Today i start a brandnew series at House of Reggae: real reggae sound systems. No, i am not talking about Djs with a record box; this one will be all about self-made speaker boxes, sirens and thing. The first sound i have asked about the runnings is Meditative Sounds from Uppsala, Sweden.
Since when do you run Meditative Sounds?
Selector/ Operator Jesper: 1998.
Why did you start to run a soundsystem?
For the love of music, really. Inspired by sounds in the UK. At the time there were no roots sounds where we come from. It was all about dancehall at that time so we felt our music wasn’t getting proper play in the clubs.
How long did it take you to build up the current set of Meditative Sounds?
We have never really stopped building, just short periods. Don’t know how many different boxes we’ve had. The current set we’ve had for maybe two years.
Who belongs to your crew and what is his function?
Jesper, Andreas, Nick (selector/operator), Johan (producer), Lancy Rankin, Ras Peter (singer)
How often do you play the full set during a year?
Not very often, just different combinations.
What was the farthest journey you have done with Meditative Sounds?
France, Holland, England. Talking about travel time the longest is Bergen, Norway – through the mountains.
Please name your top 5 artists and top 5 producers.
It varies with the mood and what you’re listening to at the moment, but here are some heavy personal influences that affected my listening seriously.
- Abyssinians (Nothing can really test when they get going with their melancholic harmonies.)
- Dennis Brown (His voice is one of a kind. Even though some more recent singers has similiar styles nothing compares to the original. Also too many good tunes to mention.)
- Knowledge (Very special style that I love.)
- Twinkle Brothers (Just listen to the „Countrymen“ album, not one weak tune.)
- The Congos (Heart of the congos is in all reggae-abc-lists and its a great album, but I would like to emphasise two later albums „Congo Ashanti“ and „Face the music“. Top notch roots.)
- Lee Perry (At a young age I got my hands on a casette recording of Jah Lion „Colombia Colly“, and at that time I had no clue it was a typical Lee Perry sound. Later on I discovered these riddims on other albums and started to get a glimpse of Lee Perrys importance as a producer. Even then I didn’t know all his works with Bob Marley and at Studio 1. The more info I was getting on this man, the more he grew.)
- Tappa Zukie (The tunes he produced with Jr Ross, Knowledge and Prince Allah are pure perfection to me.)
- Augustus Pablo (So many good tunes… the first that comes in mind is his 70´s output. Hugh Mundell, Jacob Miller etc. Then when you start digging in your mind, there is plenty rough gems from from the 80´s… Delroy Williams „Stop The Fighting“ is an all time favorite. Also Blacka T „Run Come Yah“. Those 80´s tapes when Shaka play these tunes were rough. Wish I could have been there at the time.)
- Niney (His stuff with Dennis Brown and Heptones are pure classic. Many odd singles like Iron Phoenix „Natty Dread Xmas“ and Rockstones „Oh Jah Man“ ranks among my top tunes ever.)
- Coxsone Dodd (Founder of what might be the most important studio in the history of Jamaican music. Coxsone gets the mention but nuff credit to people like Leroy Sibbles and Jackie Mittoo who are heavy responsible for the Studio One sound. The roots stuff are the obvious ones, tunes like Johnny Osbournes „Truths And Rights“ and Freddie McGregor „Rastaman Camp“ are so extremely good. But Studio One got a sound so original I started to like tunes I wouldn’t listen to normally. For example I love the Carlton & the Shoes album „Love Me Forever“, not the obviouse choice for a rootsman. Also many beautiful soul covers on this label.)
Please name some artists with whom you have run session.
Culture Freeman, I-Natural, Ras Iyah, Afrikan Simba, Murray Man, Dezzi D, U-Brown, Errol Bellot, Kenny Knots, Brother Culture, Earl 16, Rod Taylor, Nereus Joseph, Anthony John, …
Do you run something else next to the soundsystem?
Studio and label. Johan set up the studio in 2001. In the beginning we were only playing the tracks on the sound system. In 2005 we were ready for the first release, it was a 10“ vinyl with two vocals and two dubs.
What’s the most exciting point about running a soundsystem?
When you draw a certain kind of dub that is very special to you and you notice the crowd feel it too. You invest a lot of time and money to get/produce the tunes you want, then its nice to see some reaction, that makes it worthwhile.
Any suggestions for people who would like to start their own sound system?
Everyone is more or less inspired by others, but try still to find something unique in your way of doing things. It could be anything from selection of tunes to design of speaker boxes. Also listen to old soundtapes to understand the history of sound system.
Technical Rider of Meditative Sounds
- 1 turntable,
- 1 CD player (playing released tunes from vinyl and unreleased from CD)
- no mixer, the gap between tunes is crucial!
- Mostec 4-way pre-amp
- VOID + QSC poweramps
- mids 8“
- mids 12“
- highbass 15“
- bass 18“
- (all self-made, Andreas is the one with the carpenter/technical skills in the sound)
- We had many delays and echo units.
- One we had from start and still have is the classic Roland Space echo.
- Two sirens, the first we got in the early days from Russ D. Its an old model of a JTS siren. The second one, Andreas built.