Dub music is one of the great reggae inventions believed to be created by legendary Jamaican innovator and mixing engineer Osbourne Ruddock better known as 'King Tubby' in the late 60's. With the early reggae singles (this is the time of vinyl) it was common not to have a 'B side'. Instead, there would be a 'Version', which, was basically an instrumental version of the vocal A side.
These early innovators took these instrumentals and 'remixed' them using whatever effects were available at the time, mainly reverb and decay or 'Echo'. With the drum and bass centre stage small extracts of the vocals were then mixed in. In these early days of Dub the mixing engineer was the creative force. They were eventually held in as high or greater esteem than the singer or composer.
Dub music become a reggae sub-genre in its own right with albums of roots reggae Dub only tracks created by sound engineers and producers, like the legendary Lee Scratch Perry, King Jammy and Errol Thompson. This creation of mainly instrumental music by sound engineers and producers spawned many similar music genres that exist today. This early remixing was the forerunner to music genres such as hip hop, trance, techno and EDM.
This leads me on to the question 'Is Dub Music the New EDM'? What I mean by this is that dub as a sub genre of reggae would be considered niche and has its core following in sound system culture. EDM (Electronic Dance Music) has moved into the mainstream with a huge following and events like SEMF (Stuttgart Electronic Music Festival) where tens of thousands of followers attend.
The popularity of electronic music has meant that dub music has attracted followers who may not have come via the reggae route. The dub reggae producers have not been slow to recognize the opportunity available and there has been a move towards producing tracks with a danceable tempo. One of the great sound system owners and producers, Jah Shaka, has been doing this for years and he is now in high demand all over the world. So, is dub music finally reaping the rewards from its innovations to reach the popularity of its derivatives like EDM music?
Well in Europe, in particular, dub music festivals are springing up. One of the best was a great festival held over the Easter period in Bigastro, Alicante, Spain, The International Dub Gathering dedicated specifically to dub music and the sound system culture. It was a three day event and included sound systems from Europe, UK and Jamaica. including Jah Shaka, Channel One, GreenLight, Mafia & Fluxy and Blackboard Jungle to name a few.
I was there on day three of the festival and it seemed very well organized, which was to be expected, as the organizers included the Rototom reggae festival team. Thousands of dub lovers attended with the 2018 edition being its third year. You could move around freely listening and dancing to the 'riddims' played by different sound systems.
For me this was great to see. A form of music created nearly fifty years ago that gave birth to other music genres, finally coming into its own on a global scale. Long may it continue.
King Tubby would be truly proud of his creation.