecting and bonding with everyone. I guess my experience is what I’m proud of and my extensive library and know what to play when. I like it the three T’s – Taste, Timing, and Talent. That feeling after after a show where everyone is smiling and laughing and the minute the music stops everyone rushes you to hug you or share their happiness – that’s everything.
OTB: Do you have any pre/post-show rituals?
Dabura: I bring a fan to every show. I run HOT! Haha, big guy problems. I never really prepare music for one specific show but I’m always adding new music to my library. It’s very important to me to be able to find a song very quickly once it comes to mind. Music memory is everything. I have a crazy system when I categorize my music by intensity, mood and color. Certain songs and sounds will have a certain color in my mind, it’s really strange. I know I’m weird, haha. I remember I used to highlight all my track names with different color highlighters in the CD book days. Under a black light, the colors could be my guide.
OTB: What advice do you have for up-and-coming DJ’s and Producers?
Dabura: Never quit. Do it all, music isn’t enough. Be social. Go to many shows, experiment, take risks and don’t be afraid to fail. Grow.
OTB: In general – What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Dabura: Never put your life on hold.
OTB: If you could have a billboard anywhere in the world, and it could say whatever you wanted, where would you put it and what would it say?
Dabura: Haha, I would probably put up a sign in the club that says CLOSE YOUR EYES! I’ll never forget my first club experience in Miami (space in 1999) for Paul van dyk dancing in the middle of the dance floor with my eyes closed for close to and hour… It amazing how much better music sounds with your eyes closed.
OTB: What does 2016 have in store for you? New Releases? Tour Dates? Podcasts?
Dabura: I have a release coming out later this month with a Detroit label called “Slur”, a release in June with a Chicago label “The Pool House” and 4 tracks that I can’t wait to release (not sure where yet). I have a very special boat party in Detroit during movement on Sunday afternoon! I’m really excited about it and I’m playing with some awesome DJ’s from all over the country.
OTB: Any Final words for you fans?
Dabura: See you on the dance floors! Please reach out to your favorite artists that make an impact on your life. Being an artists means expressing yourself and when someone else relates to that it’s very touching.
If you’re in Detroit during Movement festival, be sure to catch his set at the OTB Boat Party on Sunday, May 29 at noon. You can RSVP here and buy tickets below. The first release of tickets has already sold out and the rest of them won’t last very long so please do not delay.
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