A few weeks back, over on Dogs On Acid (yes, a few of us still visit/post there) a conversation started around which dubplates we have in our possession.
Not plate rips, actual dubplates. Quite quickly, RQ (jon_blak) posted an image of him cleaning a Marcus Intalex Music House dub in his kitchen sink, followed by a comment about him having around three creates worth.
It turns out that he is looking after them for Presha, Geoff from Samurai Music. Ryan, RQ, has taken images of a handful of these acetates and Presha has very kindly documented their history, getting wistful about the days when cutting a plate was the only way to play music upfront…
All images courtesy of RQ, words by Presha
Living in New Zealand, we were a long way away from where the action was and prior to CDJ’s and reliable internet the idea of having fresh dubplates was a goal we all aspired to but really had very little chance of attaining. I managed to become friends with a few of my favourite producers and label owners from organising tours for them in New Zealand and was being offered / sent tunes, but how was I going to play them without any way to cut them?
Anyways, CDJ’s didn’t exist yet and even though MP3’s were created in the late 90’s, it would take a while for DJ technology to catch up with them. Obviously now I had the tunes, my drive to get these cut sent my organising / begging skills into overdrive and my first plates were 31 Records dubs (including M.I.S.T – How You Make Me Feel) cut very kindly for me at Music House by Kemistry and Storm and brought out to me in New Zealand when they came out on tour.
Occasionally artists would leave me dubs as they left to go home after a tour (thank you Dillinja / Lemon D, Scotty, Total Science, Marcus, Calibre) but after getting these first dubs actually cut for me, I knew I had to get more serious about it.
It wasn’t long before I was standing in line at Music House chatting to Spirit as we were the first ones to arrive for the days cutting. I’d flown myself over to cut dubs, visit people and even play a few gigs, all organised for me by Storm (legend!). Jayne introduced me to Digital and between him and Spirit, old friends Total Science, Marcus Intalex, Doc Scott & Calibre, plus people I met at Music House like Klute, I was getting absolutely loaded with tunes to cut. I played Metalheadz Sunday Sessions at Camden Lock that year and I think Movement as well thanks to Bryan G. The actual cutting had become a total addiction, and as I reluctantly went back home to New Zealand, I knew I had to find a way to keep the dub flow going so I arranged with Leon at Music House to stockpile some dubs and have them collected by a courier every few months.
The vibe of Music House was so infectious, it’s really hard to explain to anyone that wasn’t there. The politics / hierachy of dubs maybe got a little deep but then someone you knew would show up and break through it all and hand you a CD to cut that made it all worthwhile. The absolute hunger floating around that room for new music and the delight on peoples faces when they cut a tune for the first time. It’s really something I am very glad I witnessed and took part in. I visited again, I think the second time was in 2002, but shortly after technology started catching up and the slow shift to CDJ’s / Final Scratch etc began.
There was a dubplate cutter in New Zealand for a short time in the early 2000’s. I even took Dillinja and Lemon D to meet him. He was really getting the cuts just right but unfortunately while this was happening, CDJ’s began taking over and the demand disappeared. A few of these photos are of plates cut in New Zealand during that time.
These are photos of my dubplates that have been in the care of RQ (thank you Ryan!) in NZ since I moved to Europe. I miss them dearly as they are memory fuel for a time I don’t want to ever let go of. I don’t think most people who were there cutting dubs do (except for the expense). It’s a time / feeling we can never get back with the bristling pace of technology as it is, but it doesn’t stop us trying. For those of you who haven’t ever held a dub, try and get near one to see what they smell like. For me that sweet aroma is like a time machine, man I miss it.
Presha (February 2020)