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Suns of Dub x Masia One: The Groove Thief Interview
 
Thanks to the kind efforts of Heavy Hongkong, I was given the opportunity to interview Jamaican roots revivalists Addis Pablo and Ras Jammy (of Suns of Dub), as well as eclectic Singaporean/Canadian vocalist Masia One, in advance of their upcoming show together this Saturday evening 06/09/14 at Basmati in Sheung Wan.
 
Basmati…? Dub music at an Indian restaurant in Hong Kong? Yes! For Heavy Hongkong, it’s a return to their original stomping grounds – since Sammy’s Kitchen used to occupy a space in the same building – while also showing the ingenuity successful underground music promotion in this city requires. Just like the artists’ approach to music, it’s all about employing the successes of the past to forge a new future:
 
Suns of Dub – who have risen to international tours, a Major Lazer-presented mixtape, and widespread acclaim within the past few years – are continuing the mission and musical legacy of Addis’ father, famed melodica player and producer Augustus Pablo.
 


 
Masia One has spent the past decade running her own record label, releasing several well-received albums, and collaborating with a wide variety of artists.
 

 
The Groove Thief: What are you enjoying most as you tour Asia?
 
Ras Jammy: We enjoy the people, their reactions and endless interests in our music and lifestyle. It is always good to be in a different place with different people of different cultures, and having the opportunity to experience a bit of their way of life and thinking. [So] performing has been good as the people love the vibes… [and] the food is a tour for itself!
 
TGT: What’re your thoughts on the underground Asian music scene? What is it lacking in contrast to North America, and how best can local promoters further development here?
 
Masia One: There is a heavy influence of Western music, but the underground scene is growing, innovating new sounds with multi-media expressions and producing a lot of tremendous musicians and producers.  For the underground Asian artists, I think it is important for us to always remember that music is not a competition, but an expression and chance to work together and learn from one another.  Often Asian environments are competitive.  I think the improvement can come from the side of promoters (especially club and mainstream promoters) to encourage original music over covers of Western music, and take on roles as taste makers - taking risks with innovative artists and challenging the public to discover new sounds and experiences.  There is a stereotype that Asian markets just want pop and mainstream music, but when we have presented something different, people have been very engaged and I have gained new followings as a result.
 
TGT: What is so special about the Rockers International [Augustus Pablo’s record label] sound? Why continue Rockers in 2014?
 
Addis Pablo: Rockers International has always been a sound representing the creative expression of a set of musicians, producers, engineers, and the people. It’s a sound of the people coming from many walks of life – at the same time appealing to people from many walks of life – through the use of instruments [and] vocals to express a Livity, or lifestyle, which is in harmony with nature. And [it is] a missionary works to express the message of Rastafari in 2014. It’s important to express this sound just like in any time because the works of Rockers International is to be spread across the four corners of the world, and in 2014 technology is more advanced then it was in the initial stages of the Rockers International sound being brought forward by my father and his fellow singers and players of instruments. So for me [and] my brother Ras Jammy to be representing these works of this solid foundation in this modern time plays a significant role in continuing the works. And, more importantly, introducing or showcasing these works to a young generation, which may have not got the chance to witness or experience the performances of the original Rockers. And for the older generation, who may have experienced the performances, it can be a nostalgic moment which could only be experienced through the sound which Suns of Dub is presenting in this time.
 
TGT: You’re known for your eclectic collaborations, including tracks with both former Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitarist John Frusciante and bassologist ill.Gates. How does your sound and aesthetic connect with Suns of Dub?
 
Masia One: I think spending time as a songwriter in LA had me writing a lot of pop music.  Moving to Jamaica and connecting with the Suns of Dub has been a wonderful opportunity to make music that allows me to express ideas, messages and feelings from the heart again rather than what will be the best “hook” to sell the song.  My brother played me a lot of Peter Tosh, Toots & The Maytals, and Bob Marley when I was a kid - this is almost a reconnection with what made me first fall in love with music.
 
TGT: Obviously the legacy of Augustus Pablo looms large over the Suns of Dub project. What tracks would you recommend to someone less familiar with the crucial role he played in the development of roots reggae, particularly in regards to the “Far East” sound?
 
