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Interview with DJ & producer Greg Downey about his new single Rushin out on Subculture

 The Belfast born Greg Downey is considered to be one of the strongest assets in the trance scene. His latest release Rushin' released on the respected Subculture label headed by John O'Callaghan has the support of the biggest names in trance and has been praised by fans and reviewers alike all over the globe. The release of the single is the perfect occasion to  request an interview with Greg who has extensive djing, production and even label owner experience with unforgettable performances on clubs like Godskitchen and Gatecrasher, The Gallery and beloved trance classics in his pocket. While on your stereo Rushin is banging and booming and your neighbours are in a state of emergency read what Greg answered in our questions that hopefully are your questions as well.

Interview was written and conducted by Dimitri Kechagias, Music Journalist, Radio host at 1mix radio.

Dimitri: Firstly I would like to take us back in your childhood and ask if your aspiration was to become a DJ and get involved in the production of music from early on and if not when you took the decision that DJing and producing dance music is a wise step forward as a way to make a living?

Greg Downey
Greg Downey: Well if someone chooses DJing and production to ‘make a living’ I would categorically say forget about it. The only reason anyone should be in music and also be able to endure what it takes is if it comes from the soul and is your complete passion. Without that you wont have the dedication to plough through when things get difficult. When I was 13 I used to listen to Carl Cox live mixes and was fascinated and from then I knew that this was what I was going to do. I didn’t know how I was going to, all I knew was that this is the path I want to take and I would go for it.

Dimitri: Have you attended any music production courses or are you self-taught? Do you believe that producers who have studied music production have a real advantage in contrast with the self-taught ones?

Greg Downey: I haven’t attended one and all the producers who I know and respect haven’t either so I don’t think there is any real advantage as such. 

Dimitri: Can you pick up for us your 5 most indicative tracks and remixes that you have produced and have put you on the spot and radar of the trance family with a short comment about each of them?

Greg Downey: Greg Downey Top 5 remixes & productions according to Greg Downey

1- Greg Downey – Vivid Intent - Discover. I think this was the track that put things on the map, I had made a good few records before but this was the first one that stood out I think.

2- Greg Downey & Bo Bruce – These Hands I Hold – Perfecto. After taking some time away from producing this was the track that I came back with and probably the one that means a lot to me as I had always wanted to make a track like this.

3- Bedrock – Heaven Scent (Greg Downey Remix) – Bedrock. Out of all the remixes I have done this was by far the biggest and crossed over many genres with John Digweed, Eric Prydz, Cattaneo and others playing. I didn’t ever expect a full release on this so to get one was delightful.

4- Greg Downey – Rushin’ – Subculture. I know this is a new track but for moving forwards its one of my favorites. I wanted to do something 140 but slightly different and it has given me a new buzz for the harder sounds I am known for.

5- Greg Downey – Send The Gods – Reset. I still play this a lot now and the reaction is still insane, it doesn’t grow old for me.

Dimitri: You have releases on the finest record labels. Did you find any difficulty to sign your tracks on a record label or this was a pretty easy straight forward process for you? Is it easier nowadays to attract attention of the labels as you are so recognised in the scene?

Greg Downey: It can be difficult for new artists to be heard sometimes especially with so many demos around each and every week. When I started it was all vinyl releases which obviously meant that the costs to release records were high so you needed to be making high standard material. There will always be labels to sign stuff to but as an artist you want them on the best ones and to do that your stuff needs to stand out. For me I am probably in a position where my stuff will always be listened to but I have had tracks turned down as well, I don’t take it as a knock back though as it is personal taste sometimes and I have my own which I believe in.

Greg Downey - Rushin'
Dimitri: Time to talk about Rushin. In your Facebook you mention that you have produced different versions of the track and finally you choose to release this one? Why was so difficult to finish this track and pick the version we all know?

Greg Downey: Rushin’ was a funny track to make and even though it had no melody in it there is an insane amount of detail throughout. I've made countless 140 records over the years so for this one I really needed something that was fresh both for me and the listener and it took a while to get it right.. maybe 6 months on and off.

Dimitri: One of the biggest surprises for me is the Rushin vocal sample that is associated mainly with house records. How did you decide to choose this ones and do you feel that the vocal sample determined the final sound of the track?

Greg Downey: I was at a house club one night with some friends and heard the vocal sample again and thought fuck that would work in a track at some stage so I saved the idea in the notes on my iPhone. The vocal didn’t determine the final sound of the track as the earlier versions of Rushin’ didn’t have the vocal sample in it so I would say it more put the icing on the cake overall.

Dimitri: Rather than giving it an uplifting feel you go for a clubbier banging booming sound that is focusing on bass power rather than being melodic. Is this going to be your style or represent your sound or it is just one off thing?

