Ganja Riddim Soundsystem is one of the most active sound crews in Germany.That’s why it took a while to get them for an interview and continue my Real Reggae Sound Systems serie. Here we are with another great story.
Since when do you run Ganja Riddim Soundsystem?
Ganja Riddim started about 16 years ago (1998) as a crew of different people who played all kind of underground music. Ganja & riddims were the two things we focused on in these days … In 2002 we realized that Roots & Dub music and especially the sound system culture is our real passion.
From there on we tried to invite “real” sound systems with their set and not just “sound systems” as it is meant in the dancehall scene (dj + mc). Through the years the crew members changed but Jan carried on pushing the sound forward. In 2004 he linked up with Sebastian, who was also sound system addicted and who built boxes for his Roots Ark Soundsystem.
Why did you start to run a sound system?
Looking back, building a sound system was a natural progress. We all are listening to Reggae music for a long time, especially Sebastian and Jan. Both with a past in Dancehall and Jamaican Modern Roots. After being strongly influenced and inspired by UK Roots / Dub and Jamaican Roots Music from around 2000, we totally focused on that kind of music.
Sessions with the inspirational King Shiloh Soundsystem & The Disciples, the Idrens of the Dandelion crew and other German crews in addition with trips to the UK, London and listening to big sound systems brought us to the point of no return: the decision of going deeper into the real soundman business.
„For us it was important that we could share the music we love with a bigger audience and letting people participate in the feeling we have whilst listening and when the heavy bassline drops.“
For us it was important that we could share the music we love and listen to at home with a bigger audience and letting people participate in the feeling we have whilst listening to the conscious messages and when the heavy bassline drops. Also the sound system culture is still not well-known to a wider audience in Germany, so we want to help to spread this vital and fascinating culture, living sound system culture.
We are not 100% Rastas but still we trod in a serious tradition and want to spread the positive message of love & life in a conscious way. Righteousness & positivity is a must. But we try to combine the sound system tradition with influences of this day and age, ting called “Roots & Reality”.
And we append our individual note. For instance we installed indirect illumination in our speakers as well as some other handcrafted light effects. Max for example built a customized VU meter with a blown speaker and lot of led-lights. You can check a little video of it here.
Thus, a visual perception was added up to the acoustic cognition of a massive sound system. Light over darkness! We also love to organize outdoor sessions and spread the vibes in the surrounding of mother nature. Of course in summer but also in winter time – only the fittest of the fittest, seen!
And last but not least we love to invite various live artists to our session, for example German singers / MCs like Ras Seven, Culture Japhet, Mr. Nasop or Isayah or musicians like the great violin player Sylvain Dubiolin and his band, the Four seasons of Roots. You can check a nice video with some live vibes here:
How long did it take you to build up the current set?
As the mid and top boxes already existed through the Roots Ark Soundsystem we “just” had to build the 4 Hog Scoops in the first step. This took several weeks and the main work was done by Nic and Sebastian M. who is only occasionally active with the crew right now. Special “thank you” goes out to man like Kibish Matthias who helped us a lot with the Hogs! It was really exciting to do the first sound check with the full set and to play the first sessions.
We have been very lucky that the combination of the 4 new Hogs and the boxes of the Roots Ark Soundsystem sounded that good, give thanks! But of course work never stops in a sound system. After the first set up we built two double 15″ bass reflex boxes to improve the kicks.
However we were not satisfied with the acoustics, so we built eight HD15 kick bins. In order to keep the balance we also added two Hog Scoops. With this equipment we are now able to hit a few hundred people with the full power of a real sound system. This is the full set we will be playing & travelling with the next time.
Who belongs to your crew and what is his function?
At the moment the inner sound crew members are Jan, Nic, Seb, Max and Nils. Max is Seb’s brother and supports us since 2-3 years, first with box lifting and the last 1,5 years with great box building skills and a lot enthusiasm. He is the workshop bossman and did push a lot things forward. Also Nils helped us a lot in the last years and brings in his wide-spreaded knowledge and light-fingeredness in all operations around the sound system.
