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Brother Culture Q&A - June 2009

Rootikal: Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and the music that was around you at
the time?

Brother Culture: I was born in London and grew up around Wansworth, Catford and later Brixton.
My youth was spent in and around the sound systems of Brixton, such as Jah Revelation Muzik,
Sir Coxsone Outernational, Taurus and Frontline Sound. My early musical favourites were Bob
Marley, Dennis Brown, Aswad, Barry Brown, Brigadier Jerry, Lone Ranger. Later on it was people
like Papa Levi, the Saxon crew, Ethos and Tippa Irie, Rick Ranking and many other early '80s UK

R: You've been MC'ing for a long time now, can you share any special memories from the early
days when you toured in the USA, JA and Canada?

BC: I started touring away from the UK in 1985, when I traveled to Jamaica to represent the
Twelve Tribes from the UK in a spectacular three day dance held on Hope Road, Kingston. It was
attended by members of the Twelve Tribes from 14 countries around the world. The event was held in honour of Assfa Wossen the son of HIM Selassie I and it was called the 'Crown Prince Ball'. My favourite point was when I found myself on the mic next to Briggy - it was an amazing moment for a 20 year old! Whilst in Jamaica I had opportunity to chat over great sound systems such as Black Star and I stayed at the house of Dennis Brown.

R: Dubstep seems to be ever growing - do you think it might lead some young listeners to dig deeper and check dub from the originators?

BC: No, I see Dubstep as another path in the music that brings light and freshness into all the scenes that Dubstep borrows from! As an MC I have never positioned myself in any absolute genre. I love to move in and out and cross many borders in my pursuit of listeners!

R: The last few years has seen a huge surge in support for roots music across mainland Europe - much more so than in the UK - why do you think that is?

BC: I think that the decline in the UK of many of the physical sound systems was a result of two things:

i) The economics of running a big sound system meant that many sounds from about 1985 onwards could not find enough venues willing to allow them to string up the sound, which meant that the tradition of youthman sounds coming up through the ranks declined

ii) The rise of pirate radio in the 80s provided a great platform for the DJs, who nearly always had a backgruond in sound system, to promote the nights in clubs that only needed DJ/MC. This trend has been set all over Europe. The UK was always far ahead in the reggae stakes but now sound system culture is being driven in Europe. In the UK we have only a handful of summer reggae festival and most festivals tend only to have only reggae stages. In Euro-land they have massive reggae festivals the size of which the UK has not seen since the great Reggae Sunsplash that was held in Crystal Palace football ground in 1985! Now I work more in Europe than I do in the UK!

R: What have you been working recently on that we should keep a look out for?

BC: I've been really busy touring and releasing stuff. So far this year I've performed in Mexico, Denmark, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Republic of Ireland, Spain and Portugal... My album 'ISIS' is out now on Liquid Records and was produced by Youth and Manasseh. I collaborated with The Prodigy on 'Thunder', a track from their 'Invaders Must Die' album, and recently worked with Adrian Sherwood and John McClue on a project called Mongrel for the album 'Heavy As Dub'... I also worked with Adrian on the new Santogold remix album project. I'm really lookin’ forward to the Rootikal night - I will be presenting a set including material from many of the producers I've collaborated with.

Brother Culture

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Photo: David Hill