Asian Dub Foundation
Asian Dub Foundation's distinctive sound is a combination of hard ragga-jungle rhythms, indo-dub basslines, searing sitar-inspired guitars and 'traditional' sounds gleaned from their parents' record collections, shot through with fast-chat conscious lyrics.
Their debut album 'Facts and Fictions' (Nation Records) came out in 1995 and was largely overlooked by a country obsessed with retro guitar pop. And at that time, to be 'Asian' was yet to be considered 'cool.' On the continent however, ADF were given ample opportunity to tour and develop their performance skills. Their musical and lyrical package was met with considerable enthusiasm, 1998's album 'Rafi's Revenge' on London Records met with much critical acclaim and received a Mercury Prize nomination.
By that time already considered one of Britain's most exciting live bands, this album helped to introduce them to a wider audience. They started off in 1993 at London based organisation Community Music where bassist Dr Das taught music technology. He teamed up with one of his students, rapper Deeder Zaman and civil rights worker DJ Pandit G to form a sound system to play at anti-racist gigs. The following year they recruited guitarist Chandrasonic and started moving further afield.
With Sun-J joining in 1995 on live technology and 'radical movements,' the line up was complete. Their debut album 'Facts and Fictions' (Nation Records) came out in 1995 and was largely overlooked by a country obsessed with retro guitar pop. And at that time, to be 'Asian' was yet to be considered 'cool.' On the continent however, ADF were given ample opportunity to tour and develop their performance skills. Their musical and lyrical package was met with considerable enthusiasm, especially in France where their second album 'R.A.F.I.' was released by Virgin France in 1997. The following year's 'Rafi's Revenge' was in fact a re-recorded, recharged version of 'R.A.F.I', energised through extensive live playing.
It was Primal Scream who finally brought ADF to the attention of the British media. ADF toured the UK with them in the summer of 1997 having by now signed to London. The Primals also collaborated with ADF on the single 'Free Satpal Ram', which has done much to draw attention to the situation of an Asian man whom they both believe is yet another recipient of British rough justice. ADF spent most of 1998 touring, consolidating their reputation for uplifting live sets and for attracting culturally mixed audiences. In Britain, Primal Scream's championing of ADF was soon vindicated. Journalists were taken aback by their energy and made inadequate comparisons to well known previous punk bands. Little did they realise, that aside from having played in front of mad French audiences, it was their own ignoring of the band that had made ADF focus in such a way. ADF performed at many major festivals in the UK and the rest of Europe as well as at Fuji Rock in Japan.
A Beastie Boys support tour in the autumn introduced them to the US where they received a warm welcome, much to their own surprise. ADF's forceful presence has helped to demolish many stereotypes of Asian musicians and by extension, Asian people. An acknowledgement of this came in the form of the BBC Asian Award for Music in December 1998. Their higher profile enabled ADF to attract funding from the London Arts Board to establish ADF Education (ADFED) to promote and practice the teaching of music and technology to young people. ADFED now functions as an independent organisation running various workshops in London and abroad. ADF did their first headlining tour of the US and Canada in the Spring of 1999 getting an excellent response, with the majority of the dates being sold out.Audio Active from Japan accompanied ADF on this tour and it was dubbed the 'Asian Invasion.'
Their third album 'Community Music' was released in March 2000, named of course after the place where they started and out of respect to their ethnically and culturally diverse 'outernational' fanbase. It showcased a more spacious sound that utilised amongst other things, strings and horns, surprising those who had expected more 'jungle punk.The album garnered ecstatic reviews including a coveted 10..10 rating in the NME. With extensive European touring and a trip to Australia and New Zealand and their first tour of Japan, ADF consolidated their reputation for being one of hardest working live bands. Their last tour of France saw them working for the first time with an extended line-up featuring drummer Rocky Singh whom they first encountered in Toronto, MCs Aktarvata & Spex from the Invasian, which emerged out of ADFED, and dhol player Pritpal Rajput. These musicians are now a permanent live fixture.
In March 2001 the band composed and performed a live soundtrack for the film 'La Haine' as part of the Only Connect season at the Barbican. The event met with critical acclaim and enabled the band to showcase their instrumental skills, so often overshadowed by the so-called 'political' aspects of their work. Their visit in April to Brazil 2001, organised by the British Council, involved them and members of ADFED engaging in music workshops with young people and doing sound systems as well as the actual gigs alongside the inspirational Afro-Reggae.
