Posts Tagged ‘funky’

Interview with Gabriel Heatwave

April 20, 2010

I first discovered The Heatwave through a recorded set they did with Riko in 2007. Since then, I’ve been regularly checking their website for the latest Dancehall news, reviews and mixsets, which for me, have always been on point. Following their massive ’25 years of Dancehall’ mix on Rinse a few weeks ago, we at The ‘Fold thought it was about time we shone some light on The Heatwave and brought focus to the massively important work they do for the UK scene.

We tracked down head honcho Gabriel and pinned him down for a chat:

First of all, please introduce yourself to all our readers, and tell them what it is you do!

Hi, I’m Gabriel and as part of Dancehall collective The Heatwave, I DJ around the UK and Europe. Our new night ‘Energy’ is about to be launched at Driver, King’s Cross. We mainly play Jamaican dancehall music, especially where it crosses over with UK sounds. We all grew up with Garage and Grime and where those two genres cross over into Dancehall is what we are interested in! We also write a blog and host The Heatwave radio show on Rinse, that’s dedicated to all Jamaican sounds.

How did you get into dancehall and what was it about the sound that appealed to you?

Although I was into reggae and stuff when I was younger, I started DJ’ing Hiphop. I moved to Spain in 2001 and there were no decent record shops selling underground Hiphop were I was. However, there was a reggae shop and so I started to purchase records. After a while I had had enough of rap and stopped playing it. I found Dancehall – the uptempo stuff especially – much more lively and appealing. People could dance to it! Also, it was really easy to get hold of the classics whereas 90’s Hiphop classics were really hard to find. With Reggae they reissue stuff all the time, even if it’s just bootlegs. I found I could get all the massive hits from as far back as 20 years ago.

You are the brains behind The Heatwave – a monthly club night that has since grown to incorporate a record label, a radio show, a website and blog. How did it all come about and what was the idea behind this multi-faceted approach?

It has all been accidental really. The Heatwave started as a night we put on in 2003. We had just moved back to London, and wanted to a monthly gig. At that time, in London, there were monthly gigs but outside of it there was nothing really going on. It was at a time when people were starting to pay attention to dancehall again but no one was doing it properly, just Hiphop DJ’s playing the occasional tune here and there. The website followed much later than that, and the blog even later – about 2007.

We started our Rinse show started last year.

What has it been like on Rinse?

I really like it there. We’re the only dancehall show and everybody else is quite different. In a way we feel out of place, but I think what we do works really well. Dancehall and Jamaican music generally, is at the root of what most of the other DJ’s play. Rinse started as a jungle station and everything they’ve done since, be it Grime, Dubstep or Funky, Dancehall has had a massive impact on.

We do our own thing but by being on Rinse, you know the people listening are going to have a deeper appreciation of the music.

In that respect Rinse has its own heritage…

Yeah definitely. Rinse listeners see the links between Jamaican and UK music and to them it makes a lot of sense us being on there. As such we tailor what we do to that audience. A recent example was a show we did about ‘Fastchat’ – an MC style that originated in London in the ‘80’s and was the starting point of what we now recognise as Jungle and Grime MC’ing. We like to highlight that sort of thing on Rinse for a more discerning audience.

Any plans for a Rinse CD?

I have – I don’t know if they have yet! Haha! But no, I have spoken to them about it and we’re possibly doing a Funky Bashment thing, but there are a number of ways we could approach it. There is so much cross pollination in terms of music between London and Jamaica – much more so now with the internet making more collaborations possible…

In those terms your recent ‘Funky Bashment’ mix was really important on a musical level. Not only did you mix Jamaican and British styles together, but you also introduced listeners to the variety of Afrobeat influences that are popular right now and are at the heart of the Funky scene. Could we be seeing the start of a new pan-African musicial movement in the UK that borrows from Jamaica, England and Africa?

I’m no musicologist, but with Funky specifically and some second generation Grime, there definitely seems to have been a shift. In the 80’s, UK black music was all about the Caribbean but now the focus seems to have changed. What is interesting is that, like you say, whilst the UK still looks to Jamaica, Dancehall is now really big in West Africa. The African influence in Jamaican music has always been there –Mento etc – but I’ve noticed in the last year or two that there has been more African-inspired Dancehall production.

Check out a producer called Kirkledove who’s a drummer and makes tracks with lots of African percussion. He’s a good example and has made hits for Mr Vegas amongst others.

