Dub Fx Interview Australia [ themusic.com.au ]
For the first 17 years of his life, Ben Stanford merely used his voice like the rest of us; to converse, laugh, maybe yell a bit. Then he discovered there were songs to be brought to life. But the Victorian-cum-global transient wasn’t satisfied there. Taking cues from the likes of Mike Patton and Rahzel, he discovered that like a guitar, a trumpet or a set of drums, his voice was an instrument. What followed was a journey into the depth of sound, beats and effects. The end result: Dub FX.
“[It] was something that developed as I got better at what I did,”
Stanford begins, on the line from his Australian base in the hilly outskirts of Melbourne.
“When I started five or six years ago, before I started street performing, yeah, I could sing a little bit, I could rap a little bit, I could beat box a little bit. But all the endless street performing chiselled me to be a lot better at what I do now.”
That being, performing around the world.
Although the moniker was birthed in St Kilda, it was bred in London. Now it is taken to global corners far and wide.
“It could have happened on the streets anywhere in the world,” he shrugs, “but it just so happened that I was in Europe.”
Stanford has honed his skills to turn his voice into a musical weapon, his sounds traversing genres such as reggae, dub and drum‘n’bass, to name just a few. But thanks to his intricate looping techniques and effects that change the reverb and delay of his delivery, these elements are given texture with rhythms balanced by harmonies, while plenty of other colour is thrown in to make the overall piece robust and full of life.
“I’m always focused on how to dirty my voice while I keep it in tune, and that’s a very difficult thing to do – that requires a lot of control,” Stanford admits. “But for me, taking it to the next level means I can make my voice sound like anything I want.”
During his career as a street performer a lot of people have told the 29-year-old that he should go on reality shows such as Australia’s Got Talent, a suggestion to which he politely replies, “Go fuck yourself.
“You know what it is, and it’s the same reason why I wouldn’t sign with a record label, and that’s because I wouldn’t want to be put in the same competition as people that I have absolutely no respect for,” he unloads. “It’s not like I don’t have respect for them as individuals, but as far as artistry goes I wouldn’t want to put myself in that mix. As soon as you portray yourself in that light it’s really difficult to get rid of that. I’d rather be compared to the people who I have a lot of respect for, who aren’t in those circles. I don’t want to be before some five-year-old who can sing the National Anthem and after some magician, that’s not my thing.”
His thing is taking established genres and, using his mouth, twisting them into something innovative. And when he breaks it down, Stamford is left with a trio of core elements which form the basis of everything he does: heavy bass lines, phat beats and conscious lyrics. “I try to keep things fresh and different and off centre,” he concludes. “I’m not trying to sound like anything that is out there; I’m trying to do something that’s unique and different while incorporating those three things.”