As UbuntuFM Reggae Radio welcomes the Rootikal Radio show to its roster, we had a sit down and chat with show host Selector TKZ aka TangoKiloZulu.
Rootikal Radio - Finest Roots Reggae, Dub, Stepper & Bass Culture - syndicated radio show on UbuntuFM Reggae Radio
Greetings Selector, welcome to UbuntuFM Reggae! As we are looking forward to feature your show on our radio, we'd like to take the opportunity to introduce you to our listeners and readers. First off - the root - How did you first get into Reggae-related music, and why has it become such an important part of your life?
TKZ: I always loved music and can´t imagine a life without it. Being a kid in the 80s you get in touch with “Laid Back - Sunshine Reggae” or “10CC - Dreadlock Holiday“ just because it runs on the radio as you drive around in the car with your mom. I kinda liked the sound but being a 8 year old, you don´t dig deeper.
I can´t remember hearing any “real” foundation reggae in those days. As a teenager of cause the first contact was the king – Bob Marley. His Album “Legend” was full of crucial hits and even “The Wailers” were playing in a tent festival were some friends and I sneaked in. In my small town, were I grew up, this was the first time I saw, heard and felt a live Reggae Band and it was a defining experience.
Yes, we can imagine. As with so many folks Bob's "Legend" album appears to be instrumental in the introduction - or should we say 'induction' - into the roots of Reggae. But please continue...
TKZ: Throughout my teenage years I was a hardcore Hip-Hop fan and rapper on my own. Wu-Tang Clan was the power. As the mid 90s UK jungle wave hit Germany, I was fascinated by the energy, the melodic bass lines, and those cool and ruff ragga lyrical samples.
I started to dig deeper and find the original foundation tunes were the samples came from. In the 2000s I was totally into hardcore Jamaican dancehall. Badman style, bashment style…the harder the better. I loved the patois and creative use of language, the energy, the reality…the raw outcry of the sufferers. I went to Jamaica twice (2005 and 2010) and visited some studios, dubplate sessions, festivals and street dances…including Vybz Kartels birthday party, a few times people botteling artists of the stage, stampedes and gunshots. Jamaica nice but also very ruff & tuff. But I loved it.
The older (and hopefully wiser) I got, the more I wanted to know were all this is coming from, were the origins are. Also dancehall changed and I couldn’t identify with the whack productions, too much autotune effects and often stupid lyrics any more. So I started to dive deeper and deeper into roots and then into dub and found a treasure. A enormous mass of tunes and artists I never heard before but instantly got caught by the arrangements, the positive message and the bass!!!
Seen, bass & drum - the Heart of Reggae Music!
TKZ: When I first heard and felt Jah Shaka play a session in London, were I was visiting a friend, that was it. That was exactly what I wanted…and I wanted to do something in that scene too. So I started the Sessions and the Radio show…out of passion and fascination and to share this with others who feel alike. So black music, Rap, Soul, Reggae, Dancehall and now also Roots and Dub are important parts of me and the soundtrack of my life. I only play conscious music in my radio show because that is how I feel and try to live my life. And how, in my opinion, everybody could live his life.
Without hate, no ignorance, no intolerance, no sexism, no gun and violence warship, no homophobia – just roots & culture, love, unity and positive vibes mi seh!
"the soundtrack of my life" - love that!! More over to the Rootikal side. What's the relationship between your current projects, Rootikal Radio Show and Territory Sound System? And how are they each going?
TKZ: They are totally different and independent. The Rootikal Sessions with my partners Uli & Elmar (from Sentinel Sound) have the same topic, style and music as the Rootikal Radioshow but I do the Radio totally on my own. At the sessions however we invite guests to play with us. Either other Soundsystems and crews or other selectors such as Indica Dubs und Dougie Conscious, who both visited us this year, to have a tuff session.
Territory Sound is a totally different project, which I run with my friend Thorsten W since three years. We play a combination of Dancehall & Reggae, Dub, Rap & Trap, Jungle, and contemporary Bass Music, always with a good Caribbean vibe. It´s more about party and playing in a club style. We play back-to-back and sometimes I grab the mic. We safe all the money we get from the gigs and do a big trip from it once a year. We started in the USA (LA, Vegas, SF and back) and after that came Rio de Janeiro and this year Japan. We try to make as many music-related experiences on that tips as possible.
So we were on b-boy sessions in LA with DJ Nu-Mark, in the clubs of Rio with Tropkillaz, Digitaldubs and Mad Professor or playing some gigs in Tokyo and Yokohama with local sounds this October. It´s cool, because I can live out all the different styles I love. I can play a Garnett Silk that makes you goose bumps on a Rootikal Session or a badass Bounty Killa Trap-Edit that kicks your ass, when I play as Territory. Music has so many facets. Check out my Soundcloud to listen to the Radioshow and the Territory Mixtapes – then you know, what moves me.
You've recently toured Japan (as Territory Sound), what was the reception from the audiences, and what did you learn from that experience?
TKZ: I always traveled a lot and saw almost the whole world already. So I had an idea what to expect. However, we definitely learned that Reggae is a global thing and that you can make friends easy if you share the love of music.
