Can you tell us where and when you attended the first time a sound system session, who was playing and how were the sounds in those times, the best sound and the best mc’s and your memories…

My first time to go to a soundsystem session was around the early nineties, I’d say 1992 and it was held at a place called “Ny115 Skank”, as it was situated between the corners of Ny115 and Ny137 in a township called Gugulethu, in Cape Town South Africa.
In our area, in those times, we never had soundsystems in the same way as it was in Jamaica and Europe. It was Rastas who, through the love of reggae music and the message that came with the music, would buy records and a soundsystem with huge speakers, and then erect a tent that was attached to the fruit&vegetable stall they used both as a place of bussiness and living quarters for some of them. Ny115 Skank was one of such spaces and my first soundsystem session experience was there. In those days selectors were commonly known by their tribes names, eg. Joseph, Asher, Judah and so forth, since they were all in the Rastafarian faith. I’m not sure who was on the decks on my first night, but Joseph aka Vido {Ninja}, was on the mic as an Mc.
The sounds were foundation roots, dub and roots reggae, and the song that stuck in my head since that day, until present, is the song “Keep it in the family” by the one Bingy Bunny. In those days there were few soundsystems so I was mostly exposed to one soundsystem for a while, until later in a few years, when other soundsystems came to be in the picture in the late 90’s.
My best memories will forever be the ones when I was first exposed to the reggae sound at the session at 115 Skank, I had never heard the sound, especially the bass sound from the big bass bins, so it was almost an out-of-this-world experience and my spirits were so high it felt like I could fly up to the sky carried by the bass sound. My best memory ever!!!!
I only would hear stories of the early soundsystems in Jamaica and those names like, Coxson and Duke Reid, would come up, but I don’t know much about those times really.

How did you get involved with reggae and sound system in South Africa

I first started listening to reggae music, around late 80’s, at home from a small fm radio, which used batteries for power. I would sleep with the radio by my side on friday nights because a reggae show came on at 9 am every saturday morning.The reggae show was part of the program for saturdays on Radio Xhosa, now known as Umhlobo Wenene FM. This is where I was drawn into the sounds of reggae music, which led to me collecting cassette tapes of reggae, which led to me having an interest in singing this music even though I was kind of a shy guy those days. It was later when I got interested in the rastafarian faith, that I started going to the 115 Skank sessions and fell in love with the sound.
Years later after I joined the Rastafarian faith, me and my fellow Rasta bredrens whom I stayed with a fruit&veg stall not far from my home, we bought ourselves a double decker record player. It is on this double decker record player where I first held the microphone, singing covers of reggae artists that we listened to in those times. I would get a lot of encouragement from all the people who would hear me singing or deejaying, and that’s where it all began. As shy as I was, the power of wanting to explore my talent in singing reggae music, was far more powerful, and as time passed I found myself getting up on stages and doing it, with a loud applause and loads of more encouragement every time, I felt that it was my destiny and I followed with my heart.
I thank the soundsystems who made the sessions that time, because it is them who provided the stages for us to grow and exercise our art. To mention one particular soundsystem, Sargitarius Soundsystems, led by Ras Asha Macozoma, was the one that was constantly doing events, and we knew always we would be able to step upon the mic. Unfortunately we had no proper studios to record ourselves at those times in the ghetto, so we mostly recorded ourselves through PA systems connected to a cassette tape recorder, and those recordings would end up lost or taken by a friend and that would be the last of them.

Who influenced you most as a singer …..musically your influences when you were young and what you like/liked most…

My musical influences as a kid were South African artists like Brenda Fassie, Harari, Rev. Harley and The Rasta Family, Splash and Yvonne Chakachaka, to name a few. Other artists who influenced me musically were Jimmy Cliff, Silva Puzoli, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and many more artists whose music was playing on radio and tv at the time.
I mostly loved songs like “Heroes Party” by Brenda Fassie&Rev. Harley, “Give” by Harari, “Reggae Night” by Jimmy Cliff, “Pikoko” by Splash, “Thank you Mr.Dj” by Yvonne Chakachaka, and lastly, “Too late for Mama” by Brenda Fassie. Although there were more artists who influenced my music, these were the ones that I loved very much, and they are the singers, that first influenced me to start singing, by singing along to them when their songs were playing.
I don’t know much about the UK soundsystem culture, but I would guess it’s not so different from the European soundsystem scene. I have noticed that in Europe the culture is respected by both parties, which is, the followers and the soundsystems themselves. And the focus is mainly on dub and roots reggae music, rather than the new-roots and dancehall trends.
I have worked with Iyah One of ShilohItes from Sweden, we have released songs like; “Can’t win this time”, “Mount Zion”, “Rudy” and “Jah Spear”. I have also had the opportunity to be working with SEGNALE DIGITALE, recording a number of singles with them over a span of +/-5 years.
Through SEGNALE DIGITALE I have had some of my songs remixed by great producers in the UK.
The song “Youthman” was remixed by Nick Manasseh, “Weep and Mourn” was remixed by Zion Train, and recently another tune called “Roots&Culture” was remixed by Nick Manasseh, all of whom are involved in the UK soundsystem culture. Of all the collaborations with these producers, I love “Youth Man” and “Jah Spear” mostly, but I love all the songs really.I believe that reggae revival in Jamaica is real, I feel like the new roots reggae artists like, Chronix, Jah9, Kabaka Pyramid, Protoje, Jesse Royal, are genuine in their stance of conscious music.
I think the reggae in Jamaica 2018, is extreme in both roots reggae and dancehall, there is a lot of conscious lyrics and a lot of slackness lyrics, you choose your own.

You have been involved in the reggae scene since a long time , can you tell us something about Reggae now in 2017 …who do you think….

Yes I have been involved in the reggae scene since the early 90’s and I guess it is a long time. Reggae has grown in my country, regarding the amount of people that listen to it or are aware of it, the number of soundsystems & selectahs and the artists who play the instruments and sing the music. Nowadays you find more reggae artists in South Africa and neighbouring countries, like Zimbabwe and Zambia etc, are singing or deejaying in their native languages. I have a couple of songs in Xhosa, my native language, for example, and I have noticed that people tend to relate and interact more to those Xhosa songs, which is understandable because that is their language as well. The soundsystems play mostly jamaican dancehall music, a little to none, roots&dub will be played, just as a starter if I can say that. Though you can find soundsystems that play dub and roots reggae, there are a few compared to the mainstream reggae/dancehall selectahs.
So far the soundsystem culture is on the right track, the only way is growth now, and in due time, all the pieces shall fall into place. I think the future of soundsystem culture, all over the world, is bright. I see the soundsystem being the voice of voiceless in terms of addressing social ills through Word, Sound and Power. I see the culture taking it’s rightful place in society, as it was in the beginning.
Soundsystem as a Culture, automatically becomes the “voice of the people” and it can become a bussiness due to an increase of demand of their services by the general public.