Respect | Dub Inc – Zigo

Irie Magazine | Respect - Dub Inc's Zigo

Dub Inc


Originally from Saint-Etienne in France’s industrial heartland, Dub Inc fuse classic roots reggae with dub, dancehall, ska, hip-hop and African influences. They create an intoxicating musical hybrid with highly charged and socially conscious songs which have earned them cult status in their native France.

Their wild, high-octane live performances led to an ever expanding and loyal fan base. With a fierce independent spirit and away from the media spotlight, Dub Inc have become the most successful reggae band playing in Europe today, and are now a fixture at major festivals across the world, having already appeared at Paleo, Francofolies, WOMAD and headlined Rototom Sunsplash or Summerjam.

Charismatic lead singers Hakim ‘Bouchkour’ Meridja and Aurelien ‘Komlan’ Zohou sing in English, French and Kabyle (a Berber language native to Algeria). Backed by deep rolling bass (Moritz Von Korff), keyboards (Frédéric Peyron and Idir Derdiche), guitar (Jérémie Grégeois) and drums (Grégory ‘Zigo’ Mavridorakis), Bouchkour and Komlan convey strong positive messages through their striking vocals creating music with a truly universal appeal.

Since forming in 1997, Dub Inc have produced five studio albums, two EP’s and a live album. Their new album Paradise (2013, Diversité) perfectly embodies the potent combination of infectious energy, distinctive melody and engaged, combative lyrics. 

On June 1, 2015, Dub Inc’s ‘Paradise Tour (Live at L’Olympia)’, a double CD + DVD, released to rave reviews! IRIE Magazine took the opportunity to reason with Dub Inc drummer, Zigo, for a two part interview. We invite you to experience part 1 of the Dub Inc interview featuring Zigo! Respect!


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The Interview

IRIE. What bands did you listen to that influence you to play reggae music?

Zigo: In the beginning, we were more into the records of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Then one day we found the album ‘Kaya’ by Bob Marley and some vinyls from Black Uhuru. We started to listen to them and we really fell in love with it because of the vibe of the music. At this time, we started to smoke the herb. We also discovered a music with a real message. That is exactly what we wanted to make with our music. Spread a message of peace and love. We found something more social in this music; something we really love. We are from an industrial city where the people are use to suffering a lot. They work a lot. In a way, it was the perfect music for us to express what we feel about society.

IRIE. Is there one reggae song that touches you the most?

Zigo: That’s difficult but if I were to choose a song, it would probably be one of Bob Marley’s songs. I think he is the best to write lyrics, simple but very catchy, where you can immediately see the message. For me, ‘War’ is maybe one of the first social song that really hit me. Also, because it had been use in a 1995 french movie called La Haine (The Hate) by filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz. This black-and-white drama/suspense film was a very famous movie for French people. It was a portrayal of the violence and frustration gripping the immigrant-packed suburbs of major French cities.

IRIE. You are the drummer for Dub Inc. How did you decide on playing the drums? Were you parents musicians?

Zigo: My parents are not really musicians; they like music though. When I was twelve, a friend of mine told me he played drums and invited me over to show me his drum kit. When I came back home, I told my dad, I like drums. Three months later, my dad came home and he told me to come to see his car. Inside the car was a drum kit. He said, “here is a drum kit. Now you have to take it seriously.” And that’s it. I then started with drums. My dad said ‘you can do something with this. Just be serious.”

I started to play with the records that I had at home. And that’s how I got into music. I think that in a sense, my dad saved my life because I really wasn’t good at school.

Since that day, when he gave me the drum set, my life completely changed. I hated school. I attended school until 18 years old and all I thought about was after school doing my music. That’s what happen. I stopped school. My friends and I said, let’s go. Let’s try to go on the road and be professional musicians. That was 17 years ago and I’m still a musician.

IRIE. You guys come from different countries and different social regions, however you sound so united as a band? How is that possible?

Zigo: I think what is common among the guys in Dub Inc is that music is a part of us and we couldn’t live without it. It’s the best way for us to express ourself. It’s easier for me to express myself with my keyboard and my drums than by talking. What is great is that the two singers are able to express what I think with their pencils and there lyrics and that’s what I love in our band. We really fit alltogether. We are seven on stage, seven in the studio to work, write songs and compose together. It works really like a. We are really strong altogether.

