Blackout JA & Dub Conductor, World Cry/Hunting Warrior 12″
Having a great tune is not always enough, but having the total package of an interesting record label, smart branding and an active sound system to back it up, can really help that uphill battle of pushing tracks out to a wider audience. One such crew, Dub Conductor, tick all those boxes and with the imminent release of their Blackout JA, World Cry 12″, I caught up with label head Hamish to find out a little more about their story.
The core of Dub Conductor are friends Hamish, Giles and Cragg. Hamish runs the label and produces the music, whilst Giles and Cragg run the sound, spin the tunes and contribute artwork and musical inspiration. So the obvious question for Hamish to start with was, how did you all get started? Hamish replied, ‘we all grew up together and formed a love of sound systems from attending roots sessions in Norfolk (there’s a surprising amount of them) and across the UK as we progressed through uni. We felt compelled to build a sound system and in 2007 we held our first session in a small village hall in Norfolk in the middle of a tiny rural village.’ Living in rural Norfolk myself this must have been quite a culture shock for some of the residents, but if you dig deeper Norfolk does have a fine reggae pedigree. Many of the great names in reggae have played Norfolk over the years and there are active sound systems including Rebel Lion, Foundation Sound and newer boys Roots Renegade.
Hamish continued, ‘slowly, things progressed and I started producing music so we could have some dubplates to play. They started off terrible I’m sure, but slowly the quality increased and in 2010 we had our first vinyl release on Roots Youths Records. Then, following a second release on Jah Waggy’s record label, in 2012 Dub Conductor music label was born. Since then we have had six releases on the label, trying to keep the style varied and always progressing in quality.’
It seems to be a familiar story, mates get together with a love of reggae, they usually have some music production training and their enthusiasm drives them to get their sounds heard. I love these stories, the drive and hard work it takes to get any kind of recognition is damn impressive.
Now based in Manchester and expanding their outfit to five, Dub Connector aim to pick up the pace and plan five or six releases this year. Looking back, their first release of 2016 was Rumours featuring the vocals of Bunnington Judah. He is a singer who is increasingly finding his way into my record collection, a familiar figure on the scene you may have heard his vocals on the recent Dubbing Sun release.
Rumours is a very hypnotic track, you feel the steppas riddim is straining at the leash to burst out and it’s Bunnington’s vocals that are keeping it in check. With Rumours you get a strong feel for Hamish’s production style, reggae with a dance tinge and a dash of ambient. It’s a great combination and lends itself nicely to Bunnington’s style.
Blackout JA, World Cry
The next Dub Conductor release is imminent and hits us this April. The World Cry 12″ featuring the rough and tuff vocals of Blackout JA is quite a contrast to Rumours, two ends of the vocal spectrum in the space of three months, I like it! The steppas style speeds up on this release and the quite subtle riddim gives Blackout JA plenty of space to own this tune. His vocals are not for the faint hearted though, strong and raspy like a modern day hyper Prince Far I.
World Cry is backed with a couple of nice Warrior dubs, featuring Hamish’s signature style of low key danceable dub. It’s an excellent 12” package, I do hope it gets the recognition it deserves. You can whet your appetite and hear some samples on their SoundCloud page.
As is always the case, you have to be looking towards the next release and keeping things fresh, Hamish gave me an idea of what projects we can look forward to. ‘I have just finished mixing the next release which will feature Wellette Seyon, and after that I have tracks with Sandeeno and Reality Souljahs only a mix away from being ready to press’.
As I said at the start, Dub Conductor hit all the boxes and it goes without saying that it is their love of reggae that drives them on. Hamish sums this up nicely, ‘I’d say the aim of the label is to express a love for a music and a culture that has been extremely inspirational for all of us, in the hope that others will also find some inspiration (and will enjoy listening to it!). In short, with my music, I try to make it interesting, quality, and ruff! It started in 2007 as wanting to be a part of the scene we were immersed in, but now I want to positively contribute to it and continue to do so.’
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