After much discussion, several self imposed false starts and an exceptional amount of procrastination, I recently got round to interviewing Dub Temple Co-Founders 8Man and Grimes, also known to many of you as the two man dancefloor destroying unit Science Project. The conversation was suitably informal, interrupted by a BBQ and a number of digressive tangents, no doubt assisted by liberal amounts of whiskey. As such apologies if the interview meanders somewhat towards the end; I was forced to make so editorial cuts to some of the more extraneous conversation and may have partially fabricated a number of the later questions as I’m fairly sure that my mumbling enquiries in no way matched the comprehensive answers provided by the interviewees. In any case what follows is at least mostly genuine.
This year has seen an explosion of releases on fledgling Brisbane label Dub Temple, both from label bosses Science Project and from an ever growing roster of upcoming artists. Following the drop of their first EP Alchemystic in mid 2010, Science Project have backed it up Singles Magic Monkey and Waves. Feat Billie Weston (including remixes from Hope One and Walrii) and a superb sophomore EP Under the Sun. They’ve also created and curated a Beat Tape Series that has thus far seen Bob Marley and King Tubby classics getting reinterpreted by a number of artists from Brisbane and beyond. Its proved to be hugely popular both here and abroad and promises to go from strength to strength with two more instalments slated for early next year. Last month also saw 8man’s solo début Loops EP which marked a shift away from their long standing association with Dub into more of a post Dilla hip hop stance, something which has been matched by increasingly future leaning releases from 1988, Voodoo Dread and Blood Dunza.
Grendelcakes: In light of this year’s cluttered and increasingly varied release schedule what can we expect from Dub Temple over the coming year?
Grimes: 2011 still isn’t finished yet, we’ve still got two releases per month for the rest of the year, starting with our Vodoo Science One collab with Vadim (Voodoo Dread) and Fergie (Hope One).
8Man: November’s gonna be another good month for music, we’ve got our podcast from Arku and Walrii, the next beat tape, Kirvy’s new ep; that one is gonna be a guaranteed killah release. Next months DTR podcast guest DJs are Dela Haye & Samedi Sound System, this summer is gonna be well hot! (laughs) Expect some hot fiyah riddims from those two.
Grimes: Early next year though we’ll have another instalment of the beat tape series after which we’ll be dropping my solo debut.
Grendelcakes: Sounds pretty hectic, nice to see you guys are putting out your solo stuff as well. 8man your Loops EP was well received when it landed last month, the tracks are nice and raw, sort of reminiscent of 14 KT or Sugio Sounds.
8man: Man they’re just raw, straight up Hip hop loops. I made most of them whilst Grimes was away in Indo. When I looked back through I realised that I’d made a lot more of them than I originally thought so I dug through, picked out the best ones and tidied them up ready for the release.
Grendelcakes: We chatted a while back about the hypnotic effect of looping music in the context of Dub and Drone, was this a deliberate nod to that idea?
8Man: To some extent, I’ve been really intrigued by the rise of the whole loops thing, in LA now they have a loops festival where its nothing but loops being played. I guess for the most part though I just really like rugged and raw hip hop loops and its nice to get to release some of my own. Its like sometimes you put something together really quickly that just works, no need to go back and work on it, it just works as it is. I think there’s something to be said for music like that.
Grendelcakes: Yeah I know what you mean, the same thing happens with short story writing, sometimes that simple concept you just filled a page with works so much better than something you spend days or weeks drafting over and over again. Grimes whilst we’re on the subject of Solo work, what can you tell us about your debut release?
Grimes: I’ve been going over my parents old research tapes listening to chants and drum patterns from when we used to go out with them to meet the tribes in Indonesia. We lived on and off in this village Wa’ ha’ Olon on Buru island where we lived there on and off for 8 years. I’ve been transferring the tapes over to digital and cutting out the bits that I like. My mum was an Anthropologist and my dad was a Social Linguist so they used to take us on their trips out to meet the tribes. It was my first experience of music in a participatory sense; my brother learned to war dance with a spear and all that, I learned to drum.
Grendelcakes: Wow, quite an introduction to music. Would you say that this release is a sort of statement of intent then, a marker of your musical identity so to speak?
