The word dub was vibrant and respectable in its younger days but took a left turn in its thirties into some very dodgy areas. Fast forward to 2012 and one can see its lifeless corpse being paraded around town and affixed to any genre in sight, like an unlucky soldier in a candy colored war zone. Let’s not forget that not long ago it was a genre itself.
Torch carriers Subatomic Sound celebrate the word in all of its forms, but this weekend will be focusing on the wonder years for its Dub Champions festival including performances by luminaries such as François K,
Johnny Walker Johnny Osbourne and Scientist, the latter performing his classic 1981 album Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires.
But none have left more of a colorful imprint on the genre than Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. At his Black Ark studio in Jamaica he was responsible for practically inventing the genre himself; he’s collaborated with Bob Marley, Keith Richards and Sasha Grey, and been sampled by Animal Collective. With over seventy albums to his name and about the same number of Earth years — though it’s arguable how much time he actually spends here – we caught up with Perry by phone in Jamaica before his Sunday set at the festival. Does he still have it? Jah.
Are you excited to return to New York?
I was such in the studio doin some dub killing. Killing. Everything alright with the soundsystem just killing!
What are you working on right now?
I was coming back from the studio, killing. I was just killing. Killing some songs with murder.
Are these solo tracks or collaborations with someone else?
Yeah one lady from Japan. Japan getting into Jamaica’s sound right now. Japan getting hypnotized by Jamaican magic!
Are you excited to come back to America?
I think Jamaica comes back with the magic stick and the wand. A miracle wand. A fuba scuba from Negril.
And what are you gonna do with the miracle wand?
Make all countries bow to Jamaica! There are so many Jamaicas but only one Jah. One Jah.
What do you think of dubstep?
You’ve got to have some talent to live and only clean talent will survive. Unclean talent will end up in hell, eating politician’s shit. Dead meat shit, beef shit, cow foot shit, goat head shit, buffalo neck shit. Greed have them killed, grudge have them hang.
What is it that you like about working with Subatomic Sound System?
Subatomic, Subatomic…because the melody and the thing isn’t normal and stupid. Him a doctor and him make it cosmologic.
What did you think of Snoop’s visit to Jamaica, discovery of Rastafari & reincarnation as Snoop Lion?
The Americans don’t have any music anymore. If one was a dog and it comes to Jamaica and turns into a lion now, that means him discover that his treasure is in Jamaica and he was a Snoopy Dog and eventually he stay here in Jamaica and him say that he wants to be a Snoop Lion now. So a lot of Americans think what happened is you better buy out the country before it being sold out. Jamaica could be the richest country in the universe; everywhere. RASTAFARI.
Do you think there’s a lot of misconceptions about Rastafarianism?
Rastafari is me, y’know, and me have no locks. The big surprise, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is Rastafari but me have no locks. BIG SURPRISE!
I hear you’re a big fan of superheroes. Were you able to see any of the big movies this summer?
Me bigger than superhero. They stupid, that’s why them die. Me coming to save paradise with my gamma ray and cosmic energy. Me don’t make error, me don’t make horror. Bang, bang, bang muthafucka! I told you I will get even. Straight from Nigeria but not in cereal.
You’re making music with someone from Nigeria?
Nigerians make perfect magic!!
I heard you stopped smoking marijuana to see if the your music was coming from ‘you or the drugs’ and you discovered it was you. Do you still abstain?
I stop put the devil in. But I put it away and they legalize it because the government is the number one victim now. Them have ganja and they had say its bad; its economic now. Now it’s more expensive.
How do you feel about sharing the bill with Scientist?
Him never mad enough to be a scientist. It is a terrible disappointment for a good scientist to be conquered. If a good scientist is conquered him go to hell. This is not an interview I’m making.
This isn’t an interview?
It’s an innerview of my outerview and do as humans do. You tell me something Rastafari…
I’m not the only Rastafari with no locks. Tell the people of New York I’m coming back!
Subatomic Sound’s Dub Champions festival is September 21-24 at venues across New York City. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry plays 9/23 at MHOW.