MxCx Interview#14 "DR DAS(Asian Dub Foundation)"
** This interview was recorded on March 10, 2016 **
Dr Das is the bassist and co-founder of Asian Dub Foundation. As an independent producer and remixer, he has developed a reputation for creating Dub that is heavy, militant and fiercely anti-exoticist. He describes his approach as “dubnoiz” and always features his emotive, cyclical bass melodies in a tense, shifting environment of alien noise and distorted percussion - inspired by Muslimgauze, early On-U Sound, 70s Miles Davis and Underground Resistance.
He has released three dubnoiz albums to date: “Emergency Baselines” (VU Recordings) in 2006, "Preparing 4 War” in 2014 and “Outsider Dub” in 2015, the latter two on Bandcamp.
His interest in experimental dance music goes back to when was an art student in the 80s. Even though he listened to punk and reggae, he started making music more influenced by bands like 23 Skidoo, Pink Industry, Portion Control and Severed Heads, using percussion, metal percussion, drum machines and tape loops. Later on, he played congas at warehouse parties along with the DJs and this exposure to acid house encouraged him to move towards a more electronic sound. He was still heavily into Dub, especially On-U sound and African Head charge, and realised dub could be a framework to hold all these sounds together, with the bass acting as a kind of ‘glue.’
And so he formed the idea of “dub/noise” and the first time this was realised was with Headspace, a project he started with Chandrasonic (ADF's guitarist) in 1988. It was during this period, he learnt to sample and how to use electronics in a live situation. This formed the foundation for the future ADF.
Dr Das started teaching with Community Music, London in 1990 and it was here in 1993 that he formed ADF with DJ Pandit G and MC Deeder after music technology workshops.
Pandit G introduced Dr Das to the music of Muslimgauze in 2000. He was blown away by the sound of distorted tablas and darbourkas and started his own experiments, putting loops through a RAT distortion pedal and Zoom ST244 sampler and then playing baselines on top. He knew he had found the sound he was looking for. In 2002 he started work on his first dubnoiz album. The US were about invade Iraq and so this became the sound and name of the project: “Preparing 4 War.”
Dr Das left ADF 2006 and saw it as an opportunity to return to the experimental music he was so keen to play. He immediately released “Emergency Basslines” on VU Recordings (preferring this set to Preparing 4 War, as the music was more fresh at the time). Preparing 4 War was finally released in 2014 (after he had rejoined ADF) but by this time, Dr Das’s production skills were considerably better. “Outsider Dub” came out the following year, the name being partly a reference to the fact that this music was generally not accepted by the 'dub scene' as being too experimental and aggressive.
As well developing as a producer, Dr Das always remained committed to his bass, and learnt to play lines that were more minimal, more “Zen,” to provide a contrast to the movement of the noise elements, but keeping a strong melody. The bass guitar provided a massive organic element to differentiate it from other electronic music.
Dr Das has performed with Dubnoiz Sound System internationally (live bass with Bantu on electronics) , including the US, UK, Colombia and India. Though he is now back with ADF, he spends all his spare moments writing fresh material and a new dubnoiz album will be released next year. (There is also an indian electronic distortion raga album waiting on a hard drive to be mixed.)
Where are you from? In what kind of environment did you grow up and how did you first encounter music?
I was born in London of parents from India, from West Bengal (which is next to Bangladesh). My mother taught me Bengali straight away, but I learnt English from the TV and from neighbours and then more from my parents as I approached school age. This way I became bilingual.
There was always a lot of music in the house. My father listened a lot to classical Indian records and my mother popular and folk music from Bengal. They also watched Hindi films where there was a lot of songs and any Asian programmes on TV, all of which my mother would record.
My aunt taught me and my sisters Indian scales and Bengali songs and to play the harmonium - a traditional Indian keyboard. My older sister had a lot of soul and Motown so I came to love this sound as well. As a teenager, I also studied indian tabla drums for a couple of years.
Which music are you affected by? Elements from many
different kind of genres can be heard in your music, especially Dub/reggae. Which artist from Dub/reggae music did you used to listen to most? Did you used to go to reggae dance events and sound clashes?
