SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REACHES HYDERABAD, INDIA

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REACHES HYDERABAD, INDIA

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE NATIONAL TOUR
Community organisation, Let’s Go (Yorkshire), is pleased to announce it has been awarded funding from Arts Council England and Kirklees Council to develop the Sound System Culture project into a national tour.
The tour will document the UK’s vibrant sound system culture, which has been hugely influential in the evolution of British urban music since the 1950s, and will include new photographic exhibitions reflecting the sound system scenes of four UK cities: Manchester (March 2015), Bristol (June 2015), Birmingham (September 2015) and London (January 2016). Venues supporting the tour include The Tabernacle (London), The Drum (Birmingham), Colston Hall (Bristol) and Band on the Wall (Manchester), all large, well established venues that will allow us to engage diverse audiences with this important social history.
The project will also include a series of music performance events and a children’s picture book that will help introduce young people to the world of sound system culture.
Martyn Haigh, Director of Let’s Go (Yorkshire) commented, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to develop meaningful collaborations with new venues to establish the company within the national touring circuit.”

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE NATIONAL TOUR

Community organisation, Let’s Go (Yorkshire), is pleased to announce it has been awarded funding from Arts Council England and Kirklees Council to develop the Sound System Culture project into a national tour.

The tour will document the UK’s vibrant sound system culture, which has been hugely influential in the evolution of British urban music since the 1950s, and will include new photographic exhibitions reflecting the sound system scenes of four UK cities: Manchester (March 2015), Bristol (June 2015), Birmingham (September 2015) and London (January 2016). Venues supporting the tour include The Tabernacle (London), The Drum (Birmingham), Colston Hall (Bristol) and Band on the Wall (Manchester), all large, well established venues that will allow us to engage diverse audiences with this important social history.

The project will also include a series of music performance events and a children’s picture book that will help introduce young people to the world of sound system culture.

Martyn Haigh, Director of Let’s Go (Yorkshire) commented, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to develop meaningful collaborations with new venues to establish the company within the national touring circuit.”

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW @ AWKWARDMOVEMENTS.COM
There’s been much written on this book already, but having properly immersed myself in it at last, I had to get some love up for it. Following on from Clarks In Jamaica, One Love Books have chosen to document Huddersfield’s historical status as a dub and reggae capital outside of Jamaica in the ’70s and ’80s.
Despite being geo-specific, Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems is more a narrative on the entire evolution of Carribean sound system culture within Britain. Heavily pictorial, right from the forward the words don’t pull punches on issues immigrants experienced, the alienation that led to the parties that helped them come together and eventually drive the further development of UK lifestyle melding in to sound system heritage.
To be honest, I wasn’t even sure where Huddersfield was before the press for Sound System Culture started landing in front of me. The truth of the matter is that the market town in West Yorkshire had an immense impact on sound system culture across the UK, and with a contribution that far outweighs it’s population and size, for the most part it seemed written out of the essential chapters.
The archive work is incredible, and the sound system porn even more so. Who doesn’t drool at a full stack of speakers? Stare at a selector with a hand on an unmarked record and wonder what it is? Or examine the movements captured of the operator working an unlabelled preamp of dozens of rotary knobs?
With a pretty even split of words and imagery, as above with the description of the climate that the communities existed in, the shots include maps, city aerials, factories, family portraits, general street views and anything else that helps take you back to this important era of the town. In turn, the pictures of classic systems not only highlight some of the most impressive systems that may or may not still be around, but capture the spirit of the dance that we all know and miss.
There’s too many highlights to mention even a few. Check the link below for a few grabs from the book, then head over to One Love Books to grab a copy while you can. Big ups all involved, brilliant project.
http://www.awkwardmovements.com/2014/09/sound-system-culture-celebrating.html

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW @ AWKWARDMOVEMENTS.COM

There’s been much written on this book already, but having properly immersed myself in it at last, I had to get some love up for it. Following on from Clarks In Jamaica, One Love Books have chosen to document Huddersfield’s historical status as a dub and reggae capital outside of Jamaica in the ’70s and ’80s.

Despite being geo-specific, Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems is more a narrative on the entire evolution of Carribean sound system culture within Britain. Heavily pictorial, right from the forward the words don’t pull punches on issues immigrants experienced, the alienation that led to the parties that helped them come together and eventually drive the further development of UK lifestyle melding in to sound system heritage.

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure where Huddersfield was before the press for Sound System Culture started landing in front of me. The truth of the matter is that the market town in West Yorkshire had an immense impact on sound system culture across the UK, and with a contribution that far outweighs it’s population and size, for the most part it seemed written out of the essential chapters.

The archive work is incredible, and the sound system porn even more so. Who doesn’t drool at a full stack of speakers? Stare at a selector with a hand on an unmarked record and wonder what it is? Or examine the movements captured of the operator working an unlabelled preamp of dozens of rotary knobs?

With a pretty even split of words and imagery, as above with the description of the climate that the communities existed in, the shots include maps, city aerials, factories, family portraits, general street views and anything else that helps take you back to this important era of the town. In turn, the pictures of classic systems not only highlight some of the most impressive systems that may or may not still be around, but capture the spirit of the dance that we all know and miss.

