Last December we met in Conversano (Bari) the popular British group Asian Dub Foundation, in the beautiful building of Casa delle Arti, which was an abandoned place now recovered in order to promote cultural events. The band, known on the international music scene since 1993 and famous for their anti-racist message, especially in the 80s when in the UK there were strong anti-Asian tensions, gave us a unique live in this policultural center in Puglia. In fact, during the twentieth anniversary of the cult movie La Haine (Hate) by Mathieu Kassovitz, which got the 32nd place in the standing compiled by Empire Magazine’s “Top 100 films in the history of Cinema”, the group has replayed live the soundtrack of the movie, of which they were the authors, while the movie was projected behind them on a big screen. That was a great show.
The crude and violent scenes running in sequence and having as protagonists the deprived children in the district of the French ghetto in perpetual war against the Police, depicted with great cruelty and authors of the assassination of one of these marginalized young people, have been mixed with the power of live music. Thanks to the talented musicians: the drummer Brian Brainfair, the guitarist Chandrasonic and the bassist Dr.Das. We interviewed the last two, respectively parts of the band since 1994 and 1993.
Why did you choose the name Asian Dub Foundation 22 years ago?
22 years ago the first dj of the crew chose the name. Asian because almost all members of the band were from Asia, Dub because that was one of our favourite musical genres and Foundation because we wanted to be not only a musical band, but a real corporate. Asian Dub Foundation was the possibility to mix more ideas and to create artistic and militants synergies. It was also an opportunity for the talented guys of the most disadvantaged districts to find a place in which they could express themselves through music.
What about the antiracist message of your band?
At the time it was different from now. We were much younger, much more angry against the system. We always chose to treat political and socially engaged issues. Like the song “Fortress Europe”: in the lyrics we attacked the European Union about the immigration policies. Anti-racism has always been a constant in our band. In fact in the UK we promoted many lives in favor of minorities. Today, in the big cities like London, a lot of ethnic groups coexists peacefully and there really is a melting pot of people, but there is the phenomenon of globalization. It has negative and harmful sides such as the speculation, the lust for power, the absolute monopoly of the life of citizens by the political and economic institutions like banks. But it has also positive sides, like the progress in all the arts and in the evolution of sound too.
What about the evolution of your sound, that is now a crossover: from reggae to dub, through the punk and hardcore rap?
We love different kinds of music and in the years we have experienced various sounds to create our unique style that is not categorized into a default music model. Each artistic and sound influence by the new musicians of the band helped and gave his contribution to the evolution of the sound. Our music is basically reggae and dub combined sometimes to punk, to the militant rap or traditional Indian rhythm.
The use of the indian rhithmics is a musical influence coming from your asian origins. And you proposed a lot of concerts to support the rights of the Asian minority. Do you think that music could be the right way for the Revolution?
Music can definitely be a great channel to support revolutionary instances. However, we believe that nowadays in the West is not possible to use the music for these purposes. Currently this noble art is increasingly becoming a business and the message of songs has no more a great importance for the singers. In other parts of the planet where there is the real poverty music still has this function of awareness and consciousness, but in the West music loses every day a little more of its essence.
What are your future projects ? Greetings to Gege Vibes…
The future is uncertain and we can not know. (We laugh)
Surely we’ll play the soundtrack for another film, we’ll continue the tour and after the release of our last project More Signal More Noise (2015) we’ll come together in the recording studio as soon as possible.
Big up Gege Vibes from South Italy and thank you to the audience for the special atmosphere in Conversano!