Interview with Helmut Phillips

What we already knew is now official: “Dub Conference” by Helmut Philipps is the best book of the year! Thus chosen by the readers of RIDDIM in the Lerserpoll 2022 with a large gap to the following places. The first edition was completely sold out after only three months, the second edition of the new standard work on the subject "Dub“ but again everywhere in the trade and over the Helmut's website available. Christoph Kraus has a conversation with Helmut Philipps about the success story of his book (the first book about Dub in German and the third book about Dub at all) led.

How and when did the idea of ​​a book come about Dub to write? Short history of origin.
In 2007 I wrote the book "Reggae in Germany" with Olaf Karnik. After that it was clear: I want to write another book. And while I was looking for the right topic, friends pestered me: "Why don't you write a book about it Dub? you have yourself Dubs mixed. You know your way around audio engineering. You can ask the right questions.” With that, the decision was made.

How did you go?
The first thing I had was actually the title "Dub Conference". The title said it all. As far as possible, there should be dialogue, not interviews. Above all, I wanted to know “why”. From 2010 I had the first talks. First in Germany: Soljie Hamilton in Bielefeld, Pat Kelly on an off-day in Münster, Clive Chin in Berlin, in Cologne and at Reggae Geel in Belgium, King Shiloh in Wuppertal. After that, everywhere and at every opportunity that presented itself. At the Garance Festival in France, at the Summerjam, Reggae Jam, Reggae Summer, in Holland, London, I traveled to Jamaica twice for the book.

An old white man is writing a book about “black” music – in these times, are you considering preparing for the potential accusation of cultural appropriation?
Yes, the woke zeitgeist actually caught up with me. When I started writing, there weren't any gender asterisks. I can't help being old and white. So shouldn't I write a book like this? Then who writes it? The Jamaican ambassador in Berlin listened to a presentation of the book from me and was amazed that a German man was telling stories from her homeland that she had never heard of. In Jamaica nobody knows that 50 years ago the first DubLPs have been released.

How is the reception, the feedback on the book?
Overwhelming and sometimes touching. People send me photos of where the book is on their bedside table, on their mixer or on their record rack. Some “complain” that they now have to buy a lot of albums after reading them. Others write to me: "I'm reading it for the second time." A woman sent me a card: "If someone asks me what are you reading and I say, 'Helmut Philipps - Dub Conference', that sounds pretty intellectual." Someone else texts me: "I don't think you know what you're doing with your work and your knowledge Dubnerds do We can no longer empathize with a lot of information and experiences. It is important to be able to understand the beginnings here in Germany as well. Thank you for the opportunity provided by your brilliant book!” Something like that leaves me speechless. And when I then consider that the "Dub Conference" was voted best book of the year and the first edition was sold out after 10 weeks, I am very grateful and happy about the way the book was received.

What surprised you the most during your research, what impressed you the most?
I didn't realize how big of an influence jazz has had on the development of reggae, and therefore also of Dub. King Tubby, for example, had a room full of jazz records. The engineers working for him could record the records on cassette, which people like Pat Kelly did a lot. Coxson also had a huge jazz collection. His Skatalites were a jazz band. The early Studio Ones Dubplates are often jazz-influenced horn improvisations. In his private life Lee Perry preferred to listen to jazz and in 1975 he made an offbeat jazz LP with Vin Gordon's "Musical Bones". The list could be continued ad nauseam. The improvisational aspect of jazz is reflected in the Dubben. Just listen to the Tommy McCook or Bobby Ellis records that Tubby mixed: Tommy McCook's "Brass Rockers" (aka "Cookin'") or "Hot Lava", or "Bobby Ellis & The Professionals meet The Revolutionaries". That's where jazz meets Dub. Dub and jazz unite the free handling of music, Dub is improvisation at the mixer. That's why some of those I interviewed were so vehemently opposed to digital Dub pronounced. Because Dub needs a mixer and cannot be programmed. There are now small mixing consoles that can be used to operate computers. Something has changed there.

