Massive vibes in this Ivah-powered session (Teatteri Forum, Helsinki 28.11.2015) featuring Dub Smugglers, Dreadlock Tales, DJ Dextrous and Ivah Sound.
Riddim Tuffa’s studio production is heavily influenced by the 1980′s digital style. By combining the use of vintage, analogue equipment and modern recording techniques, the crew produce an extremely fresh sound that holds on to the roots of dancehall music. – Riddim Tuffa
Heavy session coming up in Helsinki next week. Make it a date, it will be great! Inna Dub Style will be doing some video coverage of the event for future generations to witness.
The mighty Ivah Sound hosted a heavyweight session titled FRWRD#3 a couple of months a go. Alpha Steppa and LAS x Mikael were the main acts and Ivah DJ’s gave heavy support. Inna Dub Style compiled a short session video… Check out Ben Alpha’s, LAS x Mikael’s and Ivah’s interviews too right here if you already haven’t!
Ivah Sound had a big and really well arranged dub dance, FRWRD#3, at Ravintola Lämpö (Helsinki) a few weeks back. The dance featured big names, Alpha Steppa (UK) alongside bassmusic guys LAS and Mikael (FIN). What a dance it was. And the Ivah stack packs quite a boom-shaka-lacka too! This time the stack was divided into two smaller (but still big!) stacks providing a more stereo BOOM for your stepping pleasure.
Inna Dub Style had the chance to talk to a few key players of the ambitious Ivah Sound -crew…
Who all are part of your soundsystem-crew, and who does what?
Frej: Basically we’re 6 members in our crew, and we’ve got people who do everything. In the crew we got sound designers, technicians, MCs, producers and things like that. That’s how we started, but still for making a party like FRWRD, you need a lot of help like graphic designers and ticketsellers even.
Jahkob: I do a lot of things with the soundsystem itself, designing and thinking about what we should build and building them. Of course everyone helps in the building, but I’m sort of the sound designer. I also play music. Frej also plays music and does graphic stuff and manages everything.
Frej: The structure, paperwork and business aspects of the soundsystem are some of the things I do.
Jahkob: Then we also have Ras Kurmas, who also plays records and he’s the sound technician. If I’m the designer, he would be the technician, he knows that stuff.
Frej: And he’s also a chef!
Jahkob: Then we have Fyah-I, who’s mostly on the microphone, but he also produces tracks that we sometimes play. And Thomas is a DJ, a really great one and of course he helps with other things also. Also Konsta Autuas is a DJ and helps with a lot of stuff. And Konsta can write finnish, we’re not so good at that (FYI Jahkob and Frej speak swedish as their mother-tongue) .
How long have you been running a soundsystem and when did you have your first own dance?
Frej: We’ve had this collective for a bit over 4 years, but we’ve had the soundsystem for around 2 years.
How did you get involved in dub music? Which artists/soundsystems have influenced you the most?
Jahkob: We’ve gone a long way, like, through different genres of music into dub, and also into other stuff. We’re pretty wide in the musical range if you compare to other sounds, so how we got involved, I don’t know, through Rastafari, maybe I did. Then of course, I like heavy bass music, that’s the thing. I listened to reggae first, and we played reggae first, and then we got a bit into dubstep, but then I realised that dubstep got a little bit strange and I found steppers and heavy dub and I was like “Shit! This is like the good dubstep but with a good message and reggae vibe to it” So that’s how I got into it. Can’t speak for everyone though.
Frej: We’re not only about dub and reggae, but we’re also about jungle and that’s a big part of the soundsystem. There aren’t that many soundsystem-collectives in Finland that mix jungle and dub in the same dance, but we’ve always done them together because that’s what we want to do.
Ras Kurmas: I got involved with reggae and dub in Lahti, and this has been a family thing. In lahti the first soundsystem I heard was Revolution Hi-fi a long time ago in the 70’s. Seeing Aba Shanti in Lahti, and Channel One also were big ones for me.
What are your future plans soundsystemwize or dubwize?
Jahkob: I think it’s a lot about getting the culture forward here in Finland because it had been, how should I say it, not so high standard, and we want to push the bar higher. We want to do really good things and push the culture forward.
Ras Kurmas: Getting this soundsystem culture bigger in Finland, getting more sounds and to get more people to come to the dances and understand what this thing is really about. But it’s not just about the music, it’s so much more than that. This is a rocky road, Jah road, Rastafari!
Ben Alpha aka Alpha Steppa aka Steppas Records chiefbossman was in Helsinki a few weeks ago playing a set at Ivah Sound‘s FRWRD#3 session. And what a session it was! I had the chance to ask him a few questions Inna Dub Style…
When did you produce your first tracks and how did you get into bass-heavy rootikal dubstep?
