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

Vibration Lab Sets The Weekend Off Right

What’s going on bredren?!  That’s right, Friday is finally here – thank jah.  As Lowkey said yesterday it has been really hectic for all of us the past couple weeks with work, school, life, our own musical commitments, etc., so we apologize for the days that lacked posts.  We are doing our best to keep it in a daily fashion, though, so don’t hate 🙂

Today I wanted to highlight a feature that hit the shelves/web today.  It seemed the perfect compilation to set the weekend off with the right kind of vibes.  Hailing from the boys over at Vibration Lab, this EP is jam-packed full of proper Reggae vibes and includes remixes by some really amazing artists.  The EP, titled ‘Tribulation Time’, features vocals from a very prominent figure in Reggae/Dub history, Linval Thompson.  This guy has worked with Scratch Perry, and has produced albums for Eek-A-Mouse, Freddie McGregor, and The Wailing Souls (to name a few).  Not to mention that a lot of the Scientist’s early work was based off of Thompson’s sound.  A true legacy this man is.  But anyways, back to the EP:

The Vibration Lab originals are top-notch digi-dub productions.  You can feel the organic warmth of the old school dub styles, despite it’s digital composition (big up the sound crew for that!).  Thompson’s vocals are extremely uplifting and really hit deep in your soul.  The beat itself brings you back, man.  Closing my eyes I felt like I was sitting in a smoke filled room just smiling and looking around, seeing everyone else smiling and laughing with each other.  Really feeling these jams.

As for the remixes, I’m going to take straight from the press release because I think it is a perfect introduction for the artists involved:

“When it came time to figure out who we wanted to remix this project two names came to mind. First, RSD aka Rob Smith aka Smith & Mighty, who was an original inspiration for our sound and whose records like ‘Kingfisher’ ‘Forward Youth’ and ‘Jah Way’ showed us the possibilities. The other was an artist named Radikal Guru, who was also an early influence for Vibration Lab with tracks like ‘Rudeboy Skank/Kingston Town’ and ‘Strong Dub’.  We really felt blessed when they both agreed to do it and the results blew our mind! The significant thing about this project is that all the mixes have their own unique sound and all our outstanding! Next we found two Dub Stars of the future, Riddim Tuffa who have been blazing up the the scene with their special Digi-Dub style and fashion and the incredible Adam Prescott who has been remixing the likes of Mungos Hi-Fi and making dubs with Brother Culture and Daddy Freddy. “

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All I have to add to this is that the interpretations of Radikal Guru and RSD are seriously unreal.  Take a listen for yourselves and YOU be the judge.

Vibration Lab ft. Linval Thompson – Tribulation Time EP

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Like I said, this release hit the stores today, so make sure that you show some support to these guys.  Available in digital format and limited vinyl (500).  If you want the vinyl before anyone else shoot them an email direct at vibrationlabsound@gmail.com and order direct, using paypal.

Hope these tunes put a smile on your face like they did to mine.  May the vibes be strong this weekend, we’ll see you on Monday.

Massive shout to Vibration Lab, big up to Radikal Guru, one out to RSD, Adam Prescott and Riddim Tuffa.  All parties involved in this release deserve love.  A seriously big one.

To the gods.

-Kinman

Fresh Cuts: Proxima, PanLeft and Epoxy

What’s good fellow bassweight champions? Welcome back this fine Thursday morn. Today we’ve got a couple brand new bangers we’d like to feature from some up-and-comers surely to watch. Don’t sleep on these guys, read on and check out the treats from Proxima, PanLeft and Epoxy.

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Gonna start this one out heavy with the insta-nod jam, ‘Formal Junction’ by Proxima. Released on Tempa in late March this tune is honestly a mind melter. For those who don’t know, Proxima is Icicle’s cousin, and well let’s just say, it runs in the family. With a slammin’ debut release on Tempa of all labels,  Proxima is someone to surely keep on your radar. Don’t forget the flipside either. ‘Grunge’ delivers some hop and bounce while still maintaining the bassweight depth we’ve grown to love . Check out both tracks below, and purchase them here.

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Right, so next up is a club-promoter turned sound designer, PanLeft. His debut release via Blah Blah Blah Records has been in the works for a bit now, but just got unleashed on the public last week. The track that caught our attention, ‘Electrika’, is simply great. It’s epic buildup, snaps back right before the moment of truth and makes for an epic drop. Shying away from the traditional dungeon sounds, PanLeft takes deep in a different direction. The flip, ‘HRTS’, literally will HURT your chestplate, so be careful. Beatport.

