Reggae Interview Series: Reggae Music
In The Netherlands
Interview by Reggaeplus
ReggaePlus: Reggae has grown in popularity in
your country. Who are some of the artists that have performed
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
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
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
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
T: Over here you can see it when it's carnival time.
ReggaePlus: Have you ever been to Jamaica?
T: No, never had the pleasure to visit Jamaica.
ReggaePlus: What are the names of the top 'sound
T: Over here we have several
good sound systems but undoubtedly the best are RUNN Sound and
Jah Sound International.
to Reggae From Netherlands...
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