Currently based in London, Asian Dub Foundation fuse indie guitar music with rap, drum & bass, dub and asian music styles. Formed as a sound system in 1993, ADF soon grew into a band and released the Conscious e.p. on Nation Records in 1994. The following year saw the release of an album, Facts and Fictions, and a good deal of touring in support of anti-racism organisations. As a result of their mixture of political savvy and musical strength, they soon gained a large and loyal following, especially in France, which has a much more politically oriented youth culture than the UK.
Asian Dub Foundation grew out of a Community Music project in the Farringdon area of London, and ADF still feel that their music is strongly linked to the community that nurtured them. "The whole genesis of the band was within community music," says DJ Pandit G. "Our first LP was entirely down to kids who came to our workshops and toast, or scratch or sing. It doesn't matter who people are, where they're from, if you get a group mentality of support and strength, people can work together and still express their individuality. That's something that we love about Eastern music, something that's been lost in Western industrialised capitalism. What we're looking to do now is bring it back."
ADF have hit upon the Nutmeg musical ethic independently of the US Nutmeg scene: "We come into music with a totally different attitude," says bassist Aniruddha "Doctor" Das, "in that we don't segregate things. We listen to so many different forms of music and allow all those different sounds to work together in what we do. It's as simple as that." The Asian Dub Foundation sound is broad enough to take in the traditional melodies of India, the turntables and rapping of hip-hop, the samples and beats of drum & bass and the guitars, bass and drums of rock & roll. "People say everything's been done in music. It hasn't!" says guitarist Chandrasonic. "There are so many avenues to go down. ADF is about exploring the realtionship between different rhythms and sounds. It's not about fusion and it's not eclectic. We don't have a 'tourist mentality'. It's about exposing a commonality and that extends to people - the connections between them: economic and historical."
This philosophy is strikingly evident in ADF's second album: Real Areas For Investigation, later released in remixed format as R.A.F.I.'s Revenge. The band nail their political colours to the mast: Naxalite is inspired by a 1968 uprising by peasants in West Bengal, but could just as well be a rallying call to the dispossessed in any culture. Free Satpal Ram is a plea for the release of an English Bengali man who, after being set upon by a gang of racist thugs, was imprisoned for murder when one of the attackers died of wounds inflicted in self defence. ADF have campaigned vociferously for a review of the case, the details of which strongly suggest that Satpal was wrongly convicted: clearly, they view their music as a medium for higher issues.
ADF restore my faith in the power of music. Politically savvy and musically creative, they blow away the cobwebs of a cynical and jaded music scene.
Asian Dub Foundation Links
The official Asian Dub Foundation site.
A biography of the band in French.
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