Interview: Mad Professor is hungry
Legendary dub producer Mad Professor is appearing at this year’s Malasimbo Music and Arts festival (27th February – 3rd March 2014) in the Philippines where he takes over the Monday session with his Roots of Dub show. In the build-up, he chats to Something You Said’s 25ThC:
Mad Professor has travelled all over the world in his lengthy career but this is his first appearance in the Philippines. Having hoped to play at last year’s festival, things didn’t quite work out, so he is very much looking forward to performing there and spreading his music further afield. When I ask if the heat affects the music he plays live, he laughs and tells me, “No, but it does affect how you are feeling and it’s good to be in exotic locations. Hot, hot places like being back in Kingston, Jamaica.”
And why is dub such an international genre? “You know you can be a French man in France, a German man in Gemany, a Portuguese man in Germany. You don’t have to be able to speak English to feel the vibe and bass and get into dub. It’s everywhere and people love it.”
He tells me that he is taking over the 2014 Ariwa Studios live set up for the show, but it will be a bit different this time. He will not be working with any live MC’s or singers, but has a few technical tricks up his sleeve, plus some equipment that he is buying especially for the show.
Over the years he has built his own amplifiers, speakers, effects machines and so on, which has given his music its own unique sound and started the whole movement of digital dub. He has recounted in other interviews about how he first took apart and built a radio at a very young age and that this is how he first got into electronics. I ask if he is still busy building creations. “I still tinker with electronics but I’m no longer building machines,” he explains. And what advice would he give to someone wanting to follow in his footsteps? “Start off by learning about electronics. Diodes, resistors stuff like that. Start building your own devices.” In addition he is very much at the cutting edge, explaining how he had been contacted by the creators of the iOS App Dub Siren DX to supply a sound bank of his samples that people really seem to enjoy.
I ask about his influences and whether they had changed over they years. “No I’m still influenced by the same artists – Lee Scratch Perry, King Tubby, Joe Gibbs. The same artists for the last 40 years!” What about any new artists coming through? “Now let me see. There was a girl doing jazz I heard of the other day, but otherwise not too much, not too much.”
Famous for recording sounds all around him, I ask if he still carries around a DAT machine to record? “Well not DAT machines but yeah I’ve got some devices that I always walk around with and of course everyone is recording now because they have an iPhone or something. We are all producers.”
Mad Professor though, is a prolific producer and has over a hundred records to his credit. At one point he was producing about 10 albums a year. Does he ever sleep? “Ha ha. You know I thought I was asleep this morning until I realised I wasn’t quite asleep, I was just thinking, thinking while still”
Conversation turns to what it is that keeps the legendary producer going. “You know what?” he says. “The fact that I am always hungry and never can get enough. Once you have something you’re always looking for the next thing.”
Having emigrated from Guyana when he was 13-years-old, he ended up in London. From there he moved gradually into music studios and produced. I ask if he thinks things would have been different if he had stayed in Guyana. “It would have been different. Who knows man? If I coulda woulda shoulda. You can never tell, but it would have been different. Might have been better. Might have been worse.” And as for the question of whether he would have still got into music? “I might have… hmm… not necessarily. I would have still got involved in electronics because I’ve always had that interest. But then I would have not had that opportunity because it’s not like in Jamaica. It’s not a natural music territory. Not so much musically influenced. Who knows? Maybe I would have helped it to be. Ha ha, it’s not Kingston.”
We talk of how my friend Jah Pete lives in Dar Es Salam in Tanzania and is working hard to bring good music to East Africa. I ask if he has ever been out that way. “No I’ve been to West Africa and South Africa. I’d love to go. We got a festival called Back to Africa festival. Check it out. It would be good to do something like that in East Africa Dar Es Saaalaaamm!! Ha ha”
Mad Professor is at this year’s Malasimbo Music and Arts festival. Find out more about it here.
Interview by 25ThC.