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Think Out Loud

Portland's Influence On Dub Music

Pete Springer/OPB

In the late 1960s, studio engineers working with reggae artists created a new genre of music called dub. Basically, dub took the raw elements of reggae tracks — music and vocals — then remixed them, often creating repetitive, non-melodic grooves. The studio became the primary instrument. The genre would go on to become a major influence on hip hop, rock, and electronic music.

From its Kingston, Jamaica origins, dub spread around the world, and found a home in Portland with the formation of BSI Records. BSI signed many of the most celebrated dub acts of the 1990s, including Alpha & Omega, Henry & Louis, and Muslimgauze. 

BSI didn’t survive the decline of the music industry during the last decade, but its owners have returned with ZamZam Sounds. The new label is much smaller, more of an art project than a business venture. But many of the biggest acts have returned. We’ll hear about Portland’s role in the global dub scene, and how this underground, but influential, genre has changed over the decades.

Here’s a sample of what ZamZam’s been working on:


  • Charles Mudede: Writer at The Stranger in Seattle

Are you a dub fan? What is your experience with Portland’s dub scene? What should people know about dub?

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