We were very warm welcomed and the Japanese Soundman really appreciated us to be there and contribute to the sessions. One was club music straight, from R&B to Dancehall and one was a real Roots & Culture dance and the third one was a bashment party. So we could play the whole range of Territory´s styles.
Japan Culture is so different from ours, it of course has some effect on the parties. Every gig was (in our opinion) overbooked. There were always 4 to 7 other DJs/Crews on the lineup. This has not only the effect that everybody has less time to get into it and to connect with the massive, but also that some try to proof themselves and play the hardest Kartel tunes und scream into the mic, even if there are only three people on the floor. Bit strange for as, as we are used to do an easy warm up and the build up a vibe slowly up to the climax.
Cool was, that people came to us and asked us to play some German tunes, because they wanted to know how Reggae from Germany sounds like. All in all it was a great experience and I can recommend visiting Japan. Beautiful country, beautiful people and incredible great food! Traveling with music is great. I hope to get invited to some dances and sessions in other countries in the future. I´m ready and willing to come. If activists and promoters around the world read this and want to have me in their area. Just e-mail me ;)
Reggae music is truly global!! Yes I. From Japan to Johannesburg, from Rio to Stuttyard!! What's the Reggae scene like right now in Germany? I assume there's a lot more going on than just Jahtari and the Ancient Astronauts...
TKZ: Yeah of cause, there is a scene with all sub-genres and stuff. The biggest thing Reggae-related in Germany is still Dancehall. And Stuttgart is the Dancehall capital due to a long history of Soundsystems here. Sentinel Sound, who even won the World Clash in 2005, and also Jugglerz play internationally on a very high level. But the golden years are over.
Around 2004, Gentleman was big, Reggae was running in the radio, Selector Papa Noah and I played with David Rodigan in front of 1.500 people…no problem. This is not possible anymore. Reggae is underground again. Although every “normal” Club DJ plays a little standard Dancehall section in his sets and gets a good reception….it again has this nerdy touch to be in the Reggae scene. And there is also an even smaller Roots & Culture scene and again a smaller Dub community.
When I do my Rootikal Session with a big Guest from UK, I´m happy if 180 people show up. You can´t make money from that…it´s a break-even thing. Last time I had a loss of 300 EUR due to high flight, hotel and other costs. But the smiles on the faces of the people who feel it, is worth the work and effort. To be honest I´m not too familiar with the German Reggae & Dancehall scene right now, because in my focus are the very good Roots and Dub productions coming from UK, Italy, France, Spain and so on. I´m so into Dub these days and there are too many releases in the other sub-genres to have everything on the radar. I´m self-employed and run an event agency and have some very big clients, so I work a lot every day (10-14h is normal). Unfortunately this results in only a limited time to pay attention to music.
'bout time for a #NewRoots revival, brother. The people need it. The Spirit of Reggae is the spirit of the people. No matter where/what/who you are. But hey, that's just me, a crazy bald head speaking... Let us continue. Your show includes everything from Roots and Dubs to Dancehall and Steppers; which styles and artists are you particularly enjoying right now?
TKZ: I´m a big fan of the Conscious Sounds and Vibronics releases. There´s also every time an Indica Dubs production on my playlist. They really do great works over there in the UK.
I go to London once or twice a year to catch the vibe at sessions there. Notting Hill Carnival is madness! Up to 40 Soundsytems string up in the streets, from Channel One over Aba Shanti-I to some wicked Jungle and Grime crews. But if you really want to know, what music moves me, then just listen to my Radio Shows, they are all on Soundcloud. I only put in the show what I really like and always make a very careful selection.
I often start with something around 80-150 tunes I explored or received per month. And then reduce and squeeze it down to around 40, which are approximately two hours show. So this is the essence of what I have and dig for this particular month. This is sometimes really hard, because I also have to kick out great tunes that I would love my audience to know, due to time reasons. In fact, doing the selection is a bit pain in the ass and takes a lot of time for me to decide what to keep and what to kick.
Respect that. In closing, any advice to younger selectors looking to develop an online radio show?
TKZ: Search your feelings young Padawan. Try to find out what the music is and what it means for you and then try to find your own style. Don´t expect fame and money from it…you have to put in passion and work and receive good feedbacks, good vibes and love in advance.
Take a lot of care to make a harmonic selection so that people can just listen to the whole show in one flow and feel like they have been on a musical trip or journey. Deal with the music and its history. You can´t understand the present without knowing the past. You won´t understand Alkaline without knowing Dennis Brown. But most important: have fun doing it!
And now…go make your homework and explore the foundation of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. The Internet nowadays makes this a lot easier for you, than it was for me and other people, who are for some time in the scene already ;)
Totally subscribe to your reasoning, bra! Know your trade - from the root. Develop your own style. See, observe and don't do what they do. To all selectors and artists out there. We welcome your material at all times. When we dig it, we play it - fe sure. Thank you so much for your time and words of wisdom Selector TKZ. Big Up! Looking forward to more works from the Rootikal tree!!