It was one of the most interesting, thoughtful online D&B events during our lockdown-ravaged 2020: Dub Wars.
A knock-out tournament featuring an exciting range of new-gen and established underground artists, it put the contestants on their toes as they had to whip-up a clash-level banger in five days using samples provided by a whole range of legendary names from Invaderz to Ulterior Motive.
The consistent high quality of the tracks, the fact they were presented anonymously and regular commentary from pundits such as DJ Chef, Darrell Invaderz and Dub Wars founders OB1 and Creatures all added to the weekly excitement during both tournaments. The tracks have remained on the Native Instruments Metapop platform which was used for voting since the tournaments closed. But now the first Dub Wars release is available as all tracks from Dub Wars Season One are available as a special dub pack style collection.
Limited to only 300 sales, all 29 tracks from the tournament – including bangers from the likes of Ill Truth, Wingz, Missledz, Creatures, HLZ, Taelimb Kolectiv, Dark Ops, Tephra & Arkoze, Screamarts and more – is available from today, February 5, on Rebel Music’s Bandcamp.
“Super excited to be getting out the dub wars pack particularly as a special dub pack!” says Creatures, who took part in the first tournament and headed up the second. “I really enjoyed working on the project and have loved the community that Dub Wars is building. I’ve personally enjoyed the challenge and feel it has pushed my production, particularly my work-flow and production, to a new level!”
New levels beckon as it’s been confirmed that a third tournament will be announced soon. In the meantime, we asked a few of the acts involved about their experiences in the tournament and why it brought out an endearing creative spirit just when we needed it.
Darrell Invaderz: “Dub Wars for me was a ray of sunshine in a really shitty time. Musically it felt like it did several things. Dub Wars not only brought some known artists, but also introduced me to some new and up and coming producers, in a way we hadn’t seen before. For me, I had to base how I felt about them purely on what they brought to the table musically, rather than through internet, DJ or label hype The world was in a place of disarray, and isolation was an experience that many of us shared but Dub Wars was something that brought us together. It was a joy and a distraction from the crises outside to interact with my good mate DJ Chef almost every day, and to connect with the contestants and also the guests. I made some great new pals and the music that came out of the battles was in my opinion, some of the best D&B to come out of 2020. It also allowed the listening public to be part of the experience with the remix aspect, whilst also giving out samples, so it was nice to see they could also get something for participating. I have loved following the careers of the contestants and kudos to Ben OB1 and Harvey Creatures for creating something that I am sure will go from strength to strength.”
Ill Truth: “Looking back, Dub Wars was really filled a huge void from the lack of gigs and musical activity that was happening at that time. It was a time where people were holding back music and releases hoping for things to get back to normal in the near future. Dub Wars gave an exciting and communal platform for us and the format of the competition has impacted the way we write music hugely to date! All we can say is big love to everyone involved, we can’t wait to have the music out there, it’s a time stamp for positively driven through music in such an uncertain time.”
Missledz: “It feels like so long ago now, but I have very fond memories of being involved in Season 1 of Dub Wars. It was such a great experience, and my workflow and output has increased significantly since then. I don’t overthink producing as much now and tend to focus more on getting a vibe down quickly. Really happy to have made some new friends through the comp too. I’m excited for the release of the digital dub pack; I think the exclusive nature of a “dub pack” fits well with the Dub Wars’ ethos. I hope everyone enjoys the tunes!”
Dark Ops: “Being a part of Dub Wars was an amazing experience, especially during the initial lockdown. Ross and I often work on tunes separately so this format felt comfortable. We are proud of what we achieved in a short space of time. We have kept in touch with a lot of the founding members and have plenty of collaborations ready to go.”
Tephra & Arkoze: “We are very excited for the release of our track we cooked up for the first Dub Wars competition. The project provided for some much needed focus and community at a time when the world found itself socially restricted and for that we send a big thanks to Ben, Rebel Music and all those involved for making it happen. To be among the first producers to be part of a dnb production battle that has not hadn’t been done before on that scale before was truly an honour! Also, this event was innovative as it led to us finding a new way of working together and with other artists that we have carried out since. Big ups, Rhys and James.”
Wingz: “I’ve had a lot of fun doing Dub Wars as it set you in a mood to be creative quickly because of the tight deadlines. It definitely helped me to get more consistent in writing tunes and fleshing out ideas.”
Taelimb: “Dub wars was the best thing to happen over lockdown. The project was the perfect thing to help get me and others through this testing period. It kept my creativity as an artist going and gave the drum and bass community something interactive to be a part of rather than just another live stream. Not to mention we now have a huge collection of absolutely amazing tracks to release, so grab them while you can!”
Chef: “DubWars Vol 1. What an amazing project from the start. The whole project has been an immense undertaking by BenOb1 and Creatures who put on a killer production battle with established producers and brand new artists right at the start of the global pandemic and the killing of George Floyd, emotions were already high and then to still be pushing on with the competition in the craziest of times was a great thing to watch and take your mind off of the world for five minutes.
The quality of music produced by everyone was so exciting and fresh, I couldn’t wait to hear what they had done with the sample packs every week and if they were going to place some indirect sends on the track aimed at the other producer in their battle. I can’t pick a favourite tune from the battle due to the range and quality of everyone’s commitment to DW1. It’s cliche but everyone’s a winner in their own way. All in all, this was the most exciting battle of D&B producers during 2020. The music on DubWars Vol1 is a testament to the DubWars competition. Big up all who made it happen and to the public who voted and were part of the competition too. Now go grab a copy and enjoy!”
Kolectiv (Kerim): “Dub Wars was a bit of a journey into unknown. We knew Ben (OB1 of course and we had chatted beforehand about the idea and really loved the concept him and Harvey (Creatures) had come up with. We knew the people competing as well so it seemed like a great idea. It worked out well. It helped us push on to a better level and we found a way to work online together which has helped during lockdown. To be honest the whole competition helped so thank you Dub Wars and the team at Rebel Music, Native Instruments and Metapop.”
Kolectiv (Simon): “The first season of Dub Wars came during lockdown one and was a great motivation to keep writing music at a time when we couldn’t play out. Not only that but the weekly zoom meetings with the other artists was about the only social event to look forward to with plenty of banter and memes in between. All the guys and girls involved were a good laugh but the level that everybody brought to the competition was extremely high and some of my favourite tunes of last year were made as a result of the competition.”
OB1: “What a perfect way to wrap up Season 1. Releasing the music as a limited edition Dub Pack really keeps to the ethos of the tournament with exclusivity always being a part of dub culture. So much respect for all the artists involved, throwing themselves in at the deep end and taking on the challenge. For me they created a parallel universe, a place to escape the chaos of the world. The art they created stands testament to that and it’s a real pleasure to see it released.”
HLZ: “Dub Wars is a great reality for our scene and is a much-needed channel of communication/interaction in these tough times. On top of that, when Ben sent the masters of bub pack part 1, I listened again to all the tracks and I was so proud we all set the bars so high in such a competitive yet friendly situation. What I loved, and love, about Dub Wars is that it really helped me and others to get our creative flow back , it was that extra motivation much needed at that particular time. And special thanks to DJ Chef and Darrel from Invaderz for engaging us with feedback, hilarious rants and banter.”