The classical Indian music I heard as a child was very significant - right in the centre of this music you have cyclical melodies called 'ragas.’ These patterns are hypnotic and that repetition is what interested me - not the soloing and improvisations of the virtuoso musicians. From my aunt, I learnt ‘paltas’ - this is how to make variations with notes and musical scales (sometimes similar to western arpeggios). These ideas I applied later to the bass. I don’t listen to Indian classical now but I still like Indian folk music, especially Baul songs from Bengal. I also listen to other traditional music where the music is modal and raw and there is an emphasis on percussion, particularly North African and Gnawa and Afro-Brazilian.
I guess reggae and dub had the biggest obvious impact on me, because it showed me music can be used as a vehicle for social and political commentary. Black Uhuru was my favourite band - Michael Rose's raw, angry voice and Sly & Robbie’s futuristic and militant production made them different to any other band. I liked Misty In Roots as well, for their deep spirituality and the genuine compassion in their sound. I went to many reggae gigs, including Black Uhuru in 1981 in Brixton when there were anti-police riots happening all over the UK. I didn’t go so much to sound systems or sound clashes, though I experienced Jah Shaka once, and that was very heavy.
I got into Dub through listening to my friend’s collection of 12” reggae singles, turning then over and listening to the dub versions. But it was when someone introduced me to On-U Sound that I really got hooked and started to listen to the sound of the music- not just the message in the lyrics. At the same time as listening to dub and reggae, I listened to a lot of experimental and electronic music - Nocturnal Emissions, Portion Control, Severed Heads, Test Department, Pink Industry and 23 Skidoo. This all taught me about sonics and noise and technology, whereas from dub I learnt to love the bassline.
I think your music has strong message and indicates your
intension. What experiences did you have so far to arrive at this kind of production method?
I have always had a sensitivity to sounds and noises in the environment, both at home and in the streets. I was aware of the hum of the fridge and the frequency of the TV at the end of transmission at night. I would listen to the rhythm of the washing machine. At night, I would rotate the tuning on my transistor radio hear to the strange frequencies and waveforms between stations. When I went to India when I was 10 years old, I heard traditional music being played through distorted speakers. I remember all these sounds from my youth - when I later heard people making music with noise, it sounded beautiful and natural to me.
What was the first music (of other musicians) you received this message from?
All the early bands I heard made use of noise, but within the framework of rhythm. Most of them, like Portion Control and Severed Heads used drum machines and early sequencers. The environmental sounds and noises were captured with tape loops, because it was pre-sampling. A lot of noises were generated by electronics. 23 Skidoo were different - and a big influence - because they used percussion, so their sound was more organic.
When was the first time you made your own music? What kind of music did you used to make at the time? What kind of music scene was there in your hometown?
I first started to make my own music when I was at art school in Nottingham in the early 80s. I bought congas and hand percussion and jammed and played most of the time(instead of studying!) In Nottingham, there were reggae bands and improvisational bands and I played with anybody wanting percussion, learning all the time. I also bought the first drum machines, like Boss Dr Rhythm. We recorded and multi tracked using little mono cassette recorders with their internal miss. 23 Skidoo inspired me to form my first band with congas and metal percussion - old electric heaters and gas cylinders!
You also have an overwhelming originality as a bassist, and I think you are one of the greatest bassists from UK. Is there any bassist whom you are affected by? Why did you choose the bass as instrument to describe yourself?
My first influence really is not a person, but the indian ragas I’ve already mentioned. They gave me a strong modal sense and an intense love of cyclical melodies. I first listened to the bass properly on Black Uhuru’s “Red” album, 1981. It was a more minimal album than for example
something by Bob Marley, so the bass was more exposed, more audible. I realised that Robbie Shakespeare’s basslines were often similar to Rose’s vocal melodies. The fact that the bass was playing melodies, blew my mind. The fact you could sing these lines was also significant and I realised the reggae bassline is a hookline - that the listener is meant to remember it. It’s not just there to provide a low frequency. In western pop, the hookline is usually on a higher pitched instrument such as guitar or voice, so I thought this was a revolutionary idea. I also noticed that the bass melody is cyclical - a repeating pattern, the same principle as an indian raga, but in a lower octave.
