Since 1999 Alex Dub, has been the founder of Culture Dub from France, a complex, ever-evolving project featuring a website, a decades-long radio show, music label, and sound system for European parties!
The Culture Dub platform is one of the central forces promoting European dub music, a unique style derived from Jamaican reggae music. It began in 2006 and quickly became a reference for dub music lovers.
Alex Dub, on his platform, offers news of dub music from its origins to the present day (dub roots, electro dub, ethnic and Balkan dub, dubstep), not only linking up artists but also promoting them in dub fanzines. The Culture Dub show has a weekly program where the DJ showcases the connection between recent releases and unites them under a strong concept. The Culture Dub videos and the MP3 dub jukebox for the promotion of dub activists means the artists chose to offer their music for free to the Culture Dub subscribers.
I first encountered Reggae music when I was very young, thanks to Bob Marley's live album Babylon By Bus, which my daddy owned on vinyl! When I first listened to it, I got chills! But then I turned to Punk, and I discovered the Sound Systems thanks to this militant anti-fascist period in England. The activists of Punk UK allied themselves with the activists of Caribbean origin from Reggae music, and the Sound Systems began touring the country and Europe.
I immediately liked Dub because everyone had their own message, and there was no moral message like in Reggae music. I enjoyed the Dub versions of English groups like Aswad and big worldwide stars like Black Uhuru. That allowed me to dive back into the original Dub creators, King Tubby, Errol Thompson, Joe Gibbs, Sly & Robbie, and, of course, Lee Scratch Perry. I discovered that dub artists transitioned from the Caribbean to Great Britain. That is how I found out about Mad Professor, whose French punk label, Crash Disques, released his albums on vinyl in France in the early 90s. But the same thing happened with Adrian Sherwood's famous On-U-Sound Records catalog. In France, the Sound System circuit, at this time, was mainly represented by the Caribbean community and had a rather Raggamuffin approach.
At the end of the 90s, I went to Brixton where I discovered and experienced the UK Sound System Dub. At that moment, I said to myself that I had the same philosophy, this desire to share a message through music to as many people as possible. Punk Dub was perfect to denounce my discontent at the time. Militant, powerful Dub, which cannot be listened to only at home, but is experienced live with artists like Channel One, Aba Shanti I, Jah Shaka, and Iration Steppas.
I created Culture Dub in 1999. It was above all a paper fanzine, like in Punk culture, distributed in the evening from hand to hand, by me personally! What made Culture Dub so charming was that I was talking about the 3 styles of Dub Jamaican Dub, UK Dub, and French Dub, the latter of which was just emerging. That brought together a lot of activists around the fanzine, and the artists had a medium that spoke about their work and I still remember the first time I got from the print the number "0." We had to find a computer, a photocopier because we lived in squats at that time, so we had no equipment for our own. I also remember when Mark Iration discovered the Culture Dub fanzine, he wanted them all as soon as they came out and if he saw that there was a number that had come out and that he didn't have, he would call me at once. What a true collector!
Yes, in fact, I founded Djahkooloo at the same time as Culture Dub. Djahkooloo is the official structure, the association I founded in 1999, after an extended stay in Burkina Faso. It comes from the Dioula "Jekoulou" which means: "a place that brings us together." I transformed it into Djahkooloo, with a "D" for the more exotic side, and put the Jah in there, referring to Jamaican culture. I first produced many storyteller friends who came from Africa. We weren't very well organized, but it immediately worked. I have also produced bands, and the first Djahkooloo Records album is a partnership with the artist Nicomad. Then came the meeting with Dr. Nagual X whose second CD I released, Illegal Dub, and shows with mixed music and children's stories with Toma Sidibé.
In fact, Djahkooloo's activities have long funded Culture Dub because at that time there was no economy of Dub. Then in 2010, I created the Culture Dub Records label to release a 10inch for Culture Dub's 10th anniversary, with Barbés.D and Sista Bethsabée, a singer from Poitiers. To date, more than 12 pieces of vinyl have been released on Culture Dub Records, as well as 40 digital releases of versions. I would like to say that the pressing of vinyl can be done thanks to the effort of Culture Dub and Control Tower Records, which distributes our work since the beginning.