Addis Pablo: Well, I would recommend tracks such as: Java, East of the River Nile, and Cassava Piece.
 



 
TGT: Can you name a few artists that you love from Jamaica at the moment?
 
Ras Jammy: Many artists are now showing promise and there is a new wave of talent sweeping the place. We rate them all, basically, but for particular reasons we favor these: Hempress Sativa, Masicka, Jesse Royal, Dre Island, Exile di Brave, and many from the J.O.E collective (Micah Shemaiah, Chronixx, etc.).
 
Thanks so much to Addis Pablo, Masia One, and Ras Jammy for the Q&A session. Appreciated, and much respect. And Hong Kong - see you all at the show!
 
Suns of Dub x Masia One: The Groove Thief Interview

 

Thanks to the kind efforts of Heavy Hongkong, I was given the opportunity to interview Jamaican roots revivalists Addis Pablo and Ras Jammy (of Suns of Dub), as well as eclectic Singaporean/Canadian vocalist Masia One, in advance of their upcoming show together this Saturday evening 06/09/14 at Basmati in Sheung Wan.

 

Basmati…? Dub music at an Indian restaurant in Hong Kong? Yes! For Heavy Hongkong, it’s a return to their original stomping grounds – since Sammy’s Kitchen used to occupy a space in the same building – while also showing the ingenuity successful underground music promotion in this city requires. Just like the artists’ approach to music, it’s all about employing the successes of the past to forge a new future:

 

Suns of Dub – who have risen to international tours, a Major Lazer-presented mixtape, and widespread acclaim within the past few years – are continuing the mission and musical legacy of Addis’ father, famed melodica player and producer Augustus Pablo.

 

 

Masia One has spent the past decade running her own record label, releasing several well-received albums, and collaborating with a wide variety of artists.

 

 

The Groove Thief: What are you enjoying most as you tour Asia?

 

Ras Jammy: We enjoy the people, their reactions and endless interests in our music and lifestyle. It is always good to be in a different place with different people of different cultures, and having the opportunity to experience a bit of their way of life and thinking. [So] performing has been good as the people love the vibes… [and] the food is a tour for itself!

 

TGT: What’re your thoughts on the underground Asian music scene? What is it lacking in contrast to North America, and how best can local promoters further development here?

 

Masia One: There is a heavy influence of Western music, but the underground scene is growing, innovating new sounds with multi-media expressions and producing a lot of tremendous musicians and producers. For the underground Asian artists, I think it is important for us to always remember that music is not a competition, but an expression and chance to work together and learn from one another. Often Asian environments are competitive. I think the improvement can come from the side of promoters (especially club and mainstream promoters) to encourage original music over covers of Western music, and take on roles as taste makers - taking risks with innovative artists and challenging the public to discover new sounds and experiences. There is a stereotype that Asian markets just want pop and mainstream music, but when we have presented something different, people have been very engaged and I have gained new followings as a result.

 

TGT: What is so special about the Rockers International [Augustus Pablo’s record label] sound? Why continue Rockers in 2014?

 

Addis Pablo: Rockers International has always been a sound representing the creative expression of a set of musicians, producers, engineers, and the people. It’s a sound of the people coming from many walks of life – at the same time appealing to people from many walks of life – through the use of instruments [and] vocals to express a Livity, or lifestyle, which is in harmony with nature. And [it is] a missionary works to express the message of Rastafari in 2014. It’s important to express this sound just like in any time because the works of Rockers International is to be spread across the four corners of the world, and in 2014 technology is more advanced then it was in the initial stages of the Rockers International sound being brought forward by my father and his fellow singers and players of instruments. So for me [and] my brother Ras Jammy to be representing these works of this solid foundation in this modern time plays a significant role in continuing the works. And, more importantly, introducing or showcasing these works to a young generation, which may have not got the chance to witness or experience the performances of the original Rockers. And for the older generation, who may have experienced the performances, it can be a nostalgic moment which could only be experienced through the sound which Suns of Dub is presenting in this time.

