Action Through Inaction – Interview with DJ Chamber
Having a dream is one thing but to actually carry it out and chase it is another. Theo Cox who is better known as @DJChamber is a young man who has the temperament to achieve his own goals. He has dropped the mundane, left home, country and continent to live his own dream. After a string of Breakspoll nominations and awards over the last couple of years he has gone further than most to continue his success and further than most attempting to push bass music into fields afar. Chamber takes some time out to tell me about the lack of bass in Taiwan, how free downloads are the way forward and using an Erhu.
Hit the play and listen whilst you read
So you’ve ditched the British weather and decided on a more comfortable climate then?
Yes indeed. Right now it’s 30 degrees C out here. The sun is shining and the weather is sweet. Taiwan really is a beautiful country, I’d recommend it to anyone for a visit but be warned, you probably won’t want to leave.
It’s coming up to a year since you went full-time as a DJ. Are you missing your previous life at all?
My old job working at a video games publisher in Bristol was a really hard one to walk away from, but I knew by the end that it was time to focus fully on music. I’m so glad I did and it feels like it’s really paid off. There’s been highs and lows of course, but I’m pretty sure that’s to be expected with any self-employment (and it’s been a LOT more highs than lows). I couldn’t be much happier right now.
Would you say that the Breakspoll wins have given you a higher profile than what you would have without them?
They definitely gave a good push in the right direction, yes. A lot of different things that have helped my profile along over the years and Breakspoll was fairly significant in the grand scheme of things, but didn’t really change anything overnight like you might expect.
The latest release I can recall was yourself on remixing duties with ‘601’ on ‘The Game’, but that was a little while ago now so what have you been doing other than unpacking and learning the local lingo?
Hahaha, it took a long time for me to get all my stuff shipped over, so there was a little gap in production initially. The last few little projects I’ve done have been free releases, remixing a few Taiwan based bands. Right now, there’s a huge number of remixes of extremely popular club hits, bootlegs and remixes of remixes etc. coming out on Soundcloud every day. Recently I’ve felt more that I’d like to do something a little different. Sometimes riding off of the back of other peoples successful tunes like that can feel a little bit cheap. I think there’s an art to finding a great tune that hasn’t really been touched before that could do with a remix in a different style, but when it’s a tune that just came out and got big, and it’s getting remixed left, right and centre, it seems a tiny bit transparent that the producer is just trying to get a few extra hits.
Are you able to communicate through the medium of music quite well? Can you read the crowd and deliver what it appears they want?
Yes, I would say so. I’ve always played loads of different styles and genres (I don’t even bother listing them these days, it takes too long), and over the years, figuring out what crowds want to hear has become second nature. Playing at so many different clubs and in different countries, a lot of the time I will find myself figuring out a crowd as I go along. I never plan a DJ set because I’m a strong believer in adapting to the crowd, and every crowd is different. I think the best DJs are the ones that are constantly looking up at the crowd and reacting. I still steer totally clear of any dodgy requests though, hahaha!
And so you should! Are we going to be seeing or rather hearing a steady flow of releases in the near future?
To be honest, myself and from the looks of it, a fair few other producers out there have lost a little bit of faith in label releases lately. I’d rather get the majority of my music out to a lot more people for free than than to essentially a few DJs through sales, generating not very much money. I feel like I put too much time into these tracks to have them not get out to as many people as they should.
So going back to your question, yes, but I expect a lot of them will be free. I think the future might well lie in professionally run free release digital labels. Unstable Label have the right idea, I think my next official release will be a free download tune coming out on there, a collaboration with label boss and old school tear-out legend, Hoffman.
Having said that, traditional digital labels, please don’t hate me hahaha! I have a huge amount of respect for the people that run these labels and all that they do to push their scenes. In the years since illegal downloading became the normal way of getting music for most people, it has been the independent label owners that are affected the most (yet for some reason, it’s always the artist that gets the sympathy in the press etc – artists can still get income from gigs!) I will still put out the odd release on labels definitely, but whereas a few years ago this would of been my main focus, now it is very much secondary to just getting my music out there.
Being in your location then, how does the bass music differ from that of the UK and the rest of the world?
Hugely. Electro House is massive over here, Pop (the Lady Gaga style) is unfortunately hugely popular. Those are definitely the two main types of music you’ll hear out and about. Breaks and DnB are pretty much non-existent. There is a little bit of Dubstep about these days, but not a lot. That’s one of the main reasons I moved over here, to try and give the bass music scene a massive kick up the arse. Some sounds are universal, I think Breaks and Nu-Funk are good examples of music that pretty much anyone can get down to but not nearly enough people are exposed to. But it does feel like all the little micro-scenes here are growing.
I’ve noticed that a very small number of artists over here – usually the ones at the top of their game – have started to incorporate some oriental instruments into their work adding a further dynamic to their sound. Have you experimented with any at all or would you?
Yeah man, you’ll hear some on the first track of this EP in fact. A lot of oriental instruments make such incredible sounds, it is surprising you don’t hear more in Western made music really. At a gig over here last night, the first act was a heavy metal band called Hsu-Nami, with the usual guitar bass drum setup, plus an Erhu. The combination created a really unique sound, very cool!
I’m glad to hear that. The first track ‘Action Through Inaction’ – check it out below – is a delight indeed. Have you found anyone in particular who rocks your boat out there? Mochipet for me springs to mind.
Yes, I am playing a gig with him at the weekend in fact. He is Taiwanese but rarely plays over here. In fact, I think this is only his second or third gig here. There are a lot of good DJs and producers over here. In terms of big international acts that you guys might have heard of, I don’t think Taiwan has really produced any. I’m sure it will! Like I said, the bass music scene here is still young, still growing and maturing. Soon it will be a big sweaty teenager producing filth in its bedroom studio (that sounded a little bit wrong didn’t it).
Hahaha! A little yeah but that’s how it happans. So what’s this new EP then?
This is me trying a bit of a new style, a lot more laid back than previous releases. Its somewhere between chill-out, hip-hop and nu-funk, without being trip-hop haha. Much more intended for home listening than clubs. A couple of brand new tracks, and a couple of re-messed with previously unreleased ones. And it’s totally free. I hope you like it! – check out the player at the top of this post.
What’s next in this Mandarin Chinese world of Chamber?
Gigs coming up soon in Thailand and Korea and I’ll be heading back to play a few more in the Philippines. There will be a return tour of the UK too at some point I’m sure. Other than that I’m playing all over Taiwan all the time, got a few festivals coming up and plenty more new music coming out. If you like what you hear on the new EP, please give my Facebook page a little ‘Like’, I collect Likes and I’ll love you forever! – see Chamber’s Facebook page link below.
So as you can see, Theo has done what only most of us wish to have done and I take my hat off to him. Pushing boundaries and music is one thing but to physically do it whilst being a foreigner in a foreign land is a whole new level.
The four track EP is a subtle dose of morphine in the combined form of energy, vibrations and frequency. Chilling, sweet and relaxing which releases pain and stress like you’ve never known. Don’t count to ten to reduce your heart-rate, stick this on for 20 minutes and feel the difference. Exquisite work.
‘Action Through Inaction EP’ by Chamber is a free download
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