It’s hard to keep a low profile when you’re Dub FX.
Every time the lets a few friends know he’s going to do a street show messages fly around Facebook: Dub’s coming. Tell your friends, but just a few.
It’s not meant to be a big event, just a quick performance on a street corner, but lots of people show up. And then lots more.
Too many? No one thought to get a permit and no one wants to draw too much attention. We’ll have to make this quick.
Dub arrives, hooks up his gear to a car battery and lays down the first foundational beat. Soon the corner is awash in an epic, dubby soundscape.
His fiancée, the Flower Fairy, hawks CDs. The folks who got word on Facebook can’t get enough of the music. The commuters look bewildered. The whole thing is over in no time.
Dub FX (née Ben Stanford) is a live looper and beat boxer, an artist that builds up intricate songs in front of the audience using just his voice and a few bits of gear.
He got his start as a street performer in Melbourne, Australia, and has quickly become a star act. If you know where to find him, that is.
His shows are announced via Facebook and Twitter, his videos shared widely on YouTube. There is no big promotional machine behind Dub FX. His trajectory from busker to international festival headliner has come entirely from the grassroots.
To really appreciate Dub – a self-described “tech head” – you’ve got to peer into the technological depths. Here’s how one man’s voice can turn into a full-blown studio album right before your eyes.
He starts with a simple beat: tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk. From his microphone the sound travels through a twist of cables into an effects processor. The processor — a BOSS GT-10B in case you were wondering — doubles, delays, strips, massages, caresses or dirties-down the original sound.
From the processor the beat makes its way in to the loop station, the heart of the production. The loop station records the sound and repeats it over and over, keeping it in synch.
The loop station is smart: it figures out the number of beats per minute in the original sound and sends that number back to the processor. The processor will use that tempo to keep delay and echo effects nicely synched.
Now he’s got one sound in the loop bank. And now he can build up the next few dozen sounds in the same fashion, cutting them in and out, mixing and matching, tweaking and adjusting. It’s hypnotic to watch and it sounds amazing.
Oh, and he does it all with his feet.
Dub’s one man act is a feat to behold, and one that the Comox Valley can experience firsthand at The Big Time Out near Cumberland on Aug. 12 and 13 at an as-yet undisclosed location after organizers lost Village Park this week as a location.
He’s part of a lineup that includes Bedouin Soundclash, Beats Antique and the Boom Booms among others.
Advance tickets for both days are $100. Individual day tickets are also available.
You can check out videos of Dub FX doing his thing and buy advance tickets at thebigtimeout.com.
— Cumberland Village Works