 

TGT: You’re known for your eclectic collaborations, including tracks with both former Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitarist John Frusciante and bassologist ill.Gates. How does your sound and aesthetic connect with Suns of Dub?

 

Masia One: I think spending time as a songwriter in LA had me writing a lot of pop music. Moving to Jamaica and connecting with the Suns of Dub has been a wonderful opportunity to make music that allows me to express ideas, messages and feelings from the heart again rather than what will be the best “hook” to sell the song. My brother played me a lot of Peter Tosh, Toots & The Maytals, and Bob Marley when I was a kid - this is almost a reconnection with what made me first fall in love with music.

 

TGT: Obviously the legacy of Augustus Pablo looms large over the Suns of Dub project. What tracks would you recommend to someone less familiar with the crucial role he played in the development of roots reggae, particularly in regards to the “Far East” sound?

 

Addis Pablo: Well, I would recommend tracks such as: Java, East of the River Nile, and Cassava Piece.

 

 

TGT: Can you name a few artists that you love from Jamaica at the moment?

 

Ras Jammy: Many artists are now showing promise and there is a new wave of talent sweeping the place. We rate them all, basically, but for particular reasons we favor these: Hempress Sativa, Masicka, Jesse Royal, Dre Island, Exile di Brave, and many from the J.O.E collective (Micah Shemaiah, Chronixx, etc.).

 

Thanks so much to Addis Pablo, Masia One, and Ras Jammy for the Q&A session. Appreciated, and much respect. And Hong Kong - see you all at the show!

 

Hong Kong’s own Blood Dunza returns to Australian label Dub Temple Records for his second EP of deep bass. Exploring his own musical archives, the four tracks from the Heavy Hongkong headman that comprise Flipside are productions from 2008-2011 that have laid dormant until now. Fortunately - given that this EP was compiled for release just before a tragic computer crash! According to Blood Dunza, these are “tunes that I made for myself to play to get a little high” during Heavy’s dubstep nights. While he’s more focused on “reggae related stuff nowadays,” this is an interesting and personal time capsule from one of Hong Kong’s leading purveyors of bass music.
 
“Triangle” sets the tone: layered, with pulling bass carrying dissonant tones and a haunting Oriental melody that at times is given total prominence. Thick echoes surround the pulsing low-end on “Flip,” before the style does exactly that with a Chinese vocal introducing a sparse near-breakbeat. These tracks are simultaneously busy and complex, though the slow-building “Drifters” initially indicates otherwise before the beat and soulful sampled theme emerge from the haze. Arguably more directly influenced by the dub aesthetic than mainstream ‘clubstep,’ Flipside ends with “Timeout,” which balances 16-bit squeals of glitch with soaring synths. 
An engaging collection as well as an intriguing snapshot into an artist’s development. Free download:
 
Flipside by Blood Dunza
 
Hong Kong’s own Blood Dunza returns to Australian label Dub Temple Records for his second EP of deep bass. Exploring his own musical archives, the four tracks from the Heavy Hongkong headman that comprise Flipside are productions from 2008-2011 that have laid dormant until now. Fortunately - given that this EP was compiled for release just before a tragic computer crash! According to Blood Dunza, these are “tunes that I made for myself to play to get a little high” during Heavy’s dubstep nights. While he’s more focused on “reggae related stuff nowadays,” this is an interesting and personal time capsule from one of Hong Kong’s leading purveyors of bass music.

 

“Triangle” sets the tone: layered, with pulling bass carrying dissonant tones and a haunting Oriental melody that at times is given total prominence. Thick echoes surround the pulsing low-end on “Flip,” before the style does exactly that with a Chinese vocal introducing a sparse near-breakbeat. These tracks are simultaneously busy and complex, though the slow-building “Drifters” initially indicates otherwise before the beat and soulful sampled theme emerge from the haze. Arguably more directly influenced by the dub aesthetic than mainstream ‘clubstep,’ Flipside ends with “Timeout,” which balances 16-bit squeals of glitch with soaring synths. An engaging collection as well as an intriguing snapshot into an artist’s development. Free download:

 

 

Showcasing an inclusive approach - proving that musical peace is at least a reality in the Middle East - Israel’s Zvuloon Dub System combines Jamaican and Ethiopian influences to produce a potent and timeless album. The vocals, sung in Amharic, Tigrinya, and Gurage, come from lead singer Yalo as well as several guests, while the rest of the band bring a clear and confident knowledge of classic roots reggae.
 
