In Conversation: Jubilee and Nick Catchdubs
DJ/Producers Jubilee and Nick Catchdubs have been fixtures in the NYC club scene for over a decade, fostering community with their respective brands Mixpak (which has released Jubilee’s music since 2012) and Fool’s Gold (co founded by Nick and DJ A-Trak in 2007). They’ve both weathered countless trend cycles by staying true to their cross-genre roots, and bring a combination of good vibes and party-rocking skill to all endeavors. With Jubilee’s sophomore outing 'Call For Location' having just dropped November 1st, and Nick’s second album UFO (featuring collaborations with Nasty Nigel, Mr Muthafuckin eXquire and Cell’s own Mattie Safer) out now, we brought these two friends together for a proper Q&A at Nick’s Manhattan apartment to talk about careers, expectations, mentorship and more (like when your dad goes to Burning Man).
all photos by Kevin Condon except where noted.
NICK CATCHDUBS: I'm going to record this on my telephone. All right. Hi. Hello. Welcome to Cell Laboratories.
JUBILEE: This is the Cell Lab.
NICK CATCHDUBS: So off top... What's it like being a female deejay?
JUBILEE: [Laughter] Can you believe people are still doing that? Like, after all the memes and all the bitching and all the articles and everything possible... it actually still happens. Like, it just happened to me. And I was like, this interview is over.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Still the most egregious question.
JUBILEE: It's the same as being a girl anything. What's it like in a male dominated industry? Every industry is a male dominated industry except like, exotic dancer and--
NICK CATCHDUBS: I would love to go into the Magic Mike world like, "so what's it like beating the odds? As a dude in exotic dancing, what challenges do you face?"
JUBILEE: Totally. Nobody cares and nobody will ever ask them, because to them there is no challenge. Now I have this thing when people do things like that. I'm just like "there's memes about you, you know that, right?" Like when people make requests at a literal techno party. I'm like, "people make memes about you."
NICK CATCHDUBS: A thing with music in particular is that when you get asked to chime in for somebody's think piece or whatever, the same people won't write about your record when it comes out.
JUBILEE: That's why I don't do it anymore. And they always want you to complain. It's never like, "tell me about your positive experience." It's always like, "what do you think of #MeToo?" What the fuck do you think of me? It's funny because the past two years I've taken note of everybody that's done this to me. I told my manager, all these people reaching out for all this garbage, they better post about my music, because if you constantly want some rage quote from me about not being supported, and then you're not going to support me? Like, you're not doing this to help.
NICK CATCHDUBS: On that note, with the stuff you have been putting out this year, you are gearing up towards a second album.
JUBILEE: Yes. It's happening.
NICK CATCHDUBS: And having just been in that position myself, I found the process like clearing the decks, you know what I mean? You might have a bit of a different perspective because your first record got a lot of cool coverage…
JUBILEE: Yeah, I got all of the things.
NICK CATCHDUBS: There's expectations. And I kind of felt the opposite. It was just sort of like, well, this one thing did what it did, but I really liked it. So let me double down on this stuff I liked. On this new album were you juggling the sort of things you wanted to do versus the things that you felt like you had to do?
JUBILEE: Yes, totally. Because every day it's really crazy too, industry wise. How much has changed in three years? Like with Spotify, with streaming…
NICK CATCHDUBS: When "Wine Up" came out, you weren't like, "what playlists do we get?"
JUBILEE: Yeah... I still don't, nor did I care. And also, there was a lot of dance music press [when the first album came out] that doesn't exist anymore. There was the asteroid one…
NICK CATCHDUBS: Do Androids Dance.
JUBILEE: There was like a ton of stuff for me. Now it's like, who is this for?
NICK CATCHDUBS: You also have people who were writing about dance music in the '90s who are still the only people writing about it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. But I do think that the kids who come out to shows should have some kind of representation in the way that music is written about.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Stuff that ends up making it is your more critic friendly, weirdo experimental electronic... pots and pans shit is naturally more appealing than like, a dancehall hybrid to that sort of audience.
JUBILEE: I don't really make dancehall. I made a couple beats that have a dancehall thing going on, I worked with a couple of singers that were in dancehall and some rappers. I feel like people are, "what do we even do with this?" Like, "what genre?"
NICK CATCHDUBS: So when you were starting [the new album], did you have a vision or a goal or was it kind of like, let's see what happens?
