The Inner West Reggae Disco Machine
Reggae Disco Machines sound like a conjuring of a 70s island trip, not a stereo system. It’s probably not that far from it, with the wall of sound blasting one drop dancehall to get you moving. This one of a kind sound system – which will need an entire truck to transport it once it’s fully completed – is an invention of a few well-respected reggae heads from Sydney. We caught up with Gunjo, one of the crew of the Inner West Reggae Disco Machine, to chat about the debut of the Machine this Saturday at the Clarence Hotel.
Tell us about the Inner West Reggae Disco Machine
Well the Inner West Reggae Disco Machine is the name of our sound system, which we have lovingly built by hand from scratch. It's taken us two years to build, and we are already planning its extension. It's been built with reggae in mind so lots of bottom end, lots of upper bottom end, and maybe a little top end for the treble minded. But more than just the actual speakers, the Inner West Reggae Disco Machine is a crew, consisting of a couple of selectors (Djs) Jamaican MCs on the mic, a sound nerd (speaker freaker hugger) who is always one with the sound.
Who’s the crew that’s involved with the project, and what do you guys want to achieve?
Well the box builder and electronics nerd is Stevie Dub. He is a freak. Wants to make his own effects boxes and echo machined etc. a perfect sound nerd and Dj. Then there is Mooch, a latecomer but a breath of fresh air and a bundle of motivation, he is our visual artist and Dj. We have RikSonic, whose love for and knowledge of reggae is mind boggling. Then there is Kamaur I and Ibojah. These two Jamaican boys can chat on the mic and tell the girls how pretty they are, whilst still rhyming a Jamaican stylee till the cows come home. Oh and then there is me, I just collect records.
What we are hoping to achieve is our own unique spin on sound system culture. We are not the first to build our own sound, but we want to be known as the sound that celebrates reggae across the board; a fun, positive, community-conscious vibe that comes across in our dancehall.
What’s the reggae scene like in Sydney?
We'll there's loads of bands and that's great, but what Sydney is really lacking is a sound that is dedicated to reggae. There are lots of drum n bass crews that play reggae… and total respect to them for keeping it alive when it seemed almost dead, but it's time for Sydney to step up and say "we do reggae" proper! Maybe one day international reggae artist might even stop in Sydney instead of going from Melbourne straight to Cairns!
Tell us a bit about yourself? How’d you get involved with music and the whole Disco Machine Project?
I'm just a record nerd. I have always collected records. Lost my collection 3 times and each time it has not taken me long to get back into the swing of things; It's just what I do. I never wanted to be a Dj, I was just known as the guy who had loads of records. Now days I feel sorry for kids trying to prove themselves to others - you can't do that with data or a stack of hard drives. But in my day if you saw chemicals lying around and photos hung up to dry, you knew that cat was keen about photography. It was like that for records and music. So that's how I got into the whole record store thang - I manage revolve records - and djing. As for the sound system well I started a little reggae get together at the Hive Bar almost 5 years ago called Rhythm Shower, and that's when Stevie dub brought these weird fucked-up looking homemade speakers that sounded fucking amazing. They were small but loud. Well thoughts turned to words, which eventually turned into action, and here we are.
What can we expect to see this Saturday night at the Clarence Hotel?
Well it's kind of exciting as there is many a thing going on at once: opening weekend for Louie at Clarence this Saturday, which is our debut for sound, so who knows?! What I can guarantee is a whole heap of people dancing, from hip hoppers, Newton punks, to grown up reggae nerds who have left the kids at home. I can also guarantee that there will be one or two heavy metal kids throwing up outside yelling "There's just too much bass man!"
So I hear the Clarence has a funky history – can you tell us a bit about that and the new owner Louie?
Well Louie was a bouncer back in the day at the teachers club. Everyone loved Louie. He now runs the Clarence, and he is getting the likes of Pat Powell from club ska to Dj alongside ex members of the Allniters, so the first night of the opening night will be a massive revival ska band night. They have had soul weekenders on the front bar, and even a Fred Perry convention of some sort - it's like we never left the 80s.
Have you ever rocked dreads?
BWAHAHAHA..... (a very sheepish ) yes. I used to be sooo pretty; had that barefoot corduroy jeans poncho dreadlock thing going on. But after a while, my dreads morphed into just four massive dreads. One day I was doing the walk of shame home past a pre school, and this little boy - who couldn't have been older than 5 - stuck his middle finger up at me and said "fuck you helicopter head!" I was pretty upset so I cut them off. If I ever see him again I'm gonna punch that infant in the face! Haha.
The debut of the Reggae Disco Machine is happening this Saturday at the Clarence Hotel, Corner of Parramatta Road & Crystal Street, Petersham. The gig starts at 9pm and entry is free.