Interview Masego Soundsystem Rotterdam (2016)
1) please tell us who you are and where you are from: Hello, we are Masego Soundsystem, a hand-made dub and roots soundsystem from Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
2) why is the soundsystem culture so important to you guys?
Thomas: The first time I came into contact with it was at Reggae Geel in Belgium. King Shiloh was playing and I just fell in love with it straight away and knew I wanted to be a part of it.
Matthijs: I was already into reggae, meditation and spirituality. Soundsystem culture was where all those things came together for me. This feeling of unity and interconnectedness.
Thierry: And at the same time there is this really rebellious, almost punk-like undertone and attitude to it.
Ej: But it is not júst anti-establishment, kicking against society, without an answer. It tries to offer solutions as well. I mostly found a lot of like-minded people that did not want to conform to the way things are. That want something different and like me, found it in this.
Thomas: There is just nothing in it, neither the music nor the culture, that doesn’t appeal to me.
3) You were formerly known as The Original Dub Radix. Why did you change your name to Masego soundsystem?
Ej: ODR was started by me and Thomas. At the time we just wanted to play records. We weren’t too busy with the culture behind it. Well we were, in a way, but not with any of the history or ideals or spiritual aspects of it. We were just in it. Being this dj-act, playing the music we loved. Then gradually that changed to the point where we wanted to get this music heard the way it’s meant to be heard. To let people experience it the way we experienced it.
That is when we teamed up with Thierry and Matthijs to make that a reality and we actually built this soundsystem. Now that we have, we felt that since it is a whole new thing with a whole “new” group of people, it needed a new name. So we chose the name Masego, which means “blessings”.
“One of the reasons we built this soundsystem was to give people a moment to stop and think on whether or not this is the best way to go about things and how to change it. To get that message across.”
7) When was your first Sound System Culture encounter and was it love at first sight?
Thomas: like I said earlier I walked on to the terrain at Geel and Shiloh was playing this song ‘Jah is calling’ by Alpha and Omega. I remember because I immediately ran up so I could look at the record to see what it was. It was definitely love at first sight.
Thierry: I only knew soundsystems from the tekno scene but went to Geel with some friends. Young Warrior, I think, was playing. I did not leave from in front of the soundsystem for the rest of the weekend. The music and the whole vibe of it got me hooked straight away.
Matthijs: I don’t excactly remember my first, it was some Belgian system at Geel… or Shiloh at Ruigoord. Could even have been one of the first ODR sessions hahaha. I just remember being instantly in love with it. That energy ! It was just so intoxicating.
Ej: Selah Sound in Boogje with the One World Band. Thomas took me. From the first second on I was so impressed with it. Everyone was so busy being into the music instead of with themselves and being seen. I have been obsessed ever since haha.
“Obviously people are responding well to it. Sharing this with as many people as people is naturally something we want.”
8) Do you guys support Rastafari or are you just in it for the bass and dance?
Thierry: For me it was definitely the bass and dance that drew me in. I think for most of us that that’s how it started. Appreciating the philosophy and ideals behind it came later.
Matthijs: I knew some of the concepts from Buddhism already and was very excited when I found it in the Rastaphilosophy as well. Like for example the concept of ‘I and I’, which has lots of similarities with the Buddhism concept of oneness. Not so much Jah. Just a name for how everything is connected and the guidance I experience by meditation. Both in music and in meditations at home on my pillow. I think it was brought to Jamaica by the Indian labourers.
Thomas: The slight problem with this is that in Rastafari there are a lot of different currents. A lot of different ways of interpretation. For some it’s this purely spiritual thing. For others it’s very focussed on the Bible. And for some it’s solely about the repatriation of Ethiopia for example.
Ej: I find it hard to call myself anything. I believe that the purest form of rastafari is a philosophical direction of thought which provides certain answers and a strong and conscious mind to stand strong in a wicked world. I do not see it as a religion. A religion is a set of instructions and rules. Rastafari is about growing spiritually and being conscious about the world we throd in. What I mean is that I subscribe to the spiritual aspect of it and the need to free ourselves from this current system of thought, “Babylon”, that is hanging over our whole society. Holding us captive and bound. To work, to consuming things, to keeping the whole thing going no matter what.
Matthijs: One of the reasons we built this soundsystem was to give people a moment to stop and think on whether or not this is the best way to go about things and how to change it. To get that message across. We are so used to the idea that society is constantly seperating us by creating inequality when in fact it is just productive for a small group of people to make money and gain power.
Thomas: We’re not just in it for the bass.
“We just want to be on the road as much as we can, playing in as many different places as we can”
9) The soundsystem business is getting bigger and bigger. Getting a bit more commercialised. How do you feel about that?
Ej: On the one hand it’s a very positive thing because obviously people are responding well to it. Sharing this with as many people as people is naturally something we want. A bigger audience means that the message reaches more people, but it also means there is a much larger percentage of people that do not care about the message and just come for the heavy bass.
Thomas: not that there is anything wrong with that, of course.
Thierry: the dangers in getting a larger audience is that you run the risk of pandering just to get even bigger numbers. We want to avoid that as much as possible. We think it is very important to stay true to ourselves and do what we feel is right, not what we think the audience might want.
10) What can we expect from Masego Soundsystem in the near future?
Ej: More shows with more different artists, both big names and relatively unknown ones.
Thomas: We just want to be on the road as much as we can, playing in as many different places as we can.
Thierry: Producing our own tunes. Creating our own music.
Matthijs: Basically we want to keep growing as an act and as a soundsystem, more box. Much more. And get better at what we do.
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