JUBILEE: Well, it was really hard not to have a vision or a goal when I liked my first album so much. It's so funny because [you and I] have been going to all Mary HK Choi's book stuff lately, and we're in the same boat. That whole quote, "you have your whole life to make your first album" and then your second album is like "aaagh you need to finish this by this time!" I try not to compare it, but at the end of the day, my sound hasn't changed. There's new stuff, and I'm like, oh, this reminds me of this from the last album.
NICK CATCHDUBS: I feel like there's a lot of positivity in the music you make. Whenever I listen to something you've done. I never think, "oh, man, Jess is bummed."
JUBILEE: I always have like one like sad song on there. Or maybe two... most of it is like "I'm going to a rave" or "I'm at a rave." Getting ready for the rave or driving there. My whole life revolved around dance music, and it's the only thing in my life that I've ever stuck to since I was 16 years old. So of course, I'm going to like make music for that. I've had more late nights than probably anybody my age.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Do you make a conscious decision in the studio like, "this is going to be a song for my set?"
JUBILEE: I used to when I first started making EPs on Mixpak. I really liked my last album. I loved it. But there wasn't a lot of stuff I made on it that I was playing myself, and I wanted more for this one. There's a lot more tracks for the club on [the new album] Call For Location. And I think that's because I was like, "well, I want to play this stuff out." I have a compilation called Magic City... I don't know if that's on my Wiki! And it's all tracks I play from other people. The parties I've been playing, I've been mostly just playing stuff from that and my own stuff. I've gotten to a point where I've got enough songs to have a "Jubilee set."
NICK CATCHDUBS: The world of people who write or even give a shit about DJs and dance music is so small to begin with. But within that tiny niche I feel like there's a weird bias of "oh, are you a DJ or are you a producer?" Are you a "curator"? There's people I'll read profiles about who haven't recorded any music of their own. "This is one of the UK's most sublime selectors" and it's just sort of like, "what are you even talking about?"
JUBILEE: What does that even mean? Everybody needs some crazy thing. I just want to make a song.
NICK CATCHDUBS: What is this peg, and how do you weigh these things against it? Why call this person who doesn't make music "a visionary behind the decks"? But then not write about DJ mixes? It's interesting what ends up flipping that switch.
JUBILEE: Everybody needs like, this deep story. I'm not really that fucking deep. It's not hard with me. Like, I somehow moved to New York when there was no social media. And I'm still here. I don't know how. And I grew up in Miami and did some dumbass things for a couple of years that I don't even talk about. I just really like dance music and I'm not going to make up some story.
NICK CATCHDUBS: "Mystique."
JUBILEE: Yeah. Like I'm around... I love club music. I love American club music. I mean, the UK was clearly a big influence. But over the years, Baltimore Club, Jersey Club, Miami Bass, regional club music I love so much and I'm back at a point where I'm like, okay, I'm gonna play Rod Lee.
NICK CATCHDUBS: When we were doing the Flashing Lights party [with DJ Ayres], which was 10 years ago, it's kind of pre "EDM." I feel like when we stopped doing the party it was right as this other thing was beginning to happen. I can remember like at the last couple parties Congorock had just come out…
JUBILEE: The one that Toddla T did, which was early…
NICK CATCHDUBS: The one year anniversary, and we made it to like, two and change.
JUBILEE: OK, so that one was when the first HARD Fest in New York was, and that's why everybody was there. That's why Diplo was there and everyone from LA was on stage.
NICK CATCHDUBS: New York was always it's its own little bubble outside of that. You did have the kind of Friday night, Webster Hall rotation of "dubstep headliner," "hard electro headliner" and an interchangeable batch of festival people. And there were less and less parties. I mean, there's always gonna be little ones, but there were less and less types of what we were doing [at Flashing Lights], which is sort of like a midsize party. And now I think that it's kind of gone back to just being small stuff. It feels like there's no big stuff for the most part.
JUBILEE: Not really. I mean, there's Avant Gardner.
NICK CATCHDUBS: "Expensive dance music," for lack of a better term.
JUBILEE: Techno is really expensive.
NICK CATCHDUBS: But techno is funny because techno has a bottle service bro element. Techno has traders who fancy themselves like, "oh, no, no, no, we're not like those other guys who go out and do coke."
JUBILEE: Avant Gardner will switch it up, like it'll be Dillon Francis the other night. And then I saw a thing for like Sean Paul. I don't know, I haven't really been. Nina Las Vegas is in town, she played the other night and said it was really good. But I feel like, yeah, it's just festivals. I still really want to do small clubs, but it's a hard thing to do.
