Five years ago, Dub Fx, real name Benjamin Stanford, packed his bags and hit the streets of the world to play music in order to fund his travels. BD, a friend of his, filmed him one day and put it on YouTube, which spawned a viral video, resulting in him traveling to more and more places. In between dong festivals, bringing people together around his sound, he’s still making his way around each city’s streets. Dub FX’s latest album “Thinking Clear” was this past August, check it out on iTunes and the video embedded below.
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Chris Remmers: Let’s start off by telling us a little bit about where you’re from.
Dub FX: I’m from [Melbourne], Australia, but I also grew up in Italy, because I’m part Italian and my mom is half Italian. I spent a few years there as a child, went to school, learned the language there and then went back to Australia. Then, moved back [to Italy] again. So, I guess I’m a man of the world these days. I don’t really stay in once place.
CR: A cultured man. So, where’s been your favorite place that you’ve ended up living in?
DFX: I lived in a van and traveled around Europe, just living on the streets, moving to different cities. I’ve been to a lot of different places, but as they say, home is where the heart is. Right? I found really beautiful groups of people could have been in [all] these places. In some parts of Eastern Europe where there’s a lot of issues, a lot of poverty, there’s some really beautiful people that I really resonated with. I enjoy being around in that area. So, parts of Eastern Europe, Hungary and Romania, I find I really like a lot. I also really, really like England. I feel like England is the place I resonate with most out of all those places I’ve been to, purely because of how devoted everybody is to music.
CR: Would you say that some of your influences came from England? Or, where would you say your musical influences happened to be birthed?
DFX: Massively! Basically, when I was a kid growing up, I was more influence by the punk rock and metal things, all that kind of stuff – hip hop, of course [too]. Then, I slowly steered more towards the Caribbean theme where I got more into Cuban and Jamaican music. I got really into soul. After that when I moved to England, that’s when I discovered dubstep and [dance music].
Primarily these days, I’m more influenced by the scene and culture of the [United Kingdom]. I feel like a lot of UK music really owes itself to reggae, whereas the American scene owes itself more to R&B. R&B focuses more on the kick drum and that kind of sound, where reggae focuses more on the bass line. That’s where I’m a little more influenced by the bass line.
CR: So, where do you think your style of music gets the most attention?
DFX: I guess Europe, definitely. That’s the place where I get most attention – Germany and Eastern Europe. I blew up in Asia a few years ago, and now these days it’s died down a little bit. Like, in Russia [between] 2008-2009. I was selling two-to-three thousand tickets per show. Germany, Austria, Vienna and Italy have kind of grown to those numbers now.
CR: Are there any shows that specifically stand out to you? Ones that you just remember walking away from and thinking, “Wow! That was an electric crowd.”?
DFX: Yeah, I’ve gotten so good at performing. I figured out how to project my energy and to really get people to zone in on what I’m doing, really sitting on my frequency. That kind of was learned on the streets. Now, I’m on stage and it’s second nature to me. I find it really easy. So, there’s not really any particular show where I felt like it was really banging. Whenever I perform in Eastern Europe and Germany though.
My favorite shows are the ones where the crowd doesn’t even know who I am. I just get up on stage, supporting another artist. Then, all of a sudden people don’t know what’s going to happen. I start beat boxing and singing, and I watch people’s jaws drop. That’s my favorite. It’s great to get people on my side, versus an audience who already knows who I am.
CR: That’s a pretty dope perspective. Are there any place that you’ve not played yet that you still have to hit?
DFX: I don’t know. I mean, I’ve played in Brazil, but nowhere else in South America. I really loved Brazil. I played in South Africa, but nowhere else in Africa. I’d like to go and check out more places around that area. I’ve played in parts of Asia, but as far as North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand I’ve gone everywhere. So, it’s mainly just parts of Asia, Africa and South America. Then I’ve pretty much done the whole globe.
CR: How about outside of touring for a personal trip? Are there any places that you still want to vacation in?