Did you have a favorite interview and if so why?
Definitely Style Scott. I sat with him under an old tree in Chinna Smith's yard in Kingston and he talked for hours. From his grandparents, from the place where he grew up, from Junkuno, his education, the clubs in Montego Bay. All I really wanted to know from him was how it was with the Roots Radics and Dub Syndicate. But he told me his whole life. He was a pleasant, friendly and, in a European way, polite conversationalist. A wanderer between the worlds, the two Dub-has shaped for decades and was totally aware of the difference between Jamaica and Europe. It was a blatant shock when I found out a few months after our meeting that he had been killed.

Is Dub spiritual music or studio assembly line work?
Dub was commissioned work on the assembly line. The Soundmen lined up at the studios on Fridays. Everyone wanted new ones Dubs for the weekend dances. They took matters into their own hands while in the studio Dub after the next was mixed. Five minutes a Dub. It didn't take longer than the song played by the the Dub should be drawn.
The spiritual note of DubIt is in the nature of the default. If the original, the vocal version, has spiritual depth, this carries over into the Dub and in the toastings about that Dub. But when Johnny Osbourne sings: "I don't want no ice cream love, it's too cold for me" and Scientist one of them Dub pulls, that's not very spiritual. But when Johnny Osbourne sings about "Truth & Rights" and then probably a scientist again Dub mixed, that's something completely different.

It can Dub give without reggae?
At least it keeps trying. But there are few convincing examples. King Jammy said to me, “The heartbeat of reggae is essential to Dub.” The “interdisciplinary” attempts at punk and Dub combine works most convincingly in music with reggae beats. Like Ruts DC, the Members or The Clash. The Fellow Travelers did well, too, because their country music has an underlying reggae flair. But jazz goes Dub, classic in Dub etc., I consider all of these to be errors drenched in echo.

Can you still remember your first listening experience - when and where and how Dub entered your life?
Lee Perry with "Super Ape". Gigantic, but not really, as people understood over time Dub. Nonetheless, a masterpiece. And Scientist with the Greensleeves records, which we now know he never made. He does the mixes, but the Greensleeves bosses came up with the albums.

The “scientist” theme and the way the engineers for the Dub-Mix have been paid as a job, but are neither seen nor mentioned as an artist and their work has been published in part without their knowledge, was rather unknown to me as a common practice and surprised me. Can you go into that a little bit here?
Dubs became part of the day-to-day business when mixing and didn't take up much time. When a song was finished, it quickly became another Dub replenished, included almost for free. The producer (Junjo, Bunny Lee, whoever) paid for the song and ended up getting the tape. Then there was him Dub on it that was used for the back of the single. That of the DubThe engineers didn't know that separate albums were made elsewhere - in England. Because the albums didn't even exist in Jamaica, only overseas.

What is your definition of Dub?
Dub is the special mix of an existing title for a special use, namely at Sound Systems. Dub without a preceding original is instrumental music. Which by the way is not a definition of me but of Style Scott. Interestingly, Coxson got the sense of Dub-Records seen in it for the deejays to practice.

Who is your favorite engineer?
Scientist because of the anarchy in his mixes and because of the best sound. Groucho Smykle because he Dub staged like Hollywood movies. His mixes are also based on vocal versions, but there's no room for toasting anymore. Both Scientist and Groucho are perfectly described by the title of the book that Michael Veal wrote about Dub wrote: "Soundscapes and Destroyed Songs". At Scientist I saw him livedubben kept calling out: "Someone must deejay!" But even in my house, no deejay à la David Lynch comes into the room via hologram and starts toasting when I Dub hear Dub has long since become an art form in its own right outside of Jamaica. But one that lives on memories. You know that there are still melodies, wind instruments, songs. But you only hear them in your mind.