After that point, I started to pay attention to dub and reggae basslines and not just listen to a song for its political commentary. I listened to Robbie a lot for his fantastic sense of melody. I was impressed as well by George Oban, the first bassist of Aswad for his sense of weight - even when he played a high melody, the sound was heavy. And that is a crucial point about dub bass - it is a combination of melody and weight - not just an anonymous low frequency.
From Paul Jackson, bassist of the Headhunters who worked Herbie Hancock, I learnt about syncopation and how to play off the beat. I also learned this from playing congas and it was important way to get a sense of funk but without changing the dub sound, and come up with more interesting patterns - not just typical reggae patterns.
Throughout the 80s, I mainly played percussion and learnt to programme electronics while experimenting with bass occasionally. My first basslines were based on conga patterns and agogo bells. As I gained confidence, I studied mostly the melodies of Robbie and developed my own.
Over the last 10 years, I have listened mostly to Flabba Holt of the Roots Radics and Scientist albums. His playing is more minimal - fewer notes, but still melodic - and this is the direction I’ve been following the last few years.
Regarding why I choose the bass to describe myself, well firstly, the bass allows me to express the indian or cultural part of my identity, without having to play a specifically indian instrument like sitar or tabla. The notes and mentality are indian but the sound is almost like the sine wave used in dance music, which is why I call my bass style “indodub.” I always loved the dub bass sound - its physicality and sensuality, how it connects with the body and the mind at the same time. Dub bass also somehow unifies sounds that have come different musical and cultural sources and we used this principle a lot in ADF.
Please tell about Community Music which you used to belong to. When did you start? What was the opportunity bringing you to this?
After art school, I worked in a community arts centre in Nottingham, and then returned to London and worked in a community darkroom and gallery, where I taught photography and printing to young people. I left this after 2 years because I couldn’t stay away from music. One day, I saw the advert for the teaching course at Community Music (CM), so I applied and was successful.
CM was (and still is) an organisation that teaches music to different people in the community. Today, I think it is more focussed on courses related to getting young people into the music business. When I joined, in 1990, I had to learn how to teach music workshops in a variety of situations - in schools, youth clubs, adult education and to young people with physical disabilities and learning difficulties. The philosophy of the organisation was more to do with encouraging people to engage with the music making process, instead of just being consumers.
Was there any support from the government or any company?
CM received funding from the government via the Arts Council, from local councils in London where any courses or workshops took place and sometimes sponsorship from commercial companies for specific projects.
What did you gain through community music?
It developed my love of teaching, of spreading skills and information, of trying to encourage people to be independent and self sufficient and develop communication skills. So - it wasn’t just about music. I developed as a person - became more confident and articulate, learnt how to speak in front of people - to address a meeting or audience, and learnt how to plan and organise, how to analyse and write reports. I learnt how to work collectively, in a team situation.
Please tell about the start of Asian Dub Foundation. What kind of music was it at the time?
ADF started out of a particular workshop I did to encourage young Asian people to make music with technology in the summer of 1993. After these finished, Deeder and John Pandit - a youth worker who had also been involved - and I decided to continue working, because we had many things to express, particularly about the rise in racism and fascism.
The music that the youth were bringing to me in the workshops I was teaching - saying ‘we want to make this sound’ - was hardcore. I wasn’t really into this music - it just seemed like speeded up acid house - but if this is what the young people wanted to make, then we would sample these sounds. Then one day, going home from a workshop, a car with a loud sound system pulled up next to me at the traffic lights. I heard these same fast 'machinegun' snare beats as on the tapes my students brought in - but there was something different - a dub reggae bassline going at half speed. It blew my mind and suddenly I understood - this is Jungle!! This crazy music had connected to me because of my love of the bassline and became part of the future sound of ADF.
What was the first impression of Deeder Zaman? I think he was just in his early teens.
Deeder was just 13 and we could see that he was an incredible talent, capable of chatting really fast. He had spent time around jungle MCs whilst jamming with his brother Sam Zaman - the great State Of Bengal, who sadly passed away last year.
Today you can share your music on SNS and reach anybody in the world. How did ADF promote itself and gain bookings?