DFX: South America, Costa Rica or Peru. I’d really like to go to Peru and to check out South America.
CR: Is there anywhere in particular? What really brings your mind there?
DFX: I feel a deep connection to that area of the world. How those kind of indigenous cultures work – their spirituality. I feel a calling there. We all come to that society to a degree. We all have roots to that somewhere in our DNA. So, I’d like to check that out. I’d also like to explore how I look physically, my roots also come from the Nordic. I’ve never been to Scandinavia. I’ve been all over Europe, but I’ve never been to Scandinavia.
CR: That’s amazing. So, obviously you’re a very cultured and traveled dude. How do you feel travel and music really fit together in your life? Would you say you draw any musical inspiration from it?
DFX: Absolutely, you get a deeper understanding watching different people, different cultures get off on different things. I noticed in Brazil, people preferred the slower beats, they didn’t like fast music. They preferred real slow, as slow as you can get it. Then you go to the UK, they love the jungle, fast beats. People get off on different things. I picked up on a lot of different styles. More than anything though, I just have a more mature perspective of life.
The more you expose your mind to different possibilities, the more you realize how little you know and the more humble you become. Traveling helps broaden your mind and see inside yourself and the world around you. So, I try and reach as many boundaries as I can, and get a deeper understanding of the world around me.
CR: That’s absolutely amazing. I can’t tell you how much I respect that. I had an old professor from college and he’s big into Native American culture. He’s all about spirit animals and finding yourself. I think they do peyote. I think it’s all fascinating.
DFX: Yeah, I think other people are kind of scared by finding that sort of stuff beautiful, because of the culture in the western world with the war on drugs. People being misinformed, hearing horror stories and mainly people taking those substances in the wrong setting. Sometimes it’s in a completely different setting then when most people would take it at a festival or party. If you do it in a really beautiful environment with a few people, you have an intention before you take it to go on this journey. It can be a really positive and uplifting.
If you do come across dark things it’s all part of it and meant to be there. It’s all within yourself and part of learning. Even in my physical world, traveling, I’ve had a lot of near death experiences. Things that should have told me to go home, call my mom and dad to say I’m coming home, but instead I pushed on. That made me a warrior, a dragon. I feel stronger and more confident as a person.
CR: That’s an absolutely brilliant way to put it. I have no other way to say it, it’s definitely something to sit on. Switching subjects, if someone were going to your hometown of Melbourne, Australia, where would you’d tell them to go?
DFX: There’s a lot of beautiful places in Australia. If you’re coming from North America, it’s not entirely different from what you’re used to at home. We’re a very Americanized culture in Australia, so I would always tell people to go out and see the nature, because that’s different from anything you’ve seen before. The desert is bizarre. It feels like you’re on Mars, because it’s so red. The more central you go the redder it becomes. The western side of Australia is the part of Australia where, when people think of Australia, it’s what they would think in their mind. It looks like [it has] lots of aboriginals, kangaroos, deep sand and long beaches.
The east coast is kind of where everyone lives and where the culture is. I’d say Melbourne is a lot like Seattle as far as the way it is. Then Sydney is a bit more like [Los Angeles] in a way. It’s kind of got that industry [feel] – lots of fake-tanned people. New Brisbane is more tropical, but then Melbourne feels like you’re in England most of the year. The more north you go it becomes more tropical.
CR: You’ve given quite the perspective tonight. To wrap this up for you, where is your next big trip and what’s it for?
DFX: My next trip is to New Zealand on New Year’s Eve. I’m playing a couple of big festivals there. That’s not very far away though. It’s only a four-hour flight from where I am. Then, I’m actually going to become a father on January 28th. My beautiful partner is about to pop. She’s massive!
DFX: Thank you, I’m about to have a little girl. So, I’m going to spend six months at least hibernating with her. I can’t afford to sit for too long. I’ve got to get back on the road as much as possible, so I can support the family. In June/July I’ll be back in Europe for some shows, then North America at least later in .