Alfie Granger-Howell & Nick Harriman, better known as Dusky, are one of the most captivating duos in electronic music, and have been for some time now. While it isn’t necessarily a particularly groundbreaking thing for artists to possess their own labels, Dusky’s 17 Steps is forward thinking as regards its sound. The London pair’s imprint pushes an entirely unique club sound, both via their own productions and through label signees including Jamie Jones and Alan Fitzpatrick.
The Dusky project stretches much further than just huge names and club bangers and touring worldwide on a regular basis. Their debut album, which dropped in 2016 via 17 Steps, was a magnificent showcase of the pair’s incredibly refined production capabilities; collaborating with Wiley, and was a milestone when it came to club orientated electronic acts making fully rounded albums.
With a number of club favourites including Bicep, Dax J and more releasing and announcing full length and non-club specific albums, the link between Dusky and some of the underground’s more predictable heroes is much stronger than one would imagine.
The pair are bringing their 17 Steps tour to District 8 in April, so we thought it was ample time to catch up with them about what has been a strong couple of years as producers, DJs and label heads.
The 17 Steps tour is something very different to what you guys have done before, what’s it like being somewhat in charge of the sound and schedule of your own tour?
A: It’s been great. Most of the time we don’t get to choose who else plays at the same parties as us, so it’s been really cool being able to curate that aspect of it.
What’s the main aim of the tour itself?
N: It’s a chance for us to play to some of our favourite crowds around the UK and mainland Europe, but also to showcase the sound of the 17 Steps label without compromise. We’ll be playing alongside a number of DJs and artists that we really respect and who are making and playing high quality music at the moment. Almost all of them have released music on the label, and as for the one or two who haven’t released on the label yet – it’s an honour to have them involved with the tour as we feel they represent a similar musical ethos to ourselves and 17 Steps.
What thought process went into choosing the venues/cities, and on that note, what factors decided which acts would accompany you guys on each given night?
A: I guess on any tour you go where there’s a demand, and all these cities have really strong music scenes so are guaranteed to be great parties. There are a lot of other places we’re missing out on of course, but as we wanted to keep it 17 shows to fit the theme of the tour we couldn’t go everywhere. As for the venues, a lot of them are venues we’ve played in before, but there are some new places we’ll be going to as well, all of which we’ve heard really good things about.
Was there much stress involved in the lead up to getting it all under control?
N: No, thankfully it was a really easy process. To be honest, organising shows and tours is never stressful for us, since it’s our manager and our booking agent who are faced with the tough task of actually working out the logistics and so on, so luckily, they always bear the brunt of any stress on that side of things.
This tour is the next step since releasing ‘Outer’, I found that it differed quite a lot compared to some of your previous EPs, why exactly was that/was it intentional?
A: As a full-length album, we definitely wanted to do something different, and we wanted to explore some new directions and sounds. A lot of the tracks on ‘Outer’ were as much designed for headphone or home listening as they were for hearing out at a club or festival, which differs from our EPs which so far have been purely written with the dance floor in mind.
How did you find working with other artists and experimenting with your own sound a bit more while working on the album?
N: It was great, we got to work with some of our musical heroes which was a dream come true, and it was nice having the freedom to try new things out in the studio.
Did you guys enjoy the experience of putting it together or would you rather stick to EP releases? Was there any particular parts of the process you found difficult/enjoyed?
A: Yeah, we enjoyed it for sure. It’s nice to switch it up sometimes on the creative front. It did get a bit difficult towards the end, when there were some final pieces of the puzzle to be worked out, but we got there eventually.
What’s next, are you going to stay more so focused on label-based ventures or continue to push forward?
N: Focusing on the label is part of pushing forwards for us as it’s still in its infancy and it will take time to develop its own identity. We’ve got a lot of 17 Steps releases lined up from ourselves and others, so that’s the main focus for this year. After that, we’ll probably start working on another album at some point but it could be a while yet before we do that. As for gigs, we’ve got a lot more club shows and festivals lined up after this tour for the rest of the year, so we’ll be keeping busy!