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Mad Professor - Interview

  by Adrian Janes

published: 29 / 7 / 2021

Mad Professor - Interview

Mad Professor (aka Neil Fraser) was born in Guyana, settling in Britain at the age of 13. His nickname and later professional moniker was already in place, owing to his precocious aptitude with electronics, long before he began his prolific involvement with music engineering and production. This outstanding career has seen him expand from founding his own studio to also founding the Ariwa label and become not only a seminal contributor to the UK reggae scene but also a producer of major Jamaican artists like Horace Andy, Johnny Clarke and Lee Perry. Expanding beyond reggae and dub, he has applied his imaginative approach to remixes of artists as different as Depeche Mode and Sade, the biggest commercial and artistic success in this respect arguably being ‘No Protection’, his version of Massive Attack’s 1994 ‘Protection’ album. His latest collaboration is ‘Clarion Call’ with the singer Xan Tyler, a reunion after twenty years when (along with Kate Holmes) they created the ‘Dub Showcase’ album as Mission Control. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Mad Professor about this new album and the productive career that preceded it. This looks set to continue, with another album in the series ’40 Years of Dub’ in the works. Pennyblackmusic: Your nickname is very apt for someone with your engineering and production abilities. How and when did you realise that you were drawn to that side of making music? Mad Professor: When I was around 7, I developed a curiosity for the magic of electronics. PB: When you began, were you trying to emulate anyone else? MP: No PB: Starting the Ariwa label in your mid-twenties seems a bold move. Looking back, do you agree? How and why did it come about? MP: I started the studio, and singers was drawn to Ariwa like Mecca, they started to pressure me to start a label. PB: Having worked with Xan Tyler in 2000 on ‘Dub Showcase ‘, what drew the two of you back together again? MP: To finish the unfinished business. PB: With an album like ‘Clarion Call’, how much are you involved in the composition of the songs as well as the production? MP: Xan made the lyrics; the subject matter, I supplied most but not all of them. Xan was responsible for some music, too. PB: Are you very single-minded in how you want a track to sound, or are you open to suggestions? MP: I have a clear view of what I want to hear. PB: You have had a very prolific career. Apart from this new album, could you name three others you have produced you feel most satisfied by? MP: U Roy, Lee Perry, Aisha. PB: Is there still a sound in your head which you haven’t yet been able to translate to a record? MP: Yes. PB: What will be your next project? MP: 40 Years of Dub Part 3. PB: Thank you.

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Mad Professor - Interview

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