Forged by a love for dubstep, iconic UK label Circus Records has permanently cemented itself in the genre’s history as a key figure in bass-driven electronic music. Founded by Flux Pavilion and Doctor P in 2009, Circus Records has since become recognized worldwide by fans and artists alike for bringing dubstep to the forefront of the music world’s attention, as it was responsible for sparking an insatiable interest in the genre with releases like Flux Pavilion’s “Bass Cannon” and “I Can’t Stop,” Funtcase’s “So Vexed” and Doctor P’s “Sweet Shop,” “Tetris” and “Big Boss.”
While renowned for its undeniably influential hand in nurturing an initial global love of the dubstep sound, Circus Records still stands as an uncontested home for originality, diversity and boundless self-expression for its acts, further proving the imprint’s unwavering staying power and untouched reputation within the bass music circuit.
As we look ahead to the Bassrush and Circus Records takeovers in San Jose and Los Angeles this weekend, we sat down to chat it up with Flux Pavilion, Doctor P, Funtcase, and Diskord to learn a bit more about the past, present and future of the imprint and dubstep in general.
I think to be a step ahead you just need to walk your own path and if you make enough noise other people will turn in your direction.
Throughout its lifespan, Circus Records has asserted itself as one of the key players in helping to bring dubstep to the forefront of the global music scene’s attention. Having such a strong presence since the beginning of the dubstep “boom,” how have you guys witnessed the genre and the sound changing over time?
Funtcase: It’s been a crazy ride, that’s for sure. 2009-2010 was the sort of introductory side of dubstep where people were just catching onto it and there were literally no rules to how it should be made, sound like, or anything like that; it was amazing. When dubstep first properly boomed into the commercial market it was a massive overkill of the genre and people got bored of it almost instantly; it was literally everywhere. Since then, it went hugely off the boil and that’s when America kind of took it on and nurtured it and it became popular there. That was the rise of the more aggressive, well-produced dubstep you hear prominently these days. Because America became the dubstep hub since Europe and the rest of the world had left it to bleed to death, the natural occurrence was for the American sound to plunge through and that’s exactly what happened. Things have changed hugely but luckily I’m still here doing what I love and representing my dubstep without any compromise in my sound.
Flux Pavilion: Sounds change as artists do. Dubstep laid low for a while when the electronic world opened up and people were afforded the chance to experiment. The scene gave way to an overload of everything and there have been periods where there has been literally too much happening to witness anything—you just went with the flow. Dubstep stepped away from me for a few years but it’s recently stepped towards me again and I still get the same kick I always did.
With that in mind, in what ways have you guys perceived the label itself evolving and developing with the coinciding changes within the genre?
Flux Pavilion: We are a platform for artists to be the artists they want to be, so we will always develop with the music our artists make and not the way that scenes and genres move. I think to be a step ahead you just need to walk your own path and if you make enough noise other people will turn in your direction.
Doctor P: Right from the beginning we have had a core idea of what makes a good song, and we’ve stuck to that the whole time we’ve run the label. Even though the music evolves constantly, the basic idea of what makes a good song stays constant, which allows us to release music we believe in without worrying too much about its place in the scene.
Is there an underlying philosophy or unique mission that you’d say Circus Records initially set out to convey and accomplish as a label?
Doctor P: At the most basic level, we’ve always just wanted to be a platform for good music, specifically, bass-driven music. The other side of the philosophy is that we like to release music with a wide appeal; in other words, music that can be enjoyed by more than just hardcore dance music fans. I think we’ve definitely accomplished that to a certain degree, and we’ve got lots of plans for how the label is going to grow and evolve in the near future.
Flux Pavilion: The vision is always the music, it has to be. We want to be a place where good music and creativity can flourish and artists and fans alike can feel like they are part of the family. I feel like we achieved that in the beginning and we will always just continue to experiment and see what we can discover, but do it all together.
As artists with varying, distinct and constantly developing sounds and tastes, what would you say each of you uniquely contributes to the label and its success?
Flux Pavilion: I think you said it right there; we bring what we are, nothing more nothing less. The label is a community and a family, and it’s the individuality of every fan and artist that makes the label what it is.
Doctor P: My favorite thing about Circus as a label is the fact that each artist brings their own personality to the mix. There are certainly other record labels that put the focus onto the label more than the individual artists, but I like the fact that Circus is more a platform for the artists to be themselves and release the music they want to release. It’s a formula we’ve had from the beginning, and I think it’s definitely a part of the label’s success.
Are there any forthcoming projects that you guys are excited about, both individually and within the Circus label?
Doctor P: The Circus Three album has been the main project at the label for a while. We don’t have any releases in the next few months at quite the same level as the album, but we do have lots of releases coming that we are excited about.
Funtcase: [The Circus Three compilation] is a perfect showcase of where we, as artists, are right now and how Circus is. I’m also working on a whole bunch of collabs and hopefully getting some much requested remixes and tracks finished to get released in the New Year!
Diskord: We are also sitting on so much new music and it’s the most exciting stuff we’ve done to date. You can expect to start hearing it towards the beginning of next year. We’ve also got some collaborations ready to drop with some really high-profile artists which we’re super excited about.
Bassrush is fortunate enough to yet again play host to not one, but two fast approaching Circus Records showcases in San Jose and Los Angeles. What can your California fans expect from these upcoming takeover shows and how do these specialized, family affairs compare to playing on other types of lineups?
Doctor P: I think my favorite aspect of Circus showcase shows is the fact that all the artists on the label are friends and have fun together on stage. I think the audience feeds off our fun and it really adds to the atmosphere of the show. It’s also fairly rare for all of us to be together on a lineup, so that really adds to the excitement surrounding the show as well.
Flux Pavilion: I don’t even know what to expect—it’s been so long since we have all toured together—but all of us are mega-excited and I have a feeling they are gonna be something really special. If you are a fan of our music or our sound, then it’s a hot ticket for sure.
Funtcase: Having a Circus Records live lineup is just the perfect mix for music fans, really, with that full spectrum of musical to angry music and everything in between. It’s going to be mental, it’s going to blow everyone away and it’s going to be remembered for a long time to come!
Diskord: We’re always giving 110% at every show, whether it’s a Circus showcase or a normal Diskord show. Having said that there’s something really special about the Circus nights; not sure whether it’s down to healthy competition within the camp or not but we can guarantee every artist will bring their A-game. Expect mad energy, crazy back-to-back sets, and good vibes all night!