Interview: Legendary UK DJ Jamie Duggan talks bassline roots, evolution and upcoming events
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Jamie Duggan is a pioneer in the UK’s bassline DJ scene. His prolific career was launched at just 17 when he established a residency at Sheffield’s legendary Niche nightclub and he blew up the dancefloor there until the venue closed in 2005. Since then, Duggan has carried his bassline sound across a 20-year career playing in renowned international venues like Ministry of Sound and Fabric in London, Eden in Ibiza, as well as major festivals across the U.K. and Europe.

Drawing from his early house, bass and speed garage roots, the acclaimed house & bass and bassline DJ, producer, and promoter has firmly clinched his position as a key figure in the evolution of the bassline sound.In 2008, his Sound of Bassline album shot to No. 2 on the UK Dance chart and its 2009 sequel, Sound of Bassline Part 2 also reached No. 2 on the same chart. Duggan has teamed with and done remixes for scores of iconic artists including Skepta, Wiley, and Boy Better Know. He rejoined forces with DJ Q, Skepsis, and Darkzy for the 3-CD compilation, Pure Bassline 2, which dropped last year and hit the No. 2 spot on iTunes comp/dance chart.

Duggan currently runs and hosts Sheffield underground hotspot Tank and his festival schedule is constantly packed, having recently organized and headlined Springfest 2018 on April 1 to a smashing success. Notable events on Duggan’s upcoming heavy promo roster include Parked Out in Barnsley on May 27 and BassFest Summer Festival in Sheffield on Aug. 4. Additional live shows include Garage vs. Bassline on April 27 in Brighton, EndGame on April 28 in Cardiff, AMP Lost & Found Festival 2018 on May 3 in Malta and many more.

Jamie Duggan recently took time out from his hectic schedule to discuss his DJ/bassline roots, new album, and more via email in the following AXS exclusive Q & A interview below.

AXS: You’ve had a fantastic career in the bassline/DJ/house scene for over two decades. Can you talk a little bit about your roots at Niche and how those early gigs helped give you the foundation that ultimately influenced your artistic direction?

Jamie Duggan: They help a lot and they keep your feet on the ground. Coming from an era where everything was word of mouth, you had to make sure you stood out on whatever platform or chance you were given. There was no social media to promote yourself. It also put you in positions and situations you probably wouldn't have today. Like turning up to a gig with one deck or something crazy. It makes you appreciate the bigger gigs in life!

AXS: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced early on and what drove you to push on during the ups-and-downs?

JD: The biggest challenge early in my career was finding money to be able to buy the records I needed to be successful. It was all about having the records no one else had or being ahead of everyone else back then - that came at a price. One record could cost anything from £10 to £200 -- unlike now when they're either free or a quid to download! And when you're not even earning that kind of money a week it became hard to keep up. But, everyone else was in the same boat. That was how it was.

AXS: Who were some of your biggest heroes and influences as you climbed the ranks in the music industry?

JD: Lots over the years, pretty much everything or anyone that had a connection to Speed Garage was a hero to me early on. So, hearing Speed Garage on Pete Tong's Annual 2 & 3 (1996 & 1997) kind of introduced me to it. Then going to Niche and hearing SBS & all the resident DJs at the time all playing it. Then working out who all the producers were that made my favorite records like Jeremy Sylvester, Sol Brothers, 187 Lockdown, Double 99 / RIP, Loop Da Loop, Artful Dodger etc.

AXS: Would you agree bassline has enjoyed a resurgence the past few years? What do you think has contributed to its stronger presence in the current dance/house scene? How would you say bassline has evolved since you first started?

JD: Yes, it's definitely having a big comeback, which for me, was kickstarted back in 2014 with the first Bassline Festival. The response was absolutely insane as most people had written it off back then. It just spent four years in the wilderness really. The odd underground rave going off here and there. Then bang, 7,000 people turn up to this kind of out-of-nowhere event.

I think from that moment it started evolving. It showed a lot of original bassline producers and new producers that bassline was back and it kickstarted a demand for new music. Since then so many new producers have come through and done so well within the scene as well bassline pretty much landing in every city / town across the UK.

AXS: Congratulations on the success of Pure Bassline 2! You worked with DJ Q again as well as Skepsis and Darkzy on this Pure Bassline follow up. How was it working with such a fantastic lineup on the album?  When do you know “this is it, we’ve got it?”

JD: Well luckily enough I get to work with all these guys regularly so we all know each other and get along making the process easier. From that, we all reached out to producers and labels within the scene to get our tracklists together and came back with 60 very strong underground tracks that represented the scene as a whole I'd say. Luckily there weren't that many duplicate tracks between our lists and so I suppose that was the 'this is it, we've got it' moment.

AXS: Who are some of your favorite artists on the current bassline scene? Who should we keep an eye on?

JD: Honestly, there are too many to mention and I rate them all for all keeping the scene strong and healthy. Off the top of my head Chris Lorenzo, DJ Q, Skepsis, Darkzy, Holy Goof, Bass Boy, TS7, Notion, Shaun Dean, Jack Junior. (Sorry if I missed anyone!)

Really coming through and making names for themselves at the minute are Corrupt, Bushbaby, Shapes, Livsey, Sammy Virji, Thorpey, Nu Bass, Deppz, Zero & more! (Again, sorry if I've missed anyone).

AXS: What gives you the biggest thrill – pulling off a huge event like SpringFest in your hometown or feeding off the energy you get from the live crowd during one of your sets?

JD: Tough one, a bit of both really! It's rewarding with the event because an event is 5-6 months of planning, selling tickets, getting all the sites ready, getting everything in place etc., then watching it all come together! But then, a crowd reaction to one crazy drop of a tune can be just as rewarding.

AXS: Overall, how has your longevity in the genre exceeded the vision you had for your career when you first started out at 17? What have been some of the best surprises along the way?

JD: Well the biggest surprise and something I'm always grateful for is just how long the career has been and continues to be. It's not something you can imagine when you're just starting out at 17. But all you can do is keep working as hard as possible like in any job.

AXS: What kinds of projects have you got up your sleeve as you head into summer? What festivals and venues are you most looking forward to playing?

So, promoter-wise we have Tank every week and all through the summer, Parked Out is back for May 2018 & also BassFest Summer Festival which is set to be the biggest one yet. The line-up has just dropped for that and the response has been insane! DJ-wise I'll be making debuts at Annie Mac's Lost & Found Festival, Boomtown as well as lots of other shows throughout the summer.

AXS: Are you working on another mix/compilation? If yes, can you tease any details?

JD: There might just be a Pure Bassline 3 on the way. We'll have to wait and see!

Stream and listen to Jamie Duggan on Soundcloud. Pure Bassline 2 is available to download and stream on multiple digital platforms. Follow @DJJamieDuggan on Twitter and Facebook and visit his website.