Our first aim was to go and do local gigs to encourage young people to vote in the local elections to remove a fascist councillor in Tower Hamlets, East London. We went as a 'sound system’ - Deeder on the mic, Pandit G on turntables, and myself on Tascam cassette 4 track (where I had recorded the samples) and dub delay and congas and vocals. We also played at poetry gigs and CM. Soon, people heard of us and started inviting us to anti-racist gigs and benefits.
With my experimental dub project Headspace (which came before ADF) I had already made a 12” 4 track vinyl EP. It was called “Savage Culture” and I went to Nation Records and played it to Aki Nawaz, head of the company and also of Fundamental. He really liked it and said he would put out a future release. When I met Deeder, I knew it was time to end Headspace and to begin something new and relevant to the current situation. Eventually, we made “Conscious EP” (using the Tascam 4 track!) and it became the first ADF release on Nation Records. Because of the Nation connection, promoters got in touch and started to get us gigs in the UK and then in Belgium. After the release of Conscious EP, I contacted Chandrasonic who lived in Birmingham and with whom I had worked with in Headspace. When he agreed to join ADF, I decided to make my proper debut as a bass player.
ADF mixed the instruments and electronic music already in the early 90s. What kind of tools did they use? I can imagine that it was not easy to make electronic music at the time. Is there anything you think was hard (for example synchronising of the sequences)?
Actually - by the early 90s, it wasn’t difficult to make electronic music.
When I returned to London in 1985, I started to make music with just bass, drums and percussion with my friend Ramjac (a future producer). He was influenced by his friend Mixmaster Morris who was starting to make live music for the live acid house scene. I wasn’t interested in sampling at first, but finally in 1989, I bought a Prophet 2000 sampling keyboard and an Alesis MMT8 hardware sequencer (as I saw our friends Orbital use these.) These linked with the drum machines I already had and the TB303 acid bass sequencer and became the sound of Headspace. We played in a scene in North West London where we did fantastic raves in each others houses! I learnt how to improvise with technology in a live situation and at the same developed my live bass playing.
By the time of CM, I had switched Akai S950 sampler, because it was much easier for students to understand. All the early ADF music, including the album “Facts & Fictions" was programmed on this and the MMT8. After that, sequencing was done with Atari and Cubase. Chandrasonic and Deeder became really good at programming jungle beats and I started to focus on my bass playing more.
ADF uses Jungle and Breakbeats often. What do you like from Jungle and Breakbeats? Is there any favorite Jungle producer?
I like the energy and movement of jungle rhythms and the especially that you can play dub basslines at half the speed underneath. It’s easy to dance to. There is also a certain positivity and built in militancy in the sound which makes it easy to put on conscious lyrics. I like Shut Up & Dance productions and Congo Natty the most. Natty still uses reggae basslines which has disappeared from most drum ’n’ bass. I also love the drum ’n’ bass album by Todd Terry called Resolutions.
Did ADF also sometimes play in Jungle events or rave parties at the beginning?
We played one important festival in London in the early days in Finsbury Park. It was mostly jungle DJs and that’s what the audience wanted to hear, so there wasn’t really a friendly attitude when we came on stage. Nobody on this scene knew us. However, when played tunes like PKNB and Naxalite, people went wild. They couldn’t believe someone was trying to play jungle with live bass and guitar! MC Navigator was there and loved it and that’s how he became our friend and future collaborator on the track "Culture Move."
How were the lyrics of ADF was made? Did you also take a part in this?
I wrote more than 80% of the lyrics of the first album Facts & Fictions. At that point, I was talking about our experience of being children of immigrants and feeling like foreigners in our country of birth. There was a lot of anger and a lot to express after years if being silent or afraid. After, that album, the lyrical process was more collective. We all sat round with a piece of paper on the floor and discussed ideas and anyone was free to write something. We then arranged the lyrics collectively and edited the musical sequences at the same time. "New Way New Life” in 2000 was the end of my flow of lyrics that had started in my Headspace project 10 years earlier. However, I wrote one more lyric 5 years later for the “Tank" album, for the song Tomorrow Begins Today,” sung by Ghetto Priest. (I later realised this was an Anarchist song and the beginning of a new consciousness for me.)
