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Dub & Roots
The prolific Canadian composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and seven-time JUNO Award winner
and nominee hails from Toronto but has carved out a massive following on the international stage. He is
a recording machine, from his debut release Champion Sund Clash in 2004, the Toronto-born Dubmatix has gone on to produce and record a mind-blowing 500 releases + to date & counting!
“T.O.’s Dubmatix is one of the most inventive dub reggae producers in Canada.”
ERROL NAZARETH, CBC NATIONAL RADIO – BIG CITY, SMALL WORLD
His vast collection of recordings have garnered multiple music awards from all over the world including France, Portugal, Germany and the U.K., along with critical praise from the international music industry insiders and tastemakers such as BBC Radio’s Don Letts , XM Radio USA , iTunes Canada & USA respectively who have recognized & celebrated Dubmatix’ relentless inventiveness and creative style.
The accolades continue with yet another honour awarded by Billboard Magazine (September 2016), who crowned Dubmatix ‘Is This Love’ rendition as the #1 Bob Marley Remix of all time! To date, the track has garnered over 10 million streams & growing!
2017 was another milestone year for Dubmatix’ fans ( a staggering 2.8 million followers on Soundcloud along with 20 million streams!……..270,000 fans & counting on Facebook… AND …4.2 million streams on
Spotify!!) and if that wasn’t enough the multi-talented & hardworking composer recently completed his 2nd remix for 2016 Grammy Winners Morgan Heritage, including The recently released two-disc deluxe edition of ‘Strictly Roots’ – contains the Dubmatix Blaze Up Remix of ‘Light It Up’ and the classic ‘Reggae Nights’ receiving rave reviews from outlets like:
“On his interpretation, the JUNO award-winning mixmaster maintains
the original’s infectious quality while managing to turn up the heat a few more degrees for maximum dance floor enjoyment.”
BIG SHOT DJ MAGAZINE
As 2017 closes in.. November presents yet another major opportunity for the Canadian groundbreaking artist will see Dubmatix off to expand his audience and fan base in the fast-growing market of India , where the much sought after recording artist has been invited to attend & perform at the prestigious IndiEarth XChange conference in Chennai, India – a platform for international exchange and collaborations between artists and professionals.
As 2018 fast approaches so too is a busy year filled with multiple Dubmatix releases including the very much anticipated new album with legendary duo & 2017 Grammy nominated artists Sly & Robbie. The
collaboration will be entitled “Overdubbed – Sly & Robbie meets Dubmatix” and is scheduled for release on Echo Beach in January of 2018, followed by King Sized Dub album in March, a new project with music legends UB40, and of course the 6th Dubmatix album release slated for the Spring of 2018 (featuring: Lone Ranger, The Hempolics, Prince Alla & Duane Stephenson to name but a few!) followed by a six month International tour kicking off in April!
Official Website: Dubmatix.com
IRIE. Greetings Dubmatix! Let’s start by going back to the beginning. You’ve had a very interesting childhood, one that allowed you to be around music from a very young age. Can you share with us?
Dubmatix. My father, Bill King, has been a musician for over 50 years, playing with Janis Joplin, Martha Reeves, Pointer Sisters, studying with Oscar Peterson and many more so I was always surrounded by music and instruments growing up. We also had a home studio, first with 4-track Reel-to-Reel with Echo & SOS options and then the AKAI MG1212 which was a 12-track, digital-tape based mixer. I started early with drums, played upright bass with the school symphony, ensembles, quartets, chamber groups for 7 years, and a little jazz guitar and piano lessons at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music for periods of time.
Over the years I spent countless hours in the studio recording and learning. The old days when I’d have to hit record, run to the drum booth, play the drums for an entire song in my head – no click or guide and hope I didn’t make a mistake.
Then overdub bass, keys, guitars and anything else. It was a great learning experience – namely that you had to play the track from start to finish. No punching in or editing.
IRIE. At what age did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music? Do you remember your first instrument? What about the first song you ever produced.
Dubmatix. As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to pursue music. Even at the age of 8 or 9 I was taping posters to telephone poles inviting strangers to my parents house to watch a buddy and me jam. (my parents put a stop to that quickly). At 10 another friend and I put on a concert at our school for the earlier grade classes in the school library. Synth with drum machine and vocals Very 80s. First instrument was drums and I can remember one day my father showing up in a taxi with this amazing set of black drums (turned out to be Pearl 12-ply maple) for me. I’ve still got those drums though they reside at my fathers studio. Full circle.
First song I can remember was probably around that same time I was rocking the 8-year olds at school with my Synth prowess. The vocalist, also named Jesse, had lyrics that were odd for 10 year-olds – track called ‘Totally Paranoid’ haha.
IRIE. Can you share with us the story of how you got introduced to Dub Music?
Dubmatix. I’d be listening to every Bob Marley album for years, then Burning Spear, Culture, Gregory Isaacs and many others but a family friend from Jamaica, drummer Pablo Paul, handed me King Tubby meets Rockers Uptown. This was the album that altered my reality and blew my mind. I’d never heard anything like it – to this day I think it’s the best dub album ever made and not long ago I read a David Rodigan piece where he listed it as his #1 as well. It was the pulsating, hypnotic, thundering sounds that emantes from my speakers that I immediately transferred the album to a high quality Maxell cassette and carried it with me everywhere I went – and I still have that cassette today.
IRIE. Who were some of your musical influence that inspired you in developing your Dubmatix sound?
