Interview: Dub Inc.
Based out of France, Dub Inc. fuses classic roots reggae with dub, dancehall, ska, hip-hop and African influences. We sat down with drummer and founding member Grégory "Zigo" Mavridorakis and had a great conversation talking about the early years, their loyal fans, and keys to success.
Where are you guys based out of?
We’re from France. It is a little city in the middle of France, Saint-Étienne.
I see that you guys just released a new live album called Paradise Tour.
We just released a live CD and DVD. We shot it in a particular venue of Paris called L'Olympia. It is a very old theatre, which is perfect for lighting. It is not a big venue, maybe like 2,500 people. We played in a big venue called Zenith, which can take like 7,000 people, but for the live recording we were looking for kind of a special mood, so we took L'Olympia, which is perfect.
Right, you have to balance the sound and the crowd and the right size.
Especially to get the crowd very close to you and there is a… [balcony/mezzanine] I don’t know the name, but the people are surrounding you, so…
Yes, they are all up on the top deck. You have a full-surrounding crowd. So have you been playing with the band since the beginning?
Yes, I am one of the three founding guys which started 17 years ago. We started in 1998. It is very nice because we feel like a family, you know? All the guys in the band, we are friends since the beginning, since year two or so. It is a nice experience for us.
Nice. Has it been an easy journey or a really hard journey?
No, well, looking back on it I would say it has been an easy journey because we never had a real course. We have always done music because we love music and we started to tour just to have fun, you know? And then, 17 years after we are in different times, and we travel all around the world. We’ve been on every continent and made 200 shows for each of them, which is perfect. What could I say? I mean, of course it has been kind of trouble to leave to get good pay for the music, it has been hard for the five first years, but since maybe 10 or 12 years, it’s okay for us, it’s perfect.
Dub Inc: Chaque nouvelle page
Nice, was there one big break that made it? Was there one thing that happened that made you guys just explode?
Maybe the first meeting with our tour agency, which was probably 2003 or something like that, and they really made us organize ourselves for the tours. With Dub Inc., with our band, touring is the most important activity. We tour a lot, that is how we get money and that’s how we like to live, so they helped us to organize it and they also pushed us to stay independent and to produce the tour by ourselves and that is why, I guess, we are very strong now, so I think it was the principal break that made us really good.
As I told you in Europe, we tour in very big venues; I would say we are probably the biggest tour band for reggae. That is just because they teach us how to make it on the road, how to organize us.
Right, so 12 years, that was what… Five years into your career that you met the tour agency or so?
Yes, that is just the only breaking point we can maybe talk about, but part of that is our following has just been growing very slowly, you know? It’s just steady. We are independent, we’ve never been on TV or very big radio shows and stuff like this. So it is just the people talking to each other about us that made us grow. That is why it has been so strong and that is why when I look back now, I say it’s not a real struggle to try to start something; it is the people who raised us, in a sense.
Right, so then that’s what you feel is your key to success would be, your organization, playing those live shows and touring consistently?
Yes, I mean, we have never tried to be like any stars, you know? We really don’t care about fancy things. Most people look for us to play music, spread the kind of special message and when we are onstage, we are, I believe, 100% onstage, we always say we play our hearts onstage. It is very serious for us and I think the people can see that, when people know a bit more about us, they know that we do everything by our self, we have no major company behind us that we pay to make promotions and stuff like that, and I think the people believe in that kind of behavior and they enjoy it so… well, at least for the moment, most of them they say, ‘Hey, please continue to stay like this.’
So you said that you guys have a message in your music. You guys sing a lot in French and I can’t really understand a lot of the words. If you could translate it in English, what would be your overall message in your music that you would try to get across?
Well you know, this band, as humans, we are really representative of how France is nowadays. Like, we are all from very different social pasts. Like for example me, my father is, I would not say rich, but has some money. Some other parents were teachers, some other come from really rough ghettos of the streets. We are also all from different geographic origins. My family is Greek. Some are from North Africa, some are from West Africa, Italy, there are a lot of different cultures and backgrounds and what we try to say to the people is, just watch how we do. We have very big fans, we are all very different, we have strong influences which we try to turn into something positive and then you know, by accepting the difference of your neighbor, we can do something positive. That’s what we try to sing about.
That’s very cool. Do you have a special message for your new American fans? Do you want to let them know you are coming? Do you have any plans to come to America?
Yes, we are working on that. I don’t know, I would say, for those like you, who can't understand the lyrics, probably just know music is just a kind of language that you try to make for the voiceless people. We try to talk about them, especially France, social problems like the poor getting more poor and the rich getting more rich, those kinds of problems, but what we do onstage is talk about that but try to keep the people positive because we have to keep positive in this day and age of the roots reggae.
You guys have a very powerful presence. I love your music, the last couple of days; I have been listening to it a lot, rocking. Even though I can’t understand the lyrics, I still understand the music.
Yes, as a band, we have grown onstage before recording CDs and stuff like this and the principal thing we try to do onstage is to make the people be with us, like a part of the band. So we’re always trying to make the people jump and sing, even when we are outside of France, we try to expand some of the words to the people and make them sing with us and we always express to the people what we are talking about. We played New York many times and it is always fun because at the beginning of the night, they don’t understand anything about us or France, but at the end, they understand.
For the moment we are just finishing a tour for the last album. Right now we are in Europe for the whole summer, then we go to Brazil in September. Then we stop touring, we make a new album and we are probably going to try to release it probably around September 2016. Then we are going to make a tour and we try to work already to have the tour especially in West USA.
Yes, you’ve got to get to California man we’ll love you out here.
That’s what we are going to do. We are making it a principal goal too because right now we tour pretty much everywhere in the world except West USA. We just did New York several times and then Canada, but we need to go more deep in the West and some more of the USA.
Yes, I saw you guys perform with Alborosie one time, like on one of the days that we’ve been playing... He comes through all the time here, so we love Alborosie out here and I know we’d love you guys out here too.
Every year, every artist we meet that goes to California, they always say, 'Hey, you have to go to California. It’s really good out there.'
I’m telling you. Well it was really nice to meet you Zigo. I’ll go ahead and let you go back to your kid. I just have one more question, I see you have a family, how has that been? Has it been hard with your family and spending a lot of time with them or do they work it in there really easily?
No, to myself, it’s okay because we were already touring a lot when I had them. When we leave for three weeks or one month, it’s hard, especially for me, but for my kids, I think it is really, really more hard, but we can talk on Skype now. She gave birth to our girl and we left on tour for six-weeks, just six days after her birth. So I was like meeting her on Skype. It was hard but, you know, we are so blessed to make a job like this and we are all friends in the band, since 17 years. My only musical experience, traditionally, is to be with my friends on the road, all over the world, just to have fun, always.
That’s crazy. You are living the dream.
Yes and as independents, we can choose. We say, okay, the maximum amount of touring is one month, then go back home for two weeks and then go back on the road. Some musicians, they have to go three months, four months on the road, they have no choice, it is what it is.