Guest Blog: Dabes

Gallery, Interview – 29/04/2020

What’s Gucci pawb? I’m Dabes, the commander of dancing, server of bangers, conductor of singalongs and master of the megaphone. In other words, I DJ Clwb Ifor Bach’s explosive in-house night NUKE every Friday from 11pm. It’s still a “pinch me” moment when talking about Clwb because for a long time it was a dream to play in such a brilliant venue.

I think DJing was a subconscious life ambition of mine to begin with. I’ve always been pop-ssesed and was known as “DanAbesMashups” in school because I used to have a mashup youtube channel. In this house we stanned main pop girls and shown our appreciation by mashing all their music together! Later on in sixth form I got given the name “Dabes” which I hated to begin with but I guess life comes at you fast when you suddenly need to become a #BrandedGay.

During my A Levels I had the desire to work in radio which led me to study Media Production at university in the centre of Cardiff. In my second and final years I hosted a student radio show with one of my best mates and inspirations Ellie (AKA Noralane, go check out her soundcloud). On air we had a space to be ourselves, swear occasionally by accident, play whatever we wanted and show off our personalities through our track choices. I would play new pop songs that would drop during the broadcast for first listens, including Charlie Puth’s collaboration with Kehlani ‘Done For Me’. My commentary would just consist of me screaming, “oh my god”-ing and various other vibing noises. One of my favourite segments of the show was my “Throwback Thursdabes” track of the week which were always carefully selected because I only played one per show for reasons unknown.

The talent that Cardiff possesses is incomprehensible and I knew towards the end of my time at university I had to be a part of the music scene in some capacity. It specifically hit me in third year when I had a breakdown in the middle of the dancefloor watching my good pal DJ Hilly serve cheesy, infectious pop hits. I embarrassingly rang up my sister in a drunken mess as I was so in awe of his ability to control a room and create magic. That’s what I get for drinking my bodyweight in Echo Falls.

Hilly is just one of many inspirations that I have; Dirty Pop’s King and Queen of pop Ian and Esyllt are legends who have founded, in my honest and truthful opinion, THE best pop night in Cardiff. Powerful duo GRLTLK, who know how to get any crowd singing whether it’s a room for 200 or at a festival(!). Even local musicians and music promoters! More mainstream DJs and producers that I look up to are Jax Jones, Calvin Harris, Mark Ronson, DarkChild and RedOne.

When it comes to my current music taste, I would definitely say it’s varied. I’ll shuffle a playlist and Biggie’s ‘Big Poppa’ would start and then as it comes to an end it would transition into something by K-Pop group BTS. Growing up I couldn’t get enough of the late 90s/early noughties pop groups that were thriving; notably S Club 7. For research purposes, I want you to raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimised by Paul leaving the band *raises hand slowly*. In my teens I would have Kesha’s first album ‘Animal’ on repeat whilst playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andrea (how’s that for duality?) and listened to chart shows often in my bedroom with my games on mute. Music is integral in everything I do. Even now whilst writing I’m trying not to jump off my bed and dance to some Years & Years.

I also get a lot of my music influence from my mum who recalls dancing to icons such as Madonna, Whitney, Wham! And Donna Summer in her late teens. All of which I celebrate and play every weekend. She highlights always dancing and listening to her favourite artists whilst pregnant with me too. Nobody knew at the time that she was going to give birth to a pop diva: me.

Only half joking.

With my pre-existing radio and music knowledge I was confident enough to put myself forward for a dj residency at a cocktail bar in Cardiff. With the money and experience I earned throughout the weeks I was able to afford my own little DJ set up in my flat to practise mixing and FINALLY get back at my neighbour’s loud kids living opposite. Half a year passed, and whilst getting myself out there on social media I was given the chance to guest DJ at an LGBTQ+ event at a students’ union. This was my first proper taste of a student crowd and I really didn’t want it to end. Although my head was fried from the concentration, I left feeling assured and hungry for more.

Then came the advertisement from Clwb Ifor Bach last September and… I can’t even finish this sentence smoothly without screaming. I just want to thank my serotonin levels on the day that I applied because what a brilliant decision that was. Was it the confidence? Was it the delusion? Whatever it was, the Clwb family rated my taste and took me under their wing and that’s when NUKE was born.

When NUKE arrived, it was a cultural reset and over the last 6 months I’ve seen the night transform into something I’m super proud of. NUKE is “party anthems, cult classics, dancefloor bangers” and so much more! It’s non-stop hits every Friday; album tracks that might as well have been singles; TikTok and Twitter viral tunes and forgotten gems. The night is full of flavour and made up of so many genres which is why I believe it’s for anyone who is prepared to get their life on the floor. You can lose yourself to Lizzo, AJ Tracey, The Spice Girls, The 1975, ABBA, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, David Guetta, It’s truly a Haribo STAR MIXTURE but it works!

There’s been so many great moments so far. Before NUKE’s move to a Friday, Cardiff City played a home game against Stoke on Tuesday 20th November and the crowd were incredible. My favourite thing about football fans is their ability to gentrify any song and they certainly went for it during Gala’s ‘Freed From Desire’ and Bruno Mars’ ‘Locked Out of Heaven’. It’s a pleasure to serve and play music for anyone who steps through Clwb’s doors but I have to ask, what is the obsession with Macklemore’s ‘Downtown’? Don’t get me wrong it’s a decent song but it never stopped me as memorable. Another moment that is most pleasing to me, a moment I’ll never forget is accidentally ending the night with SEB’s ‘Murder on The Dancefloor’ and not making anyone want to leave. Ugh my mind, but also, my mind??

Whilst reflecting I would like to thank all the staff and DJs at Clwb Ifor Bach for being so amazing to work with. Being the captain of NUKE truly is a dream come true and I’m desperate to get back in that booth.

Until our “welcome back” extravaganza,

thank u, next era Clwb!! Xx

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