Dubmatix is back with a scorching studio album titled ReWired. The ReWired title concept is about not only rewiring my studio for each album – using different gear, re-organizing, and always having to rewire everything as you end up with cables that connect to nothing hanging everywhere. But it’s also about rewiring the music – changing things, adding new elements, and creating new sounds.
Dubmatix has taken his time working on his new album. Sly & Robbie meet Dubmatix, “Overdubbed,” was released in 2018. It scooped the Juno Award for “Reggae Recording Of The Year 2019”, marking the second time the Canadian producer and multi-instrumentalist from Toronto had received this coveted award.
“ReWired” is Dubmatix’s first studio album in years, and it’s already abundantly clear that the wait has been more than worth it. Dubmatix has used the time to hone and polish the tracks on the album while at the same time exploring new paths. The first three tunes, “Ask Me” feat. Lone Ranger, “Rub A Dub” with the Spanish singer and MC, Sr. Wilson, and “High Life” feat. Kazam Davis & Exile Di Brave are on par for the course for the Canadian. After that, it’s like Dubmatix opened up the style floodgates: “Champion,” with brilliant vocals by Joe Publik, is a hip-hop-reggae hybrid with a slight touch of grime; “Crazy Days,” featuring a fine guest appearance by the Hempolics, incorporates loose, bouncy funk, while “Reign Over Me”, with smooth vocals by Duane Stephenson, veers off onto the pop path. In addition to the new tracks, two 7” singles that have already been released are also included: the mystical stepper “High Life” which features Kazam Davis & Exile Di Brave (Irie Ites Music) and a fabulous, melancholy cover version of New Order’s “Blue Monday” (Cyclone Records), which sees Dubmatix teaming up with Barry Ashworth from the Dub Pistols. So good!
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Other guest vocalists on the album include Lasai, Jman, and Rootwords, and there are a host of guest musicians, such as Booom Hornz from France with Romain Pivard and Cedric Munsch, aka Tribuman.
“ReWired” offers a dazzling, masterful kaleidoscope of modern sounds of dub-oriented bass music that is enormous fun.
IRIE. Welcome back to IRIE, Dubmatix! We celebrate you for all that you do for the dub reggae community. Let’s jump right into ReWired. What was the inspiration or motivation to release this epic studio album?
DUBMATIX. I’ve released numerous albums, E.P.’s, and singles over the past decade, but this is the first Dubmatix album since 2013’s Rebel Massive. I’d done the Sly & Robbie album, The French Sessions, and many others, but not my own album in 10 years, so it was time.
ReWired is one of those projects that came together slowly over a few years, partially due to other commitments and partially due to the lockdown plus, I experienced a period of time questioning what the next phase of life would be, both as a person and an artist, so finishing “ReWired” helped me get back into the flow – the mixing, mastering, publishing, label, artwork, and the rest. I was feeling restless, but having this album come out has helped provide a fresh perspective and energy for creating again.
IRIE. Is there a special meaning behind the title of your album, ReWired?
DUBMATIX. For years I used two-word titles – Renegade Rocker, Rebel Massive, Atomic Subsonic but on this release, I went with something that was literal – a ritual I do with each new album project – I rewired my studio. Sometimes it’s a total rewire from top to bottom; others, it’s swapping out gear, plugins, and DAWs. These little changes can help rewire the brain and approach to creating music as you need to understand the new equipment or software, how to interact with them, which alters how you record, and how these sounds elicit an idea or inspiration. If you stay within your existing parameters, i.e., same setup, software, sounds, etc.., you stagnate and no longer continue to grow, which is why I change things up with each new project and hence the title “ReWired.”
IRIE. Can you take us behind the scenes in producing the music for ReWired?
DUBMATIX. Quite a few of this album’s songs were voiced on a very basic instrumental or an entirely different riddim. It’s a strategy I’ve employed for years, and the reason is that when the final vocals arrive back to me. I’ll shape or build out the song around them. I want to showcase the vocalist in the best light possible and have the music match the energy of the performance. An example on my previous album was a track I did with legend Dennis Alcapone; the original riddim was a one drop, and when I got his vocals back, combined with the music, the song had no energy. It wasn’t his singing; I needed to find the balance between the groove and vocals. So I switched out to a steppers style which brought the missing energy so that Dennis’ laidback vocal style would counterbalance the groove and stand out and ride the riddim.
On “ReWired,” quite a few songs went through 2 or 3 iterations of style and tempo – the song with Duane Stephenson was voiced on an entirely different riddim, then turned into a jungle track which then morphed into a more trip-hop style that you hear on the album. But, again, it was trying to find that balance of showcasing his vocals, as he’s a soulful singer, without overshadowing them.
IRIE. ReWired features an eclectic group of artists, including Joe Publik, Duane Stephenson, Lone Ranger, and The Hempolics, to name a few. So how did you come to work with these great artists to make ReWired a reality?
DUBMATIX. JMan, The Hempolics, and Joe Publik were artists I’ve worked with, and wanted to bring them in on the project. For Lasai, I’d played a festival, and he happened to be right before me and, as is expected, jumped on the mic during my set for a song or two, so we had an instant musical connection that I wanted to capture on a song.
Some of the others, such as Lone Ranger & Duane Stephenson, were by chance – someone I knew had mentioned that they were available and he could record them for me in Jamaica. So there are times when I know who I want to work with and other times when it’s simply an opportunity that arises.
Each of these vocalists brings something unique and different in their style, delivery, and tone, making it enjoyable for me to shape the final results.
IRIE. Is there a track on ReWired that resonates most with you?
