Twilight Circus Dub Sound System
Foundation Rockers

Ryan Moore is the name of the man behind the Twilight Dub Sound System. Born in Canada, he recently moved to the Netherlands where he is generally to be found behind a mixing desk or a wide assortment of instruments. His latest album, "Foundation Rockers" has just been released to general and deserved acclaim. Ryan Moore enticed a number of renowned artists to step up to the mic for his dubs, contributions which have greatly enhanced enriched his dub riddims. The new album features Big Youth, Mykal Rose, Luciano, Ranking Joe and Brother Culture. "Foundation Rockers" will please dub-headz everywhere ? and may even open up the dub universe to died-in-the-wool reggae and dancehall fans. Ryan Moore spoke to Irie Ites...

You have just released your highly acclaimed album "Foundation Rockers" on M Records. A lot of reviews point out that it does your music good to have so many fine vocalists gathered together and say that you have finally found the right voices for your dub. Do you share this view on the progression between your last albums and this one?

In a strange way I seem to have taken a reverse kind of approach in that I have built up a whole catalogue of dub-oriented instrumental releases and now am moving into working with vocalists and a more standard song type format. Whereas, historically, dub was more of an afterthought in the process eg: making a cheap B-side by reworking the vocal cut.
At the same time, I always just follow my instincts in the studio and try and do what seems appropriate for the music or track at hand and in this case, it seemed like it would serve this music best to hook up with vocalists and other guests like the hornsmen.

Big Youth, Luciano, Mykal Rose and Ranking Joe ? three reggae veterans gathered in one project. What made you pick these extraordinary artists for your special brand of dub?

Basically I tried to think of the vocal artists who would probably work best for the particular track & then went out and made the link up to make the collaboration happen. It took a lot of time, energy and networking but it was worth it ultimately. The artists were great to work with, appreciated the material, and the results are good so it all seems as if it were 'meant to be'.

In my review of the album, I wrote that "Foundation Rockers", the title track feat. Brother Culture, sounds as if it had been recorded live in one take. You mailed back that it probably sounds spontaneous because you recorded the track in his living room in Brixton with a mic & laptop. Brother Culture listened once and laid down his vocal in one take! That sounds like a great experience. Where did you record with the other artists (subways, cabs ..)?

Brother Culture was a classic 'one take' experience, we talked a little about the idea, he listened to the track and basically said 'OK, hit play' - letting rip with that whole vocal part on the spur of the moment. Quite amazing!
The vocals were done in various locations ranging from living rooms, in the case of Brother Culture, to hotel rooms , to more 'proper' studios like Junior Delgado's studio and Eccentric Directions in London.
Actually I found that recording vocals in non studio situations worked really well because that helped lend a more relaxed, informal vibe to the sessions. Sometimes the pressure or atmosphere of the studio environment can lead to a reduced or at least somewhat affected performance - especially with singers.

Brother Culture was working as an MC for Nick Manasseh, Mungo's Hi-Fi and others. What do you particularly like about him?

I first heard him on the Mungo's Hi Fi 10 inch with 'Wickedness' which I thought was great and I thought he would be the man for the 'Foundation Rockers' riddim, plus the Mykal Rose DJ breaks. I managed to get in touch via a French label contact and as it turned out, he rocked the mic spectacularily on the tracks - far surpassing what I even envisaged on the tunes.

Luciano is someone who is still around a lot and releases almost virtually consistently good albums for producers around the world. What was it like to work with him?

A great experience - we set up in a room with his whole crew on hand, big pot of soup cooking in one corner and so forth. The view was of trees, fields and nature outside - very inspiring and after one run through he built up to this amazing moment where he put down his lyric sheet and started pulling entire verses out of thin air - singing them live into the mic and that's what you hear on the album. Maximum vibes!

Looking at pictures and listening to music by Big Youth, he seems to be somewhat of a wild man. What was he like when you worked with him on the tune for this album?