Greg Downey: Every track I make I like it to have something special about it, something that gives it an edge and although it can take time that’s so important for me. I never make two tracks the same and like to push the boat out. I will definitely make a follow up to this though, I can already hear it in my head.

Rushin' is slowly cooked
Dimitri: Can you describe us your current studio set up and let us know if you have adored piece of software or hardware that played an important role for Rushin?

Greg Downey: My studio has got even smaller and I make everything on my laptop now. I obviously have a studio set up where I can plug it in but overall it’s all done on that. I’ve worked on logic since I started producing and still do.. Logic 9 as I never moved on to Logic X. One of the main pieces of software for Rushin’ was Omnisphere.. I used a lot of the atmospherics in it.

Dimitri: Have you tested out this final version and when you don’t receive good feedback do u usually go back in the studio and you reflect on what went wrong? 

Greg Downey
Greg Downey: Good feedback from who though? I mean you can play something in a club and the sound system is shit or maybe the crowd isn’t right which doesn’t necessarily mean the track isn’t quite there. Usually I can tell when I play something in a club if it needs altered so I always would test it out first. I also have a very small group of trusted producers who’s opinion I would take on board if something was suggested to make the track better and then I will make the final decision on it.

Dimitri: Your track is released on Subculture. What is your opinion about the label and the owner John O'Callaghan? Why this label goes from strength to strength?

Greg Downey: John O’Callaghan has been a friend for many years and has always been helpful, I respect him as an artist and his label goes from strength to strength due to the quality of the releases and maintaining the sound that it was known for. Subculture is a great label with a strong team and I am very proud to have a release on there.

Dimitri: The production process has become extremely easy nowadays and bad trend in our scene is people using templates rather than producing original tracks and melodies. What is your position on the flourishing of templates?

Greg Downey: Production may have become easier to make shit records but if you want to make incredible stuff it has never been and will never be easy no matter what templates or software people have. It’s a creative thing that comes from inside and also having that drive to push to the next level and get your tracks to the finish line. 

Dimitri: We must talk about your DJ career as well. You had amazing performances in your life in the finest clubs and places. Would you like to share the most memorable positive moment in your DJ career and maybe share a story with us that you have never mentioned before?

Greg Downey: There have been so many highlights.. so many great places with some favourites being Argentina, LA, New York and South Africa. One of the most memorable was having my first track signed to Discover and became my home in the early days of producing. Also playing a couple of times on Radio One was a massive dream come true. I had listened to shows for years and to go and play in the studio was really cool.

Dimitri: The accident of Paul van Dyk at ASOT has raised the concerns and worries about the dangers of DJing that not many people talk about as they choose to focus on the glamorous side. Have you ever faced a real danger while you were heading to Dj or while you were or after djing ? What are the most important dangers that DJs should keep in mind?

Greg Downey: I don’t think there are massive concerns regarding dangers of DJing. Paul’s accident was very unfortunate and thankfully he is back on the road and recovering but it was also a freak occurrence. These things don’t happen a lot. The main thing DJs need to be careful with is not burning themselves out, resting and taking care of themselves both mentally and physically.

Dimitri: Are you satisfied on the way that trance is represented in the BBC Radio 1. Do you believe that trance should have additional space rather than just the Will Atkinson show? 

Greg Downey: I think there have been good steps for trance with Aly & Fila having their recent Essential Mix and I am delighted for Will Atkinson to be on there now, it’s a good thing. I don’t see why Trance shouldn’t be on there, it always was for years until the ass fell out of it on Radio One but with it being on the climb maybe a regular weekly thing would be good.

Dimitri: How long do you produce your radio show Greg Downey Radio. Are you satisfied on how it goes and do like producing it or you should do it because now every DJ has his own radio show?

Greg Downey: My show probably takes about half a day. To be honest the show as it stands is a filler show before my new brand is launched, the music style will not change but the show will be overhauled. I actually enjoy doing it and yes there are a lot of shows but I try and keep it fresh with music that isn’t going to be on many others.

Greg Downey 
Dimitri: Future plans, future releases, future gigs…elaborate please for the people to know what we can wait from you in the near future.

Greg Downey: OK I have been working hard on loads of new tracks so there will be a run of fresh singles and also a new version of my track Come To Me with Bo Bruce coming very soon, its pretty cool. I’m working on my new brand at the moment which will be launched towards the end of the year, it’s a little earlier to say much on it but the concept is sick.. Watch this space.

Dimitri: Let’s finish off with your advice to aspiring Djs and producers? What they should do and what they should not in order to be happy satisfied human beings?

Greg Downey: Be original, work hard, swim in your own lane and be the absolute best you can be. And don’t forget to maintain a life outside of music a little too, you need balance

Get Rushin here: https://subculture.choons.at/rushin

Thanks very much to Greg Downey for finding the time to reply in this interview.
Thanks very much to William Daniel for arranging this interview.

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