ReggaePlus:Reggae has grown in popularity in your country. Who are some of the artists that have performed there?
Mr. T:From the time reggae started to get international all the big names from Jamaica have come to the Netherlands to perform their music. Thus we have been treated to notable shows by the “King of Reggae” Bob Marley, the great Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Culture, Gladiators, Mighty Diamonds and more recently Tony Rebel, Bounty Killer, Buju Banton, Beenie Man and Luciano, to name a few.
ReggaePlus:What is the reggae scene like there?
Mr. T:The reggae scene is concentrated in the bigger cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Many people who originate from the Caribbean live there, so it’s obvious that reggae and also dancehall music flourish in these communities. However, throughout the years the music has also become increasingly popular among Dutch people.
ReggaePlus:How about the ska scene?
Mr. T:Over here music lovers have an open mind and ear which makes them open to all sorts of styles. Ska became very popular in the 80’s when British groups such as Madness and The Selector brought ska onto the charts. People then started to search for the originals and now there’s still a notable amount of ska followers in our country.
ReggaePlus:What first drew your attention to reggae?
Mr. T: In the early 80’s there was a shop in our hometown that sold clothes, shoes and also records. The owner was a reggae fan and he imported some reggae vinyl which he sometimes played in the shop. At first I didn’t notice the music that was playing but when he pumped up the volume, I was truly astonished. So from that moment, I became a regular visitor of the shop to capture the newest reggae sounds. Unfortunately the shop closed within two or three years.
ReggaePlus:What was the first reggae song you ever heard?
Mr. T: It was in the 60’s when I listened to the radio and they played Millie Small’s, My Boy Lollipop.
ReggaePlus:Who and what are your influences?
Mr. T: Main influence has been David Rodigan. Heard his shows through the British Forces Broadcasting Services (BFBS) and was impressed by his knowledge and his enthusiasm for the music. He is a true ambassador for reggae music and he inspired me to do something in order to promote and support reggae music.
ReggaePlus:What style of reggae is played often in your country?
Mr. T: Dancehall, lovers rock, conscious, etc.
ReggaePlus: What style of reggae do the majority of fans seem to prefer?
Mr. T: There are two styles that have the most followers, namely ragga dancehall and roots & culture (old school as well as modern). Also lovers rock and dub music is appreciated but it doesn’t attract that much attention.
ReggaePlus: Is it the fact that reggae is English and Patois a barrier?
Mr. T:I guess the Patois is a barrier when you want to reach a wide audience. People often don’t understand what it’s all about. Bob Marley did reach a wide audience because people could understand what he was singing about. However, the hardcore fans don’t mind the Patois and you even witness that they start using it themselves in their own scene. It has become part of their subculture.
ReggaePlus:Is reggae mainstream and played on the radio there? Are reggae videos played on TV?
Mr. T:With the exception of Bob Marley and recently Shaggy, Beenie Man and Sean Paul, reggae or dancehall doesn’t crossover to mainstream and thus it isn’t played on the national radio and TV. On the other hand we have a lot of local radio stations who broadcast a reggae radio show on a weekly basis.
ReggaePlus:How is reggae influencing your culture?
Mr. T:To say reggae is influencing our culture is very exaggerated. It’s more of a subculture and associated by many with the coffee shops where you can buy weed.
ReggaePlus:How would you describe your country’s reggae sound and development?
Mr. T:From the days that Bob Marley had his international breakthrough, reggae bands started to emerge. The most successful was a band called Doe Maar. They sang in Dutch over original roots reggae riddims. They attracted a lot of attention from mainly a teenage audience and scored some real big hits in the mainstream charts. Most of the reggae groups deliver roots & culture music, sometimes flavored with a strong crossover sound.
ReggaePlus:What are some of the names of the popular local artists?
Mr. T:At the moment the most popular reggae band is Beef. They provide feel good reggae music and have scored a hit with a song entitled “Late Night Session”. Other popular artists in the club circuit are also bands such as Poor Man Friend, New Born Creation, Panache Culture, Elijah & His Roots Reggae Band, Redemption and the ska group, Rude Rich & The High Notes.
ReggaePlus:How did you get interested in reggae?
Mr. T:As I already mentioned, through the music played in a local shop and the radio shows of David Rodigan.
ReggaePlus:Who is your favorite reggae artist?
Mr. T: There are quite a few, but I will stick to Anthony B, President Brown, Luciano, Lloyd Brown and of course the late-great Dennis Brown. When it comes to ragga dancehall then it’s Sean Paul, T.O.K. and Tanya Stephens.
ReggaePlus: Where do you think reggae will be in 10 years?
Mr. T: I’m afraid reggae will be on the same level as it is now. To come into the forefront and reach a wide audience the music has to be innovative, especially regarding internet, dvd and enhanced cd’s. You have to sell what the audience wants to have and you can’t stick to vinyl and cd only. Furthermore, you have to make people “hungry” for your products and it has to be a quality product. Most reggae artists are highly prolific and record for various producers. People get an overkill of music from most artists and then get tired of hearing the artist deliver mediocre and even weak efforts. Probably the most striking example is Sizzla. Furthermore, the MP3 downloads are a serious threat for reggae music and music in general. You can’t ignore the popularity so don’t fight it but do something with it. Work on it so that you can earn some money with it. Be creative.
ReggaePlus:How are you involved in reggae?
Mr. T: Together with my friend and partner Teacher, I maintain the Reggae Vibes website and we host a two hour reggae radio show.
ReggaePlus: In some countries you might see people wearing a Jamaican-style hat with fake dreadlocks attached when they attend reggae concerts and other events. Do you see anything like that in your country?
Mr. T: Over here you can see it when it’s carnival time.
ReggaePlus: Have you ever been to Jamaica?
Mr. T: No, never had the pleasure to visit Jamaica.
ReggaePlus: What are the names of the top ‘sound systems’ there?
Mr. T: Over here we have several good sound systems but undoubtedly the best are RUNN Sound and Jah Sound International.