MIAMI’S Doc Brown is known for incendiary performances at EDC and BPM Festival as well as holding a longtime residency aboard the infamous Groove Cruise. Last year he has become a label owner for the first time in his career, launching his Unlearn:Records imprint.
Unlearn:Records will serve as an outlet for his own fresh, unique take on tech house and techno, as well as showcasing other artists producing incredible music that sits a little outside of the status quo. Expect dark grooves, rolling beats and an abundance of energy with every release.
His nest release on the label is a collab with MC Flipside, a Juno nominated producer/songwriter/DJ trailblazer who continues to define his own unique sound through his production, record labels, and captivating flows.
Ahead of the release of Pushing Me / Submission, we caught up with Doc for a chat and exclusive mix.
Your breakthrough record came with Totally on Stereo…why do you think that one made such an impact?
Totally was the first track of mine to have a big co-sign with Chus & Ceballos throwing their weight behind it, both heavily supporting and then releasing it on their label. Getting big-name underground artists to support your music can be extremely difficult, so that showed me I was on the right track. As to why it had an impact, I’m not sure—I think every producer has their own unique relationship to their songs, and I’ve honestly never really been able to put a finger on why other DJs choose which (if any) of my tracks to play. Totally does, I think, have a really a nice synth lead patch; I’ve always loved haphazard syncopations and I think that’s probably the real draw of the track.
You’re a very prolific producer… do you ever have days when you sit in the studio and nothing comes out right?
Haha, absolutely! And thank you…but really, there isn’t some secret formula to make a track that works, and a lot of it is trial & error—this kick or that kick, this or that kind of synth patch, etc. Having some experience and a good workflow helps move through ideas quickly, but sometimes once they’re executed the ideas don’t develop into anything strong…or even develop at all! I think that’s completely normal, and the hardest part is to not quit and just keep working through it. Sometimes breakthroughs come out of nowhere, and the only time they won’t happen is when you’re not working.
Your next release is a collab with MC Flipside…how did you hook up with him? Is he someone you’ve worked with before?
We actually met many years ago and have always kept in touch and exchanged music; I released an instrumental melodic track on his label called Papercut a while back as well. The first track we actually made together was Submission—it was an instrumental I had sent him & he sent me back a really great hook that I felt captured the essence of the track. Pushing Me came after and originally was intended to be the B-side. I had an idea I was working on but I just couldn’t find the right topline for it. Flipside really took it next level, sending me back stems for not only multiple sets of vocals, but some chords and a nice lead melody as well. There was so much material to work with…I was able to put together an arrangement that has a real song arc & is so much more than a club tool. I don’t really like to speak for other people, but we’re both extremely proud of the work we did on that one, and it was an easy choice to make it the lead track.
We heard you say that prior to the pandemic you hadn’t had much luck putting collabs with other artists together. What changed?
Hmmmm, well, the biggest change was that I started to be approached by producers I wanted to work with…which was both humbling and exciting. I’m naturally shy about approaching people in general, and these were no-brainer opportunities to work with people I respected and brought a lot to the table. It’s been good experience after good experience, so I’m looking to collaborate much more in the future.
Can you tell us any other artists that will be releasing on the label over the coming months?
I have some remixes down the line incoming from some pretty dope artists like Vanilla Ace, Kuestenklatsch & Horatio, as well as some other collabs of mine I can’t quite unveil yet. We’ll also be putting out some tracks from relatively unknown artists, and I’m quite excited about helping bring exposure to their music.
Your label is focused quite firmly on music for the dancefloor…do you ever fear that a lot of it will go under the radar with many clubs closed? How do you mitigate that?
I think the thing is, people that love club music—they don’t need a club to listen to it. And be it on Twitch or through their regular radioshows, big-name DJs are still playing…so there are plenty of opportunities to get the music listened to. And truth be told, releasing solid records consistently is the only way to build a brand—both amongst fans and your peers—so I never really saw any reason to worry about how clubs being open would affect things. And with everything off to a good start, my hope is that they’ll get better as more and more working DJs return.
For yourself and other DJs, Twitch has become a valuable outlet. Do you think that will die off once you can start playing in clubs again?
To be honest, I’m not quite sure. I’ve taken some of the money from the Twitch stream and invested it in equipment that will allow me to stream on location at IRL events, so those are my plans going forward. Ideally, I’d like to transition my Sunday show into a live event, that would also be livestreamed. Whether or not streams continue to thrive or be a future revenue stream I can’t really say, but I certainly have no plans to stop.
If the pandemic had hit 20 years ago before there were so many ways of staying in touch with fans, do you think the industry would have survived?
I think so. Thing is, there has and always will be music…and as long as there’s music, there will be a business surrounding it. I think people get creative when they’re faced with extraordinary circumstances, so somehow it would have continued. Mail order DVDs, telephone concerts….who knows? There are always smart people out there hustling.
Tell us about the mix you’ve put together for us – any stand out tracks?
I’ve included a fair amount of new material from myself, including my remix for Horatio as well as Pushing Me and some other tracks from the label—and an ID! Other than that you’ll find some of my favorite tech-house & techno tunes from artists I play a ton like Deepshakerz, Gene Farris, Carlo Lio & Nathan Barato…dark & groovy clubby stuff!
What else should we be looking out for you this year?
In addition to continuing with both the label and streaming, I have been producing a bunch and have collaborations on the way with Jerome Robins, Lizzie Curious & Vanilla Ace each. I also have a nice remix for Dennis Buetler that I’m just about to finish up. And, of course…live shows! Hopefully we can all get back to it worldwide as soon as possible…