Dub and Bass Culture

Lion Dub flyer. Berlin, August 2012.

Jamaican dancehall began rushing Germany’s charts in the early ‘90s, at around the same time that Berlin’s Basic Channel label starting releasing its uniquely stark brand of dub-influenced techno that’s influenced countless artists in the city and around the globe.

Since then, labels like Germaican Records, Meteosound, and Best Seven, and artists like Seeed and Gentleman, have helped solidify this century’s foundation of German reggae and dub.

And so it continues with Berlin’s Lion Dub Roots and Bass Festival, which took place this year at Naherholung Sternchen, a recently opened art space in the heart of Berlin housed in a former kiez-lokal (neighborhood bar) that doubled as a political meeting room during the GDR period. The event is more than just a well-curated gig. It offers ample evidence of the firm integration of dub and bass into Germany’s underground music scene.

Lion Dub differs from previous dubwise events like the Berlin Dub Festival (put on by the city’s Irieland Soundsystem crew) in two ways. For one, the overwhelming majority of its lineup of 27 live, DJ and sound system acts was homegrown German talent. For another, although dub-based, the material that lineup offered was distinctly diverse, including ska, reggae, Balkan, dubstep, drum ‘n’ bass, ragga, jungle, breakbeat, bass and offbeat styles.

From the live London-to-Berlin fusionstep outfit Jazzsteppa through to the twentysomething reggae crooner Ephraim Juda and onwards to crews like Leipzig’s swing-jazz-crazed Vibes Ambassadors and Two-Tone types Skaputnik, this packed fest in the center of the capital seems like a rich survey of what Deustchland dubheads got on tap.

Commentary by Ron Nachmann. Photograph courtesy of Joel Schalit.


  1. I still remember the first time I heard dub. It was 1975 and an album called “Garvey’s Ghost” by Burning Spear. It was a dub vision of their album “Marcus Garvey.” I had never heard anything like that and thought it was genius. Okay, marijuana helped. But it still sounds good. Moved on to Lee Perry, etc.

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