Back To Your Roots: Foundation Sound UK

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EZ fam’.  Hope all is well, as always.
 
I’ve got a super duper special feature lined up for today.  I thought that it would be really dope to showcase styles that go back to the roots of most of the music that you find here on this website.  I think it’s safe to say that dub-reggae has had a pretty prominent role in the formation of dubstep.  The ‘soundsystem culture’ today as we know it can be greatly attributed to the dub-reggae movement.  So, in light of that, I have reached out to a crew that has been building sound system’s and pushing reggae/dub-reggae music since days that precede my birth.
  
Foundation Sound has been up and running in Norwich, UK since 1981.  Talk about some deep roots!  It’s been over 30 years and these guys are still pushing the music, message, and culture that they love.  Just as in any genre of music, landscapes have changed, technology has evolved, and the music, too.  Productions have become digital-based, although the analog kings still exist with a very respectable presence. I was thankful enough to get in touch with Ed King from Foundation Sound earlier this year when he reached out to me for promotion of the ‘My Burdens’ EP, which featured the ever so heavy remix by TMSV.  After I did some research on what the label/sound has been doing for the past 30 years and chatting with Ed a bit, I came to the conclusion that it would be really cool to feature some sounds inna’ proper roots fashion.  I don’t want to say much more because I want Ed to give some light into the crew and sound that he represents with us here today.  At the end of the feature you will find a mix done by Ed featuring Foundation Sound artists as well as others.  This is a mix that is 100% vibes throughout its entirety.  I hope everybody has their spliffs lit, or whatever you do to get into a meditation mind state, before you press play.  Makes me realize that I have not had enough dub in my life lately.  A message of love and positivity, no doubt!  Catch what Ed has to say below…
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BWS:  Big up Ed!  Thanks for supporting us with this interview.  Now, for our readers that don’t know who you are and what Foundation Sound is, can you please give them some background information on yourself and the soundsystem?

Yes greets, full respect and thanks for the support.  Foundation Sound is a reggae and dub sound system and record label based in Norwich, UK.  The sound system was originally set up in 1981 by Tony Roots (of the Liberators band, Norfolk) when he returned from time in Jamaica, and after touring as a DJ with Joseph Hill and the band Culture.  It was Joseph who named the sound system.  Basically, Foundation is a vehicle to help promote and spread the positive message of Rasta Reggae music.  Since the early years the crew has evolved and our works now include the record label, which runs alongside the sound system.

BWS:  Now, to my knowledge (and please correct me if I’m wrong), right around the mid 1980’s, England became one of the, if not THE main home of dub music.  Are there any memories or events during that time that still standout to you today?

Well it was really the late 70’s and early 80’s that reggae exploded in the UK. I think and I was only about 3 or 4 then so my experiences within the music are much more recent really.  From what Tony Roots and other (more veteran) friends tell me of them days is it was like the Jungle/early D&B scene here in the early nineties.  Reggae was THE music.  Sound systems from every corner of every city across the UK, big dances all over, and record shops constantly packed out with people wanting the latest music.  

I suppose a lot of people understandably link UK dub artists like Mad Professor and the early On-U sound stuff to being instrumental to the development of dub music but really no one but King Tubby can take the crown when it comes to being the originator and thus I think Jamaica, although not now, will always be the original home of dub.

BWS:  Foundation Sound has been around since 1980, that’s some experience under your belt!  Respect for that.  How would you say things have evolved or changed over the past 30 years?

Well back in the 80’s Foundation was really more a support sound for big acts playing gigs around the UK and Europe.  We wasn’t a sound that would clash (played against other sound systems),  Foundation would play warm up selections before the acts came on.  Highlights from them times would be supporting and warming up for acts like Eek-A-Mouse, The Wailers, Culture and Ini Kamozie.  In the 90’s, after some quieter years for the sound, me and a few other guys linked up with Foundation.  We rebuilt the sound in custom UK style; home built boxes, custom built amps and controls, and from there kinda relaunched Foundation.  Nowadays, as well as playing sessions where we string the set up and play all night we also clash against other sounds.

Foundation Sound – Happens Every Day EP (Promo Mix)

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BWS:  I have heard some people say that dub music died with King Tubby back in 89′, giving birth to the “raggamuffin” era.  Do you have any opinions on the subject?  Regardless, the day that Tubby was shot was an extremely sad day for music.

To me Tubby was the dubwise originator, the original dub organiser.  I don’t know and don’t really think that was specifically instrumental in the birth of the slacker dancehall/raggamuffin era, music changes and evolves, Jamaican music especially.  I think the music was always going to change much like society itself.  I often think that music kind of mirrors what is happening in society at certain times, reggae music especially as it has always been a peoples music, a message music. 