Was it an intention that there was never dirty word (so called "f" word) used. Was it the intention even in an aggressive track (for example Free Satpal Ram) of ADF?
In fact, there are a few songs with the f-word on Facts & Fictions, including "PKNB.” We realised after that, this would prevent the song from being played on the radio - at a time when it became possible for our songs to be played there. So after that, we decided to try to make powerful lyrics without swearing.
Sometimes you can change the consciousness of listeners by using these kind of words.
Yes - more in a live situation. But if it’s the radio station’s policy to not allow swearing in the songs, then the listener won’t hear the song at all. If you are making music that you know isn’t going to be played on the radio, then it’s not a consideration.
ADF has played on the same stage with leading figures such as Primal Scream, Beastie Boys and Radiohead. Is there particular memory that stands out?
It was always good playing with all these bands. They always treated us with a lot of respect and so did their audiences. A memorable experience was when we played with Radiohead. When we came to do the track "Enemy Of The Enemy," which always started with the stage in darkness, when the light went up, we saw that entire Radiohead crew and members of the band were stood behind us, all along the back, each with his face covered with a scarf like an activist. It was a great moment. Also on that tour, at the end of Rebel Warrior, which is always the last track, we continued the rhythm and went straight in to a version of “National Anthem” from Kid A. Afterwards, members of Radiohead, like guitarist Ed, said it was better than their version!
You released your first solo album "Emergency Basslines" in 2006. What was the reason you make your solo production? What is the concept of this album?
The story of “Emergency Basslines” goes back to 2000, when Pandit G played some music from the UK artist Muslimgauze on the ADF tour bus. It was such a wicked sound! Just one percussion loop, like an Arabic darbourka being distorted for more than 10 minutes! It was an angry and political sound with no words and affected me deeply. So I decided to start my own experiments. I bought a Zoom ST224 sampler. It had a wicked effects section with distortions and filters and I just sampled indian an arabic percussion loops, added effects and re-sampled. (One of these eventually became the ADF track “Cyberabad” on "Enemy Of The Enemy.”) Then I got a RAT guitar distortion pedal and started putting the loops through that and it sounded really heavy. In 2001 I worked on a set of tracks, recording on to a Roland VS880 hardware recorder. The US was preparing to invade Iraq. We knew it was madness, that this was another false war (like all wars) for oil and money. I tried to capture this feeling with sound and this became the album “Preparing 4 War,” but it wasn’t possible to release this at this point.
I eventually moved to software (Macbook and Ableton) and started developing this idea of instrumental “dubnoiz” and from 2002 created a new set called “Emergency Basslines.” Leaving ADF in 2005 enabled me to release this album. Again, as with the Headspace project in 1992, I self financed the production and manufacture of this CD.
Since Pandit G played me Muslimgauze in 2000 and also the incredible 70s work of Miles Davis such as “Dark Magus” and “On The Corner” I remembered the joy of creating heavy instrumental and experimental music back in the 80s and desperately wanted to return to my roots. It wasn’t possible to work like that in ADF where the format was 3 minute songs with verse/chorus/verse lyrics. I didn’t relate to lyrics any more and didn’t write lyrics any more and was bored of journalists only talking about the lyrics and not the sound of the music.
Knowing of many campaigns and activists, Emergency Basslines was an attempt to make a soundtrack to the times we were living in using just frequencies and rhythms, to convey anger and resistance, something activists could dance to and re-energise themselves.
Does this solo project also contain a message? How do you include a message without lyrics in instrumental music?
All sound and therefore music contains some kind of meaning, some kind of sentiment. It is NOT neutral. It can have different meanings according to the frequencies, textures, weight, density, melodies etc that you apply to it. If you listen to obvious political ADF songs like Free Satpal Ram or Naxalite, the meaning is not just conveyed by the lyrics, but by the collective sound of these tracks - by the weight and melody of the basslines, the abrasiveness of the guitar, the propulsion, tempo and rhythm of the beats - the overall intensity of the music. If you remove the lyrics, it doesn’t suddenly become non political or lose its original meaning, because the music continues to convey that meaning. If you were to do versions of these songs with gentle acoustic guitar or classical tabla - it wouldn’t work. Why? Because - those sounds would not convey the right meaning or intensity. If it’s only lyrics that carry meaning and political meaning, then why bother to have music at all? Just have the words and do it as spoken word or poetry!
