Following a year of solid online releases, WA producer Sable is ready to take the country by storm with his Feels So Good Tour. Known as John Dewhurst to friends and family, he fills ADAM KNIGHT in on making peppy beats and coping with pre-show nerves ahead of his gig at Metropolis Fremantle, Thursday, 24 April.
While Perth has never been short on talented producers, 2013 seemed like a banner year for our isolated city, something that continues this year with a new brigade of hungry young beatsmiths delving into all manner of sounds.
And at the forefront of the charge is John Dewhurst, AKA Sable, who in 2014 has already played shows in most capital cities, released a single that has dominated triple j airwaves, signed a record label contract, been streamed live around the globe on Boiler Room TV, and supported the likes of contemporaries such as Wave Racer, Basenji and Nina Las Vegas.
Having just started his first solo national tour, Dewhurst continues to kick goals but he says a few moments stand out as the most memorable. “The gigs I played with the Nina Las Vegas Presents tour were all amazing. The crowds were all vibing and made it so much fun. The first show of the EP tour in Brisbane was [also] fantastic,” he says.
It’s the first of plenty more to come, and given his live set was barely six months old when he first started travelling the country, you’d be forgiven for thinking nerves would play a role for the fresh-faced youngster.
Not so, it seems: “I don’t really get nervous in front of crowds. Before my set I might get a few butterflies, he says. “I’m always wondering how the crowd will respond to any unreleased tunes that I play, but generally I’m just having fun during the set.
“All of my recent gigs have been so much fun from the start that the nerves just disappeared.”
Fun is definitely one descriptor of Dewhurst’s music – a hypercoloured swirl of peppy synths, Jersey club bounce and pitched-all-over-the-place vocals. It’s no wonder debut single Feels So Good has garnered so much traction, with the second single Foolin’ also out by the time you read this.
“It’s amazing how many people are vibing to Feels So Good and the rest of my music. The response was surprising for sure. It’s all taking off so fast. Triple j have been super supportive and the team at Pilerats Records have done an incredible job.”
Feels So Good EP, which was officially released only a few weeks ago, features a wide variety of sounds all keeping in line with that Sable feel, from the house-leaning bump of Want U Girl, to the club-ready Heights, and soaring Mana Pool, it’s a well-round five-tracker.
On his production process, Dewhurst reveals tracks are very much a product of his vibe at the time. “The music I make is definitely a reflection of how I’m feeling at the time. The EP was intended to be a mix of textures and rhythms all reflecting a happy, summer vibe. As for my sound, I’m always trying to mix it up.”
Not one to bask in the glow of his own EP release Dewhurst recently released a free-for-download edit of Justin Timberlake mid-naughties grinder My Love to plenty of fanfare, alongside a joint jam with fellow WA producers Slumberjack, one of plenty in the healthy Perth producer pool mentioned above.
“Those guys are killing it. Expect more with them. Sid Pattni is killing it right now. He’s such a good songwriter. Palace is on the up and up. Leon Osborn is the Perth bass god and national mystery man. The buzz is building. In another game, Coin Banks is making waves in Oz hip hop.”
This young crew also – unsurprisingly – are by and large a pretty smart bunch, many coming from university backgrounds but still maintaining a desire to succeed in music, and Dewhurst is no different, having finished an engineering degree last year.
He’s since put it on hold to focus on music, a big decision no doubt. “It was a huge risk but this is a rare opportunity and I think now is the best time to go all in. I always have the degree to fall back on.
“For now the shows have been so good and I have such an amazing team working with me that I feel pretty damn good about it.”
The smart head on his shoulders last year quickly came to the realisation that if he wanted to present Sable live to crowds, he would need an added live element to craft something engagement, rather than just staring down into his laptop for 45 minutes in the club each night.
“It is important for me to include at least some live element in my sets. For now I’ve scaled it back and I’ll play synth lines on a couple of tracks and sing a little bit with a twist,” he explains, revealing that played live his original songs often take on a new form.
“My own tracks are split down to give me more control over how they weave together to provide a flowy set. I’m including music from some artists that I’m really vibing on at the moment too. People can expect a lot of variety and a lot of bass music. In the future there will be visuals to match the set.”
And looking at how quickly the young gun has risen to the top of an incredibly large heap of producer talent in this country, it’s really just the beginning. “There are a lot of [future plans] that can’t be mentioned at the moment but they are super exciting…
“For now I’m writing more music and trying to put everything into these shows on tour.”