Grimes: Yeah I’d say that those experiences are where my roots lie musically and it’s something that I’ve stayed true to in our productions thus far. Most of our stuff as Science Project has tribal layers to it and with Dub Temple as a whole too. It seems to have always been there whether we were making Dub or Hip Hop or whatever, there has always been this innate tribalism that works its way into the music.
8 Man: We seem to have gravitated towards other like minded artists in the course of running the label thus far. Everyone takes a similarly organic approach to production. For us and for our label mates our musical identity has been a big part of expressing who we are. Me and Grimes are both first generation Aussie so we’ve brought our heritage and cultural influences with us, its important to stay true to that especially in a country that has drifted so far from its own cultural roots.
Grendelcakes: Do you think that Brisbane as a city has had an effect on the way this has happened? What you were saying about like minded people gravitating towards one another is pretty on point, our social circle as a whole is largely comprised of first and second generation Aussies who have somehow come to be associated with one another despite there being no intention to purposely seek each other out. Then again I suppose it helps that everyone is into the same sort of music to some extent.
8Man: I guess if you look at Brisbane compared to cities like Melbourne or Sydney, the cultural diversity here hasn’t always been so broad and as a result integration is less advanced. Its not so much a segregation thing but it does lead to more of a distinction between different groups of people, however recently its given rise to a small but really vibrant and fertile music scene with a broad range of influences. With the label so far it seems to have worked the same way but for the most part Brisbane hasn’t had much to do with it, seeing as we met a lot of them through the great nation of the internet. This said a lot of the guys over here that make up the Dub Temple roster like Green Nose (aka Potato Masta) from Japan & Vadim from Haiti, both are 1st generation and I suppose helps that we’ve all found ourselves in similar situations, both geographically and musically.
Grendelcakes: With regards to the non-Australian based contingent of the label, have you had a chance to actually meet these guys or has all communication been internet based so far.
8Man: Only through the internet thus far, we do a fair bit of chatting through Facebook and email, Blood Dunza and 1988 discovered us through myspace, others through the Bandcamp page and Facebook. That said we’re planning a tour of South East Asia at some point next year so I guess we’ll be meeting them then.
Grimes:The tour will start off in Indonesia, move up through The Phillipines, Vietnam then on to Hong Kong for a couple of shows. It’ll be wicked, taking our sounds back to the places they came from and were inspired by. The whole thing will be like coming full circle, uniting our music with the places and people that inspired it, as well as tying together all the elements and inputs of the label. Blood Dunza will be hosting one of the gigs in HK and we’ll be playing with Kirvy for 8Man’s home gig in Cebu City, maybe Hope One in HK too.
Grendelcakes: Shit sounds dope, I might have to start saving now and come with you guys. With regards to your widely dispersed artist roster perhaps you could tell us a bit about the Beat Tape series and how you got together so many talented and like minded artists. Was this a prearranged thing or did you just put the idea out there and wait to see who wanted in?
8Man: We’d never met a lot of the artists, still haven’t in most of those cases, but the whole thing was a mixture of the two. There’s this guy called Bunda whos got some mad beats he got in touch and wanted to get involved but we still haven’t met him despite the fact that he lives in Brisbane too. We also had people like Monk and Voodoo Dread that we’d known from before, having played gigs with them when they were in The Black Jesus Project and Culture Connect.Blood Dunza got us through myspace as I said, he was mad keen to get involved. Then on top of that we already knew a few others that we knew were keen from the Brisbane Beat Sessions, Dank Morass and Ender crew like Puzahki, Elroy, Walrii etc.
Grendelcakes: Yeah you guys have been heavily involved with the Brisbane Beat Sessions, with a fair few of them cropping up on the beat tape series so far. Hows it been working on a grass roots level as part of a beat collective?
8Man: The great thing is that there hasn’t been any friction or any egos getting in the way. Everyone is on their own individual tip but no one takes themselves too seriously so it just makes the whole process relaxed and enjoyable. Its also good seeing people who are coming up like Sauce, Sinister Taxonomy, Provi$ & Walrii working with established heads like Speaker Wrath and Puzahki.
Grendelcakes: Under the Sun saw you guys really stepping it up production wise but it took seeing you performing live to properly appreciate how much work had gone into making those tracks sound so tight. I know you’ve both been working really hard to make the live set more dynamic and cohesive, was this practical approach helpful in honing your skills in the studio or was it more a case of taking the studio tracks and deconstructing then reassembling them into what became the live set?
