ENiGMA Dubz Discusses The Release of His Fifth LP, ‘Awakening’

We interviewed boundary-pushing bass music DJ/producer ENiGMA Dubz about his ‘Awakening’ album, releasing music on Bandcamp, and advice for upcoming artists.

Since first bursting onto the scene over a decade ago, ENiGMA Dubz has been one of electronic music’s most respected underground bass producers. His latest album, Awakening, is a phenomenal collection of drum n bass, old school dubstep, trap, experimental bass, and future garage.

James Vine (aka ENiGMA Dubz) is well known for his multi-genre approach to EDM. A forward thinking artist, he has previously released his music exclusively through Bandcamp. Awakening is available now on all platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud, and limited edition vinyl pressings can be purchased from Bandcamp and Unearthed.

Following headlining sets in Chicago, Baltimore, and Denver, we talked to ENiGMA Dubz about the inspirations behind his latest album, his career as a full-time musician, his multiple aliases, and more.

Listen to Awakening by ENiGMA Dubz on Soundcloud, purchase/stream on all platforms now, and check out our interview with this groundbreaking producer below!

Awakening is your fifth album as Enigma Dubz and first full-length LP since 2015. What are the most notable ways that you’ve grown as a producer since then?

I’d say I’ve most definitely come a long way with mixing and mastering over the last three or four years. I was able to save up since the last album and upgrade my studio monitors to some Genelecs, and then following that I upgraded my audio interface too, to an RME. The impact they’ve had is genuinely amazing, I only wish I’d have been able to do it sooner!

On the creative side, I’d say I’m still very much on the same path in my musical tastes, I’d just say I’ve honed my craft even more and found more ways of getting my ideas down in the best way. I tend to work very fast and it’s vital that I get my ideas down rapidly, especially when I’m in a moment of pure inspiration.

The album explores many different genres including dubstep, drum n bass, and experimental bass. What do you enjoy most about producing different styles of music, and what do you think makes an ENiGMA Dubz song unique?

I find making a wide variety of music keeps me feeling fresh and inspired. Being such a big fan of many genres means I’m always drawing inspiration from so many different angles, so I can’t help but want to explore multiple avenues. With ENiGMA Dubz, it tends to be bass influenced throughout, but I stay at my best when I’m keeping my mind active and open minded. 

For ENiGMA Dubz, I’d say I like to pour a lot of emotion into my music. It’s unavoidable for me to be honest. Whether it’s deep, moving emotions via the more vibey side of my music, or the darker side of my musical passion and inner beast coming out, I’d say that’s what makes an ENiGMA Dubz track unique.

Many of these tracks were produced during the coronavirus pandemic. What are some of the main themes or motives behind this album?

The main theme is capturing the moment and the growth I’ve been through as an artist over the last four or more years. I wanted to make sure the album touches on all the areas I’m known for and showcase where I’m at as a bass music producer. The title of the album, Awakening, says it perfectly. I’m starting a new chapter in my journey through music and this is just the beginning, it’s time to step up a gear and really put myself out there. 

I’ve also worked with a bunch of new artists on this album and it’s been very exciting and fulfilling to do so. After signing a publishing deal with Black Rock at the start of 2020, my network of artists to work with grew massively, so it was the perfect opportunity to explore this and include some new vocalists on a big project.

Two of your previous EPs were only available for purchase on Bandcamp. Do you see the future of the music industry moving away from platforms like Spotify and Apple Music and onto more creator-friendly platforms like Bandcamp?

There’s no doubt that Bandcamp is a fantastic way for artists to release music and grow a community of devoted fans. However, I look at the streaming platforms as a vital part of the industry and my career, too. I tend to pick certain projects for Bandcamp only releases, mainly more bass-heavy EPs for the heads. It’s also a good way of giving certain tracks more of an exclusivity, especially ones that have been in my sets for some time and causing some damage on systems.

You’ve had several aliases in addition to ENiGMA Dubz, such as your ambient and downtempo project Itona. You also work in sound design for television and movies. What advice would you give for passionate musicians out there trying to make a living off of making music like you do?

I’d say the biggest thing is not giving up. If you’re making music because you’re passionate and in love with it, in time things will start to align and pay off. I’ve been writing and producing music for over 15 years, with 15 years of classical music training alongside that, too. I’d say I’m still only at the beginning of where I want to be ultimately in my career. But for the last six years I’ve been able to earn a living solely through music. It’s a serious juggling act keeping it all moving and financially possible, but it’s been the dream and goal since as far back as I can remember, so there’s no stopping me.

Try and stay true to who you are and what you love creatively, it will shine through if you do and there’s no better way of connecting with your audience.

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