There’s too many highlights to mention even a few. Check the link below for a few grabs from the book, then head over to One Love Books to grab a copy while you can. Big ups all involved, brilliant project.

http://www.awkwardmovements.com/2014/09/sound-system-culture-celebrating.html

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REACHES CHILE

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REACHES CHILE

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW  @ DJBROADCAST.NET
If you’ve been to Huddersfield, the old English market town situated between Manchester and Leeds, you’d probably have no idea that there was once a thriving sound system culture there. Yet this secluded West Yorkshire town, once known for its thriving textile industry, was the main hub for dub, sound systems and West Indies culture. Now One Love Books, having teamed up with Mandeep Samra, Paul Huxtable and Al Newman, have assembled a series of images, documentations and photos detailing this point of time in the new book, Sound System Culture, Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems.
Although many associate sound system culture with the likes of London or Bristol, Huddersfield was once the capital for the sounds originating from the West Indies. As Newman writes on the book’s website, “London sounds would regularly come to Huddersfield to clash against the Huddersfield sounds.” The book runs through the old sound systems that once played a big part in the town’s cultural development, from Armagideon to Zion InnaVision and more.
Click on the Gallery button in the link below to see a selection of images and excerpts from the publication.
http://www.djbroadcast.net/features/featureitem_id=356/Gallery_Huddersfields_Sound_System_Culture.html

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW  @ DJBROADCAST.NET

If you’ve been to Huddersfield, the old English market town situated between Manchester and Leeds, you’d probably have no idea that there was once a thriving sound system culture there. Yet this secluded West Yorkshire town, once known for its thriving textile industry, was the main hub for dub, sound systems and West Indies culture. Now One Love Books, having teamed up with Mandeep Samra, Paul Huxtable and Al Newman, have assembled a series of images, documentations and photos detailing this point of time in the new book, Sound System Culture, Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems.

Although many associate sound system culture with the likes of London or Bristol, Huddersfield was once the capital for the sounds originating from the West Indies. As Newman writes on the book’s website, “London sounds would regularly come to Huddersfield to clash against the Huddersfield sounds.” The book runs through the old sound systems that once played a big part in the town’s cultural development, from Armagideon to Zion InnaVision and more.

Click on the Gallery button in the link below to see a selection of images and excerpts from the publication.

http://www.djbroadcast.net/features/featureitem_id=356/Gallery_Huddersfields_Sound_System_Culture.html

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE ARTICLE @ THEFADER.COM
A new book reveals Huddersfield’s hidden reggae history 
This bank holiday Monday saw the UK’s Notting Hill Carnival winding its way through the streets of west London for day two of the annual celebrations, five decades on from the very first event in 1964. A celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture in the UK capital, at its heart is music—steel pan bands, Carnival parties and dozens of sound systems set up in the cordoned-off streets. The UK’s love of sound systems has its roots in the late ’40s when hundreds of people from Jamaica and across the West Indies were invited to move to Britain and help reinvigorate the country following World War II. It was thanks to that first generation of Caribbean settlers that some truly unlikely places went on to become thriving centers of sound system culture—like Huddersfield, a small town in the north of England. Al Newman of One Love Books shares a series of fascinating photos from his new title Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems and explains below how the book came to be.
Al Newman: “The Sound System Culture book was conceived by Huddersfield-based historian Mandy Samra as part of a larger heritage project that also included a film and touring exhibition, documenting the rich history of reggae sound systems in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
I was first contacted by Mandy a little under a year ago, just before the exhibition began touring, when she approached me to design the book after seeing one of my previous books, Clarks in Jamaica. I loved the subject and the little-known history of the Huddersfield sounds and ended up getting much more involved in the research and editing, working with Yorkshire soundman Paul Axis’ text, and eventually publishing the book through my company, One Love Books.
In this excerpt from the book, Mandy explains how the project came about: “While never an insider of the sound system scene, I’ve always had an interest in sound systems and around five years ago I first had the idea for this project, but did not know where to begin. One day I was talking with my boiler man, Michael Royal, who revealed that he had been a sound operator for Duke Warrior, a Huddersfield-based sound system that had been active during the 1970s. Two people, who on the surface shared little in common, found a connecting thread in their interest in sound systems.”
We are now looking to expand the project into other UK cities, eventually building up a history of sound systems throughout the whole of the UK.”
Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems is available now from One Love Books.
http://www.thefader.com/2014/08/25/sound-system-culture-huddersfield-reggae-book
Photo: Earth Rocker sound system inside Cleopatra’s (later named Silver Sands), Venn Street, Huddersfield, late 1970s. Clockwise from left: Papa Burky (Stephen Burke, operator/selector), Ducky Ranks (Donald Senior, MC), Yellowman (Robert Daley, crew member), Hunter (Brian Chester, crew member), Pumpkin (Errol Allison, crew member) and Greaves (Andy Greaves, MC). One of the biggest and most respected sound systems in the north of England, Earth Rocker was formed in 1975 by Stephen Burke, who was born in Huddersfield to Jamaican parents. The main selector and operator for the sound, Burke is a cabinet maker by trade, and continues to build boxes for sound systems across the UK and Europe to this day. According to writer Noel Hawks, who used to work at Dub Vendor record shop in South London: “One of our top mail-order customers ran a sound in Huddersfield. We used to send him up a box of pre-release singles COD nearly every week. He was so regular I can still recall his address, including the postcode, over thirty years later.” That customer was Stephen Burke. Photo courtesy Stephen Burke

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE ARTICLE @ THEFADER.COM

A new book reveals Huddersfield’s hidden reggae history 

This bank holiday Monday saw the UK’s Notting Hill Carnival winding its way through the streets of west London for day two of the annual celebrations, five decades on from the very first event in 1964. A celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture in the UK capital, at its heart is music—steel pan bands, Carnival parties and dozens of sound systems set up in the cordoned-off streets. The UK’s love of sound systems has its roots in the late ’40s when hundreds of people from Jamaica and across the West Indies were invited to move to Britain and help reinvigorate the country following World War II. It was thanks to that first generation of Caribbean settlers that some truly unlikely places went on to become thriving centers of sound system culture—like Huddersfield, a small town in the north of England. Al Newman of One Love Books shares a series of fascinating photos from his new title Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems and explains below how the book came to be.

