Interview/Music: Dundundun

Photo by Julian Preece.

This feature lets you get to know the artists you should be paying attention to. This time we’re talking to Dundundun.

Known for blending thumping rhythms with jazz and electronics to produce uplifting sounds and dirty dance tracks, Dundundun is a collective of Bristol’s finest musicians. Last year, they made waves with their self-titled debut EP and were hailed by the likes of Gilles Peterson and Tom Ravenscroft.

A stunning reworking of the Sun Ra classic, Love In Outer Space, is included on the EP, along with a remix from Ishmael Ensemble. Also, Rebecca Vasmant remixes ‘Anansi ‘ in her own style, channelling deeply hypnotic melodies and slow-burning African rhythms.

‘Future Hope,’ the band’s second EP (just out via Worm Discs), features poet, visual artist, and filmmaker Nadeem Din-Gabisi.

Dancefloor flavours abound on the EP, ranging from dubbed-out broken beat stompers to percussion and synth workouts to Afro-Brazilian afrobeat bangers all topped off by a remix from Red Rack’em.

Dundundun consists of Justin Fellows (drums), Jackson Lapes (percussion), Benji Muscat (bass), Dorian Childs Prophet (keys & synths), Ben Plocki (baritone sax) and Brian Hargreaves (tenor sax).

With their new EP just out, we chat with band members Dorian Childs-Prophet, Jackson Lapes, and Ben Plocki, about their key influences, the Bristol music scene, Sun Ra remakes and more.

Who are some of your key influences? In what ways do you draw inspiration from these artists?

DCP: There’s a huge range of influences brought by all our different members, with each of us having their own musical upbringing and education and the impact this has on their input.

The UK Jazz scene has got so many artists pushing the boundaries of jazz and fusion. In particular, we’re really influenced by artists such as Fela Kuti, Emma Jean-Thackray, Sun Ra, Bloto, Ill Considered, LCSM, Mala, Pharoah Sanders, Kaidi Tatham, Domu, Kode9.

JL: One of the initial major influences for the band was African and Latin percussion. The way that all the rhythmic layers fit around the clave together has always been an obsession of mine and Justin’s. Also, big fat breaks from the percussion and drums which signal new sections starting/ending. Within the UK Jazz scene, I think the freshest thing is how artists are fusing together different textures; in our case, it’s organic drum and percussion sounds with synths and effects.

What are you working on creatively at the moment? Are you planning to release an album soon?

DCP: We have a few things up our sleeve! An album is definitely on the cards, but we’re just writing as much as possible, seeing where it leads. We’ll be getting in the studio this year, so expect another release to follow. Look out for a collab with Marie Lister (No Go Stop, Duval Pete Josef), who’ll be joining us on stage at our Future Hope EP launch in May.

Who was the inspiration behind the band’s formation, and how did you all connect?

BP: All of the inspiration to start the band came from our drummer Justin. Originally the band started as just drums and percussion and horns but it evolved over time to include bass and keys as we wanted to push a slightly tougher, more electronic element to the music. Finding the right people for the band and connecting was easy; Bristol has such an inclusive music scene, we had all played with each other in loads of different projects over the years, and it was just a matter of getting in a room and improvising some ideas till it felt right.

Many of your tunes are danceable, working both live and in DJ sets. Is that by design?

BP: 100%! I think we all find it a little difficult to attribute a genre to the music we make, but the common thread is definitely that we want our music to be for the purpose of DANCE. We want people to get together and have a good time while listening to our music, and I think that’s what we all need after being locked up in isolation for so long.

What is going on in Bristol’s music scene, and who should we be watching very closely?

BP: The Bristol music scene is so strong and so diverse; we all love being part of it. Obviously, we have to give a shout out to the other projects we are personally involved in, like Pete Josef, Zoobers and No Go Stop and also our label mates on Worm Discs, Snazzback and Run Logan Run. In addition, we are big fans of Hippo, Stanlaey, Get The Blessing, Ishmael Ensemble, Solomon OB & everything that the Bounce guys are doing.

Can you tell us about the track ‘Future Hope’? How did you connect with Nadeem Din-Gabisi?

JL: We’d be into Nadeem’s music since back when he used to perform with Steam Down. His vocal style is really individual, and he’s a really friendly and approachable dude! We reached out to him over Instagram and it all came together really smoothly. Myself and Brian envisaged someone delivering a “Sermon” about positivity and hope in a post-covid world over this instrumental. Nadeem was just about to become the father of twins, and this seemed so perfect and really encapsulated a “Future Hope”! He came down to Bristol for a day to Canyon Sound studios and we spent the day together drinking tea and got all the vocals down in one day. It was a real pleasure working with him and it felt really effortless; he’s a true gentleman!

It was impressive how you reimagined Sun Ra’s ‘Love In Outer Space’. Why did you choose such a classic track, and what inspired you to create your interpretation of such a legendary song?

JL: Benji, our bass player, brought the tune to the band with the idea for a reinterpretation. Sun Ra and his entire musical philosophy is a big influence for all of us, along with so many of our contemporaries. We played through the head a few times, and it sort of turned into a jam over a groove we had been working on and added the percussion breaks. We then pulled it together as a formal arrangement, and the legendary Quinton Scott from Strut Records put us in touch with Sun Ra’s lawyers and here we are!

Lastly, what else do you have in store for 2022?

JL: You can catch us performing at The Gallimaufry, here in Bristol, alongside Nadeem Din-Gabisi in May! Also, we’ll be playing at a few festivals, including Shambala and We Out Here festival. Recording wise, we’ll be getting back into the studio, but there’s no strict timeline for that at the moment…

CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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