It's probably a good sign when an artist can't even accurately recall the number of times they've performed in India. Live looping artist Dub FX aka Benjamin Stanford, who uses nothing but his voice on stage with a looper, was among the earliest musicians to introduce the energy of live beatboxing to Indian audiences, alongside the likes of Austria's Bauchklang. Stanford says over email that he must have been to India "at least four or five times since 2009."
This time around, he's performed at the Goa Sunsplash Festival earlier this month, with a forthcoming show in Mumbai's Todi Mill Social on January 24th and a collaborative performance with Carnatic vocalist Mahesh Vinayakram at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival's Music Stage on January 27th. Stanford and Vinayakram collaborated on a song called "No Rest for the Wicked" via artist and events agency Urban Beat Project in 2012. "We made a video and put it on YouTube and now it has over 17 million views! We just want to catch up and try to recreate some of the magic we found all those years ago," Stanford says.
Even though he's been a regular to India in the last decade, Stanford feels he hasn't spent enough time in the country to talk about the changes he's seen in the music ecosystem. "From what I see on the surface, the scene in India is always growing and improving." He feels the Internet and social media have been double-edged swords, in that it "normalizes so many different trends" but also makes it "harder to find culture unique to one country or city." Stanford adds, "India has such a deep and rich culture that it remains unique to the rest of the world but I see artists and festivals adopting ideas and techniques into their work which can be a good thing. I guess it all depends on their intentions."
Active since 2003, Dub FX first gained popularity in Australia for street performances, something he counts as "instrumental to me becoming the artist and performer I am today." He adds, "I strongly recommend any artist to go into the street and perform." It was after a few years of fame that Dub FX's debut album Everythinks a Ripple released in 2009. Stanford says he didn't realize the album was about to turn a decade old this year. "Those songs still have a place in my heart and I still sing a lot of them in my live show, the way I perform them has evolved but it's still got the same energy," he says.
While his India plans are mostly about "soaking in the vibes and catching up with old friends," Stanford goes back home to Melbourne to finish work on his next album, the follow-up to 2016's Thinking Clear. He says, "I am recording a new album and I will be on tour all over the world!"