Our goal is to introduce young artists, not to do what has already been done and put out established musicians. We want to produce releases of artists that I know, with whom I have shared real moments, to offer new encounters. My labels are human labels, with artists I have met and I am connected with, by the passion for discovery!
The French Dub scene started in the mid-90s with Live bands like Improvisators Dub, High Tone, Zenzile, or Kaly Live Dub, with a more Electro Dub sound, what Culture Dub called the "French Dub Touch".
Little by little, based on the English model, French Sound Systems began to look and sound like Blackboard Jungle, Legal Shot, Lion Roots, and Zion Gate, a scene grown with Jamaican and Stepper UK vinyl. On the model of Zion Train and Iration Steppas of Live Act Performance, French acts such as Kanka, Brain Damage, Weeding Dub have emerged, and there are many parties today and many Sound Systems in France. Both with Roots sound systems and more warrior sound systems! The French scene is always evolving, with labels like ODG Prod taking Dub to Electro and Bass Music, turning to the "Future Dub" direction.
In Poitiers, Dub was born from the initiative of Lenny, on the English model, at the end of the 90s, sometime before Culture Dub began to organize our famous "Nuit du Dub" with the FreeDub Sound System and the Dub U Hi-Fi.
The education took a long time, it's a small town, but the originality of these evenings with exceptional programming allowed our town to transmit the passion to the youngest generation. The Culture Dub Records label made it possible to present young local artists and the Culture Dub Sound System has enabled young artists to share their music live. Today, young activists are building their own sound systems, such as Wise & Wild, the Hay Field Sound System, and are composing and releasing under the names Le Lab, Ras Camille, K-Sann Dub, and many others.
If Dub is, above all, militant today, thanks to long-term work, it reaches a bigger audience. Some just want to come and make a "big sound", others simply meet in Sound System parties, but young crews continue to perpetuate the origins and history of Dub by using this music as a transmission tool. For Culture Dub, it is a political commitment. Above all, the Sound System and Dub are musical weapons to denounce injustices and inequalities.
The Caribbean sounds arrived in France at the beginning of the 80s, and we then had the first "Sound System" evenings with homemade sound systems rather than assemblies of speakers to broadcast music from the French islands. Today Dub activists and some Caribbean singers get together and play together. There is also a Caribbean scene with more Reggae Dancehall, leaning more towards Jamaican music than UK Dub, so there is something for all tastes.
No, I did not go to Jamaica. I lived in the West Indies, in the Reunion Island, and in West Africa, which allowed me to meet and discover the Rastafari culture, a movement that is always linked to Reggae and the Sound System, but not necessarily! On the other hand, it is crucial to know the origins of the culture, to be aware of the history of what we are doing, and what we are trying to defend as a philosophy, as the songs are saying. The African saying, "Even if we don't know where we are going, we must never forget where we are coming from!"
I do not necessarily dream of going to Jamaica but I would like to discover certain places in Kingston, where were the studios that made Dub History, where the Aggrovators, The Revolutionaries were recording, in fact, I would like to visit Jamaica of the 70s with a time machine. And then go to the Groundations, these spiritual ceremonies far from the city centers, in the mountains, to find oneself closer to the earth, to human nature, far from materialism. Smoking pipes to open the chakras accompanied by the Elders and hear the tales they have to share!
The Culture Dub radio show began its adventure in 2002 with the aim to spread Dub culture from its origins to the present day by broadcasting Jamaican Dub, UK Dub, French Dub, Dub Roots, Stepper, Electro Dub, and even more, as long as it all remains musical.
I have already hosted more than 730 Culture Dub shows on Radio Pulsar, a local radio station in Poitiers. There are many memories, but the most beautiful are often those who brought together artists to play Live in front of the public in the studios. Those are the superb moments of my life.
There is also the "Radiophonic Dub Night" with more than 6 hours of live air with Live music, interviews, selections, and many other surprises. If at the beginning I had to go far to find Dub records, today I receive many releases every day in my inbox, which allows Culture Dub to be at the forefront of Dub news, and for me, it means playing many exclusives. Being close to the artists and helping with their promotion on the culturedub.com site allows certain proximity with the artists and to be able to interview them, this really feels more like an exchange.