NICK CATCHDUBS: It's hard to sustain. You'll post stuff sometimes like, "hey, you know what? I got a really good review in this magazine, but that doesn't mean that, like, I make more money."
JUBILEE: I've gotten all the reviews in the world and... I just did my taxes and I want to die. So I don't think that really means anything. I'm not mad at it. I'm like, I'm playing underground music. What do I expect? I'm not supposed to make a million dollars.
NICK CATCHDUBS: I do think that there is a way to to have a sustainable career at any level.
JUBILEE: You have to do a lot of things.
NICK CATCHDUBS: And you can't expect what happened one year to be what's going to happen the next. You always have to treat it like you're starting from zero. And as much as you want to feel like, "oh, I've earned some level of notoriety," it's very easy to become complacent.
JUBILEE: I'm not throwing shade at all, but I'll see some newer DJs get like one write up and think they're set for life. And now they should be touring. And I'm just like, oh, you're stuck. You're gonna start back at like "you don't even exist" in two months.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Then there's the sort of super friendly, thirsty, but friendly person who back in the day would be the crate carrier. "Can can you put me on this? Can put me on this?" And then when you actually do have a chance to put them on something, all of a sudden it's like, "well my fee is..." Wait a minute! A couple weeks ago we were talking about something much different.
JUBILEE: I don't know... this is just my mom making me like this. When I was young and I would go to like acting auditions and think I nailed it. My mom would be like, "don't count on anything ever." And at the end of the day, she was totally right. So even with [Mixpak winning] Culture Clash, BBC, everything in my head, I'm like when I'm done with this, I need a new thing. I need to make a new record. Like it never should end. A lot of people are like, "well, once I put this out..." I haven't stopped in the past ten years. And I think that's why I'm still here. I never really skyrocketed career wise, but I'm fine with that.
NICK CATCHDUBS: It's a nice positive curve.
JUBILEE: I'm just like, "OK, I finished this project. I better start a new project because no matter what you do, people are going to forget about you."
NICK CATCHDUBS: It's funny because, if you make things, they kind of don't exist until they hit the audience. They exist for you. But that's a different kind of existence.
JUBILEE: And releases are so weird now. Like you put out a song and then it's gone.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Was there anything from the most recent music that you've put out that you've been pleasantly surprised by? Was there someone you weren't expecting to react to it reacting to it?
JUBILEE: I got a video. I got tagged in a video yesterday of a dance class dancing to "Fulla Curve" in London. So that was pretty cool. I've gotten tagged in a lot of things with my song with P Money. I think releasing a song with a grime artist at the time that "Top Boy" was being talked about a lot was a very funny coincidence, because everybody keeps hearing it and then bringing up "Top Boy". And I'm like "P Money has been around forever."
NICK CATCHDUBS: It's hard to expect people to do anything. You know what I mean? I'm mulling over whether or not to do vinyl for this last thing [UFO] that I put out, because I'm proud of it. And I want to have a physical version of it. I want to give the people who are on the record, whether it's Mattie or Nigel or whomever, like, hey, here's this here's this thing we created. It's sort of like you're you're betting on yourself. Am I okay with this if it doesn't work out? Or can I feel confident that X number of people will want to have this in their home?
JUBILEE: You'd be surprised, because I didn't do vinyl and I got a lot of requests for it. And one day I played this New Year's party two years ago with NAAFI literally at Puerto Escondido, which is the middle of nowhere in Mexico on the beach, and they block off the beach area for 300 people. This German guy somehow found the party on vacation with his girlfriend, came up to me and was like, "why didn't you have vinyl?" [Laughs] I was like, "what are you talking about?" And he shows me on Facebook, meanwhile it is like 6 in the morning. I'm fucked. He shows me his messages to my fan page that I read and didn't answer. wasn't even creeped out or mad. I was just like, "I fuck with you for this.".
NICK CATCHDUBS: A positive Facebook interaction!
JUBILEE: I was like laughing about it. I was like, "I'm sorry, I don't really read my messages. It's full of weirdos." Like once I said that, he was like, "Oh, I could see that." But he was like, "Why don't you have vinyl?" So many people actually did message me asking that question. You can just get a limited thing and see how it sells. It is nice to have.
