Watch List: Meet The Man Behind The Dub, BLACK MARKET
Los Angeles-based dub producer, Black Market, has been making waves in the dub scene. Taking his own influence and injecting it into already-loved genres and sounds, his projects become a hybrid of familiarity and fresh new takes on music. We had the pleasure of speaking to him about his creative process, global reach and what's next.
What is Black Market?
Black Market came about from my Master's Thesis on dub that I completed while at Berklee Valencia in Spain. I've grown up loving dub music since I was young, and I always had ideas in my head of doing reggae covers of Rolling Stones songs, or Dylan songs, or whoever. Sometimes I'd have my band try things out but I always felt that the power of the song was lost when you have someone else singing it. My solution was to record my own reggae tracks, find isolated vocal stems of my favorite artists, and combine them. Black Market is basically "What would The Beach Boys sound like if instead of being backed by The Wrecking Crew, they were backed by The Wailers?"
What inspired you to start making dub?
In High School I help start a band called Dub Robot, with my mentor Brian Wallace. We were more of an art collective than a band, the music was almost secondary to the spectacle. The way the band worked was, the electronic drums, guitar, bass and keys were all plugged in to a small mixer. Brian had control of the audio levels, and delay effects of each instrument and we would play live dub music with him on the mix controls. On top of that, the mixer would be plugged into a small FM radio transmitter that would broadcast our band onto an empty radio station of our choosing. Usually we would have people bring boom boxes to our shows, or park their cars near the band and we'd use car stereos and boom boxes as our sound system. The group of musicians would all dress in lab coats like scientists, and conduct "audio experiments" on street corners for people walking by. Look up the "Dub Robot Car", its worth a google or two.
We heard you started gaining a following in Australia...how did this happen?
I basically spam Reddit with Black Market releases every month. I've found some of my albums on torrent sites, blogs, random Russian forums, all kinds of weird places. I was contacted by Systa BB, a DJ for Triple J in Melbourne about my album Bowie In Dub, and she played "Let's Dance" on her show The Good, The Dub & The Global. Pretty surreal to hear one of my remixes on the radio. I don't know if I'd call it a following, but someone in Australia is paying attention.
Do you mostly use sequencer in DAW for building your music or actual instruments?
I don't use any sequencers. I use drum loops of Horsemouth Wallace for all of my drums at the moment. Typically I'll time warp a drum loop in Ableton with a vocal stem of Bowie or The Beach Boys or whoever I'm remixing. Once the drums and vocals are in sync and in a cool arrangement I can work with I record myself playing guitar, bass, organ, and keys. It's basically like being able to jam with Bowie or Brian Wilson. It's really fun. What hardware do you use? I have a Focusrite 8PreX that is the brain of my studio. It has great preamps and it sounds really clean. I also use a Watkins Copicat Tape Delay unit for slap back on vocals, guitars, and sometimes drums.
Your masters sound great! Do you master your own stuff? What's your approach toward mastering?
I do not treat anything I mix, master, or remix as sacred. I really am looking to dirty up my mixes as much as possible when I master. Typically I will bounce an entire album to 1/4'' Tape to my Tascam 388 Reel to Reel machine before even beginning any typical mastering. From there its Ozone 7 and lots of plugins in Reaper. The Black Market sound is the Tascam 388 though. That is what I feel elevates the sounds I get in my mixes.
I had the pleasure of seeing you do a live dub mix. Do you plan to do more live dub shows?
Yes I absolutely plan on playing live shows soon. I have an idea of what I'd like a Black Market show to be like, but I'm still working on the execution. I imagine the live show will have some kind of 3D mapped visuals so it's not just me standing up there with a mixer doing dub. All I care about is making people dance, and being able to bring Black Market into the live performance arena would be amazing.
Next month I am releasing a second Beach Boys album, I'm working on Bowie in Dub II, another Clash album, and I'm very excited to work on an X-Files dub project with my fellow producer Mired. Eventually I'd like to do albums inspired by films. I'd love to do Blade Runner Dub. We'll see.
You can listen to his discography by following his bandcamp link: https://blackmarketdub.bandcamp.com/