Al Newman: “The Sound System Culture book was conceived by Huddersfield-based historian Mandy Samra as part of a larger heritage project that also included a film and touring exhibition, documenting the rich history of reggae sound systems in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

I was first contacted by Mandy a little under a year ago, just before the exhibition began touring, when she approached me to design the book after seeing one of my previous books, Clarks in Jamaica. I loved the subject and the little-known history of the Huddersfield sounds and ended up getting much more involved in the research and editing, working with Yorkshire soundman Paul Axis’ text, and eventually publishing the book through my company, One Love Books.

In this excerpt from the book, Mandy explains how the project came about: “While never an insider of the sound system scene, I’ve always had an interest in sound systems and around five years ago I first had the idea for this project, but did not know where to begin. One day I was talking with my boiler man, Michael Royal, who revealed that he had been a sound operator for Duke Warrior, a Huddersfield-based sound system that had been active during the 1970s. Two people, who on the surface shared little in common, found a connecting thread in their interest in sound systems.”

We are now looking to expand the project into other UK cities, eventually building up a history of sound systems throughout the whole of the UK.”

Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems is available now from One Love Books.

http://www.thefader.com/2014/08/25/sound-system-culture-huddersfield-reggae-book

Photo: Earth Rocker sound system inside Cleopatra’s (later named Silver Sands), Venn Street, Huddersfield, late 1970s. Clockwise from left: Papa Burky (Stephen Burke, operator/selector), Ducky Ranks (Donald Senior, MC), Yellowman (Robert Daley, crew member), Hunter (Brian Chester, crew member), Pumpkin (Errol Allison, crew member) and Greaves (Andy Greaves, MC). One of the biggest and most respected sound systems in the north of England, Earth Rocker was formed in 1975 by Stephen Burke, who was born in Huddersfield to Jamaican parents. The main selector and operator for the sound, Burke is a cabinet maker by trade, and continues to build boxes for sound systems across the UK and Europe to this day. According to writer Noel Hawks, who used to work at Dub Vendor record shop in South London: “One of our top mail-order customers ran a sound in Huddersfield. We used to send him up a box of pre-release singles COD nearly every week. He was so regular I can still recall his address, including the postcode, over thirty years later.” That customer was Stephen Burke. Photo courtesy Stephen Burke

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE INTERVIEW @ NOISEY.VICE.COM
Notting Hill’s got nothing on Huddersfield
The Sound System Culture project dives into the colourful underbelly of Huddersfield - Britain’s forgotten soundsystem capital…
This weekend, it’d be difficult to argue that West London wasn’t the capital of sound system culture in the UK. But Notting Hill has had plenty of northern competition over the years. In the 70s and 80s, Huddersfield, a market town nestled within the Pennine Hills of West Yorkshire, was alive with some of the country’s most legendary soundsystems and on the tour schedule of every major artist coming out of Jamaica.  
Sound System Culture is a remarkable collection of previously unseen archive material including some breathtaking photography orchestrated by oral historian Mandeep Samra and editor/designer/publisher Al ‘Fingers” Newman. The Sound System Culture project encompasses a documentary, touring exhibition and book - Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems - out now through One Love Books. We interviewed Mandeep and Al about the book, which aims to celebrate the people who helped establish Huddersfield as the reggae and sound system capital of northern England.
Most people will never wouldn’t think of Huddersfield as a hub of sound system culture? Can you describe what happened there in the 70s and 80s?
Al Newman: Many West Indian people settled in Huddersfield after World War Two, to fill labour shortages in places like the textile mills, NHS, chemical factories and other industries. Sound systems were part of the culture they brought with them, and by the 1970s sound system culture was flourishing in Huddersfield. London sounds would regularly come to Huddersfield to clash against the Huddersfield sounds.
Mandeep Samra: The project revealed that a major scene existed in Huddersfield during that time, out of a handful of venues and suburban cellars. At one time the town had over thirty sound systems, which were a unique response to racism, poverty and unemployment in the UK. Although many of the sound operators from back in the days no longer play out, Huddersfield’s sound system scene is still going strong, with sounds such as Technics Worldbeat, Sir Debonaire, Million International, Solid C, Zion InnaVision, Earth Rocker and Axis sound system still active and keeping the tradition alive.
Traditionally the music played on big systems was the kind of music that could only have been made in a warm, sunny place. What context does it take on when played in this cold, damp place, so far from what some people would regard as ‘home’?
Mandeep: When first generation Jamaicans arrived in the UK they looked for ways of coming together to share stories of back home. Music brought people together initially through small gatherings at peoples houses, where they’d socialise and play music on a radiogram. People needed to go somewhere after club hours and so the blues parties came about which would normally consist of a sound system set up in someone’s cellar. These social gatherings reminded people of back home. Sunshine was in people’s hearts when they could listen to reggae music.
Al: Yeah I think the music and dances reminded people of home, and took their minds off the struggle and hardship of life in the UK. But it’s important to know that some great reggae was made in Huddersfield too. Check out Ian Smith and The Inner Mind for example.
Venn Street in Huddersfield was the hotspot for the northern sound system scene. Did the place get any recognition in the West Indies, or the places the music originated?
Al: Venn Street was well known among Jamaican artists who toured the UK as it was a regular destination for them.
Mandeep: Yeah, artists from Jamaica would want to play in Huddersfield after hearing stories about how hospitable the people were.
Do you think the term and culture of the soundsystem has been hijacked as of late by big brands, appropriating the culture to make a DJ set seem more exciting?
Al: No. I think Red Bull and other brands who have endorsed sound system culture have raised its profile, which is a good thing.
What about true sound system culture outside of London, which can often be forgotten about, even ignored? Other genres like jungle flourished in the northern cities.
Al: Because a lot of the British media is based in London, there has been a lot of focus there, but other places like Birmingham and Bristol have also had recognition. I think it’s just that Huddersfield hasn’t had much attention until now.
The face of bass-driven music, especially dub, has changed drastically over the last 30-40 years. Do you think it still represents the same thing?
Mandeep: It changes and moves with the time because dub music is versatile. However reggae roots is music rooted in its foundation and what was produced in the 70s is not the same as what’s made today.
What about Caribbean music more generally, which has mutated alongside many other types of British music over the past half-century, informing a great deal of it. Do you think in 2014 its grip is still as strong? 
Mandeep: The internet has played a big role in enabling people to access reggae music and today it’s not only for Caribbean people but for everyone. With the current economic crisis all over the world roots music and its message reaches more people.
Al: I feel like Caribbean music is as influential as it has ever been within popular music. If you listen to UK chart music today there’s a lot of Caribbean-inspired beats and an increasing number of featured Caribbean artists. Popcaan just featured in the UK top 10 for example. I think we will see more and more Caribbean artists featuring in UK chart music over the next few years.
http://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/blog/the-sound-system-culture-project-interview

