|Putting the Funk Back Into Dub
September 1992 - HIT THE DECKS
An interview with Kelvin Richard of the Dub Funk Association. By Lewis Dene.
It's very rare these days when 'the commercial sound' sells to find a true innovator who's not afraid to stick to his guns and stick two fingers up to conforming to tailor made Top 40 music. Kelvin Richard the man behind the Dub Funk Association is one such man, and it was on a hot sweaty afternoon that I managed to catch up with him in between his trips around the local specialist dance retailers and promotion companies.
'Dub Funk' encompasses many wide and varied music styles and swings from the heavy side of reggae dub influences to the more soulful funk side at the other end of the scale. 'It's basically the bringing together of reggae, dub, jazz, techno, house and dance music'. Kelvin told me. 'The first release 'Creation' was to all intense and purposes, dead in the middle, whilst the second single 'The Harmony EP', swayed more to the funk side of the scale. Indeed the inclusion of a sample from Samuelle's 'Do You Like What You See' created much media attention and receiving air play on specialist radio stations such as Kiss helped the self owned and run Tanty Record label sell out of the initial run of pressed single. With the third single 'The Hard Way' just out, the pendulum was swung back into the heavier reggae sound and no doubt with renewed media interest, how does the leader feel their sound has been interpreted? 'most of the press have interpreted the name literally, the association of dub and funk. This was never the original intention. The whole idea behind DFA was to be a variation to the norm'. Whilst Kelvin Richard writes, produces and plays most of the instruments, the Association consists of about 10 close friends who's sole purpose is to comment and give advice, 'Although I may not always take it!'
'I'm a cameraman by profession but the sort of thing I'm doing today I was to a lesser extent doing years back at school. People may say I'm jumping on the bandwagon, especially with the 'Dub' in the name, it seems to be a trendy word to use in music today. At school I was involved with the animation of films, 'visual dubs' which was in effect a visual interpretation of reggae dub music dated back to 1978'. With a current 'no compromise' attitude to DFA draw their influences from a number of sources, both the obvious and the not so. 'Sure I would say that the early 70's Jamaican studio dubs played a large part in the formulation of the sound. My personal favourite track was actually a B-side to a Johnny Clark song from about that time. It was so different, so abstract that from then on I bought records for the B-side dubs. My personal taste varies from 60's pop of the Adam Faith, Gene Pitney variety right through to the real heavy funk. At the moment I like the new-jack swing sound that stations like Choice FM are playing but it's not really varied enough, when it's good it's great but at the moment it's all in the same vein. Even the recent stuff Teddy Riley did with Michael Jackson seems to do nothing new.
As to the future Kelvin is very optimistic about the current single. 'The first two singles draw on our wider influences, for 'The Hard Way' we've gone back into the reggae direction, and hopefully the follow-up that will be a remix of 'Sample This' (a track which appeared on the 'Harmony EP'). It was really well received so I'd like to add some vocals'. As to whom he'd like to remix the track if given the chance to choose, Kelvin had no hesitation in his answer. 'Basically I'm against all of that. If I signed with a major and they wanted a named remixer to get involved I'd choose Andy Weatherall, I think he'd interpret the sound correctly, but I'd only agree if they kept the original mixes on the flip!' With the album 'Raise the Dub' not due until early next year Kelvin will keep plugging away at what he believes in. 'We hope that through collectives such as The Dub Funk Association we might re-capture the flavour of the dub crazy period of the 70's and 80's and yet still embrace the heavier funkier dance grooves of the 90's to create something quite new and interesting'.
I think he might just be on to a winner.