Dubbing is a must

Chris Schlarb outlines vision for reggae

Observer writer

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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Although he has worked at major labels such as Interscope and Warner Music, reggae and independent companies have always been Christopher Schlarb's true love.

Schlarb was recently in Jamaica checking out the vibes and seeing how his label Dubshot Records can develop its artistes and products.

“Dubshot was started as an outlet for my own musical projects and those from my friends. The focus was mainly on the diaspora and artistes influenced by reggae. It then evolved into more of a hybrid label trying to release crossover tracks and collaborations,” he told the Jamaica Observer. “It wasn't until I left Warner Music that it really started to take its present form, when we started working with Madhouse Records and Inner Circle and Jacob Miller's catalogue.”

According to Schlarb, the aim of his company is to “take the music from the streets to the suites. We try to take a holistic approach towards marketing a record and work seamlessly with an artiste's or label's team.”

Dubshot Records is based in New York City. To date, it has worked with veteran band Inner Circle, as well as dancehall acts Cham, Chi Ching Ching, Masicka, and Khalia.

Some of the projects recently released by Dubshot Records include the remix for Chi Ching Ching's Rock Di World featuring Fatman Scoop, Stonebwoy and Patoranking; Masicka's new EP Start from the Grung; two new songs from Craigy T, namely Perfect and #1 Girl; and Some Day by Khalia (produced by Tony Kelly).

“In 2018 we have some great projects lined up from Dave Kelly's Madhouse Records, Mr. G and Youngblood Records, XTM Nation, and a continuation of our compilation series 'Future Sound of Reggae' in partnership with Brand New Machine,” said Schlarb.

Schlarb's interest in reggae developed at an early age.

“I grew up listening to Bob Marley and as I got into junior high school I would listen to a lot of hip hop and was exposed to dancehall artistes like Cutty Ranks and Super Cat. I also play guitar and bass, so I have jammed with a lot of reggae bands through the years. But in 1999 I moved to Belize to study, and while I was there I applied for and received a grant to create an anthology of Belizean music, and I would travel from village to village with a four track (machine) to record local musicians. At night we would go to the different dancehall parties and that's where I really caught the fever for reggae and dancehall music,” he related.

While attending the University of Vermont, Schlarb took a course called “The Rhetoric of Reggae Music”, which spiked his knowledge of Jamaican music.

At Interscope Records he worked in radio promotions. Moving to Warner Music Group/Ryko he was senior director of digital sales and marketing. In two stints at VP Records, Schlarb was director of publicity/promotions and director of digital and new media.

He shared his thoughts on the current state of reggae and how the genre can once again become a commercial force.

“Reggae has found a new generation of artistes and fans, but we need to take control of how it is represented internationally. It's almost like we have regressed to a point where imitators are controlling the narrative. Other genres have embraced reggae and that is a great thing. Reggae is the only genre that has a significant impact on almost every other genre, from urban to rock. The industry needs to stand up, take ownership, and continue to move the genre forward in new and exciting directions,” he said. “We need to hold other artistes accountable when they are not giving proper credits when they use our artistes, and we need to continue telling the half of the story that has never been told. But, most importantly, artistes and producers need to focus on making great songs and albums.”


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