Children Of Dub interview and video premiere of ‘Be The Solution’
Exclusive video premiere of ‘Be The Solution’ by Children Of Dub.
They recently released their 5th and final album. It is an homage to all things dance, all linked by the characteristic heavy bass and dub production techniques. Featuring contributions from vocalist Emma Stack, multi-instrumentalist Chucky Chrysal and saxophonist Anton Petelchits, This album explores house, funk, trip-hop, trance, drum n bass, break-beat and ambient as well as the expected dub influences. There’s also the upcoming double CD ‘Evolution 1993-2020’ being released on 6th November on CD and digital.
How did you get first interested in music? What kind of music did you listen to as a young teenager?
Luke Eastwood: I grew up hearing music as my Dad was in a rock band and he was also an avid record collector. His stereo system was his pride and joy and still is, he has the original massive Celestion speakers and his Pioneer turntable from the early 1970s, both working perfectly! When I was 11 I discovered electronic music – Eurythmics, Thomas Dolby, OMD, and Ultravox I loved it. As a teen I listened to a lot of synth pop, rock (such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zep, Guns & Roses) but also a lot of classical music (I played cello and later on piano a bit) and I got into Jazz around the age of 15. My uncle also introduced me to some of the weirder Bowie albums, Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk when I was 16. Tangerine Dream really blew my head off, they were pretty much out on their own creatively!
“Tangerine Dream really blew my head off, they were pretty much out on their own creatively!”
Where and when did you grow up? Did the local scene have any impact on your music taste?
I was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1970. There were no jobs in Scotland, we moved to England near my Dad’s folks and I grew up in tiny villages in Kent and Surrey. At 19 I fell out with my folks and went to London to work in a Casino for a year. I tried out for the RAF as jet pilot but I only passed the Navigator tests. I went off to university in London had a blast and never went back to the RAF!
There was no music scene at all locally until I went to a college called Brooklands in autumn 1986 – they had a Student Union and gigs sometimes! I saw a few bands including an acid house band with 3 guys and girls singer, I was impressed. There was a real mix of styles around in the late 80s in the UK – rock, goth, synth pop, funky and boy/girl band rubbish. Then suddenly overnight house music appeared and shook it all up – that had a huge impact on me and changed my ideas about what was possible musically.
When did you decide that you wanted to start working and performing your own music?
I think I had hoped to do my own music since I was about 15 or 16. I’d been saving up for a Korg Poly 800 as soon as it came out and my Dad helped me out there and drove some crazy distance to get me one at a discount price. My early attempts at writing songs were terrible and very derivative! I formed a crap band at school and an equally crap one at college (me playing guitar or keyboards) – we were awful! At university in London I had discovered more music, marijuana, women, cheap student union booze and also met Demian Castellanos in 1990. We both wore kinda hippie clothes so on a street corner he stopped me and asked me to fill in a marketing survey so he could get paid for it. I did it as he looked like a cool guy and we got talking about music – it turned out we both loved Spacemen 3 and Pink Floyd. He played guitar and I was by then playing bass as well as keyboards and guitar. I knew a great drummer (Giles) so we formed a psychedelic rock band called ‘Eclipse’ named after the Pink Floyd song. We didn’t last long as a band, as both Dem and I wrote songs and had clear ideas that neither of us wanted to compromise on.
What’s the story of Children Of Dub formation?
After Eclipse ended I worked on 4 track tape by myself, combining rock and house music ideas, but I did sometimes jam with Demian still. Giles (the drummer from Eclipse) introduced me to this crazy Croatian rock band living and practising in this huge squat in Clerkenwell. As they were moving out and my mate Chris was looking for a place for a rave to happen for his new club Zero Gravity, it was a stroke of luck. So I brought Chris round, he met Denny who lived upstairs and introduced Jono and Richard – (known professionally as DJs Cloggi and Quark). Not long after Zero Gravity moved in and I spent a lot of time hanging out with Jono (DJ Quark) listening to acid house, techno and ambient music and watching him DJ. Eventually I asked him to help me with the drumtrack for ‘Journey To The Inner Light’ which I had recently recorded with Demain. Jono laid down a far superior set of beats that really lifted the 2nd half of the track (the first half has no drums) and that got me thinking. That song became the first Children Of Dub demo track and after that I started copying or sampling drums off of dance records to combine with the live recordings. Later I asked Chris (from Zero Gravity) to join me.
Your debut was a double LP!
I was offered a deal with Ultimate Records (part of A&M) which I turned down, partly because Chris and I had a fall out and he left. Not long after, I met Katie Hecker through a mutual friend (the drummer from the band Manifesto), so I asked her to listen to my stuff and see if she wanted to play percussion. As it happened she knew the guy who ran Diversity Recordings and thanks to her we got signed. Fortunately Diversity gave me complete freedom to use their 24 track studio in down time and I just went crazy, like a kid in a sweet shop. I had probably about 20 songs at least but I cut it down to 11 to record for ‘The Silent Pool’.
Even at that it was too long and some songs had to be shortened to fit onto a CD of 75 minutes. It’s pretty unusual to be able to produce a 1st album but I had good engineers (Matt HIll and Andy Mowat) to help me with technical problems. Getting a double LP was amazing but at the time a lot of dance music was pretty spaced out and long songs, so it made sense.
