The Future Dub Project had a busy 2016. Countless live shows, plenty of festivals and the release of their incredibly slick and excellently produced Faster EP. However, in 2017, the guys from Brighton, who produce an intriguing blend of melodic drum n bass as well as more classic dancehall reggae, are concentrating less on playing live and more on their output.
Fans of the Future Dub Project will be pleased to know there will be a lot more material being released this year as the guys focus on putting out brand new material as well as reworked tracks from a previously unfinished album.
The first release of the year will be in May when they release a five track EP of classic dancehall reggae style songs, most of which were written years ago when the Future Dub Project first formed.
Speaking about the EP, guitarist and one half of the main songwriting team, James Duff says: “So basically, when we started me and Kyle wrote a whole album. And then we got different singers on each track. So that’s where all these tracks are coming from. We had the album, and we never actually put it out, ‘cause we weren’t happy with the production. But now our production has come further forward. So now we’ve got all these tracks, and we’re writing new stuff, but we don’t wanna go too far ahead with writing new stuff without putting these out.”
The other half of that creative team, Kyle Blackburn who also plays drums and does dubs and production, says: “Instead of putting everything out, we’re just cherry picking tracks. It’s unrealistic now for our mental state to try and finish them all now. But if we can put an end to five of them and be like ‘boom’, we’ll be happy to move on to the next stage. Not everything you write has to come out, and if we want to come back to the others one day, we’ll come back to them. We wanna write new stuff, and this is just driving us crazy.”
James continues: “For me personally the thing I like most is creating new stuff. So I feel a bit weird if I’m not writing new music, I need to be writing new music all the time. Otherwise I just don’t feel happy. So to have the old stuff sat there is almost like a bit of a negative energy. We need to get it out. They’re wicked tunes.”
The EP will feature a host of singers, including long time collaborator Peta Oneir as well as Zico (formerly of Only Joe), Baba Rass, Dandelion (The Drop), St Lucian reggae singer Alpha and New York rapper Nasir Brown. And just this week a live video for the last track on the EP ‘Left Behind’ featuring Zico, was released.
Another track off the upcoming EP that sounds exciting is ‘Pay Homage’ and features New York rapper Nasir Brown. “I worked with him in the pub in London,” says Kyle, “and I heard him rap one day and he was sick, so I was like ‘wanna come and write a tune?’.”
James adds: “And we loved it. Some of our mates were just like ‘this is a bit too gangster’. And we were like [pauses]. We really liked what he had done. And it would just be [pauses]. I guess you can’t just tell someone to tone it down if that’s their thing. That’s his thing. We loved it!”
Kyle, who is also a long time member of The Drop, brought in their frontman Dandelion to feature on a track called ‘Victory’ which James and Kyle wrote in Kyle’s sister’s kitchen three years ago. “My introduction to reggae was from them [The Drop]. And this was the first song we ever recorded with a singer. And it’s probably still one of my favourites.
“When we first started we put it out, for a matter of weeks, then we realised we didn’t like it, so we took it down. But now going back to it, it just needs a bit of a new tweak. Just needs a bit more love.”
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The EP will also include a song featuring St Lucian singer Alpha called ‘Bounce’ and the lead single ‘Speakerbox’ featuring Baba Rass.
After the EP is released James and Kyle will be gathering together the rest of the group, including singer Peta Oneir, bass player Mike Pockett, DJ Thomas James and drum and bass MC Visionobi and heading out on a mini tour.
“We’re going on tour in May,” says Kyle. “Just for a few dates. Nothing big, just a mini one just before the summer. Just to get warmed up for the festivals. Just as a little ‘hello’ kind of mini tour. And we’re getting a lot of festival offers in, so we’ll go and do a few of those.”
Speaking about their busy summer last year James says: “The reality was, we put out the Faster EP just after Christmas. We worked on it over Christmas and put it out and then it was ready to be done live. But then everyone does their jobs and other music and whatever. We were festivalling and gigging over the whole summer and there was no time for anything else. Literally there was no energy. So then, at the end of the summer we were trying to carry on doing recording, but we were all just knackered. So what you really need to do is just take a break.”
That’s why this summer will be the opposite to last. Rather than performing at so many festivals, the Future Dub Project will be only doing a handful in 2017, allowing them to focus on new material and new releases.
As well as the reggae release in May, this year will also see the Future Dub Project put out a two track EP of summery drum n bass tunes that have already been written, featuring esteemed MC Visionobi and long time singer songwriter Peta Oneir. And after a smattering of festivals in the summer, the guys will release a new EP of brand new material that hasn’t even been written yet.
“That’s the plan,” continues Kyle. “The old stuff, the new drum n bass EP, then after summer the new stuff.”
I asked Kyle if he knew what the new material would sound like. “No. But we know how we’re gunna make it. We know the process. It’s going to come from a very live place, and we’re going to treat it like Bonobo or one of those style producers would treat it. One of my favourite people at the moment is Maribou Sate. What they’ve done is that everything in their tracks, all of their high hats, everything, has been recorded, then resampled and processed. So there’s not much in there that’s a midi or computer sound. It’s all very much live and analog stuff, but it still sounds like an electric album. Bringing the analog and the digital and the live and the computer together.”
So there you have it. Three new releases scheduled in for this year. If last year’s Faster EP and their incredible live performances are anything to go by, then Future Dub Project fans have a lot of great music to look forward to.
Words by Adam Rowden