Jamaican Music Music Interviews

A Conversation with India’s first reggae sound system, the Reggae Rajahs

This week we interview India’s Number One Champion Sound Reggae Rajahs. The Reggae Rajahs are India’s first reggae sound system. The trio composed of Diggy Dang, Mr. Herbalist aka General Zoos and DJ MoCity are reggae entertainers and promoters based out of New Delhi. Known for their energetic live performances, the Rajahs came together for their love of reggae music in early 2009. The Reggae Rajahs have dedicated themselves to spreading the sounds of roots reggae, ska, dub, and dancehall across India. Here is our conversation with the Reggae Rajahs.

Question: Can you tell us about the first time you heard reggae. What was that experience like?
Bob Marley was probably the first reggae artist to influence all three of us. His songs are uplifting and always positive – it was a great introduction for us into reggae music

Question: Was it then that you decided to be a reggae sound system?
No, we decided to form a reggae soundsystem after meeting at a Bob Marley Birthday Dance that DJ MoCity was hosting in 2008. Diggy Dang and myself (Mr. Herbalist) were present at the event and the three of us decided from then on that we had to introduce reggae music to the Indian nation.

Question: What is life like for a reggae artist in your country? Do you do alot of concerts?
It is a challenge because the genre is very new for the Indian audience but at the same time it is very rewarding because we are the only ones promoting reggae music and culture in the country. We have a weekly night in New Delhi (our hometown) on Thursdays and also do one or two bigger dances a month on weekends. We also tour cities like Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore once every couple of months.

Question: Have you performed outside your country?
There have been solo performances in Peru, Panama and New York City but never as a full crew. We are scheduled for our first European tour this summer.

Question: Tell us about your first reggae album?
We are in the process of recording some tracks and hope to come out with an EP by the end of this year.

Question: Is it in your native language?
It is mainly in Jamaican Patois and English with some use of Hindi as well.

Question: What first drew your attention to Reggae?
For DJ MoCity it was listening to Bob Marley on the beach, for Diggy Dang it was his love of the band Sublime (who have a lot of reggae influences) and for me it was my parents collection of Bob Marley, Yellowman and Inner Circle CDs.

Question: What was the first Reggae song you ever heard?
Honestly can’t remember this!

Question: Who and what are your influences?
Our biggest inspirations are soundsystems like Stone Love, Kilamanjaro, Saxon and Rodigan. Musically, we have been influenced by everyone from the likes of Super Cat and Sugar Minott to Busy Signal and Tarrus Riley. Recently, we have also been influenced by the new wave of digi dancehall coming out of Europe and the UK.

Question: What style of reggae is played often in your country?
Mainly roots reggae with some dancehall as well. Dub and ska have also influenced a few of our contemporaries.

Question: Was the fact that Reggae is English and Patois a barrier?
No, in India we speak a lot of English so that was never a problem. We have learnt a fair amount of Patois from listening to the music although that is something we are still working on!

Question: Is Reggae mainstream and is it played on the radio there?
Mainstream reggae such as Shaggy, Sean Paul and Elephant Man can be heard on the radio often. Our dubplates have been played on the radio a few times and Diggy Dang’s reggae band Mob Marley Inc. has actually been interviewed twice.

Question: How is Reggae influencing your culture?
On a personal level, it is influencing the way we think about things, the we choose to live our lives. On a bigger scale, I think by us spreading reggae music, people are beginning to open their ears to sounds that they might not have say 4 or 5 years ago.

Question: If someone traveled to visit your home and wanted to hear reggae music what would they have to do?
Log on to Facebook and join the Reggae India Group or the Reggae Rajahs Page.

Question: How would you describe your country’s reggae sound and development?
There is a distinct reggae scene developing here in India. Apart from us, there are soundsystems like Low Rhyderz in Goa and Dakta Dub in Hyderabad who are also playing dub, reggae and dancehall music. There is also a growing dubstep scene here as well as the country’s first ska, dancehall and funk band, the Ska Vengers.

Question: Who is your favorite Reggae Artist?
Too many to choose from. Recently, the new albums from Busy Signal and J. Boog have been popular amongst us.
Question: Where do you think Reggae will be in 10 years time in your country?
Hopefully we’ll have a few soundsystems all over the country playing reggae music and also successful local reggae bands. We also want to start bringing more international artists down to India and in 10 years we hope that we can host them at a big reggae festival in Goa!

Question: Do you think there is anything preventing Reggae from flourishing for you and your fellow artists in your country?
Nope, India is ripe for Reggae music.

Question: 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?

Question: Have you ever been to Jamaica?
Not yet!

Question: Do you have many/any Jamaican people living in your country?
Yes, a few.

Question: Do you eat Jamaican food? Can you get it in your country?
Nope not in an authentic style anyway!

Question: Thanks for the interview. Do you have any final words?
The power of reggae music is phenomenal, you can make connections all over the world!

 Visit the Reggae Rajahs website and facebook page for more information.

About the author

Xavier Murphy