The black jazz musicians during the american civil right movement knew this principle. They did not need to add lyrics to convey the pain and savagery of hundreds of years of slavery, to convey their anger at continuing hypocrisy and discrimination. Their audience knew exactly what they were expressing. To me listening to tracks by Underground Resistance, particularly Interstellar Fugitives, it is clear the anger and frustration of the people living in a city abandoned by capitalism, in a state of decay and degradation, and how this music is a way to energise people and give them hope.
Most of the electronic and experimental music I listened to in the 80s was instrumental. Most of this music was made by musicians with left wing sympathies (like Test Department for example) and anarchists. I could just tell from the sound of the music that it was conscious (aware of the world) if not political, though the track titles and record artwork also indicated the intent. Maybe this question arises because most people know me in the context of ADF which is best known for its political lyric based music, but in the time before ADF, I was making mostly instrumental music.
Could you describe the music style of "dubnoiz”?
Dubnoiz is minimalist music comprised mainly of dub bass, percussion and noise elements. The bassline is organic and physical and right at the front of the mix as in 70s reggae, but unlike ‘traditional’ dub, it’s set in an environment of constantly moving layers of noise which gives the music a sense of urgency. This music is intended to be heavy dance music or used as soundtracks. The actor/producer Don Cheadle just made a film called “MILES AHEAD” about Miles Davis and said this about him in a recent interview: "I see stories in my mind when I listen to his music…” I am trying to provoke the same feeling and reaction. The dubnoiz music, does definitely contains a message, but without lyrics, it requires the listener to work harder and to use their imagination. Like when I was teaching - I want people to think for themselves and research for themselves, rather than always waiting for someone else to tell them what to do or what to think.
Most dubnoiz tracks begin with a percussion loop - usually indian or arabic - because of their melodic and harmonic content and also their cultural and political implications. (When I was a percussionist, I always used to hear the melody of the percussion - not just the rhythm.) The percussion loop is fed through plugs ins - mostly distortions and filters to generate noises and also make what I called accidental melodies or implied melodies - not a deliberate melody played on a keyboard, for example. After this, I know exactly what bassline to play. Sometimes, distorting the percussion doesn’t create something satisfying so I just give a radical eq (equalisation) or reverb and this de-exoticises the percussion and makes a sound that is futuristic. I experiment with re-effecting and resampling and thereby create layers of noise all originating from one percussion loop. Occasionally, I programme a simple synth line, but mostly, I’m trying to encourage people to hear the melody of the bass, the melody of the percussion and the melody of the noise. In other music, these are all sounds that are usually playing supportive roles and considered to be less important. Here, in dubnoiz, they collectively constitute the actual composition itself, not waiting for a lead instrument like a voice or guitar to justify their existence.
A big problem of the last 10 years is that more and more people listen to music just on their computers. I call this the “Bassless Society” because dub bass is not audible on these speakers, so listening to my music like that makes no sense - it’s like reading a news headline and forming your opinion on that without reading the actual article. Dubnoiz music works best on old ghettoblasters, car stereos, 70s and 80s home stereos, and reggae sound systems.
You have been active a long time in this music industry. What do you think about the music scene of today?
Since the beginning of the Dubnoiz period, around 2006, I have been more in touch with underground or independent musicians, producers and labels. Now, I use sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp but in the in the early days it was Myspace (when it was good) and this is how I got to hear interesting music. If I liked something, I usually bought the music straight away, to support the artist and maybe even have some kind of communication with them, like doing a bassline or remix.
For Emergency Basslines (which I self funded) I had an international licensing and distribution deal, but after that I had no more contact with any official label, except sometimes for remixes. All the gigs I did was usually funded by people who were musicians themselves - putting their hands in their own pockets - or small promoters who were more interested in music and culture than just making money. It is not the easiest existence, but it is possible but you’ll probably have to do something else as well to survive economically.