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE INTERVIEW @ NOISEY.VICE.COM

Notting Hill’s got nothing on Huddersfield

The Sound System Culture project dives into the colourful underbelly of Huddersfield - Britain’s forgotten soundsystem capital…

This weekend, it’d be difficult to argue that West London wasn’t the capital of sound system culture in the UK. But Notting Hill has had plenty of northern competition over the years. In the 70s and 80s, Huddersfield, a market town nestled within the Pennine Hills of West Yorkshire, was alive with some of the country’s most legendary soundsystems and on the tour schedule of every major artist coming out of Jamaica.  

Sound System Culture is a remarkable collection of previously unseen archive material including some breathtaking photography orchestrated by oral historian Mandeep Samra and editor/designer/publisher Al ‘Fingers” Newman. The Sound System Culture project encompasses a documentary, touring exhibition and book - Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems - out now through One Love Books. We interviewed Mandeep and Al about the book, which aims to celebrate the people who helped establish Huddersfield as the reggae and sound system capital of northern England.

Most people will never wouldn’t think of Huddersfield as a hub of sound system culture? Can you describe what happened there in the 70s and 80s?

Al Newman: Many West Indian people settled in Huddersfield after World War Two, to fill labour shortages in places like the textile mills, NHS, chemical factories and other industries. Sound systems were part of the culture they brought with them, and by the 1970s sound system culture was flourishing in Huddersfield. London sounds would regularly come to Huddersfield to clash against the Huddersfield sounds.

Mandeep Samra: The project revealed that a major scene existed in Huddersfield during that time, out of a handful of venues and suburban cellars. At one time the town had over thirty sound systems, which were a unique response to racism, poverty and unemployment in the UK. Although many of the sound operators from back in the days no longer play out, Huddersfield’s sound system scene is still going strong, with sounds such as Technics Worldbeat, Sir Debonaire, Million International, Solid C, Zion InnaVision, Earth Rocker and Axis sound system still active and keeping the tradition alive.

Traditionally the music played on big systems was the kind of music that could only have been made in a warm, sunny place. What context does it take on when played in this cold, damp place, so far from what some people would regard as ‘home’?

Mandeep: When first generation Jamaicans arrived in the UK they looked for ways of coming together to share stories of back home. Music brought people together initially through small gatherings at peoples houses, where they’d socialise and play music on a radiogram. People needed to go somewhere after club hours and so the blues parties came about which would normally consist of a sound system set up in someone’s cellar. These social gatherings reminded people of back home. Sunshine was in people’s hearts when they could listen to reggae music.

Al: Yeah I think the music and dances reminded people of home, and took their minds off the struggle and hardship of life in the UK. But it’s important to know that some great reggae was made in Huddersfield too. Check out Ian Smith and The Inner Mind for example.

Venn Street in Huddersfield was the hotspot for the northern sound system scene. Did the place get any recognition in the West Indies, or the places the music originated?

Al: Venn Street was well known among Jamaican artists who toured the UK as it was a regular destination for them.

Mandeep: Yeah, artists from Jamaica would want to play in Huddersfield after hearing stories about how hospitable the people were.

Do you think the term and culture of the soundsystem has been hijacked as of late by big brands, appropriating the culture to make a DJ set seem more exciting?

Al: No. I think Red Bull and other brands who have endorsed sound system culture have raised its profile, which is a good thing.

What about true sound system culture outside of London, which can often be forgotten about, even ignored? Other genres like jungle flourished in the northern cities.

Al: Because a lot of the British media is based in London, there has been a lot of focus there, but other places like Birmingham and Bristol have also had recognition. I think it’s just that Huddersfield hasn’t had much attention until now.

The face of bass-driven music, especially dub, has changed drastically over the last 30-40 years. Do you think it still represents the same thing?

Mandeep: It changes and moves with the time because dub music is versatile. However reggae roots is music rooted in its foundation and what was produced in the 70s is not the same as what’s made today.