BWS:  Who were your main influences growing up, musically?  When and how did you get into making soundsystems
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I kinda got into Reggae music via the UK Jungle era, I always especially loved the tunes with the reggae samples and sound fx in….  My mate Guv used to get his family in London to record the Kiss FM (it was a london only station then) Jungle show for us and then send it up on cassette to us.  Sometimes on the end of the cassette tape it would run into the Manasseh show.  We started to enjoy the vibes on there and along with his show we started checking Rodigan’s shows as well.  I met Tony Roots around ’96 when we used Foundation as our PA system for Jungle parties we were doing.  He started to play me the original tunes where all the samples in the Jungle came from….  From there I started getting more and more into Reggae and dub.  The dub I could especially identfy with, to me at the time it seemed like slower more interesting Jungle.  
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I really got into the proper UK reggae scene when I moved to live in London around ’98 with my mate Barn.  I became friends with Marcus and Olston from Conqueror Sound, Willesden.  They introduced me to the whole DIY custom culture of building a sound system, checking producers for unreleased music and cutting dubplates.  I am not a Rasta but they took me in and treated me as part of their family.  I learnt a lot from them, the runnins and responsibilities of running a sound system, the culture of playing sound system and clashing others sounds.  I’ll always be grateful to them, cos’ without them and Tony Roots I would not be doing what we are doing now.
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Anyway I’m wandering off topic… those guys along with Tim from Rebel Lion sound here in Norwich are really my main influences in terms of getting into the music and sound system thing…  In terms of musical influences, I would have to say the main people would be King Tubby and in the more modern era Manasseh.  King Tubby, as I said before, is the original dub master and I don’t think anyone can argue that Baby I Love you So, King Tubby meets The Rockers Uptown, has to be one of the, if not THE, greatest ever dub tracks.  When I heard that I all I wanted to do was to make and play music like it, top-a-top.
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BWS:  What sets the Foundation soundsystem aside from any other dub soundsystem?
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Well to be honest I don’t really like comparing our sound to others, I’ll leave people to decide what sets us apart from other sounds… We concentrate on our own things, don’t watch no one else, we aren’t trying to be like anyone, we just play and do our thing as we do, you know?
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BWS:  From what I can tell, this most recent release on Foundation Sound (My Burdens) marks the first dubstep release to be included on a release from the label with TMSV’s interpretation of ‘Lay Down My Burdens’.  Can we expect more dubstep remixes on future releases?
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Yehman more remixes planned, not for awhile though probably.  The whole idea about the 12″ with reggae versions on one side and remixes on the other came from Dirty Specs.  They gave me the remix they had done and then said that TMSV had done one as well.  Me and Sam, who is the main producer for Foundation productions (and one part of the Dirty Specs team), chatted about putting out a 12″ with the remixes, kinda trying something different from our usual reggae only works.  We decided to keep the 10″ inch and 7″ inch vinyl releases reggae only and any 12″ inch releases will feature a reggae A side and then remixes on the filp, AA side style.  We got a few other guys lined up for possible collabs in the future.  The next remix release I am hoping to do will feature Richie Phoe from Brighton, really love his stuff. 
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BWS:  Each release on Foundation Sound has the “Foundation Sound Dub” version on it.  Who is behind these productions?
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As I mentioned my mate Sam is the main man behind our productions, I co-produce and manage the label.  All our releases to date have been produced by Sam, he will build a riddim then we’ll discuss ideas on what it needs.  We’ll usually get it voiced by whichever singers we are working with at the time, maybe get some live instruments on it and then that helps dictate how the tune will end up stylistically.  Once the riddims are fully built we then take it to who ever we are getting to mix it, guys like Nick Manasseh or Dougie Conscious. 
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BWS:  Now, this is definitely a “pet peeve” of mine so it would be great to hear your thoughts on the matter, considering your rooted involvement in dub music.  On the late, many new (hesitant to say uneducated) listeners refer to dubstep as dub music.  Is this something that you’ve heard before?  Any thoughts on that?
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I must admit I don’t know a lot about the dubstep scene but it doesn’t surprise me if thats the case, to me dub music is and always will be mixed up, instrumental reggae, to me dub is all about the mix.  I guess in some ways new music like dubstep is modern day dub music but to be honest words and phrases are always going to be robbed from one scene or style to describe another, like street slang really, and I can’t keep up with it so I ain’t gonna try. 
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BWS:  Will Foundation Sound be in attendance at Outlook Festival this year?  There are some really great performers lined up for this year!
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Nah we aint made it onto that line up yet, maybe in the future some time but not this time around.  We busy over the summer with a few festivals and sessions across the UK and then we should have a few things in France later in the year as well. 
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BWS:  Is there any news about forthcoming releases that the readers should keep their eyes and ears out for?
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We always got works in the pot, bubbling over…  My Burdens was originally voiced and produced over six years ago but it was only really when Sam revisited it last year with fresh ears, making a few adjustments to the riddim that we thought it was a goer, and decided to put it out.  We kinda work that way, always working on stuff, getting stuff voiced/remixed, but never really with an exact idea about what is going to be the next release. If you ask me right now whats coming next all I could say is that there is probably 2 or 3 tunes that could be the next release but we won’t know until we know, if that makes sense… Usually there is a point when we change something or get a live instrument or vocal on there, or something, and suddenly the tune is almost at the point of being ready.  At that point we kinda concentrate on that tune then till it done and ready for release.
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BWS:  Again, much respect for your time and support in this interview Ed.  Respect out to you and all of the crew at Foundation Sound.
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Yes Tyler, give thanks for the support mate and full respects to you and the Bassweight fam, keep up the works. Peace
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Make sure to familiarize yourself with the Foundation Sound crew and the music they push!  Here you will find the mixtape that Ed has put together for you listeners
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I didn’t realize that mixcloud was unable to embed with wordpress (or I just can’t find out how to do so) so just follow the url to the mixcloud page and hold your spliffs in the air, with your subs turned up!
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You can catch Foundation showcasing their latest music on Future Radio every second Wednesday of the month from 8-10pm GMT.  Holding it down for the Unity Sounds segment.  Radio link is here.  Don’t forget to stop by the Foundation Sound pages, too!
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Catch you on the flip.
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To the gods.
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-Kinman
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