Dub FX (real name Benjamin Stanford) is a worldwide street performer and studio recording artist from St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia. After playing and singing in a band called Twitch, he set out solo when he moved to Europe. His trademark is creating rich live music using only his own performance aided by Live looping and effect pedals combined with his voice. He creates intricate dub, hip hop, reggae and drum and bass rhythms.
Why did you choose to make music without a proper band? Was it simply easier?
Benjamin Stanford: Actually yes. I had already spent a long time performing and jamming with lots of different styles of bands like, heavy metal, rock, reggae, funk, hip hop, jazz etc. I also would do shows with DJs in clubs around Melbourne.
How did you get into dub music?
BS: I always liked dub music but I didn't realize it. Dub is more than just an off shoot of reggae. Dub can be found in all genres. Dub is the space between the soul of the music. It’s what makes a song feel like art and not a product. If you hear a song that sounds like a product like a pop song on the radio which is two minutes long and does not have a moment to breathe, then there is no dub in that song.
Who were your influences?
BS: Many! Growing up I listened to Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, Nirvana, Green Day, Offspring, Metallica, Pantera, Sublime, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Bob Marley, Snoop Dog, Eminem, NWA, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Air, Kruder And Dorfmeister, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Parliament, James Brown, Wu Tang Clan, Stereo MC's, Faithless...the list goes on...As you can see I went all over the place.
Once I left high school I got into clubbing and started getting into the whole Breaks scene, Tayo, Plump DJ's, Stanton Warriors, etc...Then when I moved out to England I discovered jungle, drum ’n’ bass and dubstep… that was HUGE for me!
I suppose you probably get this a lot, but for how many years did you make music on the street before you got invited to festivals, etc.?
BS: I used to play in clubs for years before I started street performing. I only started street performing about 6 years ago when i moved to the UK. But I still played in many clubs and festivals that whole time… I would street perform during the week and then go play in a club on the weekend. That’s why my sound has always got strong roots in the bass music scene.
Can we consider street-musicians as enrichment for street life and everyday culture in general?
BS: Of course! No street performers, no fun!
In your opinion would you have made it this far without YouTube?
BS: Before I was on YouTube I had already sold 30,000 CDs on the street in UK, Australia, Holland, France, Germany etc… I was still building my profile but when YouTube came along all of a sudden Eastern Europe started emailing me to come and do shows. So YouTube definitely helped spread my music all over the world, but I think I still would have eventually came to Eastern Europe it just would have taken a lot longer!
Do you still tour in a van?
BS: We just spent 6 months on tour around the world, 4 months of that was in a van!
You are spreading conscious thought; do you consider it as a mission for you?
BS: No. I just make music that I agree with. If people see a message, then that’s great but I'm not trying to influence anyone. I believe influence comes from within you.
The videos from DowdenBoy are really professional and also have a good sound. How did you manage that?
BS: He recorded the video onto a nice camera and I recorded the music straight out of my pedals, no mic...so the sound you hear is the direct sound that would go to my speakers. The result is no background noise.
How often do you update your FX accessories? Are you experimenting with new technologies?
BS: I haven't updated the hardware for about 2 years. I'm waiting for the next generations to come out. I want something lighter though! I play around with other things like ableton and tractor, but in the end I get a better sound from my pedals. Also I have watched other loopers who use their fingers to make the loops and I find it kills the performance a bit.
What kind of tablets do you have, what brand?
BS: iPad and iPhone.
What do you use them for?
BS: I use them to read comics, watch films, play games, do internet stuff and emails...the usual.
What do you think about the US elections?
BS: I think it’s good that Obama won, but I don't think it will personally affect me as much as some people believe.
Do you see yourself doing this same thing in 10 years down the road?
BS: I hope not! I better be doing something new and better by then...still music though..
What's next for Dub FX?
BS: I just did 75 shows in 6 months. I want to sleeeeeeeep...then start working on a new album.