DUBMATIX. That’s a tough question to answer because I always try to bring the best possible version of any song I produce. The focus is not only on the final mix but the tiniest of details, the groove, tempo, and key. Is there something missing? Does each part of the song flow from one to the other? Considering all the above, I have a connection with each track, so I’d have to say each track has something I connect with. For example, a song that began in one style and went in a very different direction is Black & Blue, with Rootwords. It went through 4 or 5 reworkings. I’d send it to him each time, and he’d say, great. Then I’d change it again. There was something that I was looking for that hadn’t materialized yet, but in the end, I found it – a funk/reggae groove that allows his syncopated, staccato style sits right on top of the riddim.
IRIE. What do you hope your fans and first-time listeners take with them after listening to ReWired?
DUBMATIX. The hope is that anyone who listens to the album will find a song or moment they connect with that elicits an emotion, whether it’s a lyric, the style, or the groove.
IRIE. You just completed the Remix Contest featuring one of the tracks from ReWired, Champion ft. Joe Publik. The submissions response was off the charts. Do you feel collaboration is more important than competition among artists and why?
DUBMATIX. That’s an excellent question. We received many amazing remixes in various styles, dub, jungle, cumbia, trap, trip-hop, and others, but what stood out for me was the support between the remixers. Quite a few took the time to listen and leave positive feedback for others which I thought captured the spirit of what I’d hoped – exchanging ideas and sharing with people. The contest also helps me know who else is out there that I might be able to work with in the future. Maxiroots is a great example; he’d been involved in previous remix contests a few years ago but approached me in late 2022 to share his remixes. I listened and decided we should release them to radio/media and offer them free to the public to download. It’s around 200 radio stations that ended up supporting his remixes. As a result, he gained some additional awareness, my older tracks got a new life, and the DJs were able to bring a different style of music to their listeners. For me, that’s what you hope for. Maxiroots was unanimously chosen for this contest by all six people involved in selecting the final remixes.
IRIE. You are the producer behind Reggae Loops, a website featuring 100% Royalty Free Reggae & Dub Loops & Samples. This site has inspired me as a musician to get back into making music. Is Reggae Loops a labor of love for you or more of a mission to help preserve dub reggae music or both?
DUBMATIX. Since the moment I began creating loops, I’ve never looked back.
It’s been 16 years that I’ve been involved in creating loops and loop packs. It started on Versionist.com in 2007 when I saw others sharing some of their loops. So I shared some of mine, and the feedback was positive. It inspired me to create my first loop pack, which I sold on Myspace.com (that’s how long ago it was). From there, I partnered with Loopmasters in 2010, creating a loops and Maschine expansion packs before launching my label in 2021, Renegade Audio, and partnering on another label with a friend, Phil Horne, at Loopmasters called AIM Audio. Combined, we’ve released probably close to 60 packs in 2 years in a variety of styles: dub, trip-hop, dancehall, hip-hop, downtempo, jungle, afro-funk, and funk, and I also began bringing in other producers such as Jack Murda of Chopstick Dubplate (UK), Subterfuge Records (UK), Krak In Dub (France) & Aldubb (Berlin).
The site itself, Reggae-loops.com, was a natural extension and helped to delineate Dubmatix from the loop packs. Each year I bring out a free loop pack for anyone to download. All loops are 100% royalty-free, meaning you can use them any way you want (except re-selling them). We have 27000 producers subscribed to the site, and it allows me to release new packs and share production tips, links to free plugins, and of course, remix contests. For 2023, there is a free dub & reggae+ 2GB loop pack that everyone can download anytime.
IRIE. You are also the voice behind the Basement Sessions Radio Show. We love it because you give your listeners a little bit of everything. Tell us how you got started with this program.
DUBMATIX. Full credit goes to Cheeka and the Partytime Radio crew in Paris, France. They were the first to encourage me to do a 2-hour live-stream radio show with them in early 2013, which led me to my show on a local station, CIUT 89.5 FM. It’s been ten years now, and the show is syndicated to about 40 stations worldwide, and I absolutely have a blast doing it every week. Last year we also introduced the IRIE Trax of the Week, as it was a natural fit for us to collaborate.
IRIE. ReWired is available in vinyl format through Digger Factory. Why do you think Vinyl records are returning to the mainstream? And do you think it is here to stay (We hope so)?
DUBMATIX. Vinyl is just cool. It looks cool, smells cool, and the album art is cool, and having information about the album, who’s on it, where it was produced, the label, etc.. is interesting and informative. There is something special about holding a piece of vinyl in your hands, the feel, the weight, and something tangible – not just a digital stream. New enthusiasts and collectors will always continue to support vinyl, and for labels, in some cases, this is one of the few areas they can generate any income. Streaming and downloads genuinely do not provide a source of earnings unless it’s vinyl, cassettes, and CDs that can still help to fill that void.
IRIE. We are officially launching IRIE in television format beginning in February to promote the artists we feature in our publication. Any chance of Dubmatix producing music videos for your music?
DUBMATIX. I set myself a challenge this year to create an 8-bar beat each day. This challenge quickly morphed into one-minute mini-songs accompanied by a video. So I think that there will definitely be music videos coming very soon. You can view all of the daily mini-music videos on my Facebook or Instagram account.
IRIE. Is there anything else you would like to say or share with the IRIE Magazine audience?
DUBMATIX. I have to turn the mirror around and shine the light on the two driving forces behind this publication, Nico & Michelle; you’ve both spent years building up an incredible magazine that has helped promote and create awareness for so many artists, shared so much music and connected with fans all over the world. It’s an amazing achievement, a conduit for all to communicate and share in the music we love.