In 2007, reggae in the DC metro area was on the rise, and leading the pack of local bands was DUB CITY RENEGADES with their combination of positive spiffed-out vibes with a rock and roll attitude to match. Though their former vocalist lacked in the stage presence and energy the band exhibited, the DUB CITY RENEGADES truly came into their own when they brought on the “island rocker” AKSHAN to fill the void of energy lacking in their performances. In January 2015, the band released their latest EP Island Rock to reflect where they have come with their new vocalist, as well as where they are heading together.

You describe your music as “Island Rock,” but how well does that translate to your audiences when you are playing around Virginia and D.C.?

As a solo artist, I moniker the [title] of “island rocker,” which is [also the title of] the last album that I did. So what happened pretty much was as we did this album, they kind of morphed into a collective of sounds that mimicked the album but on a reggae roots vibe. With that, we saw it as the most normal thing to do to label it as “Island Rock.” It was more of the live essence of what I did as “island rocker.”

But as far as the translation for the audience, when you come to a DUB CITY [RENEGADES] show, you pretty much get the understanding of the energy that we bring. It’s an island vibe, but it has the energy of a rock crowd. So we try to build it up to where it’s a nice vibe going with lots of energy.

How long have you been performing with DUB CITY RENEGADES

I started performing with them around 2008-2009. I was living it Atlanta for a bit, but then I moved back up here. Then we started connecting on that level, and then we started doing music. It’s been a while (laughs).

Did they have a different vocalist before you joined the group?

Yeah, it’s funny that you ask. The day I met them, they invited me out to a show because I was going back and forth from Atlanta. I came out to check them out, and their vocalist, I would say, wasn’t really up to par as far as the energy and the sound he was bringing. So actually one of the band members brought me up on stage, and I just did a one-two song off the cuff. It’s been history since then.


In addition to playing with DUB CITY RENEGADES, do you play any shows on your own?

I’m a solo artist initially. I have a couple albums out that I’ve done independently. It has a reggae vibe, but it’s more of reggae pop where I blend the styles a little bit more. But rhe DUB CITY RENEGADES offered me the outlet to be what I truly am as far, as a reggae artist.

Does your music with DUB CITY RENEGADES have any elements of go-go, which originated in the D.C. area?

As far as the go-go element, I would say no. We have a percussionist who plays different elements that are tied into go-go, but I wouldn’t classify it as go-go. It would be more [in line with] the roots of the Jamaican elements.

Earlier this month you guys released your album Island Rock, which you originally planned to release in 2014. What caused you to push back the release date?

There was actually a number of things. While we had been working on the album, we eventually released an EP with a number of songs, and we had some upheaval with the band. We had members changed and different things happen to where we had to just slow the process down and revamp everything. We now have different members who are now a part of the collective, so we had to change things around. So we pushed it back and went to put together this album that now is Island Rock, but … we had to change our plan based on the changes in the band that were occurring.

Where did you draw the inspiration from for the songs on Island Rock?

We came up with a number of the songs when we were coming to practice, and one guy would have an idea for a bass line or a rhythm, and then they would play and we would all come in together to try and create something. As far my end, with the lyrics and the creation of the song, it would be more of whatever energy I was feeling from what they were bringin g, I would translate into lyrics.

The entire album is pretty much a collective of what we were feeling at that particular moment. You will see a couple of songs on there discussing a lot of the upheaval we were having. For instance, the song “Critics” is actually referring back to some of the members who were in the band previously. They left the band on their own accord, and after we started moving along without them, they started having issues to the point that we had to discuss it in one of the songs. Also, one of the songs we did, “How We Rock,” discusses a more positive aspect as far as how we were all good friends, and now it’s come to this. Regardless of what is going to be said, we’re going to move forward.

Lyrically, are any of your songs politically inspired?

I definitely have songs that are politically inspired in different avenues, but it’s more relative to my Jamaican culture. For instance, we have a song called “Straight Forward,” which is more of a political/religious-type song. It kind of discusses your connection to the Most High. With the things you do, you have to steer back to the Most High to find guidance and direction. The lyrics, for instance, say, “Give me the words that will lead me to Jah, so I can do the deeds that are pleasing to Jah.” It’s more on a spiritual aspect to try to make a connection.

Recently, your band played at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Va. with FEEL FREE. How was that show?

Jammin’ Java is kind of our home place; we play there pretty often. It’s one of those places where every time we go there, it’s always packed. It just has a nice energy and a nice feel. The energy is usually good there. The energy with that show was real dope. We had the house packed out, and we played very well.


Other than FEEL FREE, are there any reggae and dub artists from this area that you guys are really into?

THE ARCHIVES was a band that we rocked out a couple time with. They’re pretty dope. We’ve played with them a few times. Also, there’s a number of bands that we’ve played with over the past couple of months that have been really good. HIGHER HANDS and HIGHER EDUCATION from Maryland were the last bands that we played with. They were pretty dope as well. We try to stay internal, but the vibe that we draw from other bands pushes us forward to continually try to be better … We definitely draw energy from a lot of them to make ourselves the best band we can be.

Do you have any shows coming up that you would like to announce?

We have a few shows. We’re trying to make this summer thing pop off. [To promote] the album, we are playing the National Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. on April 5, as well as a few of the wine festivals this summer. We will be playing at the Linganore [Winecellars] Reggae Festival on July 18. Our next show is Friday, February 13 at Jammin’ Java. Come check out the energy.

For more updates on DUB CITY RECORDS, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, and listen to Island Rock on Reverbnation.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Fairfax, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with his girlfriend Alex.

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