‘Chameleon’ and ‘Analog Meditation’ followed.
Diversity folded and none of the artists got paid. I’d sold a lot of records in UK and Germany particularly but I never saw 1c, but that’s how it goes sometimes! After failed negotiations with One Little Indian Records, Dj Monkey Pilot (of London’s Whirl-Y-Gig nightclub) suggested I try Magick Eye Records, home to Astralasia.
As I loved Astralasia’s music I though, what have I got to lose? I signed for 3 albums and once again, fair play to them, I had complete creative control. ‘Chameleon’ was also a double LP (as well as extended CD). ‘Analog Meditation’ was a special release in USA, Canada and Japan only, it was a sort of in-between album with bits off ‘Chameleon’ and ‘ESP’ as well as odd tracks not on either.
What would you say is the main difference between your early material and ‘ESP’ and ‘Digital Mantras For A Fucked Up World’?
I was aware that by 1997 trance music was getting very mainstream and cheesy so I decided to head back towards Ambient Dub and Acid House as inspiration. I also listened to a lot of old 70s reggae at the time, like Prince Far I and Lee Scratch Perry, which kinda rubbed off on me for ‘ESP’. Demian returned for two tracks on ‘ESP’ – ‘Herb’ and ‘Strange News From Another Star’ which I think is my favourite C.O.D. song.
I’d messed around with Drum n Bass and some downtempo stuff earlier on and went back to that again with a different tack on “Digital Mantras”. I had collected a lot of audio samples in India, a few of which I used on ‘The Silent Pool’. Some of these left over samples I used in songs on ‘Digital Mantras’, plus I played Indian instruments – Dholak (double ended drum) and Bansuri (flute) on some tracks. I was still quite into jazz and classical music so I saw the drum n bass tracks as an opportunity to incorporate that into the sound, but fused with acid analogue sounds as well.
What happened next?
I decided to take a break, I was pretty tired of touring and recording and also struggling to make a decent living. I had a baby with my girlfriend in 1997 and we got married in 1998 (I turned down a small slot at Glastonbury Festival as it clashed with my wedding day). We moved to Ireland and I did less and less music, although ‘Evolution: 1995-2001’ was released in 2001 through Rumour Records. I started recording the final album in 2005 but it got shelved for a long time. When, in 2018, I discovered the live recording of us at WOMAD (on the Whirl-Y-Gig stage, a big thank you to R&M!) I decided I’d try and get it released. David Bell, former label mate at Diversity did a wonderful job of cleaning up the recording and mastering it, so after it was released I decided to finish the 5th album – ‘5th Element’.
Were/are any of you involved in any other bands or do you have any active side-projects going on at this point?
Katie was percussionist in the band Ecstasy Of St. Theresa and also Revolution 9, both in UK, she also worked later on in New Zealand on the CGI in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy! Demian went on to record solo albums and form several projects, the most well-known being The Oscillation, which has produced some really cracking albums. I did a couple of remixes and some DJing over the years but my main side project has been Kopyright Assassins with an anonymous accomplice. I’ve written a few books over the last 15 years, which I was lucky enough to get published! I’m also looking at some purely ambient music for future projects now that Children Of Dub is over forever.
“I remember the government changed the law just to prevent free raves from happening.”
What would be your definition of ‘Acid House’?
Basically it’s a more psychedelic version of House music. I guess the key element is analogue synth sounds, such as from the Roland TB303 or the (superior) Roland SH101 and various Moog synths.
Can you share some further details how your latest album ‘5th Element’ was recorded?
It was all done using an Apple Mac computer, a departure from the previous albums that were recorded in a more traditional studio environment. It still has a lot of real instruments there, but recorded entirely digitally onto hard disc – no tape. I had 3 new collaborators on this album, with a 2 of them being vocalists (Chucky Chrysal and Emma Stack). I was not big on lyrics generally in the past but I had a lot of time to think about experiences in my life and use that as inspiration. This album also has 3 cover versions which are wildly different from the originals – something I’ve generally avoided, but I really enjoyed transforming them into something new.
What’s the craziest story that happened during the so called The 2nd Summer Of Love?
I remember the government changed the law just to prevent free raves from happening. Also one day I was listening to BBC Radio 1 (UK’s most popular station at the time) and DJ Paul Gambocini had a total meltdown live on air – about how shit dance music is and how it was not even music at all, saying it should be banned and he flatly refused to play it!
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
Oh that’s a tough one! If I had to narrow it down here’s 5:
Vangelis – ‘Blade Runner’ Soundtrack
David Bowie – ‘Hunky Dory’
Jimi Hendrix Experience – ‘Axis: Bold As Love’
The Orb -‘The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld’
Propaganda – ‘A Secret Wish’
Oh and a recent discovery – ‘Under Stars’ by Lonely Robot, it’s kinda prog rock but probably the best album I’ve heard in years, really feckin’ fantastic, every song is a classic!
Thank you. Last word is yours.
Thank you so much for having me, it’s been fun to think about this, especially as the forthcoming ‘best of’ CD marks the end of a pretty strange but mostly enjoyable time in this band!