NICK CATCHDUBS: The disposability of stuff has, in a lot of ways, created an atmosphere of "nothing matters," which on one hand can be a bummer. But on the other hand, it's very freeing. It's sort of like, "hey, you know what? If nothing matters, why not focus on the stuff that is most important to you?" Obviously there's there's economic concerns to that. You know what I mean? Like, we all have to fucking pay rent. But at the same time, it's sort of like, if this is important to you, it feels like it's easier than before to follow that dragon.
JUBILEE: Also we're getting older. And with this record, I'm just like, look, I worked my ass off on this. I love it. I hope people like it. I hope you will play it. I hope you will support me. But also, if it doesn't work out, what are we gonna do?
NICK CATCHDUBS: Do you have a personal favorite moment on this record?
JUBILEE: Actually a few. One of one of them is kind of funny. The one song that didn't make the album is a song that I love. And we sampled Coro the freestyle dude, which it's also funny, because freestyle is such a small fanbase. So I'm like, "how do we clear the sample?" Meanwhile, Suze [at Mixpak] is like sending me photos of Coro, full on Puerto Rican, '80s Latin dad vibes. I'm like, "how can we figure out [the contact], nobody's answering, what are these labels." I'm looking on the Wikipedia. And Todd Terry produced it, which just shows you how legendary Todd Terry is. I hit A-Trak, like, "this is the stupidest question in my life. Can you link me to Todd Terry's people?" We never wound up getting it cleared properly. I mean, we could probably get away with it, but I don't want to even go there. But it was a moment. I did my own vocals [on another song]. It's just like the same thing over and over again, I just liked the feel of it. Because of that I decided to do [vocals] on these other songs because I don't want to deal with [samples]. It's called "I Don't Think So." It reminded me of the girl's voice in any rave song I used to listen to. Some girl that they were like, "yo, can you come in here for a second?" So I thought that was kind of funny. A lot of my friends are on the album. If you listen closely to it, you'll hear a lot of people we know and a lot of random recordings of people in New York. Desus and Mero are on it somewhere, Nigel's on it. There's a really great sound bite of my Aunt Lydia, who is amazing. Dre [Skull] is like, really good at this, like atmospheric like, "where should we put all these samples?" He helped me out a little bit, where we put her is sooo good.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Do you feel like your family generally "gets" what you do?
JUBILEE: No. I mean, they do get it way more than they used to because of articles and you know, they've seen more progress. Now DJing is so much more mainstream they used to be. But I feel like Aunt Lydia in her eighties gets it more than anything. She's like "we had dinner and the waiter told us he was a DJ. So we asked him all the questions so we don't have to bother you. We asked about remixes!" I was like, you know what? That was so nice of you, because you actually care. "What do you mean you don't DJ weddings? So how does it work? Do you have your own equipment?" She asked him all of the questions.
NICK CATCHDUBS: My parents definitely thought that's what I was doing for travel. They thought I was DJing people's weddings. Like someone I know is getting married in China.
JUBILEE: I mean, I think they get it way more now. My life has been so crazy, they're like, "where are you?" But still, when I have to explain certain things now, I'm like, "oh, you know, this is bumming me out. I hate Instagram." They don't know what that kind of stuff is.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Navigating the modern music landscape.
JUBILEE: So when I get really frustrated with that stuff, they're like "but you're great!" This is a giant part of the job now, it's not what I signed up for.
NICK CATCHDUBS: I feel like having my parents write a bio would be very useful. "He's so responsible! Very kind to the elderly!"
JUBILEE: I think my dad is like just excited that I travel. He always wanted me to travel, even when I was young. So any field trip or chance to another country or do something like that, he would try to help. So I think that he's mostly just happy that I do that. And he went to Burning Man this year.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Which is an interview in itself!
JUBILEE: Oh my god. He doesn't use Facebook. He doesn't know anything about pop culture at all. His view of it was so funny because he had zero expectations and didn't really know what it was. So he came back like "I parked my bike at this lighthouse and I thought to remember the lighthouse. And then I came back and the lighthouse was gone." We were at the table dying. "Everyone was just naked!" He did not know what he was getting into. So maybe he understands [me] a little bit more now that he's done that.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Now that this record is done, is there a vision board for what you want to do next?
JUBILEE: I don't know. I obviously want to grow with the Magic City compilations. I don't know if I necessarily want to turn it into a label, because who knows what a label is going to be six months from now. I'm just kind of going with the flow... I would like to help other artists with the compilation, or help book them and do more parties or maybe some festivals.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Do you feel like you've had a chance to have a real apprentice, someone that you could point to like, "Yo, I mentored the shit out of you."
