Michael ‘Huxley’ Dodman was never looking to be one of the UK’s best-known house producers, but with anthems like Let It Go he became a leading figure in the bass house movement that swept across the country in 2012.
In his ascent to success he became a stalwart of Aus Music, the UK imprint perfectly suited to his blend of garage and bassline-oriented house music.
Some years later, Dodman is now more comfortable than ever with his sound. He’s recently pulled this together on his new label No Idea’s Original, which has seen him inviting a slew of artists old and new in the 2 years since launching.
When we spoke to Dodman ahead of his No Idea’s Original showcase in Room Two this weekend, he discussed early inspirations, artistic transitions and his vision behind his new imprint.
I did a search for No Idea’s Original and the first thing I found was the old Nas track – is that where the name came from?
In fact, I was listening to that song when I first thought of the name. I’ve been a Nas fan for a long time, and it’s actually one of my favourites. I spent a fair amount of time searching for a name, and I was looking for something a bit different. It’s a house and techno label, so the name feels apt to me – we’re not trying to say we’re any different.
I thought Nas could’ve been an early influence on you.
I listened to him a lot when I was around 18 or 19, and in fact now I’ve recently started listening to a lot of hip-hop again. I probably even listen to that more than I do house music at home and in the car.
We always have the impression that DJs only listen to their own style of music, but more often than not there’s a lot more of a crossover.
I think when you have an artist, or DJ, just because they’ve been successful in one field of music, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where they came from or that’s their major influence. It might just be the focus of how their artistic side comes out in one genre. I also think that listening to only one type of music would make life very boring. A lot of artists like to draw from different experiences and sounds – that’s why you often hear people spread it across the board more than just saying ‘I listen to techno’.
Have you ever spent time working on music outside of house and techno?
For a while I used to record hip-hop with a few friends. I then focussed on deep house, garage and house musically, but with more studio time I’ve now started making a lot of other stuff. Previously I was just going in when I could, so it’s nice to go in now and just make something downtempo if I feel like it. There’s also my alias Martinet, which is kind of laid-back synthy techno.
How much time have you been spending in the studio?
This year I’ve made a concerted effort to only play the important gigs, and actually spend some time finding what I want to do. Last year I went through a bit of a transitional phase, and went a bit harder. I then questioned whether it was what I wanted to do, so from this year I’ve been rethinking what Huxley is about, and what I want from it. I’m now in the studio for around 4 days a week, and that’s been good. It’s given me time to knock out ideas and decide where I want to go with it.
Do you think having your own label has helped that now?
I think it definitely has. A lot of the reason I started this label, and stopped doing Saints & Sonnets, was I wanted to avoid releasing music that I didn’t want to play. It’s not that it wasn’t good, it just wasn’t fitting into my sets. I wanted No Idea’s Original to be a good gauge of where I am musically, so I’m signing records that I’ll play, and they’re where I want to be musically.
How do you go about choosing a new artist to sign?
It’s been quite mixed – some of the artists are long-term friends of mine, and others I’ve approached directly. We now actually have people coming to us, which is nice as we grow and get a bigger roster. Getting Mr. G was an amazing thing for us. We were in touch, and he put his trust in that it was something he wanted to be part of.
Where do you envisage things heading in the future?
Every artist on the label we’ll try and do some parties with around the world, and I’ve made sure everyone fits in with the ethos and can really stand behind the brand at some point. It would be nice to get the family vibe going, but as a label goes we’re still pretty young. Let’s just see how everything works out.
Do you have tour plans lined up for the rest of the year?
We’ve got a few, but let’s see how they pan out. Once we’ve got a few more under the belt we’ll release those, but right now it’s just you guys.
You’re joined by Super Flu and Alexis Raphael in Room Two. How do they match the No Idea’s Original ethos?
Alexis is a very good friend who I’d like to think will release on it at some point. Super Flu I’ve never met, but as I’ve been playing their music a lot, it was natural to ask them to come and play.