Dubmatix. Being around so much music from my parents set the template for me – I heard Michael Jackson, Peter Gabriel, Prokofiev, Marley, Stevie Wonder, Doobie Brothers, Little Feat, Weather Report, Tower of Power, all the funk groups of the 70s and more. My personal taste was KISS at a very young age but quickly moved into The Clash, Cure, Zeppelin, Hendrix, Dylan, Doors, blues, classical, folk – anything that grabbed my ear would be listened to.
When I get into an album or artist I will hit repeat for days and weeks. That took up a lot of effort and time back on vinyl – moving the needle every 3-4 minutes for 7” release. One such was John Holt’s ‘If I Had A Hammer’ and Mighty Diamonds ‘Right Time’.
IRIE. You released your first album, Champion Sound Clash, in 2004, and since then, you’ve continue to evolve with each new album while covering dub, reggae, roots, dancehall, electro and drum and bass music. How would you describe your sound to someone who is new to the dub and reggae scene?
Dubmatix. It’s taken 14 years to be able to reflect back and see how the music has evolved. Initially, my goal was to try and incorporate all those classic sounds & styles I heard from Jamaica – dub, roots, rockers, rub-a-dub and the production styles. Each producer and studio has a sound. Each style has a sound. I wanted to bring those sounds into what I was doing. And at the same time, all those years of listening and playing other styles of music came to fruition – elements of blues, rock, funk and motown, etc…
As with any musician – you inherently incoporate those sounds that have been around you. Progressing with each release meant branching out more and more, trying new sounds and styles, different sonic palettes, FX and more and over time you find ‘your’ sound. My sound leans towards the Phil Spector ‘Wall of Sound’ quite a bit. I like a a big sound – layers of horns, vocals, harmonies, melodies and a big low end.
IRIE. Can you take us through your creative process for producing new music? Is it always the same method or does it change depending on the music project?
Dubmatix. Reggae & Dub are bottom up genres – the drum & bass rule. They define the song. Being a drummer and bass player – this was probably one reason I was drawn to reggae, the focus on the rhythm.
For my own music I approach it based on a moment, or a vibe, or I something hear in a song or sound. If it’s a drum groove, I’ll find a bass line and then stack everything else I.e. skanks, bubble, percussion, fx.. If it’s a skank or melody I’ll lay the drums down and build around it.
Once I’ve got the basic framework of a track built –the real work starts. The arrangement of the track, adding and removing layers until I come to the core of what the track needs to be. The final step will be removing any unnecessary elements until the song flows from start to finish. I also mix as I go so I only have to fine tune the mix before mastering.
IRIE. You are a man of many hats; a musician, multi-instrumentalist, a producer and an engineer… but you don’t sing. How do you decide on who to work with vocally for your music projects?
Dubmatix. Two answers for this. There’s my bucket list of hero’s and legends that I’ve wanted to work with, and have done, which have included Alton Ellis, Mighty Diamonds, Sugar Minott, Linval Thompson and others. The second answer is I’ll always want to work with a great singer. If I like the person and there’s good communication and vibe – I’ll work with them. A lot of singers I’ll come across while touring, networking and referrals.
IRIE. When you’re producing a new track, how do you know when that song is considered FINAL? Do you ever find yourself second-guessing or rethinking a final track?
Dubmatix. Knowing when a track is finished can be difficult. For some a song is never finished. I’ll know when a song is done when it makes sense and by that, I mean that from the moment I hit play until the end everything flows properly. You can anticipate where the track is going next and it does that smoothly and most importantly, nothing bothers me anymore. If I hear a hi-hat, snare or kick drum I don’t like, the track is not done. This goes for every aspect of the track – the structure, instruments, choice of instruments, transitions from verse to chorus – absolutely every little detail is audibly analyzed until nothing bothers me and the groove and flow are there.
IRIE. Let’s talk about Overdubbed…. where Sly & Robbie meets Dubmatix! We LOVE it!! This is one of those albums that screams dub and roots in that classic rockers style! It’s Maaaaad! What was the feeling like for you to be able to work with the Riddim Twins?
Dubmatix. Working with the riddim twins is an honor and a check mark on my bucket list. These are two incredibly talented and creative musicians that ushered is so many styles of music and have performed with countless artists that the legacy they’ve built will sustain into the distant future. Sometimes words cannot convey. This is one of those times for me.
IRIE. Every track on this album is Wikkid. My personal favorite is ‘Great Wall’. Is there a track on Overdubbed that resonate with you most? If so, why?
Dubmatix. Thank you! Much appreciated. I’d say that ‘Great Escape’ tends to stand out for me and that really is down to the song being more of an ethereal, trip-hop sound that I’ve not brought into my past Dubmatix releases. Going back to what we talked about earlier – developing a sound based on what you’ve grown up with and heard – this is one of those. I was able to bring in strings, a lush-sound, operatic vocal snippets, acoustic and distorted guitar and more.
IRIE. What advice would you give an aspiring producer looking to create their own path in the Dub and Reggae world?
Dubmatix. Work on producing your own sound. Ignore the trends. Experimenting with instruments, sounds, mixing, styles until you find the one that feels right. You’ll know it when you hear it.
IRIE. Is there anything you would like to say or share with the Irie Magazine audience?
Dubmatix. First off, a massive thank you to Irie for having me to be part of this amazing magazine and Nicholas and Michelle for all of their incredible hard work to share positive messages, music and vibes with everyone. To all the readers out there – there’s a reason we all are drawn to reggae – when it hits, you feel no pain and it brings joy and positive vibes. Respect.