Museum of London display to celebrate Dub Reggae

Channel One Sound System-Notting Hill Carnival 26 August 2019. Photograph by Eddie Otchere commissioned by Museum of London.

This May, the Museum of London will open a new display, Dub London, celebrating Dub Reggae music and culture in the capital, from its roots in Jamaican reggae to how it has shaped communities and culture over the last 50 years.

Highlights will include a speaker stack from one of London’s leading reggae sound systems, a working custom-built record shop and images, memories and voices from the world of Dub Reggae music and culture both past and present.

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Channel One Sound System. Photo by Eddie Otchere

Dub, a way of creating music by using the recording studio itself as an instrument, has had a far-reaching impact across the music industry and the history of the capital. It has influenced multiple genres from drum and bass, garage and hip-hop, as well as genres intrinsically linked to London like punk and post-punk with bands such as The Clash, The Slits and PIL all integrating it into their work. In future decades, its influence would continue to extend into many areas of mainstream pop as well.

The display, Dub London, will not only explore the musical influence but the wider cultural and social impact. From food, dub poetry, community, fashion and spirituality it will examine how dub is a varied thread that runs through its entire community. London has long been a hub for artists and production since the mid-1970s, with recording studios, record labels, record shops, radio stations and clubs peppered across the city.

Through collecting objects, memories and personal stories from some of Dub’s most iconic people and places from across London, including Hackney, Lambeth, Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, Harlesden and Lewisham, the museum will create a display that will plunge visitors into the heart of Dub Reggae and invite them to explore the cultural phenomenon.

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Cedar Lewisohn, Curator at the Museum of London, said: “The story of Dub culture in London is a fascinating one and one that hasn’t been told this widely in a museum setting before.

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Channel One Sound System setting up Notting Hill Carnival 26 August 2019. Photo by Eddie Otchere commissioned by Museum of London. Lead image too.

“Through getting out into the places and speaking to the people who have been instrumental in the Dub scene, we’ve been able to hear stories of how London was central for the emergence of Dub in the UK. Even though most of this music originated in the Caribbean and Jamaica, London quickly became important to Dub Reggae: Dub record labels were started in London, and Dub music was produced in London and exported to the rest of the world.

“With London still being home to one of the largest collections of Dub Reggae record shops outside of Kingston Jamaica, this display will be a unique and impressive way to tell the story of how Dub culture has shaped the identity of the capital and us as Londoners.”

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