We are all from different social origins. For example, my parents were rich but some of the guys are from parents who didn’t have much money and who live in the french ghetto which is not as rough as Sao Paulo. We also have different geographical origins. For example, my parents come from Greece; the other band members come from North Africa, West Africa, Italy and Germany. Though we are all from so many different regions, we still make something very positive together. That’s what we try to share with our music. That is that main message that we try to spread to the world. It doesn’t matter where you come from. When you’re together and you accept each others differences, you can make something very positive. That’s the main message we try to spread.

We never thought about making it as a band. Our success came naturally. We sing mainly in french, a little bit of english and arabic. When we started to do that, some people in France said to us, ‘hey, you’re crazy. You can’t go outside of France because nobody understands french and they won’t like it!” Even the first time we came to New York, nobody believed in us. We just told the non-believers that with music, sometimes you don’t need to understand all the lyrics. We are going to explain to the audience what we talk about before the song in english and then they are going to catch the vibe. Sometimes the non-believers don’t realize how people in general can be open-minded.

We’ve played in rock festivals, jazz festivals and world music festivals and every time, it’s always the same. Even when the crowd is not the same, different audience, different age, when you give your music with your heart, and you explain what you are talking about, and keep it positive, they will accept it. In our songs, we talk about subjects that are really sad like social problems, racism, all that shit! What we try to do is turn it into positive things. We saw Bob Marley do it. He turn around the world and spread love while writing and singing about the hard topics. The non-believers can even try to make you doubt yourself saying, “hey, it won’t work”. But if you do it with your heart and keep it positive, it works every time.

Even in the USA, the people enjoy our message. In Brasil, the people don’t speak much english so it was hard to communicate with them but at the end the show, they caught the Dub Inc vibe.

IRIE. Word! What about those non-believers who say your not from Jamaica so you’re not playing real reggae? Did you experience any backlash in the beginning.

Zigo: When we played our first show in Kingston, we thought that we might receive some backlash. We played at a venue called Plug and Play. They invite six bands to perform for the audience and you have 30 minutes to literally plug and play. We had a lot of gear to plug in (keyboards and equipment, etc.) and it was a bit complicated to get setup. And because we didn’t start to play right away, the audience began to boo. At that time I said to myself, “shit, where in Jamaica and we’re a french band playing reggae. This is not good.”

But as soon as we started to play, the people turned MAAAAAD! I think it was because they really enjoyed the fact that we didn’t just copy Jamaican reggae. For the audience, they discovered something new. They experienced the singer singing in French and they enjoyed the melody and the musical arrangement and that was something the audience really enjoyed.

Now, we know a lot of Jamaican artist because we’ve toured and perform in all the big reggae festivals. We’ve also produced a lot of singles for Jamaican artists. I think over the years, we’ve earned the respect from most of the big Jamaican artists and producers including musicians because we know a lot of the big backing bands form Jamaica. And we are starting to have more fans from Jamaica. That is the new crazy thing for us.

For example, one artist from Jamaica said, “hey, you are the real Dub Inc? My son is crazy about you!” That is something new for us. I think it is because reggae is always evolving. It is the new era for real bands in Jamaica. Not just one singer and a backing band but full bands. Reggae is always evolving. This is a new era for real bands in Jamaica. Look at the youths like Chronixx and Protoje.

I think in Jamaica they want to hear some new flavors in reggae and I think they really appreciate bands like us. Because in France, most of the bands just try to copy the Jamaican rhythms and they sing like the old-timer reggae artists. Sometimes they do it very good with good lyrics but they don’t bring something new to the music. I think we always try to bring something new in our music even if it doesn’t sound like the brand new jamaican sound. We are original and the Jamaican people start to appreciate it that and that is fun for us to have a name in Jamaica.

IRIE. You just released the ‘Paradise Tour (Live at L’Olympia)’, an album (2 CD’s + DVD) that IRIE Magazine highly recommends to all reggae fans and those new to reggae! What are your immediate plans?

Zigo: Right now, we are wrapping up our European tour outside of France. We are going to tour until the end of September where we will finish the tour in Brazil. We will then continue building our new studio which we destroyed last month, to prepare for our new album which we will start working on in October 2015. Our plan is to release the album in September 2016. We will go back on the road in the summer of 2016 just before the release of the album.

*Look for part 2 of the DUB Inc Interview with Zigo in the August 2015 (#02-08) issue of IRIE!