A core part of Notting Hill's carnival is its sound system culture that draws in people from all over the world. Willingly masses gather in front of speakers the size of double-decker buses and submit their eardrums and insides to the beating musical vibrations from some of the biggest artists around.
Growing up in a Jamaican household, I know myself and many others experienced this sound system culture from the front room. As the living room would be filled with a turntable system that had speakers the size of mini-fridges connected to it vibrating the room with the sounds of roots and culture reggae!
For Dem Live Ah Foreign Vol.4 we decided to give a personal account from Red Light Busking staff member Steve who we asked to tell us his experiences of London's music scene from the early 70's.
We listened to a variety of music at home growing up.. from Bob Marley to Nat King Cole, calypso and soca ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHW-MspQSEA ). I first got into rude boy music (rude boy was the Specials, the Beat Buster blood Vessel.. or SKA music as it was generally known) around 1975-78 and started buying the specials and the beats. I soon got into dancehall music, where Yellow Man ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g7v1lobSlU ) and David Rodigan ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrb2wI2BV4s ) influenced my listening. When b-boy madness hit the UK I was gone! Africa Bambarta and the Souls Sonic Force ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J3lwZjHenA ) took over.. at around the age of 14 I started getting into sound systems. Though I broadened my horizons further by adding rare groove and toasting to my musical arsenal. Toasting was MCing ..the likes of Yellow Man and Eka Mouse ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XE0xXv-jQAI ) were two of my favourites some of the early UK toasters many will remember where Musical Youth ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsyUa63NM1E ).
Around 1985-86 I was 16 years old and going to Bentley's nightclub in Canning Town, where Derick Boland ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yid6pQn2kpw ) influenced my musical outlook. I started rapping, mixing, scratching and cutting on the DJ desks, much to my mother's annoyance. I used the Gramophone at home to practice before I had my own DJ set and I would get old speakers and wire them up to give myself early lessons on sounds and how this stuff worked. In my eyes, I was a master craftsman honing his sounds though mum told me 'Stop mek up noise in the place! . Though that didn't discourage me because I soon had 18-inch bass bins which shook the whole street when I played at home. While mum was at work the mouse definitely stayed out to play, and entire streets of Forest Gate got a free listening party! Though mum didn't appreciate this as when returning from work and she reached the Boleyn Pub she was greeted to the sounds of my vibrating bass bins becoming ever louder and by the time she reached St Martins Avenue her usual calm demeanour would be raging. I would quickly power down, not fancying my chances now the cat was back!
I missed the whole rave scene after spending 6yrs in prison. My younger brother sent me tapes of acid house music. It kept me in touch but I never got the vibe of the whole scene. After coming out I quickly jumped on the jungle movement and got my first Akai s950. This was the start of my production journey. I attended West Ham college and did a music production diploma. Soon after that I was holding workshops for youth centres working with kids giving them the experience of making beats. Suppose I terrorised my community for so long I had to give back!
With my home recording studio, I made drum n bass, UK Garage and anything in between. Intelligent Drum and Bass was the flavour that most sparked my flame until I heard Broken Beats ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a__SJSTpDzQ ) and instantly fell in love with the sounds. 15 years on and my love for the scene is still strong as it fused everything I know musically into one genre.
Steve AKA DJ Preshaa
Look out for our Dem Live Ah Foreign exhibition in October where Steve will be mixing and blending and treating you all to the soulful sounds of Broken Beats.