From the opening bars of the instrumental “Alemitu,” it is obvious that this album has been lovingly crafted, with a strong sense of purpose and respect. After a slow lead-in with horns triumphant, the groove arrives alongside a dynamic keyboard solo. On “Tenesh Kelbe Lay,” another nice rhythm provides the platform for the intoxicating vocals. Hypnotic, yet far more dance than drone, this shows influences of the dub tradition rather than being true dub from an engineering perspective.
 
“Sab Sam” is a catchy track, sounding similar to some of the more triumphant work of Amadou & Mariam in structure and vocal styling. From there, “Man Begelagelgni” chills things out a bit, allowing a nice walking bass line to shine through before “Ney Denun Tieshe,” which features the wonderfully wavering guest vocals of legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed amidst more tight horn lines. Then “Yehoden Aweteche Lengeresh,” bearing some influence from Zap Pow’s “Last War” riddim, returns the album firmly to the Jamaican fold.
 
“Tsbukti Fetret” includes an elegant East African melody on the krar, a traditional instrument that appears on several other tracks as well, while a solid skanking guitar propels the rhythm. Hinting more at rocksteady than reggae, “Endemenesh” - with Zemene Melesse on mic duties - leads into the funky and upbeat “Zelel Zelel” splendidly, before the sparse and almost melancholy “Yene Almaz” closes out the album. Here it’s the masinko, a single-stringed bowed lute, that harkens back to the Ethiopian musical tradition.
 
Through and through, this is world music in the most transcendent and intriguing of ways. An impressive work of musical fusion, Anbessa Dub is spirited and spiritual:
 
Anbessa Dub by Zvuloon Dub System
 
Showcasing an inclusive approach - proving that musical peace is at least a reality in the Middle East - Israel’s Zvuloon Dub System combines Jamaican and Ethiopian influences to produce a potent and timeless album. The vocals, sung in Amharic, Tigrinya, and Gurage, come from lead singer Yalo as well as several guests, while the rest of the band bring a clear and confident knowledge of classic roots reggae.

 

From the opening bars of the instrumental “Alemitu,” it is obvious that this album has been lovingly crafted, with a strong sense of purpose and respect. After a slow lead-in with horns triumphant, the groove arrives alongside a dynamic keyboard solo. On “Tenesh Kelbe Lay,” another nice rhythm provides the platform for the intoxicating vocals. Hypnotic, yet far more dance than drone, this shows influences of the dub tradition rather than being true dub from an engineering perspective.

 

“Sab Sam” is a catchy track, sounding similar to some of the more triumphant work of Amadou & Mariam in structure and vocal styling. From there, “Man Begelagelgni” chills things out a bit, allowing a nice walking bass line to shine through before “Ney Denun Tieshe,” which features the wonderfully wavering guest vocals of legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed amidst more tight horn lines. Then “Yehoden Aweteche Lengeresh,” bearing some influence from Zap Pow’s “Last War” riddim, returns the album firmly to the Jamaican fold.

 

“Tsbukti Fetret” includes an elegant East African melody on the krar, a traditional instrument that appears on several other tracks as well, while a solid skanking guitar propels the rhythm. Hinting more at rocksteady than reggae, “Endemenesh” - with Zemene Melesse on mic duties - leads into the funky and upbeat “Zelel Zelel” splendidly, before the sparse and almost melancholy “Yene Almaz” closes out the album. Here it’s the masinko, a single-stringed bowed lute, that harkens back to the Ethiopian musical tradition.

 

Through and through, this is world music in the most transcendent and intriguing of ways. An impressive work of musical fusion, Anbessa Dub is spirited and spiritual: