“It’s hard not to like reggae.”

This simple credo has been a central philosophy for the burgeoning bass label, Liondub International – the brainchild of New York City’s Liondub and his Torontonian partner, Marcus Visionary. The label is a North American home base for their output, both as solo artists and as a part of their collaborative project, Rumble. Describing the sound of the label, Liondub observes, “We said from the start that we would celebrate and push everything good about bass music and culture. Our greatest influence for the sound and the label has been jungle
music and reggae/dancehall overall.”

Liondub International was founded in 2008, after a chance meeting at a gig in Toronto made it clear to both artists that they could achieve more if they worked together. “I met Liondub for the first time at a gig in Toronto we were both playing at,” Marcus explains. “I didn’t know of him at the time because I wasn’t too familiar with the NYC scene. Funny enough, I was running a label called Lion Dubs that was being distributed in the U.K. through Load Media. Once we met, he explained that he was recording reggae and dancehall singers in Jamaica and in NYC. I told him that was the direction I wanted to go in as I had always dreamed of working with [these types of] artists directly.” After that first meeting the duo decided to continue the Lion Dubs label together, altering the name to its current form, Liondub International.

In the years that have followed, Liondub International has been steadily picking up steam. A strong and consistent release schedule, featuring both newly minted and internationally known D’n’B and reggae talent, has been instrumental to this. “People have come to support the label over the years and really showed us love,” says Liondub. “We just keep on pushing out good music, and that’s really unstoppable because it stands the test of time. Nothing can really hold that down.” Although some North American D’n’B gets unfairly stereotyped when compared to its U.K. counterparts, Marcus notes, “If there is a stigma I don’t feel like we’ve experienced it. I think once you make and release good quality music most artists/music buyers don’t care where it comes from.”

The pair also enjoys the distinction of being the only two non-London based DJs to maintain a show on the renowned pirate radio station Kool London. “We love being on Kool and it’s an honour to be a part of such a legendary pirate radio,” says Liondub. “We’ve received a great deal of attention for our shows over the years including topping Mixcloud charts, feature interviews—and I received the ‘Best Radio Show’ award last year at the ‘We Love Jungle Awards’ in London.” Marcus adds, “I’m starting my third year this year and I couldn’t be happier. It helps me connect with London junglists, but also to worldwide listeners of the station. We also post our archives via Mixcloud, which helps extend our reach. I think it’s been a crucial part of helping us push the sounds from the label.”

As they look to the future, the two express great excitement about Rumble, their new collaborative project. “Marcus and I have been working hard on this project and it’s definitely been an amazing experience,” says Liondub. “Rumble is really important for us. It’s the evolution of our sound together as producers and the culmination of years of progressive partnership.” Marcus continues the sentiments. “I feel the same way. The most exciting project I’ve ever had the opportunity to work on is Rumble. Lion has worked really hard on getting our sound quality to a much higher standard, and we are constantly learning how to push things forward. We’re starting to assemble a very serious stable of dancehall, grime, reggae and jungle vocal artists. We started with the single “Siren” featuring Suku from Ward 21, and we’re extremely happy with how people received the track. We’ve got some heavyweight remixes coming for that this summer. Once March hits, we’ll be firing on all cylinders until the end of the year. The album is almost complete.”

This year is looking bright for Liondub International. With a robust schedule of releases planned for the year, roots, reggae, and jungle lovers would do well to keep a close eye on the label and its artists. Watch for them mashing up a dancehall near you!

BY LOGAN KNOLL

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