One of the leading dub artists of the '80s, Scientist was one of the most distinctive figures on the Jamaican music scene, known for his spacious production and mixing techniques as well as his wild album titles and cover artwork. Scientist's LPs found him using his skills at the mixing board to combat monsters, mythic villains, and video game characters. Scientist was born Overton Brown in Kingston on April 18, 1960. Brown was only 16 years old when producer/performer Errol "Don" Mais discovered and developed the considerable talents of this adolescent dub wiz.
Scientist learned basic electronics from his TV repairman father, skills that made him very popular with the mobile DJs and their not-always-functioning sound systems. A friend suggested he visit the legendary dub producer/mixer King Tubby, not to remix records, but to get some transformers with which Scientist could build his own amplifiers. Soon Scientist was an employee of Tubby's, fixing transformers and televisions. One day, after an animated conversation about mixing records, Tubby challenged Scientist to take a shot at remixing a record. Brimming with adolescent bravado, he took Tubby up on his challenge, and that led to an extended apprenticeship in dub experimentation under Tubby's guidance. It was while at Tubby's that the Scientist developed his idiosyncratic dub style, playful and very psychedelic, loaded with echo explosions and blasts of feedback — a sound that caught the attention of Don Mais, who overheard the Scientist at the mixing board during a visit to Tubby's studio. With Mais supervising the production, Scientist, now all of 18, cut some wicked dub sides for the Roots Tradition label. At the end of the '70s, Scientist (now also referred to as "The Dub Chemist") left Tubby's to become the main engineer at Channel One Studios, and working with Henry "Junjo" Lawes, cut some best-selling dub LPs, only to leave for the greener pastures of Tuff Gong in 1982. In 1985, Scientist moved to Silver Springs, Maryland, where he worked as a recording engineer, designed electronics, and continued to record and release new dub material. In the 21st century, he took up a crusade to defend his rights as a recording artist and receive royalty payments for his work. Scientist filed suit against Greensleeves Records, insisting they had licensed and reissued his music without permission or payment; he also took the creators of the video game Grand Theft Auto to court for using some of his tracks as background music without asking his consent. Scientist's studio work and efforts to protect his catalog didn't keep him from creating new music; in 2017, he released two new albums, Untouchable and Allied Dub Selection. ~ John Dougan