5 Questions with Rags #11 - Dane Roberts (Victoria Ska Society)

Dane is a fixture here at homebase in Victoria. He's responsible for bringing some of the most consistently fun, diverse concerts we get every year, and that's not even taking into consideration the annual Victoria Ska Fest, hands down the best week of music in the city every year. I've managed to catch him for a couple conversations here and there but never talked as long as we talked here. Brother is completely delightful and came through with thoughtful responses to my silly little questions. Much respect.

Keep up to date with all the good times Dane and the Ska Society are unleashing in Victoria (And sometimes Vancouver!) at their site.

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And here is a song chosen by the man himself for your listening pleasure whilst you read our delightful exchange.

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1. What was the first album that you went out to buy with your own money?

It wasn’t my first album but I do remember one I liked in particular…we used to get tapes…I’m trying to remember…When I was 13 and 12…Jeez, that’s a really tough question. I do remember one significant purchase that even though I had bought albums far before that I can’t remember…I had a tape deck in my car with subs in high school and was always listening to cool music. I had a Datsun B210, ’77 Orange Datsun I used to drive to Cedar Hill Junior Secondary. I used to have a booster cushion because I was pretty short. My mom would say, “Sweetheart, remember your booster cushion.”

I would have had a booster cushion if I was driving at 16.

I always had music driving around. I used to play lot of reggae music but they were often mixtapes from family and friends. I always had tapes, tapes, tapes. When I was 21 I lost my car and then people weren’t using tapes and everything was CDs. I remember buying This Is Ska when I was 18. That was significant because I hadn’t really heard ska. My friend Matt introduced me to it and I went to HMV to get something. It was the one with Jimmy Cliff’s “Ms. Jamaica.” I had bought stuff before, but that was the one that I really remember, that was a really specific vibe of discovering new music for myself, like a genre as opposed to a popular artist. I always liked soul and some hip-hop, not the really dark stuff though, and I grew up listening to my mom’s old ska and rocksteady records, but I didn’t really get into that stuff on my own until a little later.

 In his patented banana suit, congaing it up during Rocky Mountain Rebel Music at Shambhala.

In his patented banana suit, congaing it up during Rocky Mountain Rebel Music at Shambhala.

2. If you could only keep your hearing or your vision, which one would you keep?

Fuck, that’s really hard. <One of the longest pauses I’ve ever had in an interview.> I don’t know man. There’s just so many beautiful things, beautiful people and I love seeing faces. I might be able to feel vibrations if I was deaf. But damn I fucking love music so much, man.

It really is the best. The best thing I’ve ever put into my body.

Damn, I know. Hmmm…I’ll have to come back to that one. These are crazy questions, man.

3. That’s idea. Gotta get you thinking differently. Can you think you think of a movie you saw that had an impact on your life philosophy/the way you saw the world?

Oh yeah, I can get this one. I remember Jacob’s Ladder was pretty crazy. It was just a really exciting, crazy movie. It’s an acid trip during the Vietnam War with a big twist. It was all just before he’s about to die, he’s remembering all of this stuff and it feels real. I don’t know if gave me a completely new outlook but it’s a movie that sticks out in my mind. Especially at the time it was made, I’ll always remember that movie. I don’t know why I remember that over other ones.

I also really liked Bamboozled. I think that one for its message and creativity. I really like the actors in it too. When they showed the cartoons at the end of the movie…those were cartoons I saw as a kid. I never thought about them. You watched them and felt it was normal. It’s just so trippy to go back and watch. It’s an interesting and creative story and Mos Def was in it. It’s still one of my favourite movies and I remembered that when we booked him for Ska Fest.

4. If you could grab any single piece of culture to preserve as the world faces imminent doom, what are you going to save?

Can it be a concept or does it have to be an object?

Well, a concept is fine but you should probably have an object to represent that object…

Hmmm, what’s happening? Are we going to a new planet?

You’re escaping with a select number of people into space. You don’t know what everyone else has picked though...

You don’t know if you can plant seeds.

That’s a really good question actually. I guess if you’re going to go somewhere to preserve life you’re going to have to be able to plant seeds. That counts. Yes, seeds count.

A concept…Love. I think that the concept of love, not physical attraction but the concern for other people, empathy. That’s why everything is fucked up is that people only think about themselves. That concept would be the most important thing. If you had that everything else would be okay.

 Giving a hug to Chuck from the Mad Caddies. I stole this picture from their website. Also, I think it might have been a  NEXUS  cover?

Giving a hug to Chuck from the Mad Caddies. I stole this picture from their website. Also, I think it might have been a NEXUS cover?

5. Immortality…Do you think you’d like it any form? Do you have any random thoughts about immortality?

I’m still pretty young so I haven’t lived enough yet to know whether or not I’d get tired of living. There’s so many stages of ones life you go through. I think we always have a lot to live for. The way we live we want to live forever, we always try to keep ourselves alive. At the same time, I don’t know. It depends on what shape you’re in. If you can’t walk or see and your body is completely done, that’s when a lot of people don’t want to continue. If they can’t make new memories, man, that’s why we live, right? I like the thought of it in terms of your spirit being spread into different parts. I think that we’re all part of the Earth, the dust and matter, we’re living organisms interpreting things…People die, go back into the Earth and are born and then you could be another person. I could have been another person and I wouldn’t know it because you don’t remember not living, right? Your spirit and your thoughts go into the future of whatever this planet is. You just wake up one day and you might be something else. I think that everything is immortal in that way but your consciousness, what you are, I don’t think that would be good to have be immortal because our bodies get too useless after awhile. I don’t think I’d want to live forever in terms of this form.

Do you have any more thoughts on Sight vs. Sound?

Oh yeah! That one. <laughs>

You don’t have to have an answer, it’s totally cool. I guess it really just comes down to ‘How much do you love music?’ But there’s voice too, sitting down and having a conversation with someone. I mean, you can obviously communicate without voice but it’s just so immediate.

I know. I just really don’t know. Ahh! I think I’d have to say sight. Even though I love music so much I could still have a sense of touch to feel percussion. I could make percussion by touching and feeling things. I can make rhythms. Because if you touch something and you can make a beat, like a drumbeat with your fingers, even though you couldn’t hear it you’d still have that feeling. Because of that you could feel a rhythm pattern you saw in your life by making percussion with your body.

6. Chuck from the Mad Caddies would like to know: Would you rather talk about Superman II or Hoggle?

Or hovel?

Hoggle. It’s one of the puppet creatures from Labyrinth.

Oh, I don’t know if I’ve actually seen Labyrinth.

 It’s a really weird question. Usually these are much more open-ended, it’s very bizarre.

What’s Labyrinth about?

If I remember correctly it’s about a girl who might be some kind of princess and her brother or something, maybe, gets kidnapped by David Bowie, who is some kind warlock or something. It was the 80s…I really don’t understand this question. I don’t even think we have to have a conversation about the answer, just which would you rather talk about?

Chuck asked this? Weird. Based on that story line I would rather talk about Labyrinth. I’m more into that kind of stuff than the Superman tip.