Radio is an essential broadcasting tool. A radio can save lives, start wars, or simply inform. It is a chance to have a microphone on and to be able to share music, culture, news with those who wish to hear it.
I have more than 19 years of partnership with Radio Pulsar, which at the beginning was a radio station in a Catholic high school, and the boss was a priest, Olivier Barbin, who asked me to share this music that then was still little known. It was back in 2002 on-air, on 95.9FM. Today there are more than 730 programs on the counter of Culture Dub, and it is always voluntary!
"Original Dub DAT" by Iration Steppas, made me say that Dub could be militant and powerful like Punk when I discovered it in the 90s. To me, the record meant the sound of live Dub and made me want to share Dub with as many people as possible.
"It's A Mad Mad MAD" by Mad Professor is the link between the Caribbean and England, between Roots and more urban dub. Above all, the madness that makes live Dub special transports you in psychedelic lands and makes you forget your everyday life.
"Blackboard Jungle Dub" by Lee Scratch Perry is the essence of Dub, the madness of the master, the melodies, the cuts, the stereo. A fabulous Dub Roots album with totally crazy effects and mixes. With this album, we can say that everything is allowed in Dub, while still being melodic and led by a powerful rhythm. Genius he was!
High Tone's "Opus Incertum", the French Dub Touch in all its splendor: electro mixed with Dub sounds, an urban sound, more European with African samples. Musically, it is a part of our country's history. A very dancing song, ready to turn over entire rooms, it is a Dub that corresponds to what Culture Dub seeks to convey!
"King Tubby meets Rockers Uptown" by Augustus Pablo is a little pearl of the best Jamaican Dub, with riddims, played live then filtered in the console by the producer. This melody is so powerful, with instrumental passages and a deep, magnificent sound!
There are plenty of other artists that brought their personal touches to the mix, which stands as proof of the originality of Dub. Each musician or producer forged their identity with their own sounds. I like Dub when it is causing a thrill, a bit like in all music, the thrill, the feeling, the depth, the musicality, the frequencies.
I am a big fan of the On-U-Sound Records label, created by Adrian Sherwood, King Jammy label with all the 7inch releases, his famous "series." I love the English label Universal Egg by Neil Perch, Scoop Records by Steve Vibronics, and the New York label Wackies. But also a shout-out to all the netlabels that do a great job, often for free, to bring out young artists! Apart from Reggae Dub, I like releases from Peter Gabriel's label, Real World Music. I could quote many names and people, but I have to give it up to Jarring Effects here in France. They have been doing a lot of freelance work for many years, and ODG Prod, who have released small gems in digital version, and brought out artists such as Panda Dub or THK!
Certainly the punk concerts of LSD, PARABELLUM. Concerts where it smelled like sweat, but you should not be afraid. Militant concerts, counter-state, and also those of La Mano Negra, Hubert Felix Thiéfaine, and even Toots and The Maytals.
Of course, the Sound Systems University Of Dub sessions at the Recreation Center in the early 2000s in Brixton and the Leeds Sub Dub of Mark Iration with this madness. Recently, the Caribbean Dandee concert with a Joey Star who gives everything on stage, but also the concerts of Femi Kuti and Danyel Waro, I love them all!
I really like militant and historical films. Of course, there are pearls in the history of Reggae Dub, like Rockers and Babylon. But I like movies with strong emotions, and French cinema titles of the 90s like Subway, Nikita, In the Name of La Rose, and Mad Max. I really like films with beautiful landscapes, in which I can take a trip.
I have many PUNK cassettes from the 90s, many CDs with Reggae, UK Dub, Raggamuffin, and hip Hop from the 90s-2000s. I mostly have a lot of Reggae and Dub vinyl in all formats: 7inch, 10inch, 12inch, and LP. I receive a lot of singles and albums for the radio, or the site, which enriches my collection with each passing day!
I am currently a fan of artists like Fred Calmet, an artist from Poitiers, who is becoming recognized internationally, Kazy Usclef, JR's "trompes l'oeil", Salvator Dali's paintings, and of course the work of genius Jean-Michel Basquiat!