What about Caribbean music more generally, which has mutated alongside many other types of British music over the past half-century, informing a great deal of it. Do you think in 2014 its grip is still as strong? 

Mandeep: The internet has played a big role in enabling people to access reggae music and today it’s not only for Caribbean people but for everyone. With the current economic crisis all over the world roots music and its message reaches more people.

Al: I feel like Caribbean music is as influential as it has ever been within popular music. If you listen to UK chart music today there’s a lot of Caribbean-inspired beats and an increasing number of featured Caribbean artists. Popcaan just featured in the UK top 10 for example. I think we will see more and more Caribbean artists featuring in UK chart music over the next few years.

http://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/blog/the-sound-system-culture-project-interview

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE FEATURED ON THE ONE SHOW

Paul Huxtable (Axis Sound System), who built Heritage HiFi and wrote the book for the Sound System Culture project, was interviewed recently on the One Show. The clip begins with a short interview with Michael Moore (Jah Lion Sound System)

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE INTERVIEW @ i-D MAGAZINE
It’s grim up north - Huddersfield’s forgotten sound system culture Sound System Culture is a brilliant offering from One Love Books, which offers an incredible insight into the little known sound system culture of Huddersfield. Beautifully researched, designed and illustrated, the book tells the story of how Carnival culture in this country began after the migration of Afro-Caribbean people following the Second World War. Despite facing a profoundly racist period in British History, it’s thanks to the pioneers of Huddersfield’s Venn Street – and Ladbroke Grove and St Pauls - that we now celebrate Carnival as much as May Day. We talk to project co-ordinator Mandeep Samra and editor/designer Al “Fingers” Newman about their new book and the cultural influence of Huddersfield’s sound system pioneers…Huddersfield isn’t immediately associated with sound system culture, more commonly it’s Bristol, Birmingham or, of course, London. Why has it taken so long to be recognised and what importance does Huddersfield play in the culture? Mandeep Samra: It’s a similar story up and down the country wherever Caribbean people arrived and settled in the UK. There are probably lots of other towns that have a similar story, but the scene was more prominent in the cities. It’s easier to get recognised in a big city for lots of reasons. Al Newman: Yeah there are various reasons why the bigger cities got more recognition. But Huddersfield had a rich scene, with many different sound systems, and it became an important destination for Jamaican artists touring the UK. Artists like Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown for example would come to the UK and play London, Birmingham, maybe Bristol… and Huddersfield. How and why did the book come about in the first place? Why did you think it was important to document Huddersfield’s sound system culture? AN: The book was Mandy’s concept, and formed part of a bigger heritage project she had put together that included an exhibition, film and selection of oral histories. She approached me to art direct and design the book and I loved what she was doing so ended up getting more involved in the compiling, editing and research, I thought it was great that she was shining a light on the Huddersfield scene because focus on UK sound system culture has traditionally been on bigger cities such as London, Birmingham, etc., and the Huddersfield story has been largely overlooked. She’s done an amazing job with the whole thing. MS: While there’s little evidence of the scene in the town today, during the ’70s and ’80s Huddersfield had a vibrant sound system culture and I felt it was important to document this as there is really very little information available about it. What was the most exciting/rewarding part of the process, in terms of the gems you unearthed? MS: I didn’t expect was how the project was going to be so well received, both nationally and internationally. The subject is close to many people’s’ hearts and has reached far and wide. I think the project has put Huddersfield back on the map. AN: I love finding archive pictures that haven’t been widely seen before and a favourite for me was a series of photos by photographer Howard Grey, of West Indian people at Waterloo train station in 1962, having docked in Southampton hours before as passengers on board the Empire Windrush. The pictures are beautiful and the shock and bewilderment on some of the men’s faces, as well as their style and general swag, is amazing. The pictures have been in Howard’s attic since the ’60s and happened to be put online while we were researching Windrush photos.Did you find out anything surprising on your travels, unearth any gems or info previously undiscovered? MS: I loved people sharing their stories of Venn Street nightclub hosting well known artists from Jamaica and the place being rammed. People reminiscing about the past. It was an honour to listen to them animate their past and bring their stories to life. AN: I also loved hearing people’s stories, people like Ian R Smith and Stephen Burke. It was really fascinating. Also some of the photographs from the collections of the soundmen themselves are great and very evocative of that time. How did you collect and curate what we now see as the end product?MS: I collected most of the photos that were used in the exhibition whilst carrying out the oral history interviews and looking through people’s photo albums. A lot of these images were also included in the book. When Al came on board we worked together to collect further photos to reflect the chapters of the book. AN: Mandy found a lot of great photos in the personal collections of the soundmen and other people who were interviewed for the project. When I got involved I initially worked on the text, which had been written by local soundman Paul Axis. I then looked at the images Mandy had already collated, and started putting them together in a way that I thought best illustrated the story. As the book developed, gaps became apparent where we needed new images, and we went out and found them.It’s carnival this week – why do you think we have such an enduring love of the culture in the UK?AN: I think it’s because we are blessed to have so many Caribbean people living in the UK, and that is testament to the wide-reaching influence of Caribbean culture – Jamaican in particular – on British culture and British people.MS: Carnival reflects a culture that knows how to celebrate life through music and costume. Sound system operators such as Aba Shanti-I and Channel One play conscious music and I think it’s the message through the music that reaches people and creates a positive vibe. What’s/who is your favourite sound system of all time? MS: Jah Tubby’s. AN: I would say Stone Love. Where do you see the culture heading in the future, both in Huddersfield and the UK? MS: Huddersfield’s sound system culture is not what it once was, with many sounds no longer playing out. However there is a revival going on and I know a few sound operators, like Armagideon sound system, are planning a reunion. As for the UK, I’d say popularity of the culture is growing, with more and more young people building their own sounds after being inspired by the pioneers of the 1970s and ’80s. AN: There does seem to be a revival in interest in sound system culture. I think it’s become more mainstream, with Red Bull for example doing Culture Clash and James Murphy’s Despacio sound system and stuff like that. It’s not like before, when sounds had a real local following – with the Internet it’s become global. I guess the renewed interest boils down to the fact that people love listening to great music through a great system, as well as the visual attraction of a beautiful, hand-built sound. As for the future in Huddersfield, things really changed when Venn Street, which was the main venue for the town’s Caribbean community, was demolished in 1992. One of my hopes with the book is that it will be seen by a member of the local council who will read it and realise the importance of a venue like Venn Street, and find the funds to build a new venue for the town’s Caribbean community. Something as simple as a single venue could do a lot to reignite the scene in the area.Photo: The original members of Earth Rocker sound system from Huddersfield. From left: Papa Burky (Stephen Burke, operator/selector), Mods (Norman Modeste, MC/promoter) and Greaves (Andy Greaves, MC), Huddersfield, 1978. Photo courtesy Stephen Burke
http://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/read/interviews/4204/its-grim-up-north—-huddersfields-forgotten-sound-system-culture

