House of Reggae is right back with another Reggae Soundsystems, the great King Shiloh from Amsterdam, Holland. Read the words of Brother Neil, founder, operator and selector of the most famous original sound system on the European mainland, as i would say.
Greetings Brother Neil. Since when do you run King Shiloh Sound System?
Brother Neil: We are actually in our 20th year as King Shiloh, we give thanks to the Most High, Jah Rastafari who I-tinually guides and protects us on this incredible journey.
Why did you start to run the sound?
When Jah called us to do His works I’d been living a few weeks in Amsterdam (after finally leaving the UK) noticing the abuse of the Ites, Gold and Green flag around town, you know coffee shops used it as a symbol to represent ganja, but then you would go inside and hear techno music playing and thing. Its then really Jah show us to take up the banner and properly represent roots music in Amsterdam, in the form of a sound system. Thats was the calling.
How long did it take you to build up the current set of King Shiloh?
Its been an evolution, a journey. We start like many, assembling a jigsaw puzzle of old PA speakers and amps, linking it all to my 25 year old Tubbys preamp to create a sound. Gradually through time building our own scoops and thing, living and learning. Not going to school to learn but by experience as we know experience teaches wisdom! We’re now 20 years further, have moved from a crude 3 way mono set to a 6 way stereo set up, state of the art, up to date full on sound system. So the answer is 20 years! Step by step.
Who belongs to your crew and what is his function?
Right now in the Shiloh Family I-Man Bredda Neil, selector and operator, the MC’s Red Lion and Ras Iyiapo, Singers Jah Rootz and Majestic B, Happy Warrior is the technician and crew man, Jef Free is the junior selector, he runs sessions with Majestic B when the main sound is out on the road. Dub Creator produces a lot the music for the sound, also Iyah One. You know the family is large, too many to mention!
How often do you play the full set during a year?
We take the set out on average about 50 times a year. That means loading and unloading the truck at least 100 times! In/out in/out each session. Sometimes we take 12 scoops, more often these days 6 or 9, we run stacks of 3 bass not 4. Its all about the coverage with the stereo set.
What was the longest journey you have done with your sound system?
Earlier in the year we did a European Tour, 3 months on the road with the sound, first time to our knowledge that a sound has done something like that! We started in Belgium and Germany, going through Poland, back into Germany again, Switzerland, down to Barcelona in Spain, into France, then forward to Italy reaching right down to Salento and Napoli in the south and back again! We did around 7,500km in total, that was the longest journey, so far! 3 months away from Amsterdam, life on the road, connecting people, sowing sound system seeds all around the continent.
Please name your top 5 artists and top 5 producers.
Thats a difficult one, Coxsone Dodd, first and foremost, without Studio One things would have been different, King Tubbys, Augustus Pablo, Yabby You. Then from the UK Gussie P and Russ Disciple. Artistwise got to call Earl Sixteen name, his track record is unsurpassed, the continuing quality of his tunes undeniable. Love Danny Red too, an inspiration for the UK scene since the early 90’s. Jah Shaka name have to include, the father of Roots sounds. Johnny Clarke always been one of I favourites. Hugh Mundell also …
Do you run something else next to the soundsystem?
Yes, we have the King Shiloh Majestic Music record label. Just released our 14th vinyl production recently with many more in the pipeline. Watch out for the King Kong productions coming soon! We also build sound systems for other people, offer an info service for ones starting in the runnings. We organise big sessions in Amsterdam, 21 October Jah Shaka is playing on the Shiloh set again, its going to be a biggie, part of the massive Amsterdam Dance Event. We have radio programmes. Its our life, not just a hobby!
Any suggestions for people who would like to start their own sound system?
Think carefully about it first! Its a total thing, like I say not just a hobby, it will take over your life. One old sound man said to me a long time ago, having a sound is a great life but be prepared to invest all your money, loose your wife and end up bankrupt with a broken back! Thats the ruff end of the story, the other side is its an incredible hill and gully ride, highs and lows, but the highs far outweigh the lows! So if Jah gives you the inspiration to start the journey then take up the banner, keep it real and enjoy the journey. Blessings and Love, Bredda Neil.
Technical Rider of King Shiloh Sound System
Check it at one of our sessions! Listing 20 years of development, searching and changing has resulted in the current Shiloh set. Not to say its a secret which equipment we use, but its just too simple for copyists to carbon copy us if we list everything. You overstand, we would rather encourage ones to embark on their own journey of discovery, not copy from others.