The passion and resourcefulness of the musicians they met had an enormous impact on the members of the band. ADF have continued to perform alongside Afro-Reggae during their visits to Britain and are looking forward to further collaborations with them in 2008.In 2002 ADF became the second band to play in Havana, Cuba since 1979,again engaging with local music education projects. Aside from touring most of 2001 was set aside for composing and recording material for the new album to be released in 2002. Long time inspiration Adrian Sherwood was enlisted to mix the album. ADF rounded off the year with a their first extensive tour of Eastern Europe. They were shocked by the level of support and enthusiasm showed by the fans there. In Yugoslavia they played to 8,000 people; their largest club date ever and in Bulgaria to 3,500.
All in all like Brazil the band came away from the tour very uplifted and inspired.They were also amazed to learn that 'New Way New Life' had been the first song played on the previously shutdown B-92 radio (Serbia's only alternative radio station) after the fall of Milosovic in 2000! They released 'Enemy of the Enemy' in 2003 ,'Fortress Europe' becoming a latterday anthem. Extensive touring followed including a European tour with Radiohead. Afterwards Dr.Das, Chandra and violinist / friend Ysanne Spacek performed a piece for the Venice Bienalle festival entitled 'The Love Cloud',a sanskrit poem ,featuring Javanese dancers and the maverick director Peter Sellars.
The band were then asked to do another live soundtrack this time to the classic 'Battle of Algiers'. The piece debuted at the Brighton Dome April 2004' the same day as shocking pictures from Abu Gharib appeared in the British press; an eerie coincidence given the content of the film.Next up was new album 'Tank',including new singer Ghetto Priest, and the beginnings of a music theatre project entitled 'Gaddafi;A Living Myth' scheduled for September preformance.
Steve Chandra Savale edited the Radio 4's 'Today' programme in January 2006 and the band completed a soundtrack to the Channel 4 film 'Bradford Riots' which was broadcast in may 2006. 'Gaddafi' was premiered at the English National Opera in September 2006 and was as controversial as everyone expected it to be,offending the mainstream press but loved by an army of bloggers and independent media.
In March 2007 Virgin-EMI released 'Time Freeze', a retrospective containing ADF classics, previously unreleased collaborations with the likes of Chuck D and Yat-Kha, and two brand new tracks 'Stop Start' and 'Target Practice'. At the end of 2007 ADF began work on their next album 'Punkara',having recruited former King Prawn singer Al Rumjen and welcoming Aktarvator back into their ranks,and are once again sharing premises with ADFED at Rich Mix in East london.
Asian Dub Foundation are now back for 2011. Signed to the legendary Cooking Vinyl Records. Their new studio album, 'A History of Now' again pushes the boundaries and asks questions while being different musically from previous releases. With the sound more expanded, it proves to be the bands most cohesive uplifting masterpiece of their career. Released on February 7th 'A History of Now', is a comment of the present state of humanity on the planet and the world we live in "there is no history anymore everything is in complete flux!"
ADF is proud of what they have achieved, Steve Chandra Savale comments "in the 16 years of the band we have lived through a lot of change, how we make music, how we relate to people, we're completely transformed and this is a good way to mark that artistically."
'A History of Now' ADF's 9th studio album was recorded at Brendan Lynch's 'Lynchmob Studio' (Primal Scream / Paul Weller producer). While the album was engineered by Max Hayes and produced by the band's Sanjay Tailor and Steve Chandra Savale. The video for the title track has been produced by Jim Cauty.
The 11 songs on the album mark a distinct change and this comes from having live drums, using more strings/flutes which makes for a more expanded sound. 'A History Of Now' is not focused on their original mc style, "this sound dates very quickly" explains Aktar Ahmed, this in turn meant he discovered he possessed a superb low voice and this shines through. Other vocalist Al Rumjen's voice was based on Jamaican mcing but his style sound has also moved on.
This all comes from them "wanting to play to our strengths, to not try and chase other things". ADF are good at making hybrid music which has "elements of dub/club sensability but also a little bit of guitar based song writing." Apart from their traditional Indian and Asian influences there are also a lot of non first world influences on here.
"It shows on the album that everyones different, we get together, create something that becomes right, we all come from different backgrounds/music backgrounds. We have an ability to gel as one and over the years this becomes more diverse. Individuals become more individual, through travelling - meeting new people/hearing new music, opens your mind and you start accepting a lot more".
2011 marks the beginning of the next chapter for this beguiling and brilliant band.
|08 Jun 13||Wilwarin Festival||Ellerdorf, GERMANY|
|22 Jun 13||Sedel Club||Emmenbrucks, SWITZERLAND|
|29 Jun 13||Solidays||Paris, FRANCE|
|20 Jul 13||Alrumbo Festival||Cadiz, SPAIN|
|04 Aug 13||Esperanzah Festival||Floreffe, BELGIUM|