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de-VICE the 3rd

MAD PROFESSOR huffs and puffs

home on da range: 2007
the rambunctious de-VICE philosophy spiel
de-VICE back issues
a quickie with PLAID
a quickie with MR. SCRUFF
HAPPY FEET movie review
TOKYO INTERNATIONAL ANIME FAIR 2007
michael arias on TEKKON KINKREET
DJ KENTARO enters the picture
MAD PROFESSOR huffs and puffs
the de-VICE answer to Tarantino's DEATH PROOF
ZUZUSHI 2 melbourne vs. tokyo
KID CALMDOWN and SLEEPY ROBOT: sydney's coolest djs?
ISNOD is good
J-MACHISMO: top men in Japanese anime cinema
DJ NEO: acid meister
photographic exhibition KEITAI KOUTURE
CAPTAIN AMERICA is dead
IF? Records gets all shameless & impudent
movie review: PAPRIKA
SON OF ZEV: who's your dad?
GOLDIE
GENIUS PARTY: new anime from Studio 4C
RYOJI ARAI: the best kids' book ever made into animation?
does DIGITAL PRIMATE have a siege mentality?
just how sweet is KANDYMAN?
jonathan more on COLDCUT
much ado about BASEMENT JAXX
JEFF MILLS: one man spaceship
from the back of the fridge: SI BEGG
from the back of the fridge: GAIJIN BABY
e-us if u really have'ta

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text by Tim Colman, 2007

As with most dub reggae producers Neal Fraser, aka Mad Professor, enjoys a smoke. The West Indian born and London based artist has been producing bass-heavy grooves both solo and with the greats – Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Augustus Pablo - since 1979. Throughout, herb has been a constant companion.

"If you worked with Augustus Pablo, or people like that, they really smoked,” says Fraser. “When I worked with them we smoked, you’d light up in the studio and it would be a cloudy affair for days.”

 

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Under these conditions it's amazing Fraser has had such a prolific career. Opening his Ariwa studio and label in 1979 he’s had a hand in over 200 dub and reggae based releases, including the popular Dub Me Crazy series. At least that’s his estimate.

 

“You know what I haven’t counted,” he says. “I’ve done a load of stuff on my own and a load of stuff in combination with different people. We’ve got a sequence in the label where we give things the next number. So far we’ve got 210 albums on the label, but it’s not all Mad Professor. A lot of the time though, cause we’re running on a budget, I have to do the mixing and recording and all them things.”

 

Even when pressed Fraser is nonchalant about the sheer volume of musical material bearing his name in some way.

 

“When you think about it, it’s over 27 years. If you did it in two years then yes but you can find the time in 27 years. It’s not 200 albums with me as the artists, it’s me as the engineer, me as producer, me just being in the same room.”

Fraser’s skill in the studio has often been called upon outside the dub world. Modern soul act Jamiroquai, hip hoppers the Beastie Boys, punk rockers Rancid and ambient act the Orb have all received a Mad Professor dub remix. In 1995 he reworked Massive Attack’s second album, Protection. The result, No Protection, outsold the original. It’s no surprise then that when asked to perform live Fraser chose to take his studio on stage.

 

“I basically set up a studio on stage and mix live,” he says. “It’s an extension of what I was doing in the studio, people were quite interested. Funnily enough it’s the same agent who I’ve been working with in Australia, he’s the guy who inspired the show. He was in London and asked me to come and play records at a club he was running in Brixton. I was like, ‘I’m no DJ I don’t play records’. He said, ‘Yeah but you could do something’. I said, ‘Well I’ll tell you what I’ll do is come to your club, hook up my mixing desk and do a show’. That’s how it started.”

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A self-taught electronics expert Fraser was able to move his studio to the stage with relative ease. Initially building his own equipment and studio he credits the electronics background with providing the basis for his entire musical career.

 

“If I didn’t have that electronics background there was no way I could made the stuff I ended up doing,” says Fraser. “I needed that whole structural instinct to make it work. I taught myself. The first thing I did was build a crystal radio when I was like 10 years old. It took a bit of time and didn’t work very well. It was so low actually my mum and sister couldn’t hear it. After a couple of days though it was so loud they were asking me to turn it down.”

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