Words by Caitlin Trindall.
Ben Stanford is no stranger to the music scene. Elsewise known by his artist name Dub FX, he’s constantly putting on a vibrant show, creating new music and pushing himself to his full potential.
Melbourne native Dub FX rose to quick success following the worldwide infectious spread of his street performing when uploaded to YouTube back in 2009 by UK filmmaker, Ben Dowden. Ever since then he’s been delivering creativity to an ever-growing fan base and constantly providing insight into the spectacular way in which he sees the world.
We were lucky to catch up with Ben prior to the release of his third album Thinking Clear to have a bit of a chat about the album itself and what lies behind it, some of his early inspirations, incredible audiences and what he loves about performing and creating music.
Coming from a street performing background, who is your favourite street performer?
A guy who is relatively unknown, by the name of Lindsay Buckland. He was the first ever looper I saw back in the 90’s! He definitely inspired me!
You’ve said that you wanted this album to sound live and electronic, so you’ve had a whole bunch of different instrumentalists jump on board which is really exciting. How important is innovation to yourself and in your opinion, for music in general?
Innovation is key to growing as an artist. There is no point repeating yourself unless you update it somehow. When I write music I don’t like to limit the possibility of a song just to please my fans, I think ‘I need a band to play it’, and not ‘my voice, then the band’.
In the vast cultures and countries you’ve visited, what do you feel really sets crowds apart throughout the world? Or perhaps on the contrary do you find that the unity of music bringing everyone together doesn’t differentiate too much?
There are definitely things that set audiences apart. I noticed in Brazil they prefer slower soulful beats; in England they just want it to be original, dirty and soulful; in Italy and Japan they love melody and soul… notice how everyone likes soul? That is the one thing that everyone connects to. The pace or the vibe might change but as long as your performance touches them they all enjoy the show. I guess I do alright where ever I go because I play a lot of different styles with as much passion as possible.
What is the key to keeping a down time balance in between recording a new album, releasing it and then worldwide tours for you?
Down time? Who said anything about down time? Recording an album is my downtime! I manage to find pockets of down time on the road and while recording an album, but to be fair I’m a workaholic. I don’t do very well with down time.
Thinking Clear are two words that really set up some ideas for this album to come. Would you share with us a story behind one of your songs from the upcoming record?
The song reflects my current state of mind. While I was making the album in my studio in the forest I really had some strong epiphanies regarding spirituality and my connection with the universe. There is also a secret track somewhere on the album, which is called Thinking Clear.
Social media obviously played a big part in your music journey, from live street performances to on stage at Glastonbury and Coachella. It’s not the first time YouTube has accelerated someone’s career so immensely, obviously. How do you see the role social media has played, and continues to play as it constantly evolves, for artists?
Unfortunately it’s not that easy for new artists to have what I had; back in 2009 YouTube and Facebook were so fresh, people enjoyed sharing things and people liked clicking on links their friends would share. These days we are very desensitised by the whole thing. Nowadays Facebook have made it really hard to share with your entire fan base because they now make you pay. I used to be able to share something with my 600,000 fans on Facebook, which I earned organically and without paying for those likes. Now it would cost me 10,000 dollars to share one post with all of them. I believe marketing companies; radio and TV pushed Facebook to make this happen because they lost business once ordinary people could market themselves organically. This is why I had to go through a label and use publicists to market this album. It’s gone back to how it once was… we are once again at the mercy of big corporations.
Aside from musical journeys throughout the globe, where in the world have you found your favourite meal?
Haha, I don’t really have one. I do love organic fresh tasty food, mainly meat and vegetables. Greek food, Japanese food, Italian food. I love it all.
Where has been the most exciting place for you to film your clips?
In the street; on rooftops… I love it wherever I go. There is not a perfect place; they are all unique.
With Thinking Clear coming out in August and a string of shows that you’re continuing on right now, can you shed some light on what your Aussie fans might be able to expect when you come home in December?
We will have a super tight show by then. We already smashed a Canada run, and we are currently hitting up most of Europe. Expect an awesomely tight show full of different genres and heaps of vibe!
Dub FX’s new album Thinking Clear is available on August 26. Catch him when he returns home to Melbourne on 10 December to play at the first ever edition of the Pleasure Garden Festival, alongside favourites The Cat Empire and The Correspondents, with more artist announcements on the way. Early bird tickets are available until August 31 at only $99.00 before kicking into the next three releases.