Hailing all the way from ancient Athens, this weeks interviewee is a longtime head in the scene. Combining the deep dark sounds of dubstep and UK bass music with the more melodic tones of trap and wave music. He also runs the record label Indigo Movement. Read below as we sit down with Duckem for a chat…
SSC: In your own words, who are you and what do you do?
D: I am Alex, originally from the ancient Athens (Greece) but for now, based in Bradford, UK. I put sounds together under the alias ‘Duckem‘ while pushing quality underground music by other fellow artists through my label, ‘Indigo Movement‘.
SSC: So, how was the journey? What started it all off and how did that lead you to where you are today?
D: Well, the journey… I dunno man. Haha! Music-wise, since 2010 when I got into production/sampling and all that. I was always kinda torn between hiphop/downtempo/wavey stuff maybe, and bassheavy 140s, so instead of making other aliases (attempted couple times), decided to just keep doing whatever I feel like doing, under Duckem, so here I am.
From 2010 till 2014, back home in Athens, I started trying to establish connections and friendships, through which, came my first sets and involvement into bigger things. It was quite fresh in Athens at that time – jungle/drum&bass and techno had been around, and alive, but that UK sound became more popular after 08/09 I think. Parties started happening, loads of people were doing things, it was alive. Underground tunnels, parks, outdoors parties everywhere during the summers too, beach parties, Athens was insane man! We had people like Gantz, Commodo, J. Sparrow, Joe Nice, and others coming. First time in ancient Athens, and it was interesting to see something like that happening and coming to life you know?
Meanwhile, life happened to almost everyone involved, and some things slowed down or died out, and a time came where I was faced with the choice of staying in a country where I was tired of risking my life in the streets, for our rights, for our freedom, for our murdered friends from bullets of fascist cops, for our girls who are getting raped by angry little men, inhaling expired teargas, OR trying my luck somewhere else for a change. Try my luck, see how I can do, what it’s like. During this time, many ups & downs, but tried to keep things rolling whenever possible, always get up, and keep moving forward. Weirdly, life finds me in a similar spot, 6 years later, so here’s to better things to hopefully come.
SSC: Who are the main influences for you, musically?
D: My first influences as a kid were blues, rock, acoustic stuff. Vinyl records my mom had of 70s and 80s rock & roll, etc. Then there was hip-hop in the ’90s, my heart was stolen. That was it. My love I believe lies there. Runs through my blood. I saw and connected the dots, ‘oh, this hip-hop stuff has chopped up sounds from rock, blues, jazz, piano and other stuff, wow’, and I was ‘taken’. Top beatmaker for my taste, Alchemist, for obvious reasons.
As a teenager, first internet connections came in Greece, wow, and we started digging and downloading gigs and gigs of music, full discographies of everything, different genres, stuff we had no clue about, and found myself literally digging into thousands and thousands of tracks, going through folders for days and days, neverending, like scanning through vinyl in a record shop, while we were 13-14-15 etc.
Fell in love with Punk, hardcore/metalcore things, antifascist music, anti-systemic stuff, the anger, the Athenian streets etc. During my childhood, my grandparents’ village, deep in the mountains of Thessaly, was my escape, my connection with nature, endless time there too, in the forests, day and night. That’s where I got to know the ambience, the surrounding sounds, of everything, the silence’s sounds in the background you never notice. My best friends are the crickets there. So as you can tell, many influences, situations, lots of time spent on listening in detail, so the mind has been quite open, musically. It just cannot accept anything meaningless.
SSC: What do you consider the highlight of your music career so far, and why?
D: I don’t know, honestly, I would say maybe the fact that I got to play my music outside of my country’s borders, in person as well, my top favourite being a gig in Munich, Germany. From Greece, to there, and from there to the UK, into the unknown. It was like a stop for petrol, charge our creative batteries. Played on the I’N’I Dubwise Soundsystem, in the most amazing underground, almost no lights, place, like a little cave, just beautiful. Next day, hello England. Also, the fact that I got the chance to play alongside some of the people I had been looking up to, and learned from. I still feel like I have a long way to go and a lot to learn. I feel like I’m not done.
SSC: Any moments you’d rather forget?
D: Definitely. There are moments everywhere, good and bad. I treat them all as lessons anyway, so to me, it’s a case of overcoming and being able to acknowledge what’s going on, and move on from there. Being able once you fall, to get up again.
SSC: Bossman of Indigo Movement, could you tell us a bit about when and why you started the label?