I don’t look for new music to listen to. One reason, is to stay focussed on what I’m doing and make sure I have the time to do it, and second - I spend time reading (mainly history & economics) doing photography - but all this helps and motivates me to make music. However, people send me stuff to listen to or sometimes I hear something great by accident. I prefer music which is fresh, minimal and lo-fi.
Now you can be a musician if you have a pc because you can make music easily. What is needed to be a true musician?
I think having a laptop or PC enables you to access certain sounds and gives access to the processes of music creation such as programming and mixing, for which in previous times you would need a studio. However, it’s not necessarily easy - you still have to learn how do those processes - how to programme, mix and master - and put in a lot of time and study, the same as if you were practicing any instrument. I am still learning different processes.
For me, to be a ‘true’ musician is to follow your heart, not the market - to make the music you want to make, not what you think other people want to hear. Often, it will mean you will be alone, but if you are not true to yourself, you cannot be true to anyone else. If you are making music simply to make people love you, you should go into pop or become a session musician.
Personally, I make music that I want to and need to hear, because no one is making this particular combination of sounds.
Do you have any advice for the young creator who wants to bemusician?
Find the equipment (hardware/software) or instrument that works for you, not necessarily what is the latest gear or what is in fashion. Push it to the limits to find sounds it wasn’t designed to make. Practice hard. Be focussed and disciplined. Find other people who feel the same passion as you about music - not lazy people or those who just want fame. Take every opportunity to play live, even if it is playing at your own house or a friend’s, at a party, so you learn how to interact with an audience. Try to find business people (managers etc) who are fans of your music and actually love what you are doing!
ADF toured Japan many times and played in Japanesefestivals. What was the impression of Japan? Can you still remember the first tour of ADF in Japan in the 1998?
We were amazed by the buildings and technology and how everything looked futuristic and yet it was side by side with tradition. It felt almost like a science fiction world. I cannot remember specific gigs, only that we always had a fantastic response from the audience - energy and enthusiasm - crazier than anywhere else we had been and people danced with real joy. It was an inspiration to us and affected our own energy. The sound was always fantastic - better than anywhere in the world - real clarity and proper bass. It made us play better and tighter.
What kind of impression did you have of "DOROHEDORO"?
Do you have any character or story which impressed you a lot after reading this comic?
I had never read Manga comics before, indeed any comics or graphic novels like Marvel or DC. I was sent the first three issues of “Dorohedoro.” It was very compelling and I was quickly sucked in to the story, wondering what was going to happen next. It is a dark and violent world where there is little compassion. Whenever I encounter these kinds of environments in a science fantasy setting, it feels like it's really a version of the world we already exist in, where you have people with power and want more, and those without power who are subjected to exploitation. The relationship between Caiman and Nikaido is the most interesting aspect for me, how they look out for each other, joke and make fun of each other. May be there is even a kind of love.
What concept or image does this track offered by you for this comic have?
The bassline and rhythm of “ Lizard head" is solid, mean, and fearless. It is not frantic or angry - because it’s not meant to be a fight scene. It represents Caiman’s determination to keep going and find out the truth of what happened to his head and who he really is, despite all the dangers, such as his enemies En, Shin and Noi and the Black Powder. Despite occasional setbacks Caiman and Nikaido are always ready to try again. Together, they are indestructible and a formidable team, so this is what I’m trying to convey.
Please tell us your release schedule for the future. Comments to your fans in Japan?
I have a version of my Dubnoiz project with extra jazz musicians called Dubnoiz Coalition. I will be releasing a live album of this project this year. I have also an electronic album I made with an indian electronic raga machine which shows conclusively, the link between my basslines and indian ragas, but with noise and distortions as well, which is a commentary on the violence and growing fascism in india at the moment. This set just needs to be mixed.
In ADF, we are always trying out new ideas and will start to record in the studio at the end of the year. I will be more involved in the production of the next ADF album.
Finally, I am creating more tracks for the next Dr Das dubnoiz album - I already have some - and the sound is more minimal, more heavy. I’m also hoping to do a photobook (I love my Ricoh GR! - it’s a super dub instrument) It’s always a pleasure to go to Japan - it always feels like people are more open minded and receptive to new ideas in music. Also, Japanese technology has always been a part of ADF’s and my artistic development. I hope we can visit again before too long.