It is said that we are nothing more than the sum of all our experiences. We are made of atoms and molecules and equal measures of wonder and love. As children, we stared wide-eyed at the world around us. Tales of magic and adventure enthrall us, just as ladybugs and shooting stars and faces in the windows did. Some of us, with age and wisdom, let our sense of wonder dim along the way, building boundaries between ourselves and the sights and sounds of a market or to ignoring the play of light and shadow on a wall that might have otherwise consumed us for full minutes. But some of us never cease to be amazed. We seek the extraordinary in the geometry of the everyday.
Dub FX carries his sense of wonder around like the tattoos on his skin. He prowls the streets, hunting for sounds – traffic and evening prayers and people – to capture in his music. He beat boxes to create his own rhythm and layers his ‘personas’, Monsoon (a deep, rumbling voice) and Lyric (a high pitched voice) in intricate harmonies. He performs at clubs, at secret gigs in parks and, most often, on the street. What began on street corners in the UK has turned into a journey of music and love, as Dub FX travels across the globe with his partner, Flower Fairy. He meets people and converses in melody. He lives in the moment and writes a song about it. He wanders around the world with a loop station, an effects unit, a fairy and an open heart.
The Fuschia Tree: How and when did Benjamin Stanford become Dub FX (Or are they the same person?)
Dub FX: Dub FX came from 20 years of evolution! I am a firm believer in being a product of my environment and all roads led me here. Listening to good music, learning about who and why I am the way I am, understanding what I like and don’t like as opposed to what I’m supposed to like are all factors that make up Dub FX.
TFT: Tell us about your tattoos!
DF: I have one tattoo which says ‘Liberta' which means freedom in Italian. My mum bought it for me for my 19th birthday. It represents [the time] when I realised I was my own person as well as my Italian roots. Another tattoo is dot work in sacred geometry shapes. I just like sacred geometry. My last tattoo is a mini flower where my wedding band should be. It’s my way of devoting myself to Flower Fairy eternally.
TFT: What did you dream of becoming when you were little? Was music a big part of your childhood?
DF: Performing arts was always on the cards… I originally wanted to be an actor, then I wanted to be a dancer and then finally a musician.
TFT: Do songs come to you in your sleep? Do you write lyrics when you're traveling? Tell us about your inspirations and the creative process.
DF: I write music in the moment and let whatever mood I’m in come out in the track. My lyrics come to me when I decide it’s time to write something down. When I start it flows out of me but I never push myself into writing, I just decide once a week or so to start something.
TFT: What is it about India that makes you come back? Your thoughts on the electronic / experimental music scene in India.
DF: I love the chaos, food and general attitude of the people! It’s such a great country! I also think the scene is still in its beginning stages which makes it an exciting time.
TFT: You have collaborated with artists around the globe. How do these experiences influence you as a person and as an artist?
DF: Well I’m a product of my environment and all changes lead to a new manifestation. The more I accept into my life then the more I grow.
TFT: Your favourite place in the whole world to make music.
DF: I love making music in the street the most! No matter which street…
TFT: What is the one thing you never forget to carry with you when you're on the road?
TFT: What is the biggest difference between busking on the streets and performing on stage?
DF: Busking in the streets gives me a chance to experiment and work on new material. In a club, I feel the need to give a more polished performance.
TFT: I loved how your video of 'Ain't No Rest for the Wicked' feat CAde and Mahesh Vinayakram began with the sounds of priests at the mosques calling people to prayers. What are other urban ambient sounds you have used/ would like to incorporate in your music?
DF: When I’m on the street I use the sounds of sirens or crazy peeps who feel the need to get into the spotlight. I love sampling crazy people and looping them. Sometimes I get random musicians who are walking past.
TFT: What is the single hardest thing about being a completely independent artist? What is the best thing?
DF: The hardest thing is doing everything yourself. Our operation is getting very big and only a few of us run the whole thing. The more popular we become, the more responsibility we take on. The best thing is we get to choose exactly how we want to run things.
TFT: What do you think you would be if you weren't a musician?
DF: I would take comfort in acting, directing, writing, construction, sport, hospitality. I love many activities and as long as I have good friends and my partner, I would be happy doing most things.
TFT: What do you miss most about home when you're traveling?
DF: Everything! I miss my forest, the air, the water, my studio, my bed… my couch!!! I spend so much time running around the world that when I get home I feel like I could sleep for a year!
TFT: If you could live on only four foods (you have these in abundance), including the essentials like salt, water, gin, what would they be?
DF: Including essentials then obviously water would be number one which leaves me with 3! Seaweed because it contains most of the minerals you need. Avocado because I couldn’t live without it and fish because it’s good for my brain!
TFT: You're traveling around the world with one book and one song. What are they?
DF: I would rather not have 1 song because it would drive me crazy, my brain can come up with enough music. My book would be: Be Here Now.
TFT: Your most valuable possession?
DF: My most valuable possession would be my flower fairy.
TFT: What were some of the jobs you had when you were younger? What would you tell a lost, young practitioner in your field?
DF: I was a paper boy! Go street performing everyday!
TFT: Besides your work what is the one things that completely consumes you?
DF: Flower fairy.
As told to Aneesha Bangera a writer who wanders between Bangalore and Madras.
Dub FX (Benjamin Stanford) is an independent artist, street performer and producer. He travels around the world with his partner, Flower Fairy, collaborating with artists, performing on street corners and creating a unique sound.
, an experimental record label with a special interest in collaborations has brought Dub FX to India every year for the last three years. Its subsidiary, an artist collective called , commissioned the video “No Rest for the Wicked” and set up the collaboration with Mahesh Vinayakaram. Inroom Records also curated the collaboration for Dub Fx's first tour sponsored by and shot for the Dewarists campaign.
You're born, gurgling and pink, bright white light in your eyes for the first time. Beyond the blinds are trees, moving in the wind, lime green and lush. And there's a sky--it rained as you entered--that is spotless except for a mustache of cloud in the corner. You grow up with nature, a kind of raw material for habit. When you move, you act, you transform from one state to another, creating. You create by walking, by waking up and going to sleep. You make, from nature, art.Read More
By Aneesha Bangera, Issue 23, Wonder: Between Nature and Art.