Riko @ The Heatwave, 2007

You are known for predominantly playing dancehall but you also dabble in Grime, and in fact the first I heard of The Heatwave was when I stumbled across your set with Riko Dan from 2007. What do you like about the genre and who are your favourite artists?

I like Grime Mc’s like Riko and Durrty Goodz who have the Ragga Jamaican-influenced flows. Saying that, my absolute favourite Grime MC is Wiley and although he has that Jamaican influence, he doesn’t tend to chat in Patois like Killa P, Badness or Riko do.

One of the most interesting facets of Grime is the ‘versioning’ culture it imbibed from Reggae and Dancehall. After a brief hiatus, riddim versions are starting to make come back, as recently demonstrated by S-X’s Wooo Riddim. How important are Riddims to the vitality Grime scene do you think?

I really like having a load of artists versioning Riddims. One of my favourite Grime records is ‘Ice Rink!’ What I like about versioning – and the way they do it in Jamaica – is that it puts all the MC’s on one level so you can immediately compare them. It’s difficult to compare two different MC’s if they spit on two different beats – it’s hard to tell whether the beat makes the difference, or the MC.

I also like the fact that by having loads of versions, different DJ’s can pick out different ones and popularise them. DJ’s tend to play about 3-4 cuts on the same riddim, so if there are 15 versions, everyone can do something different.

Riko & Godsgift @ The Heatwave

How long do you think it will be before Grime can achieve the same kind of self-sufficient industry that dancehall enjoys?

By looking at the way Grime, Dubstep and Funky have developed, I’ll never understand why they are treated as different genres. I look at what has happened in London over the last 20 years and see massive parallels with what has happened in Jamaica. Back in the day, scenes were coming and going, styles were coming and going, uncles, cousins and children were each following in the footsteps of their family…This is why there are so many links between Dancehall in 1995 to Dancehall now.

Now look at Jungle in 1995 and Funky now in 2010 and the same links are there! The same record shops, producers, promoters, radio stations. There is all that continuity in this country and yet everyone slips up and ignores it, instead defining themselves by their scene and genres…

Is that a trait specific to the UK?

I don’t know, but I can’t think why we’re so different, so parochial. The infrastructure is there, it should have been used for Grime and Funky. Saying that it is getting better with so much cross pollination between scenes – it’s great.

25 Years of Dancehall

Your recent ‘25 Years of Dancehall Show’ on Rinse – whereby you played one distinctive record from each year from 1985 until now was, for me, an enjoyable and educational listen. What was it like trying to compile records for the show?

It was really difficult! In the end I did it by artist and tried to list 25 artists that I couldn’t leave out. It was a slightly weird way of doing it as inevitably certain tunes – one hit wonders etc – got left out. But we got the key artists in there and anyway, the mix was never meant to be a finite.

What was the feedback from the ’25 Years’ mix?

I’ve had loads of really positive feedback. Because I’m so immersed in the music I think I sometimes forget that just because I know who did what when, when a certain style changed etc, casual listeners don’t. In that sense, the mix did a good job and because I did it by artist, anyone can look into their back catalogues and find out more.

Do you plan to do similar mixes in future?

It’s something I’ve always been interested in and is, in part, my aim in doing all of this. I feel like Dancehall is under-represented despite having such a massive influence in modern music – no mean feat considering it’s come from a small Caribbean island. The Heatwave shows people the history and the importance of Dancehall as well as being totally about the music and having fun.

Wayne Smith

‘Under Mi Sleng Teng’ released by Wayne Smith in 1985 was a phenomenally important record for dancehall. Can you just highlight for us just why that it is?

‘Sleng Teng’ is often credited as the first digital reggae record, which isn’t quite true, but it was the catalyst in everyone in Jamaica dumping their instruments and going digital. Given what has happened since then, that event has been phenomenally important even though not everyone saw it as a positive thing at the time.

After ‘Sleng Teng’ dropped, everyone was interested in drum machines and digital sounds rather than instruments. I’m not slighting analogue instruments, but going digital allowed many producers to do innovative things. One thing that I find amazing about ‘Sleng Teng’ and indeed with many older digital dancehall cuts is that they don’t sound dated in the same way the Happy Mondays do now, even though they used similar drum machine equipment.

In the ’25 years’ show, you sight the Diwali Riddim as being important in terms of the sounds progression. What did it introduce to Dancehall?

