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'It's all based around the bassline," explains Greg Roberts, aka Greg Dread, the mastermind behind London's Dreadzone who bring their energetic fusion of subsonic rhythms and high-BMP beats to Tel Aviv this weekend. Despite their name, you won't find a single dreadlock on stage when Roberts and MC Spee play a one-off show at Florentine's Comfort 13. Instead, look forward to a basket of musical tricks with the speakers alternating from techno and breakbeat to dub and trance without warning, all flavours which Roberts says have been spawned by Dreadzone's chief inspiration: Jamaican reggae.
Having started life as a live band, they arrive to Israel as the Dreadzone Soundsystem, a double-act which Roberts describes as a "stripped-down sound" featuring himself on the turntables and the energetic MC Spee on the microphone. Their shows in the mid-1990s gained them a reputation as a formidable live act, propelled to fame by now-legendary performances in front of tens of thousands of fans at the UK's Glastonbury Festival, not to mention the personal seal of approval from late BBC Radio 1 disc jockey, John Peel. From their first performance in 1993, Dreadzone have been no stranger to sharing the stage with techno dance acts like The Orb and Underworld which whom they share as much in common as their dub reggae roots. But Dreadzone is at ease with playing to intimate crowds as well, like those in Tel Aviv. "It's just as vital to play smaller venues, it's a wicked vibe. We tailor what we're doing to the crowd. We supported Oasis at Knebworth in front of 125,000 people, but I'd be happy playing to one man and his dog," says Roberts. "I'm enthusiastic about music, I just wanna rock the crowd."
Roberts promises classic Dreadzone material from their five album discography along with personal favourites from his own record collection. Unlike many DJs who now spin CDs or use a laptop computer, he will be going back to basics with good old-fashioned turntables. "I like to use vinyl, it sounds better when you've got the right equipment. Some DJs complain about the weight but I don't mind lugging records around the airport."
The show is the latest in a series of UK dance music artists brought to Israel in association with the British Council and the British Israel Arts Training Scheme (BI ARTS) to foster collaboration between contemporary musicians from both countries. Roberts will also be sharing his expertise with young Israelis at a music production workshop taking place on the same day at 2 p.m. at Musik, the School of Creation and Production in Tel Aviv. "We like to bring music to new people and travel to places that we don't know - and this year it's Israel!" says Roberts.
Dreadzone takes the stage at 13 Comfort Street, on Thursday, May 15 at 11 p.m. Tickets cost NIS 60/70. Fore more information visit www.myspace.com/gregdread or www.muzik.co.il.
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