It’s been quite a while since I presented the last real reggae sound system. A few weeks ago I linked up with Symbiosis Sound System from Leeds, UK via twitter. Well, here we go again.
Since when do you run the Symbiosis Sound System?
We first started Symbiosis Sound in 2004 with a slap-dash collection of amps and speakers that a few of us had collected over the years. We used these to throw parties and after blowing up various pieces of equipment we started to get serious about building a proper sound system. In 2005 we threw a New Year party with some freshly built super scoops and we have been building, adding to and refining the sound system ever since.
Why did you start to run the sound?
As a group of friends we had always been into speakers, hi-fi’s and music of all sorts. I think we first realised that we wanted to build our own sound system and play dub and reggae music after various trips to Subdub in Leeds. Iration Steppas really were the inspiration for us to build our own sound and record collections and start putting our own dances and events on.
We also met loads of lovely people who helped us when we were first starting out and this cemented the drive to carry on with the sound system and doing what we do. We have to give a big shout out to our long-time friends and collaborators High Pressure Sound System, Inspirational Sound and Big Toe’s HiFi.
How long did it take you to build up the current set of Symbiosis Sound System?
The sound system is constantly changing, evolving (and getting bigger!) so it is hard to say. We built our first pair of scoops in 2005 and soon after we built another two and since then we’ve gone through various different mid and top boxes until we settled on the current set up about three years ago. We still tweak the speaker stack and amp set up every now and then and we are planning on building some more scoops soon.
Symbosis Sound System
Who belongs to your crew and what is his function?
The crew consists of John and Smee who are the owners, box builders and sound technicians for the system, Jem, who is the designer, artist and promoter, Selecta One Time (Wiggy); our resident part-time selecta, Chewie Lewie; the junglist master and Richie Ranks MC and singer. We also have a great group of friends that help us out lifting boxes, playing sets, flyering and generally putting up with us; Soph, Nam, Al, Andy, Jake, Laura, Sam, Carol, Steady, Martin, Matty and everyone else!
Symbiosis Sound Crew
How often do you play the full set during a year?
We probably get the full system out ten times a year, sometimes more. We try to put at least four of our own events on a year and then play at other dances in between them. The one downside of Leeds having such a good scene is that it can be hard to fit nights in with so many other dances going on.
What was the longest journey you have done with your sound system?
The longest journey we have done was from Leeds to Edinburgh to play with Big Toe’s Hi Fi. It seemed even longer than it should because we were in John’s old red transit van, we loved this van but it wasn’t exactly quick or comfy. On the motorway a pigeon got caught flying in front of the van windscreen and we thought we were going to hit it, turns out that a scared pigeon is quicker than our van!
Please name your top 5 artists and top 5 producers.
This list would probably change if you asked us all in a few weeks but here we go.
Favourite producers: Pete Inspirational, Vibronics, OBF, King Earthquake and Slimmah Sound.
Favourite artists: Abyssinians, Jah Shaka, Cocoa Tea, Mungo’s HiFi and Black Uhuru.
Do you run something else next to the soundsystem?
We do a lot of collaborations with Inspirational Sound who produce specials for us with Richie Ranks through their Dublab label. You can have a listen to them on our soundcloud page. Jem also runs Dubhut, a dub, reggae and clothing brand and he does the t-shirts for the sound system along with any flyers and artwork stuff.
Any suggestions for people who would like to start their own sound system?
Try to scam a bank loan! It will take up a lot of your time energy and money but it’s worth it if you really love the dub and reggae music and the whole sound system scene. Just start building, cobble together some amps and put a party on, it all starts small and if you stick at it and have the passion it may grow into something special.
Technical Rider of Symbiosis Sound System
- Technics 1210s
- Pioneer mixer
- some concrete feedback destroyers
- a rack of Crown Macro-Tech amps, two 5k, a 3.6k and a 2.4k
- four 18” Super Scoops
- six 15” HD horns
- two horn-mounted double 12” mids
- BMS tops
- EQ and FX units
- mixing desk
- a processor and compressor
- original 1970s spring-loaded reverb