Dub Club's Tom Chasteen Discusses New Release: "Natural Numbers In Dub" on Stones Throw

Posted by Billyjam, November 26, 2014 10:10am | Post a Comment
Recently the ever prolific and consistently diverse Peanut Butter Wolf headed Stones Throw Records label unleashed yet another great release: Natural Numbers' dub reggae Natural Numbers In Dub. The excellent album joins the label's reggae dub catalog that also includes such other Dub Club related releases as Gappy Ranks Meets Dub Club that was released earlier this month, This  Generation Dub (the Tom Chasteen remix of The Lions) from June, and the Dub Club presented compilation Meaning of Dub LP, featuring such artists as Tippa Irie, Josey Wales, and Dub Club, that Stones Throw released back in August.

Natural Numbers' Natural Numbers In Dub, which features members from Wilco and Mazzy Star, is the newest solo production from the same hard-working, highly revered Tom Chasteen from the ongoing party Dub Club in LA at The Echoplex - happening tonight (November 26th - see flyer below or click here for details). With the lead single "Dub and Blind" the full-length, ten track dub album follows a series of other Chateen produced dub releases under the Dub Club name. For this latest project by the skilled producer Chasteen pushes the envelope by stretching the musical boundaries beyond the usual reggae dub flavor and incorporating such other elements as Middle Eastern, African, and even some country music into his mix.

Recorded at LA's Kingsize Soundlabs Chasteen was joined in the studio to create such hypnotic dub drenched tracks as "Dubble Trouble," "Pressurizer," "Nairobi Dub," and "Dub in the City" by reggae stalwarts Fully Fullwood, Roger Rivas, Freddie Flint, and Ras Benji. Other studio contributors included Mikael Jorgensen of Wilco, and Mark Lightcap who has worked with Acetone,  Mazzy Star, and Matmos. This past week I caught up with the man that LA Weekly heralded "LA's King of Dub" to ask him about both this new project, Dub Club, and his rich musical history that dates back to 1991 when he founded the record label Exist Dance which has been touted as the the West Coast's original EDM label.

Amoeblog: What is that you personally love most about dub music?

Tom Chasteen: I like rhythm that swings and and can also be tough and driving, and I like psychedelic music that shifts the light around in interesting ways. Dub does both these things.

Amoeblog: How much of what you experience at Dub Club influenced your approach to producing music?

Tom Chasteen: It's different hearing records over a big sound system in front of a crowd - you evaluate tunes and production styles differently. I've learned a lot from that, about when to be subtle and when not to be, what rhythms people respond to, and about the powers of repetition and arrangement.

Amoeblog: How was the recording process for this album? Was it done more in a live session incorporating all the musicians interacting with one another live or more of a post-production layered approach or a combo of both?

Tom Chasteen:  The album was recorded with the musicians playing together in the studio live, with some overdubs added later. There a feeling to the music recorded this way that brings life to the dub mixes, the rhythm is breathing and flowing as the effects stretch and expand things in real time. The dub mixing is also done live and I think the end result has a different feel to it from cubes lined up on a computer screen. There's a quote from Scientist where he says something like, "Dub is the only music where you can make a mistake and it fits right in," and I think there's a lot to that idea.

Amoeblog:  Where did the inspiration to incorporate such other elements as Middle Eastern, African and country music come from?

Tom Chasteen:  I wanted with this record to bring more of my own influences and ideas into dub and those are all styles that mean something to me and work harmoniously within a reggae framework.

Amoeblog: Has dub been going through a distinct renaissance in recent years?

Tom Chasteen: Hmmm I'm not sure about that, I think the influence of Dub has maybe never been greater, but the music itself bubbles along in it's underground channels without getting the exposure it deserves. There is a lot of great stuff coming out for sure, and the global scene is really lively. We have hosted Dub producers from Brazil, UK, Germany and elsewhere at Dub Club.

Amoeblog: When I go back and listen to college radio show recordings from previous decades I hear a lot more reggae played than now - dub in the eighties was widely popular and then dancehall with its links to hip-hop in the early nineties - but now not so much, it seems. Why is that?

Tom Chasteen: That's a hard one to answer - I find it kind of baffling. There are influential music websites which review many genres, but Reggae is somehow persona non grata. It seems like a fourth rate James Brown cover band from Uzbekistan or amateur ambient cassette is of more interest than , oh lets say an amazing Augustus Pablo reissue or a killer new digital rub a dub release from Mungos Hi Fi. Reggae is unhip in some circles which is funny because it is so influential in so many ways, from the ubiquitous bass culture in so much popular music, to Dub music's invention of the remix and pioneering of the recording studio as instrument, to the largely unsung influence of dancehall music on many EDM and hip-hop producers.

Amoeblog: How do you feel about a corporate entities with seemingly lots of disposable marketing dollars such as Red Bull adapting the sound system for some of their events?

Tom Chasteen:  I have mixed feelings about it. They put on some quality events and good for them, I don't really have a problem with a big company underwriting a great party. As far as the sound system/clash part - I think there could be more effort to acknowledge the origins of that in Reggae culture. As I was mentioning, it's another example of the huge influence Jamaica has had on the world's music. Dub Club was in a Red Bull battle here in LA and lost to Stones Throw, but now we are releasing records on Stones Throw, so all's well that ends well!

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Tom Chasteen (1), Dub Club (1), Stones Throw Records (13), Peanut Butter Wolf (32)