Frenemy – Dubateers meets Carl Meeks – 7″ single
We are back to 2008 and UK digi style dub for the latest feature on my favourite reggae singles. Frenemy was the first 7″ release from East London based The Dubateers. They began as a unit in 2004 with the original crew made up of Nick ‘Dubateers’ (Owner/Selector/Operator/Producer), Ian ‘Jah Waggys’ (Selector/BoxMan) and Glen ‘Vibesmaster’ (Selector/Sound Tech). They soon became well-known for their exciting dub nights and over the years their prolific vinyl releases have graced many of the greatest UK sound systems. Their website describes them as ‘challenging the definition of UK dub, its production, and the sound generated live in the dancehall.’ From what I have heard this sums them up very nicely and Frenemy is a great example of their vibrant sound.
Wanting to understand a little more about how Frenemy came into being, what Frenemy actually means and the impact the single had, I caught up with Nick Dubateers and he very kindly gave me an insight into the story behind the single. Nick started by setting the scene, ‘I was playing a lot of sessions at the time, running new style melodic 80s music made with a mix of traditional 80s sounds we’d sourced from Jah Tubbys and mixing it in with new style synths. At the time nobody was making anything like this and the tracks always went down a storm. During this period Dubateers really started a lot of hype as a new generation appeared with their own twist on the music they loved. It was upsetting a lot of the old skool and others heard and tried to source how we were doing things. It’s what I regarded as Dubateers riddim remedy.’
Nick continued, ‘Many people we thought were friends really were just trying to find out more about what we were doing. We’d already had a few successful 10″s which was also a really neglected format at the time and we were creating some great vibes with the new styles of music. We hadn’t yet released a 7″ and felt it was something we should have and again UK digi style dub wasn’t really being released on this format either. I was really buzzing about the Frenemy riddim as it was exactly what I had been trying to create and I wanted to get it released fast!’
So step forward Carl Meeks, a Jamaican singer with a very distinct voice and at this time not so well-known in Europe. Nick went on, ‘I’d wanted to record an 80s artist and a few names were mentioned. Dougie Conscious got me a link through to Carl Meeks and nobody in Europe had recorded Carl, so I decided straight away and when I heard what Carl had sung I was even more excited about the track and I set about pressing as quick as possible. The track was also perfectly representing a lot of people around we thought were friends and the song very originally reflected this. It silenced a lot of the haters and ‘frenemies’ and Dubateers first 7″ was born.’
Just 500 copies were pressed
Nick is obviously very proud of the track and with good reason, ‘I believe it was this track that kick started the huge trend in this music.’ Nick did have one regret though, ‘We never pressed many copies and I think the track would have been much bigger if we had circulated more copies, it sold out straight away.’
So why do I like it? It is a bit of a marmite tune, but the combination of subtle but deep bass, crazy falsetto vocals and a pacey BPM seems to click nicely into place. It does say 80s Dancehall to me and it transports you to a time and place where digi was king. It does annoy my family when I put it on, hence the marmite comment, but it is a great upbeat track and very danceable. Have a listen to the YouTube link below, I hope you like it. It’s good to share gems when you find them, particularly ones that are a perfect snapshot of a time and place.
Despite it’s limited release you can still find copies for under a tenner on the internet. It is also featured on Nick’s excellent compilation ‘A Decade of Dub’ which you can pick up digitally, check out The Dubateers site for more details. The Dubateers will be in action at the One Love Festival this September, I will be there and hopefully Nick will play Frenemy!
Let me know in the comments if you have a copy of Frenemy and please share this if you can on social media. Bless all