Jamaican Music

It’s the 10th Anniversary Of Chronixx’s ‘Smile Jamaica’ Hit Song. Meet The Producers From Germany

It's the 10th Anniversary Of Chronixx's 'Smile Jamaica' Hit Song. Meet The German Music Producers

While most Reggae fans have enjoyed the iconic Chronixx song “Smile Jamaica” and celebrate 2023 as its 10th anniversary, the producers of the song are not so well known, and in fact, are a somewhat unlikely German duo who have been promoting Reggae music since it came to Germany in 1986. Oliver Schrader and Joscha Hoffman are the co-founders of the Silly Walks Soundsystem, finding their way to reggae through exposure to UK Ska and punk rock in the 1970s and 1980s.

Path To Reggae

Oliver Schrader had a friend in Germany in the 1980s who listened only to Reggae, which Schrader found odd at the time. However, he found himself falling in love with the music, which became his main musical choice. He was addicted, he said, “a real nerd.” He turned to deejaying to share his passion with others. At the same time, Joscha Hoffman discovered his love for “everything that had off-beats,” got into ska, and then realized that original ska came from Jamaica. He started listening to the Skatalites as a teenager and began exploring Germany’s dancehall and reggae scene in the 1980s and 1990s. Some years later, after he had started his own project, Schrader contacted him, and the pair began working together. They have now played sound systems together for the past two decades.

Europe Eager For The Jamaican Sound

Schrader and Hoffman played parties throughout Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as the sounds of Jamaica became more popular via tours by reggae artists and the development of commercial dancehall in the 1990s through artists like Sean Paul, Beenie Man, and others. Neither Hoffman nor Schrader was happy with just playing records, however, so they traveled to Jamaica to enter the production side. On the island, they worked with the likes of Jah Mason, Luton Fire, Tonya Stephens, Ginger, and Natural Black. Their work with these star reggae performers did not open doors in the reggae scene for Silly Walks until the two producers partnered with Chronixx. Once the song dropped, they were widely recognized as “the guys who did ‘Smile Jamaica,’” and they were in. “It helped a lot,” Schrader added.

The Ups And Downs Of Reggae In Europe

Schrader and Hoffman experienced the rise and fall of reggae’s popularity in Europe, but they are not overly concerned about its possible demise. Hoffman noted that there is a lot of good music coming from Jamaica now, adding that it might even be “too diverse.” Sound systems in Europe used to cover everything from roots reggae to dancehall, but now fans have evolved and want to hear either reggae or dancehall but not both genres. This has given rise to more niche-type events. The Silly Walks founders say reggae still dominates in Europe, but admit that no one could sell the genre like Bob Marley.

Still Committed To Reggae

Hoffman said that he and Schrader are reggae nerds, however, and check out every new artist to follow their vibe. Silly Walks returned to Jamaica in February 2023 for the first time since 2019 to attend the Lost in Time Festival where they linked up with previous collaborators and worked to create new relationships. They are currently working with contemporary stars like Demarco, Agent Sasco, and Khalia. They continue to craft reggae tunes in Germany at Silly Walks, one of the last defenders of the genre in Europe.

Photo – Official Facebook Page for Silly Walks Discotheque

About the author

Stephanie Korney