Interview: Scientist

May 5, 2011

Here’s one from the archives: my controversial 2008 interview with legendary dub engineer Scientist…

Scientist (Born Hopeton Brown, 1960, Kingston Jamaica) is one of the founding fathers of dub and the elevation of reggae studio engineering to an art form. He apprenticed under King Tubby and has been releasing dub albums from 1981 until the present day. Angus Taylor spoke to him in California for this unusually candid and controversial interview.

Scientist - 2008 - Sideways (c)

What have you been up to lately?

Right now I been mostly caught up in my electronics, designing electronic gear. I been working with a whole bunch of different people on some hip hop projects, but right now been investing most of my time in my line of electronics. If you look on you’ll see some of the stuff I’ve been designing.

Tell us about your website – I set it up kinda like a myspace for reggae, trying to get all the people who are doing dub and reggae to sign up and create profiles on it. There are a lot of music sites out there so I thought one devoted to dub and reggae would be really good. Of course I support other different genres of music like hip hop and jazz too. I had it since the birth of the dot com from back in 95. Back then everybody was trying to get a dot com and I was looking for a way to let people know about reggae. Finally I get together with some programmers and decide to create this online community for dub and reggae.

You have been very outspoken about royalties recently. Tell us about this issue.

Yeah there is an ongoing issue where you have a bunch of companies like Greensleeves, Trojan, Blood and Fire, they’re basically breaking the law. They’re breaking the law of the UK, they’re breaking the law of Jamaica, and they’re breaking the law of what’s been signed in the Rome Convention, where the record company has to do due dividends to make sure that the producer who solicits the product to the record company has the sole permission of the artist to exploit the tracks. In other words if you brought your Mercedes Benz to me and you tell me that you want to sell me your Mercedes Benz, you have to show me that you own it. I can’t just go buy it on a word of mouth. You have to show me some documents, titles, bank statements, something to validate that you own it. And Greensleeves Records been pirating my stuff from the very first time. I’ve been asking through a series of bunch of different conversations to stop exploiting my stuff and they basically do not have the rights – or at least my right – to put out any of my stuff because they need a contract. And basically what’s happened here with this whole Junjo Lawes situation is Greensleeves is trying to steal everybody’s copyright. Because you know it’s too coincidental and it’s highly convenient for Greensleeves to say they own the product when the producer is dead – which is Junjo. And in order for Junjo to own the product, Junjo first have to have a contract with the artist, and the artist first have to sign away all their copyright to Junjo and then Junjo can sign it away to whoever they want. There is no such document trail.

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