He's a really fun character and nice guy to work with - all the artists were absolutely brilliant to work with on the album actually.
Basically we hooked up in Holland in early 2003, had a chat about working, the idea for the tune - and then met up again some time afterwards in London where we voiced at Junior Delgado's place.
It was one of those recording moments where you sense the artist building up to a peak, get your machine in record and cross your fingers and hope that nothing is going to go wrong like a computer freeze as that magic moment on the mic takes place! Big Youth was putting on a whole show in the studio, dancing around and rocking the mic on that take - a classic performer!

Ranking Joe

Ranking Joe has recently gained a lot of recognition as a deejay with a brilliant and very distinctive style. What made you pick Ranking Joe to voice your Riddims?

Once again it was one of these things where I heard the 'Zion High' reissue on Blood and Fire and thought Ranking Joe would be the man for some tunes so via some mutual contacts I got in touch and it turned out he was in London at that time and into the material so, I hopped on the Eurostar to the UK & off we went to the studio. The rest is history as they say.

On "No Burial", Mykal Rose sounded different to his latest solo projects. I really like that difference in style a lot: was it intentional and will there be more tunes like this to follow?

For sure he sang in another style than usual, which a lot of people, like you mention yourself, seem to appreciate. I guess he was feeling the vibes of the tune and as well we were trying not to disturb the other hotel guests at 3 AM (!) so the performance has a more cool feeling. I love the vocal direction and lyrics he came up with on that tune. I have another Mykal Rose track coming out on 10 inch soon - but this is more a full energy rockers tune.

Which artists would you like to work with in the future? Do musicians as successful as you are still have dreams?

The funny thing is I have really hooked up with the 'dream team' for me already on this album - so I plan to do more productions in the future with these 'Foundation Rockers' artists and probably some additional talents as well.
In terms of artistic successes like having people appreciate the music, putting out records I like, travelling the World and so on, things have surpassed my wildest dreams of what I envisaged years ago when I first started playing music. At the same time, you need new dreams and challenges to keep things fresh - so, I am just looking forward to keep making records the best I can, grow as an artist, learn more things and continue to focus more on the production side of things.

Your dub seems to be influenced by Tubby, Perry, Scientist and Co. - the dub veterans in the Jamaican tradition - and UK dub from the mid-90s. Since dub is constantly evolving, how do you see your particular style of dub progressing in the future?

For sure my roots lie in the old school style seeing as I got into dub in 1981, which was just at the tail end of the whole Jamaican dub craze. I was always fascinated with dub at how the bass & drums would hypnotize the body and the extra higher frequency sounds would influence the mind. So, I would like to experiment with some more strange stuff, spacey textures with the dub. Seriously outer space. We'll see…

With so many truly poor remixes around, yours come as a sheer relief. What is your secret recipe for a good mix?

If you only knew! (laughs)..
Seriously though, I am very picky while doing my mixes & can always find room for improvements. Its a non stop learning curve. This album was a particular challenge due to the addition of vocals which is new territory for me so, I had to take a lot of care with balances and frequencies to make sure they sat OK in the mix. While mixing this record I kept other CDS on hand by the vocal artists which I constantly cross referenced in the studio - just to help me stay on the right path in terms of vocal placement in the mix.
But like everything, I approach the mix in search of the vibes & try and build up to a peak 'performance' on the desk - usually there is one mixing pass where it just seems like the magic is flowing at some kind of maximum and these almost always end up being the 'keeper' mixes when you listen back to them.

Originally from Canada you are currently based in the Netherlands. What made you relocate? Was it work, or were other factors involved?

I came over to work with a band in the 90's - the plan was to stay for a few weeks but I ended up staying on and emigrating here because at the time there were more options available here to work on music full time, which seemed a little more fun!

What projects have you got in the pipeline?

In the short term some more 10 inch dubplates, remixes and collaborations - and for the long term basically I will keep on being a busy bee in the secret dub lab and bring forth more tunes for as long as I can, the best I can. I am a 'lifer' so its going to be 100% music for me.

Interview: Karsten Frehe (01/2004)

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