Jan, Nic, and Seb all operate the sound. We all have our own tunes, but we communicate all the time about which new dubplates or tunes we run in sessions. Jan and Seb are also sharing the mic for some mc work alongside various artist we invite to our sessions.
How often do you play the full set during a year?
We play about one or two sessions per month. As Jan and Nic both have a daughter we also have to care for them and have to set the priorities right, daughter over dub, seen! Also the day job is demanding which means that 1-2 sessions per month is a cool frequency for us.
What was the farthest journey you have done with Ganja Riddim Soundsystem?
The farthest journey with the set was a sound system meeting in Vienna (January 2012) with our bredrins Shalamanda Soundsystem. It was the first sound system meeting ever in Austria and it was a very nice experience for us. Check out Shalamanda if you are in Vienna and also check their festival Rise and Shine – big vibes deyah!
Please name your top 5 artists and top 5 producers.
This is a hard one. Of course there are the big legends like Lee Perry, Yabby You etc. which are important for us, and you can never forget the legend Jah Shaka with his countless great releases and sessions.
In the last years we rate the musical & production skills of Slimmah Sound (Roots Tribe label) a lot, also Dubkasm run tings and created a storm with their last release Victory. And of course we also love the vibes of the established producers like Russ D, Dougie Wardrope, Vibronics, Dubcreator, Barry Isaacs … too many to mention.
And it is a blessing to see good music coming from all 4 corners of the world. From Brazil (Digital Dubs) over USA (Kris Naphtali) to Russia (Rebelsteppa), from Japan (Mighty Massa) to Italy (Moa Anbessa, Dan I), all of course just examples of a lively culture. Special request to all producers how equipped us with unreleased dubplate cuts over the years!
Do you run something else next to the sound system?
Up to now we focus on organizing sessions and working on our sound system. Of course we are thinking about producing own tunes and making good music available but at this point it is not realistic to do it proper. So we concentrate on our sound system and on promoting Roots & Dub music through sessions. And from time to time we try to put out a new mix-cd.
Any suggestions for people who would like to start their own sound system?
Grow and build the system wisely. First you need big tunes and an overstanding of the culture. If you want to start a sound system, make sure that you know what it means to carry and lift boxes, to be tired at 7 in the morning and still have to unload the truck.
„Make sure, that you have a strong crew, you need hands and heart, seen! It’s a family thing, not a one man show.“
Make sure, that you have a strong crew, you need hands and heart, seen! It’s a family thing, not a one man show. And don’t look at it as an ego-ting. It’s not about the biggest, loudest sound, it’s all about the vibes & message. You don’t have to be a Rasta to run a Roots & Dub sound system, but you should take it serious.
Technical Rider of Ganja Riddim Soundsystem
We run the system in the 3-way mono style, which means subs, kicks, tops. Even though it is unusual, we use passive cross-over`s for the tops and high mids. Although they require a lot of power, we are satisfied with the warm sound and interaction with the Hog Scoops and Kickbins.
- Mixer: Yamaha MG16/6FX
- Turntable: Technics MK1210
- CD: Gemini CDMP-1400 Professional
- Crossover: Behringer Ultradrive Pro DCX2496 (2x), Behringer Ultra-Curve Pro DEQ2496
- Mic: SHURE SM58 and some other, top secret electronics :-)
- RedRock M 12.0 VOID Infinite 8 Camco D Power 4
- t.amp Pro Line 3000 (2x)
- t.amp TA 2400
- For the subbass section we run 6 Hog scoops (18”), loaded with void drivers. In the kick section we use eight HD15 kickbins (15”) loaded with PD and Eminence Kappa drivers. Each of our two top boxes contains two 12” Kappa drivers and two Beyma drivers + horns.
- We designed a custom-made case for our siren boxes and delay. It`s more comfortable to carry especially when we do a little session in a bar and can’t place the whole sound system.
Do your thing, don’t let anybody take away your ideas, dreams & passion, but always give it the time it needs. And stay positive, in your walking and in your talking. In the end only LOVE is the solution.