By Fiona Connor
Drum and bass fans heading to see Sub Focus later this month can expect a gig unlike anything they've seen before, according to the man himself.
The British DJ is bringing his new show Circular Sound to life for the first time away from home - and he's frothing to get back to Aotearoa
"It's incredible what's happening in New Zealand with drum and bass at the moment. I love going out there and the audience is so super-receptive and friendly and nice," he told George FM at Tomorrowland earlier this year.
"I've just had incredible experiences when I've been there. I love the country as a whole. I feel like extra energy from the crowds and it's one of the highlights of the places we go to."
"It starts to feel like a home from home, I've met some really great people out there. It's an absolute pleasure."
As for what's in store for Kiwis next week, Sub Focus reckons this tour has an "extra dimension" to take it to the next level.
"We really wanted to incorporate a lot of visuals into the show," he said.
"I'm really influenced by acts like Chemical Brothers and I really wanted to make something that I felt was on that scale of visual production of drum and bass, so that was my plan behind the show.
"There are no graphics in the show, it's all filmed, which is something I wanted to do. There are a lot of figures moving to the music or performing the words to the songs.
"I love the design side of my music and it's really cool for me to create visuals that then people associate with the songs. It's really exciting to be bringing that out to New Zealand."
Despite his success, he still recalls the early days of getting his music in front of the right people.
He said: "I remember sending some music to some drum and bass labels and they were interested, but it took me about a year of sending music to them and nothing really happening."
It was thanks to some decent timing that he was able to launch a career in music after a chance encounter with Andy C that saw him get some guidance on how to make it work.
After producing a series of his own tracks, he took along a CD to a friend's show for them to play, where he saw an opportunity to pass on his work.
Sub Focus scribbled his phone number on the CD and was stoked to get a call up a week later from Andy.
"That was a big stroke of luck really, so I was lucky to have him as a mentor early on. But I think there's a lot of persistence involved," he said.
"I think what's really helped me though is finding a sound that's distinctive and making music that sounds very different."
He's also a big fan of our homegrown talent Montell2099, praising the Kiwi's ability to climb the ranks to become a festival favourite over the past few years.
The pair hit it off while Sub Focus was in New Zealand in 2021 and ended up working together. They caught up again when Montell visited the UK recently.
"With Montell, he's fusing quite a few different genres and he does a lot of half-time drum and bass speed stuff which is really cool. He just has a unique sound. I've got a lot of respect for what he does," he said.
"I think everyone that cuts through takes on interesting influences. It's always important to differentiate yourself and not make music that sounds too similar to other people."
Sub Focus is coming to New Zealand later this month, performing in Dunedin, Auckland, Hamilton, Napier and Christchurch between October 14 - 23 - check out all the info here.