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.

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. Key objects and aspects of the display will include:

  • A speaker stack belonging to Channel One Sound System that has appeared yearly at Notting Hill Carnival since 1983. Channel One, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, is made up of selector Mikey Dread and MC Ras Kayleb and is one of the UK's best known and most loved reggae sound systems
  • A bespoke record shop created in collaboration with Papa Face of Dub Vendor Reggae Specialist, where visitors will be able to purchase records
  • A record selection curated in collaboration with representatives of various independent record shops around London who have strong links to Reggae and Dub Reggae music, such as Wallabie Bryan, Owner of Supertone Records in Brixton, Peckings Rerecords in Shepherd’s Bush, People’s Sound Records in Notting Hill and more
  • Historic and contemporary rolling imagery and audio selections

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.

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. 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."  

Papa Face of Dub Vendor Reggae Specialist and collaborator on Dub London said: “Reggae record shops are very significant because when people came to London through Windrush, the primary way of finding out what was happening back home was through music. The only other real option was a long distance phone call, which cost a lot of money, so instead people relied on these records that were coming out to find out what was happening. They were a meeting point, a place for social gatherings and a main part of the community back then. I think the Museum of London doing this project is hugely important as its archiving memories and objects which might otherwise have been thrown away. It’s important for the next generation to have this archive and realise how important they were.”

Dub London is part of Curating London, a four-year contemporary collecting programme with funding from Arts Council England. Its opening is part of the Museum of London’s SoundClash season, with The Clash: London Calling now open and free to view until 19 April 2020. Dub London opens 8 May 2020 and will be free to view. Further details and information can be found here: https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london/whats-on/exhibitions/dub-london