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE INTERVIEW @ i-D MAGAZINE

It’s grim up north - Huddersfield’s forgotten sound system culture 

Sound System Culture is a brilliant offering from One Love Books, which offers an incredible insight into the little known sound system culture of Huddersfield. Beautifully researched, designed and illustrated, the book tells the story of how Carnival culture in this country began after the migration of Afro-Caribbean people following the Second World War. Despite facing a profoundly racist period in British History, it’s thanks to the pioneers of Huddersfield’s Venn Street – and Ladbroke Grove and St Pauls - that we now celebrate Carnival as much as May Day. We talk to project co-ordinator Mandeep Samra and editor/designer Al “Fingers” Newman about their new book and the cultural influence of Huddersfield’s sound system pioneers…

Huddersfield isn’t immediately associated with sound system culture, more commonly it’s Bristol, Birmingham or, of course, London. Why has it taken so long to be recognised and what importance does Huddersfield play in the culture? 

Mandeep Samra: It’s a similar story up and down the country wherever Caribbean people arrived and settled in the UK. There are probably lots of other towns that have a similar story, but the scene was more prominent in the cities. It’s easier to get recognised in a big city for lots of reasons. 

Al Newman: Yeah there are various reasons why the bigger cities got more recognition. But Huddersfield had a rich scene, with many different sound systems, and it became an important destination for Jamaican artists touring the UK. Artists like Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown for example would come to the UK and play London, Birmingham, maybe Bristol… and Huddersfield. 

How and why did the book come about in the first place? Why did you think it was important to document Huddersfield’s sound system culture? 

AN: The book was Mandy’s concept, and formed part of a bigger heritage project she had put together that included an exhibition, film and selection of oral histories. She approached me to art direct and design the book and I loved what she was doing so ended up getting more involved in the compiling, editing and research, I thought it was great that she was shining a light on the Huddersfield scene because focus on UK sound system culture has traditionally been on bigger cities such as London, Birmingham, etc., and the Huddersfield story has been largely overlooked. She’s done an amazing job with the whole thing. 

MS: While there’s little evidence of the scene in the town today, during the ’70s and ’80s Huddersfield had a vibrant sound system culture and I felt it was important to document this as there is really very little information available about it. 

What was the most exciting/rewarding part of the process, in terms of the gems you unearthed? 

MS: I didn’t expect was how the project was going to be so well received, both nationally and internationally. The subject is close to many people’s’ hearts and has reached far and wide. I think the project has put Huddersfield back on the map. 

AN: I love finding archive pictures that haven’t been widely seen before and a favourite for me was a series of photos by photographer Howard Grey, of West Indian people at Waterloo train station in 1962, having docked in Southampton hours before as passengers on board the Empire Windrush. The pictures are beautiful and the shock and bewilderment on some of the men’s faces, as well as their style and general swag, is amazing. The pictures have been in Howard’s attic since the ’60s and happened to be put online while we were researching Windrush photos.

Did you find out anything surprising on your travels, unearth any gems or info previously undiscovered? 

MS: I loved people sharing their stories of Venn Street nightclub hosting well known artists from Jamaica and the place being rammed. People reminiscing about the past. It was an honour to listen to them animate their past and bring their stories to life. 

AN: I also loved hearing people’s stories, people like Ian R Smith and Stephen Burke. It was really fascinating. Also some of the photographs from the collections of the soundmen themselves are great and very evocative of that time. 

How did you collect and curate what we now see as the end product?

MS: I collected most of the photos that were used in the exhibition whilst carrying out the oral history interviews and looking through people’s photo albums. A lot of these images were also included in the book. When Al came on board we worked together to collect further photos to reflect the chapters of the book. 

AN: Mandy found a lot of great photos in the personal collections of the soundmen and other people who were interviewed for the project. When I got involved I initially worked on the text, which had been written by local soundman Paul Axis. I then looked at the images Mandy had already collated, and started putting them together in a way that I thought best illustrated the story. As the book developed, gaps became apparent where we needed new images, and we went out and found them.

It’s carnival this week – why do you think we have such an enduring love of the culture in the UK?

AN: I think it’s because we are blessed to have so many Caribbean people living in the UK, and that is testament to the wide-reaching influence of Caribbean culture – Jamaican in particular – on British culture and British people.

