Esteemed producer Adrian Sherwood, the founder of On-U Sound, came to Dubspot NYC to present a live, streaming workshop. Sherwood was never interested in sounding like anyone else, and that ethos led to him working with the likes of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Prince Far I to Depeche Mode and The Bug. “The one thing I learned early on was you got to have your own sound,” he says. As someone who considers himself tone deaf, the producer focused on creating new sounds and noises rather than melody. In the late 70s, he brought unique ideas to the table such as mixing backwards. The process involved adding effects to a song as it played in reverse, so that when you flipped it and played the track normally, those added sounds would play backwards. “I was one of the first people that did it,” Sherwood recalls. “In the 60s a lot of the hippies in the psychedelic movement, but not out of the reggae era, were doing that.” Sherwood even inspired Dubspot’s own team. “Listening to his music exposed me to whole new worlds of sound at a time when I was just starting to get deeper into my own productions,” says electronic music production instructor John Selway. Yet Sherwood’s impact on reggae in the UK stems from much more than his production work. He also brought together a number of artists, started distribution for a variety of small reggae labels all over the North, and released a significant amount of music through his own labels. His most influential label, On-U Sound, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with four releases last year.
[Photo by Rene Passet]