The journey of Al Dobson Jr over the last year epitomises everything we enjoy about covering music on Stamp The Wax. A tale that’s taken him from internet obscurity to critical acclaim in twelve months, it’s been great to discover his music, get to know the man behind it a little more, and watch his work reach new and increasingly influential ears. If you’re interested to hear the story from our perspective, join us for the next few lines.
We first got in touch with the South London beatmaker in July 2013 after hearing a couple demos on Bradley Zero’s NTS show. With a strong percussive structure and sounds from far off continents, it was a refreshing change from the London house resurgence and we knew we were onto something. We then met up at a Peckham showcase at the V&A Museum, where Al Dobby had the tourists in the main foyer looking very confused from the otherworldly sounds coming from his needles. Since then, it’s been great to see his stature grow in London, with a sold out collaborative record for 22a followed, numerous DJ slots around the capital, Boiler Room appearances, radio play from Gilles Peterson and (arguably the pinnacle of any musician’s career) making it onto our Ones To Watch list this year. June seems to be the month where it all comes to fruition, with two solo long-players out on Rhythm Section International and Izwid; the former sold out in a matter of days and the second is out now on Bandcamp but won’t be around for long.
It’s been hard to judge when we’d put out an Al Dobson mix on STW, but I think we’ve picked the perfect time. Here’s a long-awaited (for us anyway) interview and exclusive mix from the man himself. It’s part his own material, part older soul records and altogether exactly what we were hoping for!
First off, what’s your musical background? How did you first get into music and what’s brought you up to this point?
No professional background at all, just been listening to music since I was yery young.
We heard in a recent interview you’re originally from Bristol. How long ago were you there and what led you to move? Do you feel the city had any impact on your musical development?
Yeah I was there about five years ago. Of course the Caribbean music heritage of Bristol had an impact on me. That and my pops playing a lot Jamaican music from a young age.
Your productions are very much percussion-led. Could you give us some insight into why this style has emerged for you? Is it any part in reaction to the recent progression of dance music, and wanting to return to the roots?
I dont know much about the recent dance music, I like a lot of old music and I’m inspired by the earliest forms of expression, the voice and drums in particular.
Could you choose 5 records that have particularly influenced your sound?
1. Herman Chin Loy – Aquarius Dub
2. Kankick – Acid Massive Musical pt 1& 2
3. Slum Village – Fantastic Vol.1
4. Lee Perry – Roast Fish
5. Collie Weed & Corn Bread, Augustus Pablo – King Tubbys meets Rockers Uptown.
Much of your work seems to incorporate foreign music, in both name and sound. Starting off with your first release – where did last year’s Japan project with Creole+ emerge from? Can you give any information about the samples you used?
I have some traditional recordings and some 80’s Japanese bands in my collection. My good friend Creole+ went did a show in China and picked up a lot of Japanese records last year, so one night we decided to make beats strictly out of sounds from Japan.
Rye Lane Vol. 1 is also pretty international affair. Do the countries you’ve lended to song names have a particular affinity to you?
No not really, but I guess I enjoy coffee from those areas…
How did Rye Lane Vol. 1 come together? Is there a theme or story running through the album?
It was put together from quite a few beat CDs over the last year. No theme really, I just let Bradley Zero pick some things he liked, I picked some things and then we compiled it together.
We were left wanting more on a lot of tracks – are you deliberately teasing us with the short track length or is there more to it?
They’re live takes, not deliberately short. I guess they’re a natural length of time.
What made you choose Rhythm Section to release your debut full length?
Bradley Zero has shown a lot of love and support for what I’ve been doing and asked if I want to work on a record. I was glad to work with him and keep creative control.
Sounds From The Village Vol. 1, out now on Izwid quickly follows RLV1. How did you link up with Izwid and form SFTV?
I met Kutmah a couple of years ago through Mo Kolours at our house for a BBQ. We just got faded and Kutmah came through with some fresh watermelon and ginger Hennessy. Anyway he heard some of my beats that day and I’ve been giving him CDs ever since. So Sounds From The Village Vol. One is compiled by Kutmah, Rye Lane is more of a joint selection with Bradley from a smaller batch of beats since I’ve been living on Rye Lane.
Would you say there are any differences in style between your Rhythm Section and Izwid releases?
Not particularly, both records are made up of all live takes but I guess Sounds from The Village has been compiled from a larger batch of music over the last 2 years.
As a current Peckham resident, is there anything you’re liking about London music at the moment?
I like that people are doing their thing.
With Rhythm Section and 22a representing the Peckham strong what are your views on the local scene at the moment, compared to London as a whole?
I’m not too sure about any scene at the moment. For me Peckham’s been where my friends are and it’s cheap to live but that’s changing! I’m pretty sure Rhythm Section is from Leeds originally and 22a is from Woking.
Is it ever difficult to get down and concentrate on your productions, in virtue of friendship being so intermingled with music-work?
No not really. Sometimes you feel it sometimes you don’t.
What have you got planned this summer beyond the release of RLV1 and is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to?
I’m releasing a project on Izwid Records called Sounds From The Village Vol. One this month which has been in the making for a couple of years. Also got a couple of remixes and reprises coming soon alongside some edits in the next few months. Very happy to be playing at Worldwide Festival, Sete (2nd july) and I’ve got a few other sessions coming up this summer.
And finally, are there any artists you’re into at the moment – outside all the 22a crew who we’ve given many shout outs too on STW!
Yea definitely. My people 22a are a constant inspiration! My people, Sey Music family, Bassa, Creole +, Mo Kolours & Jeen Wilder,Rosemary Blue & Neneigh. Also a cat called Saint Pause has been making some good good sounds
Thanks to Mia Z-S for helping bring this together.