Dubmastermind from Canada

"Renegade Rocker" is about to be released in Europe on Echo Beach in January 2009. Two brand new singles feat. Fitta Warri and Howie Smart produced by Dubmatix on the Irie Ites Music imprint are in the pipeline. Recently, there has been a slight sound shift back towards old school dub, but without losing sight of modern trends. "Renegade Rocker" is a supremely good album, and the single Dubmatix feat. Ranking Joe “War Inna Corner” (Irie Ites Music) is being enthusiastically received by all the soundsystems. Without question, Dubmatix can be regarded as one of the most important dub producers of our time.

From „Champion Sound Clash“, released in 2004, to „Atomic Subsonic“ (2006) you have continuously minimized your experiments with faster electronical dubsounds, and have at the same time focused on sounds that are reminiscent of the sounds of 70s dub of producers like king Tubby, while still leaving plenty of room for modernity, like on Renegade Rocker. What inspired you to take this direction?

The biggest insipiration has always been the production style and instrumentation heard on much of the 70s and 80s reggae releases. I fell into the Electro-Dub sound by accident when I added a King Tubby sample I took from one of his tracks and put it on top of a House song I was working on at the time and it clicked – that song became "Journey To The Center of the Dub" – with the King Tubby sample removed. That was the first Electro-Dub track I produced. In fact, I just came across the original version with the King Tubby sample included which I’ll probably make available at some point as a free download.

How do you pick the artists for voicing your tunes? Are there any personal criteria for choosing them?

Recording the new CD occured over the period of 9 months starting with Ranking Joe who's toasting style lends itself to a wide-variety of reggae styles - from dub to roots to electro and even Drum & Bass. We worked together in July 2007 and from there it was contacting singers that were each different and had a distinct and unique style/voice. When you look at the CD it's a very wide range of singing styles - Alton Ellis' Rocksteady Lovers, Linval's roots, Willi's deep and mysterious sound to Sugar's 80s dancehall flavours. My criteria when selecting singers is that they bring something to the musical table - something that excites me. I know when I hear a great vocal track because I'll already hear most of the parts for the entire song and where I want to go with it. I look for singers that inspire me and the direction of the song. When I heard Pinchers vocals - which he played over the phone from Jamaica - I instantly knew how to finish the song, where to put the chorus, which part to use for the chorus, etc... When Willi was in my studio - same thing, I knew what types of instrumentation I wanted to use to help elevate and showcase his dark sound.

You are devoted to Dub. Where do you see the biggest potential in this genre?

I see immense longevity within the dub and dub-influenced musical spectrum. Dub has applications in many genres of music - from electro, R&B, rock, punk, house, D&B, dubstep, grime, hiphop, etc.. It will continue to evolve and morph into something new - like Dubstep which has swept across the world over the past few years and has now found a dedicated following of producers and fans alike. For me, I'll be looking forward to seeing what else I can do with the idea of dub. At the same time, the foundations of dub put down by King Tubby and others in the 70s still dominate the stylings and sounds that make dub what it is, so there will always be room for traditional dub - which is a personal favorite.

Canada is not really a big player in the world of reggae and dub. Isn't it a bit lonely to work there? Or is this just a misconception, and in reality Canada is simply sizzling with great musicans and producers in this scene?

Canada’s sales for reggae and dub are very small – artists have to rely on getting into specialty stores and off-stage sales - BUT there is an amazing amount of reggae fans and artists alike across Canada. I think a lot of us have always looked to Europe as a place of openness and possibilities – which after touring there, I would agree. I’ve met some of the most dedicated reggae fans in Europe - that is much different than in Canada.

You are also leaving the studio to do shows as the Dubmatix Soundsystem. What do you like most about performing your material live?

The audience response! There have been some amazing shows where you look out and the entire club is jumping and the bass is thundering. It’s a natural high.

The Dubmatix Soundsystem has travelled through some parts of the world until now. Where have you been already? What audiences were the best so far?

Almost all of the places we’ve played so far have had great audiences but for me the highlights have been Budapest Hungary, Telerama Dub Festival in Paris and Victoria, Canada – these shows really stood out.

Is there anything next to music that you do for a living, or is it possible to concentrate completely on music at this point?

I still work, but I’m able to do more music these days. I could focus solely on music at this point, but I’m particular about what I work on musically, so I take my time and select outside projects carefully.

Are there any projects in the pipeline right now that keep you busy? What is to be expected next?

I've never been as busy musically as I am right now. In 2008 I released 3 Digital CDs and "Renegade Rocker" along with remixes, singles and a collaboration with Linval Thompson for his first release in 12 years..

2009 is looking great. There are a lot of projects on the go – just starting to do some work with Pato Banton, the next releases for the Irie Ites label (Germany) with Howie Smart and Fitta Warri, a remix for John Brown’s Body on the Easy Star labe,l a full-length release of versions that is tentatively entitled "subVersions" which I'm doing with Bobby Treasure of Treasure Chest that includes Natural Black, Luciano, Turbulence, Anthony B, Toots, George Nooks, Jah Mason, Jah Maly, Half Pint, Louie Culture and others. From there - another „Dread & Gold“ pure dub release, remixes and singles and whatever my plate can hold.

Interview: Karsten Frehe (12/2008)