"We ain't ethnic, exotic or eclectic the only 'E' we use is electric."
Asian Dub Foundation, "Jericho"
"Asian Dub Foundation are 21st century MIDI warriors."1 Their sound and style defy broad genre categories, but have been described by the band as "Asian punk jungle" or "Bollywood jungle pop collision."3 Many songs incorporate heavy beats and solid basslines, melodies influnced by traditional Asian instruments and song structure, and vocals leaning toward rap. The band's name is directly tied to the purpose and base of the band: though the group is not pro-Asian but anti-racist, the members themselves are all Asian hence the first word. The 'foundation' of the group's music is not a single musical element, but the idea of dub: mixing in elements that contribute to the intended direction and effect of the music.
History:1, 2, 3
The first incarnation of the group formed in 1993, when Dr. Das and Pandit G, music technology tutors at Community Music, London, joined forces with 14-year-old rapper Master D, who had signed up for a course. After releasing the Conscious EP (commissioned by Nation Records after a demo caught the label's ear), they added Chandrasonic on guitar and Sun-J on live technology and "radical movements" and released Facts and Fiction in 1995.
Though their albums were overlooked by the British public, ADF were very well recieved with their high-energy anti-racist live shows, especially in France. After the release of R.A.F.I. and Rafi's Revenge (a rerelease of the prior album, fortified by live recordings), the group caught the eye of Primal Scream who then introduced them to the world. After ADF signed to London Recordings in 1997, ADF and Primal Scream toured the UK and worked together to produce the single "Free Satpal Ram," which brought light to the unfair trial of a British Asian man.
1998 saw ADF touring and slowly coming under the gaze of British journalists and public. After performing at festivals throughout Europe and even Fuji Rock Japan, a Beastie Boys support tour near the end of the fear brought ADF to America, where they were (surprisingly) warmly received. In December, they were awarded the BBC Asian Award for helping to destroy stereotypes across many continents. This helped gain funding for ADFED (ADF Education) to promote and bring music education to young people with no access to proper equipment or training. ADFED is now an independent organization operating workshops in London.
ADF first headlined tours in North America in the spring of 1999; along with Japanese group Audio Active the tour was called 'the Asian Invasion'. ADF's next album, Community Music, was released in March 2000. Tours across Europe, Singapore, and the South Pacific solidified their reputation as a hard-working live band. Also, during a tour through France, they added several others to the lineup: drummer Rocky Singh, MCs Aktarvata and Spex and dhol player Pritpal Rakput, who are now permanent addinions to the live show.
Deedar left the band after the New Year's 2000 show; having been with the band since the age of 14, he started working with grassroots civil-rights and anti-racist groups, as he had been planning for some time. This did not stop ADF, though: in March 2001, they composed and performed a live soundtrack for La Haine, a 1995 movie about French teenagers (more info on the movie is in its node) as part of Only Connect ("a series of extraordinary live events" run by Barbican).
In April 2001, the band took a trip to Brazil where members of the new lineup ran workshops for young people as well as playing gigs with Brazilian groups Orappa, Nacao Zumbi and Afroreggae. In the fall, London Recordings dropped the band but they later signed a woldwide deal with Virgin France in May 2002. At the end of 2001, the band had its first extensive tour of Europe, playing to a crowd of 3500 in Bulgaria and a shocking 8000 in Yugoslavia (their biggest live audience yet!).
In March of 2002, ADF visited Cuba to play for a surprising 5000 people at the Salon de Rosada, a salsa venue, with Sintesis and Anonimo Concejo. Also in 2002, Adrian Sherwood joined the lineup as executive producer of the next album, Enemy of the Enemy: released in February 2003, the album features Ed O'Brien (Radiohead), Sinead O'Connor, Sonia Mehta, Ghetto Priest (On-U Sound) and Navigator and includes programming by Jaswad.
1: Asian Dub Foundation (official homepage): http://www.asiandubfoundation.com/
2: Asian Dub Foundation: http://adf.8m.com/
3: Nation Records: http://www.nationrecs.demon.co.uk/artistshtm/adf.htm
10 August 2003: New information thanks to Catchpole.