You're on a reading tour, you're invited to radio shows, z. B. WDR 3, WDR Cosmo, DLF, Bayerische Rundfunk, ByteFM, various online stations. What questions have you not been asked that you are surprised you have not been asked?
At first I was a little surprised that there were never any confrontational discussions. But that's what the Dub conference at all. I wrote a history book, let other people tell the story and researched the facts. I find that the readers are interested in the very story. Where everything comes from and what it comes with Dub has (had) on it. Most of you have noticed by now that Dub and Steppaz are only seemingly soulmates. With many common formal ingredients, yes. But ultimately something completely different. Historically and musically, steppaz is alternative techno music. Dub but is the version of a pre-existing music. There is no way around this difference. Mad Professor told me: It's only then Dub if it is a version. And there we are with Style Scott again: if it's not a version, it's instrumental music.

Which aspects were particularly important to the audience and were discussed after the reading?
Most just listened and were happy with the information and stories I shared. I notice how strong the interest in the topic Dub is. Everyone knows the term, even outside of the reggae circle, but many don't know exactly what it's all about. That's why there is the mistake that with every echo you immediately think: Aaah ... Dub!

What's your top 3 classic Dubalbums?

  • Lee Perry's "Super Ape" - a supernatural high. No Dub, but it feels like it.
  • "Herb Dub Collie Dub“. Mixed by King Tubby, the companion piece to The Legendary Skatalites, the Skatalites' only roots record. A fairly rare record. Released in 1976 without a cover and can no longer be found, it was reprinted by Motion in 2001.
  • Everything from Scientist at Greensleeves. Scientist's mixes benefit from the fact that the originals were so dominating that decade: Wailings Souls, Johnny Osbourne, Michael Prophet, Barrington Levy, Hugh Mundell...

11 responses to “Interview with Helmut Philipps”

So steppas isn't a style of music, just a drum pattern. You're comparing apples to oranges. You should know that when you write a book like this ;)

Both are true. First it was a drum pattern, then it became its own style and finally its own sub-genre. Today one understands by "Steppers" Dub in the style of the UKDubs originating in the 1990s. The drum pattern has basically stayed the same.

I don't know if Helmut Philipps wrote somewhere, Steppaz isn't a genre of music. But that's pretty much how I remember it.
In any case, I would also say that the basic requirement is the so-called “four to the flour beat”. So basically "Bum Bum Bum Bum" as in techno or as in the extremely successful "BallermannMusik". I can remember very well that I wasn't in the mood for this "4 to the flour" beat with most of the roots tunes, which struck me particularly at live concerts of all reggae bands, with some tunes. Well, it wasn't really as bad as I write it now, because if a reggae tune really grabs me, I don't care how often the drummer hits the drum. But I find music with skilfully accentuated and variable bass drums to be much more magical and tingling than this "stupid" pounding. Therefore, Steppaz is not one of my favorites from DubMusic. I wouldn't say the Steppaz either DubMusic is. There are simply too many for that Dubelements in itself and it generates boom boom boom despite …. very often a mystical sense of music, which I have often felt with certain TechnoTunes. It is always important that it sounds “stoned”. Stoned is not meant negatively here! It just effectively sums up - for me - the impression of music perception. I always want it to sound a little surreal to me so I can find it really interesting and intriguing. And if one thing sounds surreal, it is DubMusic !!!
Unfortunately, all too often there is no imagination involved with Steppaz. It starts with the BassLines. They are usually as variable as the longest straight railway line in Australia. Have absolutely nothing to do with the BassLines from Jamaica since they were "stolen" or covered. The effects usually let me down because the man at the controls (or at the computer mouse) seems to think that most people are happy with the boom boom boom..... anyway. Steppaz fans are mostly, or often, not reggae fans and basically aren't either DubFans (a somewhat daring thesis of mine, but I've picked that up or something similar quite often somewhere).
I ( I I I ….. ) am a full blood reggae fan !!! Yes, now I'm really banging my drum out of my deepest inner conviction, but inna one drop style.
So it's a complete mystery to me how you can ONLY be satisfied with these Steppaz tunes. That's way too narrow-minded for me. Has the horizon of a 4 square meter prison cell. "BallemannDub“ you could also say …….. Oops, now it sounds as if I don’t like Steppaz at all. No, it still sounds way too much to me for that Dubmusic ! But if there were only Steppaz and that too, murmuring coldly on the computer, then I would prefer to hear a special kind of techno that has a lot more to it DubThere is or was tinsel to admire.
You can't generalize, but I tend to. “Our grandparents” have already scolded us about the strange music we listened to. But some of them also thought that Peter Alexander was better than Elvis or the Beatels. So we really can't take them seriously. Also about the dance style Dub would certainly not have found good words. I hope I'm not just as wrong, but I don't have much respect for the youth who let themselves be fobbed off with cheap computer stuff without feeling the slightest need to treat themselves to real music from real musicians.
I recently heard (probably known to you here for a long time) that there are already programs that write complete essays on all sorts of topics and that it is almost only possible for "artificial intelligence" to add these essays to real, human essays differentiate. I'm a bit wrong now...
There are also computer programs that enable non-musicians to “produce” music. So somewhere there should be an end to people fooling themselves. There is already far too much music and music, so we don't need "music" from people who know even less about it than I do.

