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Dub Akom Band stepping to reggae's beat

Observer senior writer

Thursday, February 08, 2018

THE French were among the first Europeans to embrace Jamaican music in the early 1970s. In fact, France remains one of roots reggae's most fruitful outposts.

The Dub Akom Band is one of the top reggae bands in that country. They have built a formidable résumé in the last decade backing dancehall/reggae's elite acts including Etana, Agent Sasco, Protoje, Jah Mason, Lutan Fyah and Pressure when they perform in Europe.

The quartet's drummer David Sitbon and bassist Fabienne “Faby” Romano are in Jamaica for recording sessions with deejay Vershon. They are producing his EP, tentatively titled One More Day, which Sitdon says will be released this year on their Akom Records.

Keyboardist Stephanie Cavin and guitarist Johann Martin are the other members of Dub Akom.

After backing numerous acts on major European festivals such as Reggae Summerjam in Germany and Rototom Sunsplash in Spain, Dub Akom moved into production. They have produced five “juggling rhythms” with songs by Agent Sasco, Vershon, Turbulence, Jah Mason, and Lutan Fyah.

“We're working with Vershon right now and are very excited about the project. We're doing other things with more artistes, but we don't want to say more at this time,” said Sitbon.

Most of their latest productions will be released on the Torch rhythm which Dub Akom recorded last year. Agent Sasco, Jahvinci, Chino, and newcomer Progress have recorded songs on the beat which is also expected to be out this year.

Dub Akom are from the city of Marseille in southern France. Formed in 2002, they are strongly influenced by Sly and Robbie and the Roots Radics Band which backed — and produced — the cream of dancehall/reggae acts during the 1980s.

Their first backing assignment was in 2009 with Jah Mason. The singjay was reportedly so impressed with them that he passed on the word to other Jamaican acts looking for a band when they toured France and Europe.

Thirty-six year-old Sitbon said Dub Akom is comfortable playing reggae and dancehall.

“The main difference (between the two) is the energy. With dancehall, the energy is up, while reggae is more cool, more relaxed,” he explained.

To date, the Vitamin, Highlight, Bona Fide, Heartwarming and Torch are the rhythms Dub Akom have produced. Sitdon considers See The Mother's Cry, done by Turbulence on the Heartwarming rhythm as their most successful production. Weak, by Konshens on the Bona Fide rhythm, also received favourable response in Jamaica.

Sitbon notes that because roots reggae is still the Jamaican sound of choice in France, Dub Akom's productions have yet to make a big impact in their homeland. For them, patience is the key.

“People are getting into dancehall more, especially in Paris and on the festivals. We just have to give it some more time,” he said.