European bassheads received a real treat this past February as the annual Dub Champions Festival smashed its way through Vienna, Linz, and Amsterdam. With a sub-friendly lineup that spanned the eras, from the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry to Dubstep heavyweight Mala. Over 30 artists performed, all with one uniting factor underpinning their music, BASS.
Founded four years ago as an annual music and educational festival in the spiritual home of US soundsystem culture, New York City the festival has been going from strength to strength in recent years and now makes annual appearances in Europe as well as hosting recent events on the West Coast of the US, which started last spring. Festival founder and renowned bass aficionado Emch of the Subatomic Sound System explains how it all started, “I started working with Lee “Scratch” Perry via the Viennese band Dubblestandart, who had asked me to do Dubstep mixes of their tunes with Scratch back in 2007. As I saw the interest rising in all sorts of Bass music that had grown out of Dub and Reggae I was surprised that artists and even more so the fans weren’t connecting so much to the originators and innovators of the music, or even realizing where it came from. That’s why the mantra of the festival is ‘From the Reggae Roots to the Future of Electronic Bass Music'”.
Seeing as SUBPAC have been known to champion Dub at festivals (and everywhere else), it is an honour for us to be involved with the Dub Champions Festival, in fact our first encounter came during the inaugural event, Emch explains: “I first encountered the SUBPAC when UK mix master Adrian Sherwood (On-U Sound) came to our first festival in Vienna. Besides live performances the event includes a lot of different projects, particularly educational workshops with artists like Adrian, and other events like Lee “Scratch” Perry’s first art gallery show in NYC. In Vienna, Adrian was working on dub mixes for Dubblestandart during the festival and we streamed the process live from the studio. Adrian pulled a prototype of the SUBPAC out of his bag as soon as he arrived at the studio and said ‘Emch, this is the SUBPAC and you’re Subatomic. You have got to try this. It’s going to blow your mind.’ SUBPAC became a partner of the festival shortly after and has been involved in all festival events since then, particularly as a tool used in the Dub production workshops hosted by Emch and featuring artists like Adrian Sherwood, Mad Professor, Pinch, Dubblestandart, and more.”
Like us here at SUBPAC, Emch and his crew running the Dub Champions Festival have soundsystem culture in their blood and we are delighted to be associated with a group that holds so many of the same ideals as we do. If you’re a fan of bass music, or have even a passing interest in the culture that paved the way for many of the artists we support today, you really owe it to yourself to make a pilgrimage to a DCF event.