As you can see, the whole topic is very important to me …….

Greetings ……………… .. lemmi

[…] A good overview of the American birthday child is provided by Discogs “50 Years of Hip-Hop: A History of the Genre's Evolution”, reference to the Jamaican party I hope to see Helmut Phillips' book “Dub Conference". [...]

Aha. So with steppers you are not quite as precise. It is implicitly assumed that the term has changed over time. One could also have spoken of UK steppers. At Dub however, one does not say: Originally created dub as a version of an existing track, but today that's not always the case. There one says: The definition of dub is like that, everything else is not dub! The problem that a style of music is not defined by the sound but how the music was made can be seen in a top list dub albums 33 1/3% no dub is! Yes, I'll keep my mouth shut and won't be annoying anymore :D

Apparently there are different opinions. I take a different view than Helmut. According to my understanding Dub a style of music defined by certain musical characteristics.

"Dub Is playing with the fader. This in and out of guitar and bass or just drums and bass.
( Coxson Dodd )

"It is then Dub, when the engineer removes parts of the rhythm section and replaces (or even adds...commentator's note) with effects, creating a completely different atmosphere that transports the listener somewhere between here and outer space. Dub is music that explores the mind and soul. you know a good one Dub play a million times and you will hear something different each time.
(mad professor)

These are just two quotes from the book, from people who need to know exactly. I think they underline exactly what you think of Dub. (Actually mine too…..)

And one more of the many sentences from the book that go down like the finest Olio de Olivio:
Nat Birchall sees jazz and Dub united and speaks of the "expectation of the unexpected" and thus comes very close to the "curvature of space" ;-) (in my opinion)
"Jazz and Dub are based on improvisation in real time! What happened is not planned! They are NATURAL, ORGANIC processes of making music!" ( The opposite of digitization !!! ..... )

I almost feel “anointed” ………………. lemmi

"Dub without a preceding original is instrumental music.” – Style Scott
When outstanding protagonists of the genre like King Jammy and Mad Professor Style confirm Scott's statement, then there must be something to the point of view. In the early days, it was definitely the case that everyone Dub an original preceded it. After reading the "Dub Conference” I also went over to it, in thoughts between Dub and "dubheavy instrumental music”. By which I don't want to express that "dubheavy music” is no longer interested – on the contrary. Also "dubheavy instrumental music” à la Dub Syndicate oa undoubtedly still has its place in the Dubblog to be featured. In my opinion, Helmut merely provides us with a historically logical demarcation – c'est tout.

