J. Rogers-"Ambassador de la "Dub-tek"
At first there is some disbelief when considering that J. Rogers is still just 25 and a near rookie to the world of techno and dubstep. It’s very easy to confuse the San Francisco based DJ/producer with a twenty year scene veteran. Much of that is borne of confidence, which is Rogers exudes, but without ever seeming rash or cocky. Since graduating from school with a B.M. in music composition, Rogers has quickly established himself as one of the SF scene's brightest stars. The main reason for that success has been his innovative use of Ableton to create a new sound that he likes to call "dub-tek". The new sound captures the best elements of techno and dubstep for a true hybridization of styles.
Rogers' DJ story begins with him placing third in a major UK music magazine's DJ mix competition at age 17. He subsequently spent his college years studying classical music putting techno on hold for many years only to return again in 2007. Enter one fateful Richie Hawtin DVD and soon Rogers' carefully laid out life path was altered forever. "The final DE:9 release contained a DVD featuring Hawtin playing live with all of the song titles weaving in and out of the mix, flashing on the screen in real time", says Rogers, "I studied his performance and unlocked his use of themes and motifs in the mix and found it was very similar to what I was studying in terms of compositional theory.” What followed was an important 25 page critical analysis of what exactly Hawtin was up to in that video. Add to that, the expansiveness of the Ableton Live software platform, to which Rogers sees many similarities in terms of live performance with that of a symphony conductor-and soon this kid was itching to create his own noise. Rogers sees one of the biggest benefits from using the software is the ability to free him from what he considers the linear mechanical processes of traditional DJ'ing-two turntables and simple beat matching. Now he feels content performing when he can bring many diverse elements together, synthesize them, and let the computer sort out all of the mechanical processes.
Armed with all of this knowledge, Rogers practically stumbled upon the highly influential San Francisco techno night [Kontrol]. These parties left an impression on Rogers who decided to devote all of his energy to making dance music in 2008. But his official immersion into the world of San Francisco techno began early last year with the launch of the Blipswitch.net message board. For Rogers it was also a vehicle for his own brand and the chance to build a loyal group of fans. Six months after the site opened he threw his first party and though he jokes that he had planned to wait another six months before launching the record label he was also aware of growing demand for his music. So Blipswitch Digital's doors opened in August of 2008-just one month after the first party. The label has maintained a consistent release schedule with futuristic tracks like his own collaboration with guitarist Rozanski on the Arabic late night soul-tech of "Morocco".
So what exactly is “dub-tek”? Rogers explains, “I’m definitely a fan of techno and wasn’t feeling the San Francisco dubstep sound at first. I just didn’t like the halfstep count after coming from the world of four-on-the-floor, it was irritating to me”. He goes on to say that a producer named Kush Arora played a set at San Francisco’s biggest dubstep party Surya Dub, whom Rogers helps with promotion-“He was forcing the traditional halfstep signature to conform with techno’s straight four count”. At that moment, he began to envision a new genre that drew from the immense sound palette of dubstep and the built-in energy of techno. He soon teamed up with Jason Short and the Auralism camp for a series of parties in late 2008 and early 2009 that helped to canonize the “dub-tek” sound. The two presented only the best in techno and dubstep at the same event-and in the case of J. Rogers in the same set. His sound from those parties has been described as epochal and literally a vast ocean of deep emotional hues set to a music that is both futuristic and crunk-a-licious for the late night raveaholic and Sean John clad club kid in everyone. It’s definitely a step beyond traditional DJ’ing as Rogers wades through tracks six deep on his laptop with the precision of a robot surgeon. There is a sense that he may be a little scared by the forces he has unleashed but he adds while nervously giggling that he’s eager to see the sound continue to develop “because people REALLY seem to be into it.”
J.Rogers Live @ Killswitch SF 4/24/09