MS: Carnival reflects a culture that knows how to celebrate life through music and costume. Sound system operators such as Aba Shanti-I and Channel One play conscious music and I think it’s the message through the music that reaches people and creates a positive vibe. 

What’s/who is your favourite sound system of all time? 

MS: Jah Tubby’s. 

AN: I would say Stone Love. 

Where do you see the culture heading in the future, both in Huddersfield and the UK? 

MS: Huddersfield’s sound system culture is not what it once was, with many sounds no longer playing out. However there is a revival going on and I know a few sound operators, like Armagideon sound system, are planning a reunion. As for the UK, I’d say popularity of the culture is growing, with more and more young people building their own sounds after being inspired by the pioneers of the 1970s and ’80s. 

AN: There does seem to be a revival in interest in sound system culture. I think it’s become more mainstream, with Red Bull for example doing Culture Clash and James Murphy’s Despacio sound system and stuff like that. It’s not like before, when sounds had a real local following – with the Internet it’s become global. I guess the renewed interest boils down to the fact that people love listening to great music through a great system, as well as the visual attraction of a beautiful, hand-built sound. As for the future in Huddersfield, things really changed when Venn Street, which was the main venue for the town’s Caribbean community, was demolished in 1992. One of my hopes with the book is that it will be seen by a member of the local council who will read it and realise the importance of a venue like Venn Street, and find the funds to build a new venue for the town’s Caribbean community. Something as simple as a single venue could do a lot to reignite the scene in the area.

Photo: The original members of Earth Rocker sound system from Huddersfield. From left: Papa Burky (Stephen Burke, operator/selector), Mods (Norman Modeste, MC/promoter) and Greaves (Andy Greaves, MC), Huddersfield, 1978. Photo courtesy Stephen Burke

http://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/read/interviews/4204/its-grim-up-north—-huddersfields-forgotten-sound-system-culture

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE ARTICLE IN THE HUDDERSFIELD EXAMINER
The history of the reggae sound system culture that evolved in Huddersfield in the 1960s and 70s is little known outside the town’s West Indian community and would have probably remained that way were it not for a new book, Sound System Culture.
In it, author Paul Huxtable, long-time reggae aficionado and sound system designer, has traced the evolution of the unique musical genre that arrived with Caribbean immigrants to Britain.
“It is,” he says, “a binding thread that has reached into the hearts and minds of many during the course of their lifetime.”
While Huddersfield couldn’t compete with cities such as Birmingham and London, it nevertheless had a sound system culture out of all proportion to its size.
Reggae sound systems are mobile vinyl record decks with vast speakers on which selectors (DJs) play discs, with vocal accompaniment by MCs.
The West Indian Club at Venn Street and the Arawak Club, two major Huddersfield venues for reggae, hosted some of the biggest names in the business. Artistes and sound system operators travelled direct from Jamaica to perform there. The music, heavy with bass and rich with rhythm reminded the immigrants of home, gave them a voice and provided entertainment.
Supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund, the new book was compiled, edited and beautifully designed by London-based Al ‘Fingers’ Newman, whose imprint One Love Books specialises in niche publications. He came on board after an approach by Huddersfield oral historian Mandeep Samra, who had begun a heritage project on sound system culture and commissioned Paul to write the text.
Mandeep and the team behind Sound System Culture rightly believe that their book is an important work of social history, containing information gleaned first hand from many of those involved in the early sound systems.
One of the researchers was Paul’s own wife, Amanda, who was born in London to Jamaican parents.
She said: “I took some of the oral histories. That was a highlight for me because these stories would have been lost forever. I sat down with people who are not used to sharing their stories. It was a real honour.”
Mandeep, who is a member of Huddersfield’s South Asian community, admits that at first she struggled to make contacts within the Caribbean community.
She explains: “It was difficult because I was seen as being outside their culture, but when they saw that I was preserving their culture then I was accepted and now I have some very good friends that I met through the project.”
A reggae fan from her teenage years, Mandeep understood something of the sound system culture.
She said: “I was brought up in Deighton and went to the high school where a lot of my friends were from the Caribbean. I used to hear my friends talking Jamaican patois and I loved the music.”
But she was aware that sound system culture operated outside the mainstream music business.
“If you weren’t part of the scene, then you would never have known it existed,” she says.
Sound system culture began in Jamaica where liquor stores used music to draw customers into their premises. In order to get the best sounds, their creators began to make their own speakers and pack them into custom-built cabinets.
Paul, who still works as a DJ (Dr Huxtable) and has a Huddersfield-based business making bespoke sound systems using old-fashion valves under his Axis Valv-a-tron label, explains: “Black people couldn’t buy the sound they wanted so they built their own sound systems. It created an industry in itself.”
Originally from Lancashire, Paul has lived in Huddersfield for 18 years and travels all over the world with his sound systems. “I do clubs and festivals,” he explained, “I specialise in vintage and classic reggae, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s taken me 30 years to make a living from it and I had to subsidise my work with joinery — I’m a joiner by trade — but then the internet happened and people around the world could see what I was doing.
Young people are really getting into reggae, it’s part of the fashion for everything retro, and there’s a demand for high-end bespoke sound systems. Hi-fi buffs still use vinyl. It won’t go away. It’s coming back in a big way and has overtaken sales of CDs.”
Paul became interested in reggae as a teenager — it had lyrics and a consciousness that appealed to someone raised in Thatcher’s Britain. He discovered sound systems when he travelled to St Lucia for Voluntary Service Overseas.
Although he could have made the book into a more technical tome, he says he wanted it to be an entertaining read and capture the personalities involved in Huddersfield sound systems — from Donovan Brown (aka Dbo General) of the Armagideon sound system to Hans Alfred Mathias, whose Matamp amplifiers earned an international reputation. They are simply too many to name here.
The project to record the oral histories has not just resulted in a book, the Heritage Lottery Fund also supported a photographic exhibition and film, while the Arts Council funded the creation of a sound system, built by Paul, which toured festivals and formed part of Black History Month last year.
Sound system culture as it once was may have died out in Huddersfield, but it’s certainly not forgotten. As Professor Paul Ward, from the University of Huddersfield, writes in the foreword, “This book is a celebration of cultural encounters, migration and movement… I hope this book can also contribute to discussions about how British culture is enriched by its diversity and how such diversity needs due recognition.”
Sound System Culture is published by One Love Books at £19.99.
http://www.examiner.co.uk/lifestyle/nostalgia/when-reggae-came-to-huddersfield-7573626

