Nearly three years ago, Alien Workshop released what many consider to be the most important skateboarding film of the last decade. Photosynthesis was trend setting, and the tricks, amazing, but the soundtrack did something that no other video had done (at least successfully) up to that point: constructed a legitimate soundtrack. The tracks that make up Mr. Dibbs’ latest solo effort, Primitive Tracks: Photosynthesis, were the product.
Since the video’s release, Dibbs’ popularity has sky rocketed, allowing him to (very justly) “start to bank.” Photosynthesis (the video) was many peoples’ introduction to his mysterious, hypnotic instrumentals. If you haven’t peeped it, maybe you saw Dibbs listed as the #5 DJ in the world in Spin magazine. Last Friday, Dibbs played alongside Atmosphere (rapper Slug) to a sweaty, carnivorous crowd at Revolver – one of the infinite stops on a titanic four-month, 60-date tour. Entering the doors pre-show with Life & Art editor, Hunter Stephenson, whose genius, in-depth Slug interview I taped over (note to self: I am an idiot), I weaseled my way into the eerily quiet interview room – one seemingly lit by David Lynch.
After downing Coronas as some cable-access-“very underground music video maker” blew Slug’s sails for half an hour, we were escorted into the back, where sat Dibbs and Slug. After Mr. Stephenson taped the future “you wack bastard!” interview with Slug, Dibbs and I went out outside to chat.
Here’s what came out of a half hour of sitting on a curb with Dibbs.
Q: I found out you did some work on the classic LEN (Top 40 hit “Steal My Sunshine”) album?
MRD: Oh shit, how’d you find that? Yeah I worked on it, but I needed money. They offered me 10 Gs, or “chips,” I took the ten grand and was happy.
Q: So, now what’s in your arsenal? What are you working with?
MRD: I’ve had this old Baldwin piano sampler for about 14 years, that’s what I started doing shit on. I probably should have started with something else, but it’s what I had. Now I’ve got this Korg too. When I mix everything, that’s the secret process. I’ve got it down, so if you turn any of my shit up, you’re losing your speakers – we blew every speaker up in Gainesville.
Q: Where do you do your crate digging?
MRD: Well, in Cincinnati, at least where I live, there are 50 flea markets and thrift stores in a ten-mile radius. I got five or six on my street. That’s where I get most of my shit. Then I got the guys at the record stores that’ll hold shit behind the counter when they get it and they just give me a call; probably cause they know it’ll end up on a record.
Q: Where does the religious stuff you throw on some of your mixes come from?
MRD: I put that on there, because I think it fits the music. I know what it means, but that’s not why it’s there. It’s there because I know that it sounds good.
Q: When you perform live, is it more like “make music?”
MRD: Exactly. I wanna have fun. You wanna wear $200 dollar shoes to my show? You’re gonna get ’em f***ed up.
Q: What about the kid who is in the front row with his arms crossed?
MRD: I hate that guy. This isn’t the time to analyze me. On the most primal level, I want mother-f***ers to have a good time; if you get shit out of it that I didn’t mean to be there, good for you.
When Dibbs was asked about the skate video collaborations he has done, I learned that skateboarding has “done a shitload” for his career. You get the idea. Dibbs seemed to be as much of a mellow and down to earth as a guy who wants “kids to fuck shit up” could be. In conclusion, “…that’s just it. All I wanna do is make music.”
Sven Barth can be reached at email@example.com.