Boracay Interview with Rob Smith (Smith & Mighty UK)
Text by Andy Kancachian, Boracay. Photo by Astrid (a.k.a DJ Soulflower)
Rob Smith or RSD (Rob Smith Dub) is one of the forefathers of the UK’s dub music scene – the remixing of existing records emphasizing the drum and bass parts – which he help develop in Bristol England nightclubs with roots far back in Jamaica. He has received critical acclaim in his 20 year live performance experience and has been the producer for some of the world’s most renowned dance music artists, notably Massive Attack’s first single ‘Any Love’ way back in the 1990’s. Rob has also created remixes for UB40, Evergreen & Landlord, Antennasia (Japan), Zion Train, DJ Pinch, Lee Scratch Perry, Dr Meaker. Rob continues to play a huge part in the evolution of Dub music as a mainstream genre across the globe and is DJ’ing all over, from London’s “Fabric” & “FWD” to Tokyo’s “Unit”.
“As part of a six week tour of Asia, I stopped in Manila several times between connecting flights to and from China and Japan”. Rob says after performed at B-Side, the cities leading alternative music club in Makati, where he met Noel De Brackinghe, the Philippines renowned DJ, live performer, remixer and music producer, who invited Rob to perform in Boracay. The rest as they say is history. Together these two dub-heads turned the Boracay music scene upside down and inspired a new wave of alternative dance music culture that has swept through the resort island.
In 2010 Rob Smith performed at Jungle Bar, which is an alternative dance music bar and nightclub in Boracay. “I loved the Jungle bar and was really pleased that so many people came to party! It’s quite perfect really, open air bar by the beach, space to dance, space to chill. I’m really into the alternative dance music concept that Noel and the Jungle Bar are introducing to this venue, and to the island generally by bringing in good alternative sounds and providing a healthy balance of club music and entertainment”.
The Jungle Bar, is the home of the Boracay Fullmoon Party a monthly beach dance festival that attracts guests from around the world. The management, staff and friends dubbed “Jungle Boys” are a multi-talented group of musicians and artists that perform over 100 shows a year spreading their message of Boracay Island Love through a fusion of tribal drum beats, electronic dance music, fire dancing and a Filipino inspired dance festival atmosphere that often resembles a large scale ritualistic dance celebration.
After hearing several of the Jungle Boys jamming with some Boracay musician at Exit Bar on White Beach, Rob says “I had a lot of fun watching this jam session and so did everyone else! For fun vibes and atmosphere I can’t really fault it. [ ] I was pretty impressed with the standard of percussion playing and when joined by the various singers and musicians it created a proper party backdrop for dancing. Everybody’s separate influences came together to make an exciting ‘Island’ sound”.
Boracay nightclubs cater to the mainstream tourism market and the music being blasted out of the sound systems is a mix of popular dance music and old classics which offers some familiarity to island visitors. Rob’s creative influence on Boracay island has triggered the interest in alternative music with a wave of out of town Dj’s visiting the island to showcase originality and alternative club music with performances drawing large regular crowds. And Boracay certainly had an effect on Rob. “My Boracay experience was completely unique. Maybe there are similar places but for me it’s definitely in my top three of best ever places on the planet. When I arrived I was speechless. When I left I knew I had to return”.
Rob Smith musical message is a big act and is in great demand across the world. “I hit the ground running on my return from Philippines with three dates in a row, a trip to Ireland and a short tour of Switzerland. I am back now and shivering in apparently the coldest December in 100 years! …And so I have decided to come back to the Philippines in January for maybe 10 days and hopefully spend some of that time in Boracay. It just makes so much sense to me right now”.
WATCHOUT Boracay. Rob Smith is abandoning the freezing European winter and returning to Boracay! He will be playing at the Shaman Soundsystem – Duplate event this January 12th at Jungle Bar alongside acclaimed L.A. musician, DJ and performer Daedelus.