Posted: February 16, 2012
interviewed by Chris Richards, February 2012
Dr. Israel is a Brooklyn based revolutionary artist, with releases on ROIR Records, Wordsound, and MOD Tech, as well as collaborations and remixes with legends such as Bill Laswell, Mad Professor, Dr No, Sepultura, Rancid, Sublime, Lee Perry, Bernie Worrell, DJ Krush, and beyond. He has received accolades from Rolling Stone, Vibe, LA Times, and Village Voice, among others. Following up on a long and fruitful discography including ‘Inna City Pressure’ and ‘Dreadtone International’, as well as vocals and writing on Method of Defiance ‘Jahbulon’, and Lee Scratch Perry ‘Rise Again’, Dr. Israel is launching an ongoing series of releases, titled ‘The Liberation Chronicles’. The first release in the series, ‘Ghetto Defendant’ was released digitally on 1/1/2012. Told through the music and various media related to the project, the story depicts the victory of creativity and love over politics and violence… Viva la revolution
We are very excited to post this interview with Doc, discussing his use of music for social change. Check out the video and interview below!
Greetings, Can you give us a brief explanation of who you are and what you do?
Greetings, my name is dr. Israel, Iʼm a singer, songwriter, musician, and producer in the dubsub genre of reggae.
What Goals do you have with your music and its impact on the world?
I create music as an alternative to violent revolution. The goal of my music is to generate consciousness and positive change. Lately I’ve been very interested in the idea of creating mythology through multi-media, and thereby creating an analogy for the victory of love andcreativity over politics and violence.
What message or messages are you trying to instill in your audience and listeners?
There is and overall message of peace love and positivity but in general, rather than trying to tell people what to think, the goal is merely to help generate the desire to think. In addition I think the idea is also to help create an environment of personal empowerment. All positive change must ultimately begin from within.
What first led you to the decision to utilize your gifts as a musician as a tool for expressing yourpersonal views on environmental, social, and political issues?
I have been a musician for most of my life. I discovered music in the reggae and punk scenesso there was always a sort of theme of revolution and consciousness. When I read “Che in Africa” about Che Guevaraʼs work in the Congo I had to sort of re-evaluate my goal structure. Rather that using music as a tool to become rich or famous I decided I really wanted to structuremy life around using it as a tool for change.
Ideally, what experience or impact would an audience member take away from your live show?
My favorite shows are when the audience has an amazing and enjoyable musical experience,while at the same time they are stimulated to think more openly about the potential for positivechange. In addition a new goal of mine has become to invite the audience to spend sometimeinside of the mythology that is being created. Entertainment is important, but content andinterpretation is as well.
Do you have advice for other writers, musicians, or artists who are creating politically focused art?
Yes, the main thing is to maintain perspective and not get caught up in false comparisons and irrelevant goal structures. It is very diﬁcult to be rewarded for creating important art. Itʼs a lot like guerrilla warfare. You need to love embrace the core audience that supports you, this is key. When you leave that safety zone you will undoubtedly from time to time meet the enemy. Then you must be prepared to ﬁght.
What personal lifestyle choices have you made which reﬂect the views and opinions expressed through your music?
My diet (Basically Vegan for over 23 years now) my physicality (12 years of full contact kickboxing and boxing) along with my living spaces (self renovated lofts and recording studios in Brooklyn and SF) all reﬂect my views and opinions as expressed by my music. In addition my life is completely structured so that Iʼm able to be on the front lines when necessary. I have no job security, no retirement plan, and no white picket fence. Iʼve structured my entire life so that Iʼm available to help bring about positive change.
Is there any hope for success?
I guess were gonna see…
You have a new multi-media EP available for free, titled ‘Ghetto Defendant’. Can you tell us about the release and the upcoming series its kicking off?
Yes, I’m very excited about the new release. “Ghetto Defendant” is the prologue for an ongoing series called “The Liberation Chronicles.” this multi-media series is designed to be a 7 “episode”release, chronicling the adventures of a dreadlocked insurrectionist battling a post apocalyptic evil corporate empire. Each episode will consist of 13 song LP, a graphic novel, a short film and an ebook short story. Ultimately it’s the tale of the victory of love and creativity over politicsand violence. In addition the Live stage show related to the releases will incorporate visual and musical elements to tell the story as well.
How important do you feel it is for artists/writers to communicate and discuss these topics and themes via their art and writing, as opposed to spending their time developing sustainable personal practices?
I think its very important to do both. We can only be strong in ourselves if we are strong together, we can only be strong together if we are strong in ourselves…
Learn more about Dr Israel and support his work here: