Listen to super-producer Diplo’s new EP, or the skronk of dubstep bannerman Skrillex, or iconic rapper Snoop Dogg’s recent reggae reincarnation Snoop Lion, and it would seem like the sweet island riddims of reggae and its trippier offshoot “dub” are more popular than ever.
But Bay Area resident DJ Sep — founder of the 16-year-old weekly dub night Dub Mission Sundays at Elbo Room — says the genre never went away.
It’s the reason why aging boomers, curious college kids and urban professionals of all sexes, races and sexual orientations are going to pack the Elbo Room in the Mission at 9 p.m. Sunday for the 16th anniversary party of Dub Mission.
The bash is hosted by Dub Mission resident DJs Sep, Ludichris and Vinnie Esparza, and features a special sound-system set by Mista Chatman on the mic.
Dub Mission has built a following over its astonishing run by celebrating the ongoing vitality of dub and reggae, as opposed to just playing Bob Marley or Lee “Scratch” Perry, DJ Sep says.
“It’s not a tribute night,” she says. “It’s not about nostalgia. We’re showcasing all different sides of dub.”
“Skrillex, Snoop and Diplo obviously owe something to this music and love this music, but then, to me it just goes beyond that,” the former KUSF and KPFA radio DJ says. “The influence has been there for a really long time.”
Dub came out of Jamaica in the late 1960s when producers such as King Tubby and Perry began experimenting with remixes (dubs) of popular reggae songs. They’d drop out the vocals and add effects such as delay and reverb to push the boundaries of song, music and sound.
“It could be very soulful, it could also be experimental,” she says. “Rap, hip-hop, dance, electronic music, house, dubstep — they all are indebted to dub and reggae.”
When she began Dub Mission in August 1996, Sep had her own dub show, based on listener requests. The dub night has survived club fires and dub’s hype cycles by focusing on booking world-class names such as Zion Train, Mad Professor, Overproof Soundsystem and Adrian Sherwood. Weekly support from Elbo Room’s owners for 16 years also has been indispensable. “That’s rare,” says Sep.
But she admits that programming Dub Mission “doesn’t get easier. It just takes a lot of passion and a lot of love, and a bit of craziness probably helps, too.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Elbo Room, 647 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $8 to $10