From hearing one of his tracks for the first time inside a club in 2003 ('Strobe', rewound twice by Andy C at The End) to headlining Glastonbury in 2010 (Saturday night on the fabled Glade stage to a rapturous reception), Nick Douwma's rise through the ranks of underground jungle to become a major player in electronic music has been nothing short of spectacular. Initially known for air-punching, dancefloor dismantling drum & bass, Sub Focus has now become synonymous with music that draws from all corners of the electronic landscape, and has come to epitomise the ‘anything goes’ mantra of todays flourishing dance scene.
London born and bred, Douwma’s rise into the furthest reaches of the dance music stratosphere began when he first encountered jungle, at high school in the mid-Nineties. A friend played him a cassette featuring General Levy’s hit ‘Incredible’ and Douwma, at that point playing bass in a rock band, was completely taken under it’s spell. Shortly after this first introduction, The Prodigy - who were beginning to meld rock and dance music in new and exciting ways - also became a massive influence and the young Sub Focus began to lose interest in his studies and started spending more and more time in his bedroom in Holloway, creating music.
His ascent turned onto a steep axis, when in 2003, he signed his first tunes to d&b’s biggest label Ram Records, off the back of a CD:R handed to label boss Andy C by one of his friends whilst drunk. Despite this inauspicious introduction, so impressed was the legendary DJ by the music on it, he duly signed every track and invited Douwma to join the Ram family. Sub Focus’ tunes - expansive, fiercely creative, but made with the scientific precision of a military warhead - immediately stood out from the crowd and were soon being rotated by every major DJ in the scene, garnering airplay on mainstream radio, and drawing fans from throughout the globe. Singles like ‘Airplane’, ‘X-Ray’ (which reached number 60 in the national charts) and an all-conquering remix of The Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ meant that by 2007, Douwma was one of the biggest names in drum & bass.