I suppose it started when I was quite young. Some of my earliest memories would be going to the studio with my dad (John of Alpha & Omega), I was probably 3-4 years old. I remember… quite vividly, him giving me the microphone and telling me to say something like “Alpha & Omega” or “Rastafari” so I said “Rastafari” and he recorded it, but played it back to me pitched down, so it was like “RRRAAASSTAFAARRI” and this kinda blew my mind. I thought he was a wizard at the time.
I thought he was a wizard at the time.
Do you think that I’ve heard you on some Alpha & Omega tracks?
Actually yeah, technically my first release would’ve been in 1991 at the tender age of 3 or 4, and that was on the Almighty Jah album with Dub Judah. I’ve given up the vocal work since those days.
How did you end up starting a record label?
Well, I’ve been making music for a while… different types of music independently from my dad and my aunt Alpha & Omega. Creating my own sound, you know. And then in 2009-2010 I put a few tunes together with kind of eastern influences, because I was living in South Korea at the time. So I had a lot of influence from the traditional music there. So I just wanted to put one of the tunes out and just see how it went. I thought to put one tune out and be done with it. Then I put a record out and decided to call it Steppas Records, and it turns out that it’s quite addictive, so I didn’t stop.
Then I put a record out and decided to call it Steppas Records, and it turns out that it’s quite addictive, so I didn’t stop.
You have lots of things going on. How do you balance yourself between running your own label, producing your own music and doing live shows?
I just do it…heh, there are always ways to make time, you know. You have to find space and find time, and you really also have to find time to do other things, to kind of take you away and gain your inspiration. I travel a lot through touring and DJing, and I get to meet a lot of interesting people and go to a lot of interesting places, and that kind of inspires me to keep going with the music. So I go home and make music.
Your sound is quite unique as is the sound of Alpha and Omega. Do you get musical advice from your dad and aunt? If you do, do you listen to it?
Heh! That’s a good question. I have to say that obviously Alpha & Omega are my biggest influence musically definately. From a young age I’ve been listening to Alpha & Omega. I do have my own sound because I’m interested in bass music, dubstep and deeper dubstep, and that also influences my sound, so I’ll make tunes and often send them to my dad and my aunt. Sometimes they get back to me and say “This tune is bad! It’s rough!” and sometimes they won’t get back to me at all. You never know really, you have to play tunes out to really truly test them and find out whether they stand up and are strong enough to release.
I’ve noticed that you have lots of oriental/asian elements in your music and you seem to be into Asian philosophy. What inspires you and how does your creative process work?
Basically, the way I see it is that umm… I can’t really take full credit for the music because it’s not fully coming from me or my identity. Maybe it plays a small part, but the music is coming from my inspirations that I come across meeting people and traveling. All I’m doing is transferring that inspiration into a kinda physical form, which is, the music. I’m quite interested in traditional music of various countries, particularly Asia because I used to live there, so it rubbed off on me, you know.
What are your future plans for yourself and Steppas Records? Heavy tunes coming up?
Yep. This year is quite busy, we have a lots of releases coming. I don’t really plan too much, you know, I try to focus on the present, but when you’re running a label you do have to think ahead. We’ve got the second Dub Dynasty album coming in a few months, which’ll be me, my dad and my aunt (dad + aunt = Alpha & Omega), our collaboration together. It’s not Alpha Steppa and it’s not Alpha & Omega, it’s something different, and that’s the second album coming. I’ve got a few more 12”s in the pipeline, and I’m running my sister label, Trigram, and there are only 8 releases altogether and we’re on the third one now. So the next [Trigram] release is coming in June, and actually it’s the first full Alpha Steppa-only release on a 10”. Trigram is a deeper and darker side of Steppas and bit more leaning towards bass music, instrumentals, and things like that.
Why do you do it?
I don’t know really, sometimes you just… it’s not really me doing it, it’s just doing it by itself, you know. I do play my part, but it’s doing it by itself. And really, you find out why you do it, you know, as a producer you spend a lot of time locked away in a studio while other people are out enjoying themselves in the sunshine and you’re in a dark studio damaging your ears repeatedly listening to the same hi-hat for 2 hours or something like that. But when you go and play a session and you play the tunes out… if it’s a serious heavyweight session, you can see people brought into the present moment, so for a while their true self is revealed, you know. It’s liberation. It has all to do with liberation.
It’s liberation. It has all to do with liberation.
So you go to a soundsystem session and you really don’t have a concept of past and future, all you have is the present and you’re lifted into that. And within the present it’s just… pure joy. And if you can help other people reach states of pure joy, you should definitely do that. You know, why not? If you have the ability then do it, so I’m going to keep doing it until I can’t do it anymore.
Here are a few Steppas/Trigram -mixes for your listening pleasure. Click through for a free download too!