Rainy city reggae | The Coast Halifax

Rainy city reggae

Dub Kartel’s mix of dancehall, hip-hop and reggae

Rainy city reggae
Chris Brown
The Palace is your reggae mecca with Dub Kartel.

If you're heading to the The Palace Thursday night, you might be surprised to hear echoed dub vocals and and live instrumentation rocking the party instead of a DJ.

On March 14, Dub Kartel will bring a party with some heavy, reggae- inspired riddims. After forming in late 2011, the eight-piece band has built a following around the east coast and released its first recording, the Riddim Up EP, in January.

"We've released a new album and we're going to play some tunes off that," says drummer Teddy Skiffington over a couple pitchers at Bearly's. "Our sets are seamless, so we improvise from song to song. We have a bit of a plan, but it's not always fully set in stone."

The group formed out of a mutual appreciation of Latin and Caribbean music. "We really got into it by listening to new reggae and mixtapes, which were largely done by DJs and producers," says trumpet player Tom Hill. After playing mixtapes from artists like Kya Bamba and DJ Simple Sample for friends, "we realized other people liked it too," he says.

While Halifax may not be a reggae mecca, the group feels it's filling a niche in the city. "You don't often see live music in the party scene, or to take another step, in any club scene," says Skiffington. "I think in our events---with incorporating DJs---the energy stays up the whole time."

The band is fronted by vocalist Kyle "KDZ" McCracken, bronze winner in the Best DJ category of The Coast's Best of Music survey. At the show, he will be spinning tunes with fellow selectors P-80 and Zora the Sultan. The group's blend of reggae, dancehall, rock and hip-hop sounds reach a variety of audiences. "Every show we've played, I've watched our fanbase become more and more diverse," says sax player Ben Reid-Howells.

Opening for Dub Kartel is hip-hop/funk-influenced The Wayo. The band's guitarist Mike Fong finds that downtown parties are "usually associated with electronic dance music," but "these shows are trying to appeal to a wider audience."

"You'll see the young folks, 19- to 30-year-olds and then you'll also see older folks," says Dub Kartel percussionist, David "Badger" Stout. "My professor is a fan of my band. It's a band for all ages."

Dub Kartel's unique performances often involve the other artists on their event's show bill. "We had Zora play with us once," says Skiffington. "He scratched a few tunes."

"During the show at The Company House we had the rapper who played before us [Duffy] come up on stage and spit some verses," says Badger. "It was just mindblowing."

When it came to translating their live energy to a recording, the group found it challenging. "You don't get to feed off that other person, you're feeding off a recording," says Skiffington.

"If you get the chance to put on headphones and get into it, you find its also...pretty hype," Badger says, drawing laughter from his bandmates.

"We always have so much fun when we play together," says Reid-Howells. "You put eight variables together and then add the audience and the venue and it's hard not to have a really good time."

Dub Kartel
w/P-80 & KDZ, Zora and Sultan, The Wayo, Weirdo Click
Thursday, March 14, 10pm, $7
The Palace, 1721 Brunswick Street