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE ARTICLE IN THE HUDDERSFIELD EXAMINER

The history of the reggae sound system culture that evolved in Huddersfield in the 1960s and 70s is little known outside the town’s West Indian community and would have probably remained that way were it not for a new book, Sound System Culture.

In it, author Paul Huxtable, long-time reggae aficionado and sound system designer, has traced the evolution of the unique musical genre that arrived with Caribbean immigrants to Britain.

“It is,” he says, “a binding thread that has reached into the hearts and minds of many during the course of their lifetime.”

While Huddersfield couldn’t compete with cities such as Birmingham and London, it nevertheless had a sound system culture out of all proportion to its size.

Reggae sound systems are mobile vinyl record decks with vast speakers on which selectors (DJs) play discs, with vocal accompaniment by MCs.

The West Indian Club at Venn Street and the Arawak Club, two major Huddersfield venues for reggae, hosted some of the biggest names in the business. Artistes and sound system operators travelled direct from Jamaica to perform there. The music, heavy with bass and rich with rhythm reminded the immigrants of home, gave them a voice and provided entertainment.

Supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund, the new book was compiled, edited and beautifully designed by London-based Al ‘Fingers’ Newman, whose imprint One Love Books specialises in niche publications. He came on board after an approach by Huddersfield oral historian Mandeep Samra, who had begun a heritage project on sound system culture and commissioned Paul to write the text.

Mandeep and the team behind Sound System Culture rightly believe that their book is an important work of social history, containing information gleaned first hand from many of those involved in the early sound systems.

One of the researchers was Paul’s own wife, Amanda, who was born in London to Jamaican parents.

She said: “I took some of the oral histories. That was a highlight for me because these stories would have been lost forever. I sat down with people who are not used to sharing their stories. It was a real honour.”

Mandeep, who is a member of Huddersfield’s South Asian community, admits that at first she struggled to make contacts within the Caribbean community.

She explains: “It was difficult because I was seen as being outside their culture, but when they saw that I was preserving their culture then I was accepted and now I have some very good friends that I met through the project.”

A reggae fan from her teenage years, Mandeep understood something of the sound system culture.

She said: “I was brought up in Deighton and went to the high school where a lot of my friends were from the Caribbean. I used to hear my friends talking Jamaican patois and I loved the music.”

But she was aware that sound system culture operated outside the mainstream music business.

“If you weren’t part of the scene, then you would never have known it existed,” she says.

Sound system culture began in Jamaica where liquor stores used music to draw customers into their premises. In order to get the best sounds, their creators began to make their own speakers and pack them into custom-built cabinets.

Paul, who still works as a DJ (Dr Huxtable) and has a Huddersfield-based business making bespoke sound systems using old-fashion valves under his Axis Valv-a-tron label, explains: “Black people couldn’t buy the sound they wanted so they built their own sound systems. It created an industry in itself.”

Originally from Lancashire, Paul has lived in Huddersfield for 18 years and travels all over the world with his sound systems. “I do clubs and festivals,” he explained, “I specialise in vintage and classic reggae, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s taken me 30 years to make a living from it and I had to subsidise my work with joinery — I’m a joiner by trade — but then the internet happened and people around the world could see what I was doing.

Young people are really getting into reggae, it’s part of the fashion for everything retro, and there’s a demand for high-end bespoke sound systems. Hi-fi buffs still use vinyl. It won’t go away. It’s coming back in a big way and has overtaken sales of CDs.”

Paul became interested in reggae as a teenager — it had lyrics and a consciousness that appealed to someone raised in Thatcher’s Britain. He discovered sound systems when he travelled to St Lucia for Voluntary Service Overseas.

Although he could have made the book into a more technical tome, he says he wanted it to be an entertaining read and capture the personalities involved in Huddersfield sound systems — from Donovan Brown (aka Dbo General) of the Armagideon sound system to Hans Alfred Mathias, whose Matamp amplifiers earned an international reputation. They are simply too many to name here.

The project to record the oral histories has not just resulted in a book, the Heritage Lottery Fund also supported a photographic exhibition and film, while the Arts Council funded the creation of a sound system, built by Paul, which toured festivals and formed part of Black History Month last year.

Sound system culture as it once was may have died out in Huddersfield, but it’s certainly not forgotten. As Professor Paul Ward, from the University of Huddersfield, writes in the foreword, “This book is a celebration of cultural encounters, migration and movement… I hope this book can also contribute to discussions about how British culture is enriched by its diversity and how such diversity needs due recognition.”

Sound System Culture is published by One Love Books at £19.99.

http://www.examiner.co.uk/lifestyle/nostalgia/when-reggae-came-to-huddersfield-7573626