DUB it's just the dance style that was mainly "practiced in the corners of the DanceHall ;-) Or do I have to do it in a completely correct way "Dubwrite ?
Maybe that's why the book is calledDubConference”, because you can probably discuss it forever, what actually Dub should be or is.
Because there are so many different views about it, of course I have one too, and because I like to make the world the way I like it, I say it is Dub, when I say it or when I feel it. But I don't want to say that Helmut Phiipps could be wrong at any point.
But his "definition" isn't enough for me personally to always be able to say that it's definitely one DubDisk or that is definitely Dub !
I can not say for example, the example a DubAlbum mixed by (eg) Scientist really a DubAlbum is if I don't know the vocal version of it although there is one. It could also be a purely instrumental template, which as far as I know is the basis for everything anyway - including the vocal version. There were also exceptions in reggae, such as with Bob Marley, who probably only started with the lyrics, but otherwise the artist only came into the booth to sing when the riddim was already in the can.
Speaking of boxes: For me it is DubMusic "nothing" other than quantum physics ;-) As long as I don't look and find out without a doubt whether there is a vocal version of what I feel Dubtune, I can't be sure what's in the box. Is it a “real flawless Dub“ ? Is it "dubheavy instrumental music" ? Or is it even “Schrödinger's cat”? …………………..
Well, always when it comes to quantum physics, mistakes in reasoning can of course creep in and if I have made one or even several here, I am open to any form of instruction.
Especially as an On .U Sound Addict, I have of course long since outgrown ordinary quantum physics and I really enjoy dealing with "dubheavy vocal – AND instrumental music”, which den Dub as the origin, so to speak still as a solid basis, like the good butter on bread, as an indispensable part of a balanced music diet in the range.
Helmut Philipps leaves no doubt in the book that, for example, African Head Charge has nothing to do with it Dub has to do. I'm far from doubting that, because basically I think I've figured out what Dub is or has been in the original sense. Nevertheless, I am very grateful to all the record dealers from the past for putting African Head Charge and On .U Sound in the big one anyway Dubpacked the box, otherwise I might never have discovered this crazy music. It may be that they nothing inna DubBox but I wouldn't have known where else to put this music. (Yes, I hear some "flaxing" up to here, who don't know what to do with African Head Charge and know exactly in which bin they would throw African Head Charge. I threw one in the garbage can myself, because the singer probably meant African Head Charge and his "singing" could also please anyone without Adrian Sherwood but I had nothing left for it .... )
Then there is also the legitimate thesis in the book, "It's just Dub, if the basis is reggae" !!! Actually, I can best make friends with this thesis or “definition”, but I would get a lot of good ones from it Dubmusic is missing. And if even Scientist thinks ( maybe just ironically ) that you could maybe RaB, or even Soul dubben, then I allow myself to write, you can also do African Head Charge and even Rumba dubI.

There is one thing I would like to give Helmut Philipps my unreserved support. Whether Steppaz – ( Dub ) , Psy- Dub or the many ambient Dub Slile I as FantasyDub would denote, they all mediate towards the original Dubs from Jamaica only a fraction of the energy,
which was present in Jamaica from the start. Unfortunately, Jamaica has long since lost that energy itself.
I also like the (there's almost no other way to put it) softened versions of the DubMusic from the "modern era". I can also sometimes with a well-programmed "FantasyDubmelt away but in the end it's the Jamaican riddims that are a really, really good one for me Dub turn off.

(However, I would have a whole lot more to write about in individual cases. In the book, for example, the "first" Dubs the revolutionaries or was it the aggrovators described as boring and uninspired. Out of ignorance or rather out of superficiality, they got me Dubs prompted here im Dubblog, “Sly and Robbie can't Dub', although they had nothing to do with these riddims. But what the author of the book, or if that's not true, anyone else in the book meant, these Dubs would be boring and uninspired, for me is even better than if I was quoted anywhere in the book ;-) ……………….. )

"Dubbinging is a must” ……………. lemmi

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