New Dub City are a Melbourne - based Reggae, Dub, Hip Hop and Dancehall group led by producer and frontman Ali MC. The lay down a bass heavy, beat driven modern sound, incorporating dub echoes and a passionate vocal delivery reminiscent of Joe Strummer. Solid production techniques are backed up by a passionate and energetic live show that invites the audience to celebrate the power of performance.
When and why did you start playing music?
I’ve been playing music since I was a kid – firstly playing drums in my dad’s country and western band when I was 10 or 11 years old! I’ve always been in one band or another, in various styles and on various instruments.
New Dub City, however, has been around for about 5 or 6 years – I wanted to develop a music project that could incorporate a variety of sounds, beats and instruments, based on dub and hip-hop.
I’ve since been able to incorporate Aboriginal didgeridoo, West African drumming, Haitian beats and many other samples, sounds and live performances in New Dub City, while still retaining a dub hip hop foundation.
What are your main musical influences?
I used to listen to a lot of punk music – especially The Clash – who essentially led me to discover dub and reggae music. I’m influenced by many genres, be it blues, afro-funk, folk music.
My record collection – although contains a lot of dub and reggae records – also has a lot of ‘classic albums’ (Pink Floyd and the like) and also obscure blues and deep south folk music too. I don’t like to be limited in any way, and I think that is expressed in the various styles that come out of New Dub City.
I travel a lot and am always interested in what local musicians are doing. From festivals in Zanzibar, to orchestral performances in Myanmar, I’ve experienced a huge amount of music styles form around the globe, which continues to inspire me. I have an idea to one day record an album in various parts of the world as I travel around – hopefully this will happen soon!
How is the movement of Reggae Dub in Melbourne?
It’s a small, but dedicated scene, one that seems to be growing. Australia does not have a history in dub or reggae music, as does for example the UK. So it takes a while to catch on. But there are a number of sound systems here, a lot of DJs and a few reggae/ dancehall MCs.
What is lacking are original producers and live acts. New Dub City are probably the only crew who sing in our own accent about Australian issues, such as the mistreatment of Aboriginal people.
Besides New Dub City, there are a number of great Aboriginal reggae bands out in the desert, who I am friends with and have worked with in the past. For me, they are the future of reggae music in Australia and are the ones making the most original reggae sounds.
What do you think of the current state of music?
The internet has both helped and hindered the current music scene. For me, it has been great as a tool to communicate with people and get the music of New Dub City out on a global scale, something that would never have occurred ten to fifteen years ago.
However, it’s also made music such a commodity that it is virtually worthless – no one wants to pay for it any more! So there is far less money circulating the music industry, making it very difficult for people to have a career.
For New Dub City, we have developed a pretty good live music show that people will come and see, and have been able to travel to remote Aboriginal communities to perform, and that is more meaningful to us than what’s going on in the world of commercial music.
Talk a little bit about the creative process of New Dub City.
Basically the songwriting is developed by me, but I work with a lot of different producers and musicians to make it happen. I really enjoy seeing what other people can contribute towards a song, or even just using another producers beat and make it my own!
The latest album ‘Release the Dubs’ is a project by which myself and other producers – including Mikal (Metalheadz) and Lotek (Big Dada) reworked New Dub City songs inna dubstyle.
Again, with internet and laptops, there’s so much scope to create music that is truly global, and as long as the message of social justice, hope and unity isn’t lost, then we are onto a good thing!
What do you hope listeners take away from Release the Dubs?
Fat beats, deep bass, and a positive message that they can sing along to! Big ups!