Asian Dub Foundation: 'Suzhou should get ready to jump'

Long-running British band on their China debut and new album

Asian Dub Foundation are set to make their mainland China debut this October holiday as they headline the newly rebranded Midi electronic festival Diàn Mí on the shores of Tai Lake. Here, guitarist and founding member Steve Chandrasonic tells us what to expect from their set and what's kept them going for nearly a quarter of a century.

This is going to be Asian Dub Foundation’s first ever appearance in China. Is it somewhere you’ve wanted to play for a while?
This is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT somewhere we’ve wanted to play for at least 20 years! We’re so glad it’s finally happening. It’s our 25th anniversary next year so we’ve been a lot of places and it’s less frequent that we go somewhere totally new so that’s bound to increase the excitement level in the band. We will be staying in Shanghai for a day or so and then driving to Suzhou so hopefully we will see two interesting bits of China despite the short stay.

Does playing somewhere for the first time affect how you prepare for a show or how you put together your set-list?
Our shows seem to work everywhere so it doesn’t really affect the set-list but expect a few local phrases from our singer Aktar! The main thing that affects what we play is how long we are given, and festival sets tend to be shorter so unless it’s burning sunshine we play what we call 'hit and run' sets i.e high energy tear-ups. If we have longer then there will be a wider variation of tempo. But whatever, Suzhou should get ready to jump...

Do you like the festival experience in general?
It depends entirely on the content to be honest. There are some types of musicians that you will only see at very special festivals for example the Gnawa Festival in Morocco or the Desert Festival in Mali. To see a favourite act I think it’s better in a more controlled venue when the act can define the space. But there are no rules about things like that, we like to be surprised!

One of the key aspects of ADF has always been that your music has a message behind it. Do you find that’s especially important in the current political climate?
It’s only as important as people who hear us want it be, we can’t control that. We just sing about what we want to sing about and people can take what they want from it.

You’ve announced that a new album is on its way – what can we expect from the new record?
No date yet. The new album is quite varied, with strings, acoustic instruments alongside explosive dub noise.

Asian Dub Foundation have been producing music for nearly 25 years now. What keeps you going as a group?
The fact there seems to be so much that we can still explore musically. There’s been a greater emphasis on live performance in the studio, plus having an innovator like Nathan Flutebox Lee in the band has taken us all kinds of new places.

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