JUBILEE: I have a few children. One of them is Hu Dat, who is killing it right now. She kind of took off on her own. But in the beginning, I had to tell her what to do and what not to do. I'm very glad I told her those things because I think that it's helped get her where she is. And I think she's killing it right now. I'm always happy to give advice to a lot of people, just giving them my experience, like what I think.
NICK CATCHDUBS: If people are open to it, I'm in the same boat. I love being able to share. "Hov did that so hopefully you won't have to go through that."
JUBILEE: I know. Totally. And also the industry is so different now and people like me and you, we've had to chase money a million times for sure.
NICK CATCHDUBS: "Just following up."
JUBILEE: Yeah. "This person hasn't paid me." I'm like, "get used to it."
NICK CATCHDUBS: As cognizant as I am of trying to give pointers to the kids coming up, I also want to like give pointers to people who are our age and older, like, "don't be fucking grumpy and complain about everything."
JUBILEE: Get over yourself.
NICK CATCHDUBS: It's not 2007, it's not 1997.
JUBILEE: As you get older, a lot of these DJs are mad at kids, it's a really strange thing to watch. I understand, like, why you'd feel like that because I am getting older, but it's like "figure it out dude." Things change.
NICK CATCHDUBS: It doesn't have to be Lego Movie, "everything is awesome." But It doesn't have to be the opposite of that either. There's always going to be as much shit that's awesome as shit that sucks. And I would say if you did the average, there's more good stuff than ever before. The problem is, is that there's just more stuff than ever before. So sifting through it takes work, and sometimes you don't want to put that energy in. But it's worse to just watch yourself fossilize. And I feel good that, on a creative level, I'm more excited about the things I make than ever before.
JUBILEE: Yeah. Because, I mean, you said about your album, which is why I love your album so much. You're basically like, I don't care about anything. I'm going to do everything that I like. And it came out great. I think that that's really important. I think that's why my first album did well. And I hope that this one people understand, guess what? I like breaks. And I also like 100 BPM Caribbean inspired music. So I put both on there. And if you don't fucking understand that, I don't know what to tell you. But all music is good. And sometimes you listen to things during the day and sometimes you listen at night.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Context!
JUBILEE: Like what am I gonna make you an album full of eight club bangers? There's emotions in it. Especially now, everything is for streaming now. And I think that people are starting to make music geared towards that.
NICK CATCHDUBS: Algorithm bait.
JUBILEE: I get it because... algorithm. But I also know a lot of people that should have been on the algorithm and they're not.
NICK CATCHDUBS: I think about that all the time. Imagine if we had Instagram for the first Spank Rock record. Imagine if all of these opportunities for artists to self-monetize existed in in the beginning. But when you're when you're the fucking trailblazer, it's harder.
JUBILEE: Yeah. You almost have to wait for the cycle to come back around.
NICK CATCHDUBS: And I feel like now as much as we're in #TBT constantly, there's always a memory of something or an anniversary of something, but shit that should have gotten its due the first time is kind of getting its due now. Sometimes it's a little backhanded, and I think it's sometimes it can be a little... well shit, you should have appreciated this while it was happening because the stuff that's out now you like even less! But if you're if you're doing something that's genuine, if you're doing something that's honest, there's always gonna be an audience for it. It might just be on a different timeline than you were expecting.
JUBILEE: I'm too old to make music I don't like. I've been doing this ten years, it's not like I'm up and coming and new, trying to "break into the scene," which is another insane question I get asked. I'm a full adult in my thirties. Why would I want to make like something I don't want to make at this point? I don't care if it's a money thing. I can easily get a job like that's probably easier than doing this. Also Mixpak is turning 10 this year, which is crazy. Because Mixpak started when I was Dre Skull's roommate.
NICK CATCHDUBS: That's amazing. Shout out. Fade 2 Famous. I like ending with a shout out to Fade 2 Famous. And the beer store. So... fantastic female deejay roundup!
JUBILEE: [Laughs] Please group me in with people I have nothing to do with at all. I love when [on social media] it's like "who's a female deejay?"
NICK CATCHDUBS: "Femcees."
JUBILEE: "DJane." So bad!
Jubilee's sophomore album Call For Location is out now. Nick Catchdubs latest release UFO is also out now.
You can listen, stream, or purchase via the links below.