Diwali Riddim was a new kind of rhythm – a 4/4 beat. It had been done before but after Diwali it was copied hugely over the next few years. It also paved the way for the Coolie Dance Riddim the year after, which in a way was more significant commercially as it was a little faster – closer to a house tempo. The other thing Diwali did, by using Indian sounding samples, was open peoples’ minds to Asian and Oriental influences.

What do you think will become the next big theme in Dancehall musically or lyrically?

One of the things I think will be big at Carnival this year will be the Triple Bounce Riddim, which has got versions by Vybz Kartel and Movado. Also I think the African sound will get bigger, as it’s still sounding new.
We’ll be pushing the Funky Bashment thing, trying to get as many Jamaican artists to collaborate as we can. Not a huge amount have been taking up on it so far, but people like Sticky are going to be working with a lot more Jamaican artists this year. Tunes like ‘Party Hard’ by Doneao have been doing really well in the Caribbean recently too.

You compiled ‘An England Story’ – a compilation CD of English MC tracks across 25 years. Were you pleased with how it was received and are there plans to do another?

Yeah I thought it went down really well and it had that educational feel. I feel like it has helped change the way UK MC’s are viewed and brought focus to the progression being made here. It annoys me that people take their MC cues from America rather than Jamaica – comparing Dizzee to rappers as opposed to Vybz Kartel for example. It’s annoying and wrong. Culturally our MC’s operate in a way closer to the Jamaican industry.

I have already pencilled a tracklisting for a follow up, but what I want to do with this one is fashion one CD as a retrospective, and the other as an illustration of what is happening now.

Which UK Dancehall artists should people look out for?


Lady Chann
, Gappy Ranks, YT, Serocee, Doctor and Riko.

And finally, what is next for The Heatwave?

The plan is to focus on production and as such we have a tune with Serocee out next month. Other than that it’s just going to be more DJ’ing and more gigs! We also have our weekly night at Driver, Kings Cross, which commences this Thursday. Plus we hope to be reaching Jamaica soon to record.

Check out:

The Heatwave website
The Heatwave on Rinse
The Heatwave on Facebook
Gabriel on Twitter

Many thanks to Gabriel for this in-depth interview. Look out for more schoolings from him in the near future.

Kristian

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My Year of Mixtapes

March 24, 2010

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Yesterday a friend put me onto the blog of one Chrissy Murderbot, a ‘Chicago-based DJ/Producer in love with juke-rave-jungle-disco-dubstep-hi-NRG-gangsta-dancehall-ghetto-garage-core’. His blog, My Year of Mixtapes, is where Mr. Murderbot endeavours to post one free downloadable mixtape each week for an entire year. 52 weeks, 52 mixtapes.

The sheer scope of different genres available is pretty impressive – from early 90’s rave to ‘Neue Deutsche Welle’ each mix is accompanied by a short explanation of the roots of that genre – some of them have proven to be a fascinating read, as Chrissy’s extensive musical knowledge contextualises each individual mix. Of particular note are the Booty Bass, New Jack Swing and UK Funky mixes (well, to my ear anyway, different strokes for different folks!)

Be sure to check the blog out here.

James

Shark Major Album Shoot

September 28, 2009

I was approached by Sharky to take some photos for his upcoming album ‘Major League’. Here are a sample of the shots taken that day. Watch out for the CD which is being released soon, and features big guestspots from Ghetts, Griminal, Jammer and Little Nasty amongst others.

For more info twitter me @threefoldmedia.

Big up Shark Major – he’s bound to make moves with this release.

Check the lead single ‘Shark Attack’ here:

Kristian

FWD VS Rinse @ Matter O2 Nov 20th

September 25, 2009

Good news! Rinse has secured a quarterly residency at the London superclub. After the success of Rinse’s 15th birthday event there it seems like a natural decision. This one look set to be every bit as special as the last!

Absolutely mental line up:

SKREAM + BENGA 2 hour set

BOY BETTER KNOW

HEARTLESS CREW

GEENEUS

WILEY

ZINC

GHETTO

N-TYPE

CRAZY COUSINZ MC VERSATILE

KATY B

SPYRO

YOUNGSTA

HEADHUNTER

ONEMAN

RAMADANMAN

SUPA D

DISTANCE

BROCKIE (Jungle set)

COOLY G

FLOATING POINTS

CRAZY D

TIPPA

STAMINA

Order your tickets here

Kristian

Shystie – Pull It (Ill Blu Remix)

September 15, 2009

This tune is doing all kinds of things to my head right now. Very, very big.

James