Eden Krumins has reached a milestone. The man better known as Cubist first hit the decks in public a decade ago, when he launched the monthly drum and bass sessions Audible Level at the Carron in North Melbourne alongside his close pal DJ Fiascotec. In what feels like barely a blink of an eye, Krumins rose from enthusiast to permanent feature of the Melbourne music scene. Currently at the helm of Wobble's monthly drum and bass nights, it is only right that a night in honour of the momentous achievement is held. Though clearly chuffed to have cleared a decade on the decks, Krumins is not going to break the mould he has cast for himself by pre-planning a celebratory set. “I never ever plan sets, but it will just be tunes that have been in my box for the past 10 years. I have been collecting drum and bass even before that. It will be bits of everything I like, from the old stuff to the techie stuff to new stuff and forthcoming stuff from myself and other artists. It sounds gay but it will be a journey through drum and bass.
"I reckon the worst thing you can do as a DJ is to plan your set. I think DJing is a really emotionally intuitive thing. Really good DJs can sense and feel where a crowd wants to go." A firm believer that being DJ is far more of an art form than simply pressing play on a mix CD, Krumins confirms that the artistry is in the reactionary reading of an audience. "I feel like I can sense it, not to sound full of myself. Of course there are days when you are not on it, but on the whole you can sense what people want. That is thing about DJing, you are there to entertain." While he is far from being purely a people pleaser, Krumins has a clear understanding of his function and role. If it were not for his ability to react to the subconscious demands of a dance floor then he would not have lasted the distance. "You have to bring something and vibe off the crowd, you have to see where they want to go. It is a case of dropping a bit of this and dropping a bit of that, just see the direction they want to go, then go where you want to take them." Though he is aware that many a DJ approaches a set with a clear track list in mind, he feels that this method leaves the audience shortchanged and the DJ unfulfilled, "If you plan what you are going to play then it is ruining the whole point of being a DJ. You are just becoming a mixing jukebox, you know?"
With his night clearly loosely based around the tunes that have been at the fore throughout the past ten years, it only seems appropriate to honour the milestone by taking back to day dot. Given that he has now established himself firmly, can he recall what it was that he hoped to achieve when he and Fiascotec first conceived of their monthly event? "I don't know if I can to be honest." Rather bashfully Krumins, who clearly focuses on the present rather than past, has humbly forgotten what the initial intention was. After a brief period of pondering, he finally concludes, "I just really wanted to have a career in music. I really wanted to be able to survive off music and not have another job."
"Just looking up to people like Grooverider, DJ Harp, DJ Guy and Eclipse, I just wanted to, I don't know, not emulate but be a part of that world that they moved in. Looking over at it from here in Australia, I just really admired that cluster of people." Rather than trying to emulate his musical inspirations, Krumins found himself initially launching into a move to spread their sound before creating his own mixture of mixes and original material. With a career born out of simple admiration and aspiration, it is little surprise to see that Krumins succeeded. However, has he found that his continuing success forces him to make changes to keep himself relevant? With his music still his central focus, it is once again unsurprising to hear the musician at the core of Cubist remains unflinching in his output. "I think my motivation and direction has really changed that much. I guess in my music, the core sort of values that I want and the vibe I push for my music hasn't changed. They are the same. Production values have changed over time. My goals haven't really changed at all, which sounds a bit boring but they have just stayed the same."
"I was talking with a friend about this yesterday actually. For me, it is just that rawness." Having got into at its outset, Krumins could not resist the innovative sonic rush. While he admits to liking a little bit of everything, he willingly reveals that "The stuff that really sits with me is the full cycle stuff and the Bristol stuff. From getting into people like Portishead and Massive Attack, then drum and bass and the whole continuation of the Bristol sound. There is just that raw creativity in the full cycle stuff, especially the full cycle stuff from the 90s and early 2000s. It was quite unique to that time and that record label."
While many music fans attempt to make the transition from appreciator to innovator, Krumins is one of a choice few who make the change and keep it sustained for an extended period of time. What is it that set him and his approach apart from the main through-flow of traffic? Was the one core inspiration that allowed everything to click into place so that he could really let his own creative juices flow? "I've been thinking about what is what back then. I am looking at like the Wizard of Oz and I don't know back then it was just all new and fresh. So I would go to raves at 18 or 19 and it was just totally new sounds and totally innovative sounds that I had never heard before. I was just like, "How the fuck do people create music like this?" What started out as a sheer experimental curiosity over time developed into a fully fledged working knowledge. "But when you get older you start to understand how to create it. That luster doesn't really disappear but that understanding behind it opens it all up. It is just that rawness and that freshness that do it for me."
Though he is adamant that the through line of drum and bass has remained intact, he concedes that if it were not for the retaining of the innovative nature of the sound that people would have become bored and drum and bass would have been written off as just another fad. "I think the production values have changed, but for me personally, I don't the vibes have. That is why dubstep is interesting. Have you heard the new record that DJ Fresh has released, The Future Jungle EP? It is all 155BPM, but it is really exciting stuff. Similar breaks but dubstep influenced. It is still jungle and drum and bass." While there are still artists that come along and knock him for six, Krumins concedes that if it weren't for these redefining musical maestros, as a music fan he feels unchallenged. "I don't think the vibe or the mentality of drum and bass, or even the message it is trying to get across has really changed. Sometimes that can get a bit stale. There are certain periods, say for 3 or 4 months, where stuff that has been released worldwide pushes the same sound or vibe until someone creates something a bit fresh. The stuff that DJ Fresh has just released is really interesting stuff, real innovative."
"The music that I play within drum and bass is not restricted, I play everything." In ensuring that he hasn't placed himself too firmly in a box, Krumins feels that his diverse approach to a evening's entertainment has more than secured the ongoing interest in his night's. However, he is willing to close with a revelation - the trend that both he and drum and bass guiltily fall into. "If I find that for 3 months there is not much interesting in terms of Jump-Up releases, then I will buy a lot darker techie stuff. I find that in all tends to be in sync with the seasons in England."
DJ Cubist [AUS] celebrates 10 Years of DJ Cubist at Wobble on Saturday May 21 at The Night Owl.