by Jason Birchmeier
Sub Focus is an alias of Nick Douwma, a fast-rising drum'n'bass producer/DJ affiliated with the Ram Records collective who became one of the style's leading practitioners within only two years of his recording debut. Originally from Liverpool, England, Douwma is a self-taught producer who began producing music on his PC at age 13 and attained his know-how from software manuals. One of his demos eventually made its way into the hands of Andy C., the co-founder of Ram Records, one of the U.K.'s premier drum'n'bass labels. Signed initially to the Ram Records offshoot label Frequency, Douwma made his recording debut as Sub Focus in 2003 with the 12& release Down the Drain/Hot Line. A couple more 12& releases on Frequency followed in 2004, along with one on J Majik's Infrared label. Douwma's breakout year came in 2005, however, when he made his Ram Records debut, releasing X-Ray/Scarecrow and, later in the year, Frozen Solid/Juno; these 12& releases were also compiled on the Frozen Solid/X-Ray maxi-single in response to their widespread demand, as &X-Ray& was awarded Single of the Week on tastemaker Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show. Also in 2005, Douwma was chosen to remix the Prodigy's &Smack My Bitch Up& in promotion of the group's 15-year anniversary collection, Their Law: The Singles 1990-2005. In subsequent years, Douwma continued his affiliation with Ram Records, releasing a 12& more or less annually (i.e., Airplane/Flamenco, 2006; Special Place/Druggy, 2007; Timewarp/Join the Dots, 2008; et al.) and performing as an affiliate DJ at clubs such as Fabric and festivals such as Glastonbury.