The UK has a wonderfully vibrant soundsystem culture. It’s a culture inspired by the original creators who journeyed to the UK from around the world in the mid 20th century; creating genres, lifestyles, experiences and more – a collective consciousness that’s shared across generations, geography, race and class. Being part of this community is one of the many things that makes doing what we do here at FatKidOnFire such a pleasure.
The latest producer, DJ and soundsystem controller to cross our path is one of the talents behind London’s Reggae Roast – a system, event promotional outfit and record label that started in a north London pub and has gone on to many great things. Adam Prescott and the RR team have done much for UK soundsystem culture, and Adam’s done much for the culture personally too. We’ve wanted to sit down with Adam for a while now – and with a new album out on Reggae Roast we found the perfect opportunity…
Hey Adam, how are you? All well with you? Easy now, yes mate all good. Keepin’ busy as usual.
We’ve long been a fan of what you’ve been doing – both personally and with Reggae Roast. How did it all start for you? I started DJing and collecting music from when I was about 13 or 14 (I’m nearly 30 now!). I bought some really rubbish belt drives from Argos! Production-wise, I originally started on a program called Ejay; I got a copy from a box of Kellogg’s Frosties, it was completely terrible but it gave you the basics in arrangement (using loops and such). I then moved up to a cracked version of Logic 5 on what was possibly the worst laptop in the world, it took an hour to turn it on! For the past 10 years or so I’ve been using Logic on a Mac – as well as a few other bits and bobs.
Were you a DJ or producer first? In your opinion, what makes a good DJ/ producer? Firstly, I’m a fan of the music over everything else. DJing was just a by-product of my record-buying habit!
I think you have to understand DJing to initially get your head around production (and visa versa to be honest); basic mixing skills and understanding song structure has really come from my DJing though I think. It’s not really for me to say what makes a good DJ or producer though – if I like the music then that’s all that matters!
You’ve got a new release coming. How did the new album come about? The album really came about after I’d moved to London and started working at Reggae Roast about 3-4 years ago. I was making a lot of music and working with some brilliant MCs & vocalists so I decided to get working on a collection of songs that I thought gave a 360 view of what I like playing & making.
From the release, what’s your favourite track? Why? I like it all! If I had to pick one then I’d probably say The Vampires, featuring Dark Angel & Karizma because they’re both amazing vocalists and I think the combination works perfectly. Another special mention goes to Throwback which features Papa B as it was a bit of a departure from the stuff I normally make – but I really think it came out great.
Do you have a set process for creating tunes – whether they’re single tunes, releases or albums? Not particularly, I normally start with the drums and build up the groove from there. Before I start I’ll try to get the sound palette right, get a few samples together, weird noises and some textures for example and then start building. When it’s got a point where I know where it’s going, I start thinking about what vocalist would work and also what label it would be good for and then try and work towards making that happen.
With Reggae Roast, the collective’s known for championing some of the best of the UK sound system culture (and beyond). How did RR come about? Reggae Roast started in a pub in Kentish Town in 2007, back then it was James (Moodie) & Greg (Excel). Greg moved on to other things and then I stepped in to work with James about 4 years ago. We’re a record label, soundsystem and event promoters at the moment and we’ve now got a great crew involved too so I’m really excited about where we’re heading.
What have you guys got planned for 2016? We’ve just started a weekly session called Summer Of Dub with the sound at a new venue in near Tottenham Hale called Sytx which is going really well. The past couple have been some of my favourite dances! We’ve got a few festivals booked in including Glastonbury & Kelburn Garden Party and our diary is jam packed until the end of the year too!
What are your thoughts on the UK’s sound system culture today? How has it evolved/ developed since you’ve been involved? I think it’s really promising at the moment, there are lots of people building soundsystems and new events / DJs & producers are springing up all the time. Long may that continue!
Of all the systems you’ve played on across the UK, which one do you rate the most? Obviously, I’m biased towards Reggae Roast! However, my favourite sound has always been Iration Steppas – primarily because when I lived in Leeds I used to go to Subdub all the time and Mark has been playing my tracks for a long time now. I actually got to play on Iration in Sheffield (big up to Akid & the Roots crew) which was a great experience and something I’ve wanted to do since I started. I also love Channel One / Solution Sound / Aba Shanti-I / Highness & Jah Shaka too.
What makes a good sound system? Clear heavy bass, mids & tops, a good set of amps & a great engineer / crew. However, you still need to know your tunes and play a good selection because, without that, no-one will have a good time!
Are there any UK cities in particular that have good collectives or systems? London and a few of the northern cities (Sheffield, Huddersfield etc) seem to have stand–out crews. For sure! Big up to Rubberdub / 20Hz / Sinai and all the Nottingham / Sheffield crew every time. You can’t forget Mungo’s either – they’ve been doing their thing for years…
What makes an Adam Prescott tune or performance? What is, in your opinion, the essence of the experience you try to share with the world? I like to play everything to be honest. From Studio One, foundation stuff, all the way through to the most current heavy tunes. I want the people who come to see me play to have a good time, I wouldn’t say it’s a performance or an experience though, good people & good music is what it’s all about.
What are your plans for the rest of the year – what are you personally looking to achieve in 2016? 2016 is going great so far and I want that to continue. I’ve got a lot of releases coming up – but I can’t really discuss them at the moment! Rest assured, there are some big ones in the pipeline.
Any final words or shoutouts? Big up to you guys (FKOF) for the support as always! Shouts to my Reggae Roast crew and everyone that’s worked with me over the years, to many to mention but you know who you are. And big up to my wife & my family for everything.