Having an awfully busy past 12 months, there still remains no end in sight for legendary reggae-dub fusion outfit DUBMARINE. Just returned from their hit tour in Europe with shows in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic, the group only have one weekend off from here until January. Reassuring though that time taken off is a luxury they intend to skip for the sanctity of their studio. With the new year however comes a new hope for some them time, they laugh. Coined as “Australia’s high-powered, high energy dub and dancehall sub bass vessel”, Dubmarine were nominated for a Deadly award in the Best Band of 2010 category and a Q Song award.
It’s no surprise then that their latest album Depth of Sound reminds us of their many gems in a vast collection of hidden treasures. Depth of Sound brings forth the group’s staple bass-driven foundations, trombone and synth explosions as well as their soulful trip-hop combinations. The EP is compromised of three studio and three live tracks and is an imaginative experimental collaboration contrasting up-beat hip-hop bass with velvety reggae vibes. The tracks also feature classic dub and dancehall with sentimental emphasis on their riddims – the drum and bass components of the melody. Using their twin trombone blasts and lead vocal gymnastics of Indigenous rockstar and Darumbal man D-Kazman, who captains their team, they harvest the “sound and fury of electronic music live, in all of its bass crunching, rhythm pounding, hip shaking fiendish glory. All played by musicians, all real.” Emphasis on the real.
When it comes to influences they say it’s mostly just “where they’ve come from musically. From gypsy swing bands, to New Orleans second line brass bands, some of the guys have reggae backgrounds, others electronic backgrounds, or some simply favour the basic drums, bass and dub.” Basically they are a fantastic melting pot of genres, admitting that there are even some unashamed Michael Jackson fans in the crew. “We’re a bunch of mixed bags, but I mean you can find good music in every genre and it’s healthy for musicians to experiment and mix. People are seriously mixing their music these days!”
They’ve coloured in the map of the world travelling in recent years and ultimately they conclude, “anywhere where there’s a new crowd and a good exchange with a crowd is a place we love.” In fact it is the travel itself that makes touring for them not just their career but their lifestyle. “No travelling musician makes any money these days,” they laugh, “so it’s places like Cairns, Alice and New Caledonia” that remind them it’s the little things that mean the most. “It’s the moments when you’re touring, like when you’re bleary-eyed, walking around Newtown, drinkin’ some kind of juice that gets you thinking about music and its ability to connect as a common language for people everywhere.”
If you’ve ever been to one of their shows or have read reviews, you’ll know that their reception sits high above any normal standard. Mostly you’ll find descriptions in awe of the feeling and atmosphere that is created when they perform. As though a vibe itself has manifested amongst the audience, contributing and connecting to the rhythms and flow of their music. In response to this they preach that their ultimate aim is to merely entertain. “People just want to see your band and have a good time, so we’re keen to give them what they want. We know what we like as musicians and we like to represent that… it’s about genuinely respecting the audience and their wish to have a good time.”
Dubmarine believe in adhering to the dogma of strict musical integrity which bonds them to the audiences, but as always what it comes down to is the satisfaction of having a bunch of talented people “getting up there, nailing it and being generous to their audience.” Anything on a CD is just a glimpse of the full capacity of Dubmarine; their music is the kind that fits best on stage, especially when necessitating the aesthetics of their productions which involve two trombonists, two percussionists, guitars, synths and attractive vocalists. It’s the kind of music that translates a fluid energy, and when given the opportunity their frontman transcends verses and evolves it all into exotic Jamaican hip-hop movements.
This Brisbane tribe is made up of some serious original roots; D-Kazman (rhymes and melody), Cat Walker (vocals), Joel Alexander (keyboards/vocals), Paul Donehue (percussion/samples), Jeremie Nagabbo (guitar/vocals), Wayne Katz (drums), Nick Torpy (trombone) and Mikael Strand (trombone). Together they guide listeners into a progressive groove of rhythmic tones and grind elements signposting the ultimate sound that defines Dubmarine.
Their album explores many territories of genre beyond the norm, including crunk, ambient and minimal, orchestrating a full and vibrant sonic soundscape. Sound the Alarm – a signature tagline for them – is definitely a warning to be heard; these are not beats for the fainthearted.
It is impossible to synthesise the music with a description like, say, Billy Mystic meets The Cat Empire, because they are the best deal – a colourful and delicious blend of all our favourite fruits. They act as a conduit for the booming trip-hop scene in Brisbane and in greater Australia.
They’re always keen to meet people they’ve never met before, so if you happen to see them, go and say hi; they’re the type of crew that won’t say bye.
Catch Dubmarine live at the Summer Rhythm Festival, held at Goolabri Resort between Friday-Sunday December 9-11. Tickets cost $65.30-$102 (+ bf) and are available through Oztix.