Jamaican Music Music Interviews

Reggae Interview Series: Reggae Music In Belgium

Pat Flashman is one of the pioneers of reggae-music in Belgium. In 1977 Pat and Ras Feel built the first Belgian reggae sound system, King Flashman Elektro. In the 80s Pat was the drummer of King Flashman’s Live Reggae Band.

From 1988 until 1994 Pat played the drums for Crucial Crew. Nowadays Pat makes dub-music with his computer, using samples and sometimes live musicians.

ReggaePlus: Reggae has grown in popularity in your country. Artists like [who?] have performed there?

Too many to mention. Since the early 80s there’s reggae concerts every week in Belgium. We even have a yearly reggae festival in Geel. Check out these resource for schedules: Reggae Geel site, Irie Reggae concerts and festivals in the Netherlands and Belgium and Reggae & Ragga Belgium

ReggaePlus: What is the reggae scene like there?

Pat Flashman: Small compared to the rock scene and the techno scene.

ReggaePlus: How about the ska scene?

Pat Flashman:We’ve got 1 ska band: The Internationals.

ReggaePlus: What first drew your attention to Reggae?

Pat Flashman:Bob Marley’s music

ReggaePlus: What was the first Reggae song you ever heard?

Pat Flashman:Israelites, by DESMOND DEKKER

ReggaePlus: Who and what are your influences?

Pat Flashman:Studio One and Lee Perry

ReggaePlus: What style of reggae is played often in your country? [Dancehall, Lovers Rock, Conscious etc.] What style do the majority of fans seem to prefer?

Pat Flashman:The young kids love Dancehall & reggae artists like SEAN PAUL, BUJU BANTON, TOK and others, while the ‘Bob Marley generation’ or ‘older’ reggae fans still prefer Roots artists such as BURNING SPEAR and ISRAEL VIBRATION. There’s no market for Lover’s Rock in Belgium.

ReggaePlus: Was the fact that Reggae is English and Patois a barrier?

Pat Flashman:No because 75% of the music played on the Belgian radio/TV is in English. Belgian rock bands sing in (American) English. There’s Belgian reggae artists who (try to) sing or DJ in Patois.

ReggaePlus: Is Reggae mainstream and is it played on the radio there? Videos on TV?

Pat Flashman:Only the big reggae artists are played on the radio/TV (Bob Marley, Shaggy, Sean Paul). A lot of ‘local’ radio stations have weekly reggae shows of 1 or 2 hours (in the evening).

ReggaePlus: How is Reggae influencing your culture?

Pat Flashman:Positively I think. Reggae fans are more tolerant and less aggressive and the amount of Belgian reggae fans is still growing. First Reggae Geel festival (early 80s) had a few hundred visitors and now they have more than 30,000 visitors.

ReggaePlus: If someone traveled to visit your home and wanted to hear reggae music what would they have to do?

Pat Flashman:Go to a cyber cafe and – for all info on reggae in Belgium – surf to: Produbtion, Atomium , and Irie Lion

ReggaePlus: How would you describe your country’s reggae sound and development?

Pat Flashman:Promising and still growing.

ReggaePlus: What are some of the names of the popular local artist? Who would be the top 5 artists?

Pat Flashman:Top 5 reggae bands: Panache Culture, Mika,Calabash, Jaman, and Univibes.

ReggaePlus: How did you get interested in Reggae?

Pat Flashman:For my generation Bob Marley was the (perfect) ambassador of reggae music.

ReggaePlus: Who is your favorite Reggae Artist?

Pat Flashman:Lee Perry

ReggaePlus: Where do you think Reggae will be in 10 years time? And in Your country?

Pat Flashman:Internationally, I don’t expect many changes. Every 10 years Jamaica has an international artist (Bob Marley, Shabba Ranks, Sean Paul). Guess there’ll be one then. In my country: reggae will be more accepted. 20 years ago we only had 1 band and 1 sound and now we already have 20 bands and more than 10 sounds.

ReggaePlus: Do you think there is anything preventing Reggae from flourishing for you and your fellow artists there?

Pat Flashman:We’ve got bands and sounds but no reggae-producers, labels, studios, distributors etc.

ReggaePlus: How are you involved in Reggae?

Pat Flashman:I had the first sound system in Belgium (King Flashman Elektro). I played the drums in 2 reggae bands (King Flashman and Crucial Crew). Nowadays I make dub music.

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 that you see in your country?

Pat Flashman:In Belgium more and more kids grow real dreadlocks.

ReggaePlus: Have you ever been to Jamaica?

Pat Flashman:Not yet.

ReggaePlus: Do you have many/any Jamaican people living there?

Pat Flashman:Omar Perry is living in Brussels. He organizes concerts and has his own (Belgian) reggae backing-band, Deep Culcha. ReggaePlus: What is the name[s] of the top ‘Sound System'[s] there?

Pat Flashman:Boombastic , Far West Crew and Raggamuffin Whiteman

ReggaePlus: Do you eat Jamaican food? Like what?

Pat Flashman:Only in England when I visit Jamaican people. Dumplin, curry goat & rice, yam, saltfish, … in other words: all the ‘classic’ Jamaican meals.

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