D: In 2012, I was still in Greece, getting active in the scene, and I found myself helping out a guy in the UK, Jake, with his newly established label – as he was, at the same time, trying to figure out label stuff too. I made the artwork for 001. I was chatting with artists and I found myself having the urge to help out others with getting some exposure, even if it’s from this newcomer label, and together, put some nice stuff out. Jake had to back out a bit, for personal reasons, and he passed me the torch for the time being, and it kinda stayed like that. I grew to like pushing sounds from other people, helping them get their creative juices flowing and helping them be confident of their work, no matter what by giving constructive criticism, advice, anything I can so they can bring out the best of themselves. So, found myself running a record label accidentally, and here we are. No clue what I’m doing really.
SSC: Anyone we should be keeping an eye on right now? Any particular artists/ DJs standing out to you?
D: I feel like I have to push a few people from back home that deserve more recognition out here. One person I have been very impressed by their development over the years is a person with who we go way back as well, from Athens. It’s 3Voice (IM033). If you’re a dub/dub techno lover, do yourself a favour and go check my buddy out. Also, Wosui who is the alter ego of the drum&bass producer Insom. It’s the same alias just upside-down. He’s running Reggaewise – a dub record label/event night, in Greece, and has appeared for a remix on Indigo Movement, through 3Voice‘s EP. You’ll hear steppers, and tough 140s, so make sure you get to know what’s coming out of my home city right now.
One more person I need to mention is Cubism, who’s sound design and flow, varied styles and creativity, have evolved massively since I first met him. It’s someone who’s energy on stage as well, was something that I always admired and felt happy to see. He hasn’t touched the roof yet, but I am guessing it will happen. Lastly, if you’re into atmospheric stellar vibes, amen breaks, the veteran Cryogenics is one to keep an eye on. Been around since the ’90s, proper head, and one of my first music friends, who I highly respect. Nostalgic and dark vibes, his breaks just makes you want more. Head honcho of Audio Theory Recordings and Evil Audio, from Athens Greece.
Lastly, you know who’s standing out? The Deep Tempo boys. I cannot stress enough, how much I admire, respect and love their passion, dedication and love for what they do, and for being who they are. Their eyes tell a lot, one thing is how much they love showcasing others’ talents and creativity, I can connect with that. It’s something we need more of.
SSC: Other than bass-focused music, are there any other genres or artists you are particularly fond of currently?
D: Not something very specific, but when I need those breaks from the subs, the highs, the synths, the electronic stuff – I tend to always go back to roots, listening to some good ol’ Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, Sonny Boy Williamson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, classic legendary blues, stuff made from the soul for the soul. Quite a lot of hip-hop too – quality things from the ’90s, new school stuff, it depends on the mood. Quite a lot of hip-hop, rock & roll, oldskool antifascist punk stuff etc.
SSC: What’s on the horizon for Duckem? Anything exciting coming up?
D: There are a few collabs with a vocalist that I’ve been wanting to work with for quite a few years now, known in the scene, but will keep it quiet for now – super excited to see what he comes up with. We did a beat with someone who in my opinion, had one of the best releases in the genre in 2019, he goes by the name SBK and of course, I’m talking about Kingdom Of Sobek EP on Locus Sound. No introduction needed. We’ll spread the virus soon.
Combined forces with my good friend Korin Complex as well, for a special track that will be included in a forthcoming EP of his this year. Check out his recent release on Vienna’s Sub Audio with Inyoka if you haven’t. Also, we did a little something with Mungk too, it got kinda dark and we invited Talabun to join us. It was due, as I’ve been good friends with him since day 1. He’s getting in the studio as we speak.
Couple releases lined up, one of them is due to be announced by the label soon, its a charity compilation album for The Brain Tumour Charity, which helped out an Indigo Movement artist massively, and this is a way for us (including him) to say thank you for helping keep our friend alive. He created a label for this, so it might be a start to something really good, let’s see. More TBA soon.
Other than that, there is a huge life step to be taken close to the end of 2020, which involves me leaving the UK. So now with Brexit, it will be almost impossible for me to be able to be booked here in the future, so promoters, hit me up if you want some quacks in your events, all I need is some good bread.
SSC: And finally, if you could give one piece of advice for those wishing to follow in your path, what would it be?
D: Put your soul into what you make, make it yours. Have open ears, acknowledge your ‘mistakes’ and support your friends’ creativity. Head down, and be humble.
Big thanks to Alex for taking the time to speak with us. Keep up to date with all things Duckem at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/itsduckem/