I know you've had a bit of time off, but touring all around the world, playing festivals all through Europe like you've been doing... do you feel like it's in a different place from when you started?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, socially. When I first started in 2006, I remember YouTube had just started. Facebook wasn't even around yet. It was Myspace, right. Twitter didn't exist yet. Instagram didn't exist yet. Phones were still shit. It just wasn't what the current world is now. It was a bit more old school.
I caught that very first wave of viral videos. My first video that went viral in 2008, that was one of the first viral music videos. I didn't realize that at the time, but I've been told by YouTube, by people in the industry, that was one of the first videos where people saw an artist, and it would probably help the fact that it was shot on the street. It made it even more visceral of, "This is a guy who's completely independent, by himself. There are no camera tricks. It's one shot." It was one of the first videos where it was just a one-shot window into a performance with a loop station. I think, because it was so different to what anyone had ever seen before, and I was also street performing four or five days a week all over Europe, doing my band, traveling around, people were kind of like, "Oh, you've going to see this guy that I saw on a street". They'd go to YouTube later, "Maybe he's on YouTube". They'd type it in, Dub FX, and sure enough, there's my video. Then, they would share it with their mates. It ended up being on the front page of Reddit at one point. They played it on NBC news, like look at this guy, honestly. Something about that video just sort of connected with so many people, I guess, lyrically, and the fact that it was just different to whatever
So yeah, I caught this first ever wave of viral videos. Basically, without even meaning to, it kick-started my career. I was just happy being a street performer, traveling around and meeting people. I thought that at the end of my trip I was going to go home and be inspired to write an album, then maybe I could get a record deal and win a Grammy. That was where my brain was at. Back in the day it was all about record labels, radios, publicists, becoming famous and winning a Grammy. That was the only choice, that or become a wedding singer. When I started traveling, YouTube became my radio, and Myspace and Facebook became my record label. It was this new thing and no one really understood it.
All of a sudden I started getting booked to play festivals. I built up these relationships with the festival promoters. Every time I'd go I'd smashed these shows. I'd do my best, and try and do everything I could to blow audiences away. I was practicing on the street every day, my chops were strong. Over the years I've just built up this fan base, and this following with promoters and the public. I'm still going strong. I can't complain. Everything works. It was just this weird thing that kind of fell together.
When you look back at that and think, you wanted that record deal and everything, now when you're thinking about it, are you happy that you're still independent, still doing it all yourself?
Yeah. I mean, look, absolutely. There's pros and cons to both of those scenarios. You know what I mean?
I mean, some of my favorite bands ever, like Rage Against the Machine, they were completely anti establishment. They were signed by a big record labels, part of the machine itself. You know what I mean? There's nothing wrong with being in that commercial world. It's definitely, there's a lot more red tape. Your hands are tied a lot more. A lot of artists who want to go on tour can't going on tour, because the label says no, or they've got a banging new tune that, they would have collaboration. Apparently, there's all kinds of amazing collaborations with... There's one I heard with Lord and Skrillex that's never been released, because there's too much red tape.
You know what I mean? Things like that. When you're in that commercial world, not everything goes. I've got the opportunity to do whatever I want. Obviously, as a result I make way less money, but I have total control of what I do. Sometimes it's great.
I go to these festivals. I'll look around and I look at the bill. I'll look at who's playing the same stage I'm on, and it's Ed Sheeran, Die Antwood, Skrillex, and whoever. I'm the only artist that's completely independent. Yes, I'm definitely not getting paid $150,000 like these guys are, but I mean, it's like, I'm there. I'm super lucky, so I don't know. I've got a great life. I pay the bills, and I've got two daughters, and I've got a beautiful wife. I get to travel the world, and make music, and do everything the way I want to do it. I don't know, I got no complaints. Life is awesome.