Grimes: A bit of both. Not all songs deconstruct well, figuring out the best tunes to deconstruct and the best way to deconstruct tracks is definitely a process, and at this stage we have the luxury of a lot of trial and error under our belt. But there’s also routines that we do live which have evolved entirely as live tunes, just messing around with samples and stumbling across interesting things. We’re starting to translate some of these into studio tracks, but you can always pick the ones that started as live jams cause they always swing different.
8Man: Yeah with the productions it depends; sometimes we get the right sound right away and sometimes it takes a lot of experimentation & trial and error. Under the sun EP was a really interesting musical journey, lots of new discoveries, technicalities and more of a philosophical approach to music, we spent a whole lot of time organising sounds during that time.
Grimes: Man putting the EP together was pretty crazy experience. We had a version that was in the process being mixed down, we were pretty satisfied with it so were just tweaking bits here and there when this massive magnetic storm rolled in and scrambled the session; it fucked up all the timings so we had to go back through and painstakingly put the whole record back together again. It worked out alright though, the version we ended up with was better than the original mix so it was a bit of a blessing really.
Grendelcakes: You mentioned Voodoo Dread just before, a fair few people, myself included, were thoroughly impressed with his recent Self Titled release on Dub Temple. I’m also well hyped for the Voodoo Science One EP you guys have been working on with Voodoo Dread and Hope One; the sampler for it is ridiculous and I was lucky enough to hear a few demos that you guys played me a while back. How did you first link with Vadim and how did the collaboration come about?
Grimes:I met him when I was in Darwin. When I was in high school he was playing in Culture Connect who were pretty big on the scene at the time. The music scene in Darwin, while vibrant, is not very big and so there was a lot of shared history. When I moved to Brissie I started drumming with Culture Connect though at that time Vadim was in Melbourne playing with Drum Drum and Gorilla Step. Vadim’s been producing for a while now and he’s got heaps of killa tunes and a few independent releases. We talked about releasing on Dub Temple and the rest is history.
Grendelcakes: Having seen you guys play together at Horse Bazaar in Melbourne and here at Alloneword, I figured you’d all been performing together for years, you guys put on a pretty cohesive show.
8man: (laughs) Nah we were just jamming, but this Voodoo Science collab is an attempt to capture the energy of those sorts of live sets. Following the release we’ll be playing a few live shows where it’ll a back to back set like we played with Craig (Puzahki) at the Nosaj Thing gig earlier this year. We want to try to represent the live sets with the E.P and visa versa, with all three of us on the pads, loops, drums, vocals and beatboxing. Playing the set at with Craig was a really good feeling and we got a really good response so we’re well up for smashing it up again.
Grendelcakes: On the strength of the promo for Voodoo Science One EP, as well as the 8Man, Voodoo Dread and Blood Dunza EP’s, you guys seem to be taking a more future leaning approach to both your own output and that of the label, letting the Dub elements retreat into the background somewhat. Considering that Dub and Reggae were such formative influences for you both their overriding influence is conspicuous in its comparative absence in these more recent productions. I was wondering whether you feel you’ve done all that you can to push that aspect of your music, or are you just sidelining it temporarily to let your other interests and influences take over?
Grimes: To me these later releases have been about exploring and expanding tribal rhythms and sounds through dub. If you understand dub as more than a style of music, but rather a philosophy, you can see the continuity of Dub in these tunes. Where instead of dubbing straight reggae rhythms we’re playing with tribal sounds and sample based hiphop, but approaching them the same way. You build variation by removing sounds as opposed to adding more, its about creating space so the drums and bass can be the centre of attention. Its about celebrating the foundation, not the flashy shit.
8man: The Dub is always gonna be there, it’s the foundation. If you know the music,the culture, you know that it’s there. Dub is the space in music, Dub is a philosophy, it’s how you approach music. You can push Dub as far as you can. Who knows what we can do next with new crazy technologies, Dub is jus gonna go crazier. What the Jamaicans were doing in the 70s was dub and what we’re doing now is Dub as well, with a future twist!
Grendelcakes: Excellent answers, on that note I’ll wrap things up. Out of interest with you guys collaborating, curating, working on solo material and running the label can we expect to see another Science Project record any time soon?
Grimes: Yeah of course, we’re gonna put out another EP in December and tackle our first LP next year.