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Last up are some straight-forward bassweight slumpers from newbie, Epoxy. Rather than spray you with adjectives about this free release, I’ll let the tracks do the talking. Make sure to like Epoxy on Facebook and stay posted on his Soundcloud. Make sure and download both ‘Cut Off’ and ‘Prec’ and give some love to Autopsy Audio for generously releasing such a nice, free, EP. Thanks!

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Download the EP here.

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Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy these releases as much as we did!

Peace.

Shice

Cut Classics: A Step Back

Welcome back from what was hopefully a dope weekend! Starting off this week proper we’re going to feature some vintage tunes that fit well in the mix. Released mostly on CD’s and vinyls, these tracks may be hard to acquire, but are absolutely worth the effort of tracking down. Reaching from 2007 to 2009, these classic tunes fit in well with any present day dubstep set and can really set the dancefloor on fire when used correctly. Featuring sounds from Tes la Rok, Benga, and DZ,  blow the dust off and check out these tunes.

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First up is a tune that eerily foreshadowed the sounds that are present today, back in 2007. Featuring elements from all across the bass spectrum, DZ’s,  ‘Strong on Ya’ , surely is not a track to be lost in the archives. Sharp synths cut through the mix nicely, bumpy mid range add hop, and amen breaks meld it all together to create a jam that would hold its own in 2012. Pressed in 2007 on Hotflush Recordings, this release also features a massive flip side entitled ‘Slums Dub’.

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Next up is an absolute party jam that can change the tone of any dance floor with the flick of the fader. This sing-a-long anthem made its rounds on the mix and live circuit back in 2007, and is bound to make a comeback. Tes la Rok’s remix of Uncle Sam’s ‘Round the World Girls’ released on Argon in ’07 will most likely be a hard find for the vinyl collector, but anyone can purchase both the remix and the VIP on Amazon (256kbps).

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This next tune is an absolute pleasure to play out particularly because its sharp synth patterns that cut through and add to any mix. Fans and Dj’s alike can equally appreciate this futuristic-party track by the ever-diverse, Benga. Released in 2009 on N-Type and Hatcha’s Sin City Records, ‘On the Edge’ is featured on The Croydon Dubheadz Compilation vinyl as a well-deserved A-Side. Give it a listen and you will see why  its always a good thing to dig deep in the record bag and brush off a dusty one.

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Thanks for listening to these tunes and we hope you’ve found something you can take away with you. Playing and hearing these finely aged tracks really add to a live show so don’t hesitate to drop some senior sub pressure on the masses and make sure to skank out if you hear one of these at the club. Check back tomorrow for another quality post, and some more fine tunes to discover.

-Peace

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-BWS (Shice)

Respect da’ Roots

Wag Wan fam,

Today we finna’ bring you another round of reggae dubs to keep the spirits high 😉 Pulling a couple classics out of the bag and sharing them with you, because we know reggae brings the right vibes to all ears.  Light one up and have a listen.

First choon is a remix done by big bad west coast producers Noah D & Roommate, and dates back to 2008.  Originally a massive tune hailing from reggae-don Alborosie, titled ‘Police’, Noah D & Roomate throw their flavour into it, titling the tune Polizia Remix.  Most noticeable is the big chubby bassline accompanied by Alborosie’s high grade lyrics, making it a tune to throw in the list of classics.  Whether at home or in the club, always a big tune.

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Next choon is another one dating back to around 2008 and is as solid as the last one.  The tune titled ‘ Big Up An’ Bun Her’ is similar to the last one with a sick reggae chant ushered by a bassline that makes you rock in your seat.  Perfect day-party type tune here.

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The next one is from the evil half of Digital Mystiks, Coki.  On the remix of a tune titled ‘Wah Dem A Do’, Coki initiates his noticeable style into the tune while incorporating the gangsta for life lyrics so well known by veteran Mavado.  I like utilizing tunes like this because it often times reaches out to a larger audience than solely deep heads.

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Last choon is mega bassweight remix by Marcus Visionary titled ‘The General’.  The original done by Jahdan Blakkamoore is nothing short of epic but, the remix really brings the pressure with powerful low-end frequencies.  Turn this one up, sit back, and enjoy.

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Blessings.

-BWS (Lowkey)