The second part of this column will feature none other than the notorious danish champion sound Firehouse from Copenhagen.
The 8 guys from Firehouse are playing together since 2005 and are known worldwide for their unique, one of a kind early digital mix-cds and of course their incredible hardhitting riddims, two of them produces under the name of Maffi.
Here we go with the questions:
# Please introduce your Sound and all the members to the readers.
Our sound name is Firehouse Sound. We consist of 8 members who have all kinds of different roles and jobs within the system. We started out in may 2005 by coincidence. Originally, we were three different low ranking sound systems, however, after a while of putting on some shows together we decided to join forces and turned the three sounds into the killing machine known as Firehouse.
J-G is the front man on the mic, but he’s also an important selector. He specializes in modern and 80′s dancehall but also carries some killer early 90′s tracks in his box.
Trojan is the handy man who takes care of a long line of different practical challenges like booking, networking and setting people straight if they complain too much. He used to select slackness dancehall and murder music, he then turned righteous so now he only plays Tiger and Major Mackerel tunes.
Troels Egern is our main dancehall selector and secondary deejay. He mostly plays 90′s dancehall and has an affinity with the pepperseed riddim that can’t be challenged. He’s also a recording artist and lyricist who makes lots of Danish dancehall tunes – mostly about guns and weed. His name actually means Troels Squirrel.
Restless G was gone for two years when he was busy travelling the jungles of Bolivia and planting the seeds of a sound system scene in La Paz. After his return, he instantly catched up with the rest of us. Now he’s a solid dancehall selector who also plays a couple of oldies tunes from time to time.
Moog is a musician who’s part of Firehouse’ own producer team: Maffi. He’s the central spine and an implacable part of our riddim builder corps. Moog is also known as Demarkus.
Junior is a selector who has specialized in 80′s dancehall music. Although, he has started collecting tunes from the early 90′s as well, he’s been digging deep in the 80′s crates for years now. He also makes up the second half of Maffi and creates riddims and tunes together with Moog.
Dubmonkey used to be a very active selector. He also played an instrumental role in designing our distinct graphic style, but then he sold all his records and moved to Japan to get a ph.d. in cell physiology.
Ronald Rocksteady used to be our regular rocksteady selector, now he has two kids and a job.
Every now and then he manages to escape everyday life to spin some seriously bad rocksteady tunes.
# When was the founding of your Sound and since when do all of you djing?
Firehouse actually started after a failed attempt at making a dancehall club in Copenhagen back in may, 2005. Nobody really came to the club and in the end the only people in the club were the selectors booked for the night. We started talking and began hanging out shortly after.
Shortly after, we started the sound business by pulling a sound system into the streets and playing tunes until the police shut us down. It was a major hit, and all of a sudden we were booked several times a week. Before we knew it, we were a sound.
# Can you describe which style your sound plays mostly?
We’re mostly known for playing 80′s dancehall, but actually we play all kinds of dancehall – from sleng teng till beauty and the beast riddim. You won’t hear much roots music at our shows since it’s not really what we play. We’re a dancehall sound, basically. Nu roots is a no go. None of us likes it, and none of us plays it. It’s just straight up dancehall. We like it when the girls are wining and we’re not to fond of the rasta stomp – so we’re definitely aiming for the first and trying to avoid the latter!
One thing that makes us a bit different from most other European sound is our conservative, some would say elitist, approach to vinyl. We play original pressings as a general rule. Basically, we like to play original pressings, because we’re very tired of hearing most European sound systems playing the same reissued tunes again and again. We prefer to dig deep and find tunes no one ever really plays anymore – perhaps never did. In other words, we breathe new life into long forgotten obscure tunes from back in the 80s; tunes that never get the chance to mash up the dance anymore. So much great music is overlooked – but not by Firehouse!
# Please tell me about the most important cornermarks in the sounds history, like clashes, the baddest dances, etc.
We have had a long line of events that has changed us as a sound, made us stronger and more focused, but if we should pin down four events that really made a difference, these would be the ones:
1. The Mastermind Computer Style mixtape series. Three years ago we put out the first mixtape in a row of (soon to be) three. The Mastermind mixes consist of the best 80′s digital gems, and as the series has developed the tunes have increasingly become more and more obscure. The mixtapes have received worldwide recognition from the US and Europe to Japan. We still get feedback from people from various places around the world, who like the mixes. In Denmark a minor 80′s digital scene has developed among young teenagers, who have started collecting these tunes.
The third one is available from now at Firehouse.dk, or left click here.
2. DSCM 07. The Danish Sound Clash Championship in 2007 was a great success. Even though we didn’t win it, we still feel that we made a great perfomance that changed things for us. It was the first time we started playing serious dubs, and we hadn’t tried playing for 1300 people before. We consider first round of the clash one of our finest moments.
Check out the videos of this clash:
3. The notorious private parties of 2005-6. During a year we had four private parties at a flat in central Copenhagen. It doesn’t sound like much, but when we threw a party it seemed it was the only place to be in town. Hundreds of people came for each party and we had a line that went 20 meters down the street. We had the biggest sound system set up, thousands of cheap beers and joints. Everything was perfect. The only problem was the sheer amount of people wanting to be part of it. We tried keeping the last party a secret just to keep the amount of guests as low as possible, but alas, hundreds of people still came and the party continued till 8 in the morning. Those parties were the best we ever attended.
4. The Maffi label. Our newly launched internationally distributed reggae label, Maffi, is one of our proudest achievements. The label is run together with Jahtari from Leipzig and so far we’ve put out two singles. The last 7″ Solo Banton’s “Talk to Me” was # 1 on Ernie B’s best seller list. Jan Disrupt mixes the tunes (and does the math) while Maffi provides the riddims. 2009 is gonna be a really good year for the label as we have nuff bad tunes lined up for release.
# Which plans do you have for your sound in the near future and what are the real longtime plans for it?
Well, we’re going to Japan this December to clash an old local sound system. Of course, we plan on killing them. But in the meantime we have a minor tour in Germany this May, and lots of gigs in Denmark. We would like to play more around Europe. Clashing, of course, would be cool, and we plan on winning a Nordic sound clash whenever it’s going down.
Other than killing small drum pan sounds from Finland and Sweden, we plan to put out more mixtapes. We have two to three mixes planned that we’re focusing on.
As always, the main themes will be obscurity and quality – we’re not compromising on either!
Then we plan to put out more tunes and play gigs around the world. Playing in Raytown, Kingston is a distant, yet appealing, future goal.
Also, one day killing Mighty Crown would be nice. But then, making tunes with Super Cat and bringing Tenor Saw back from the grave would also be really cool, yet it doesn’t really seem realistic.
One day, we plan to leave our sound to a new and younger generation of selectors and operators. We’re currently training different prospects so they will be able to take over one day (hopefully it’ll take long).
# Which persons, sounds, artists have influenced you musicallywise?
Super Cat is a major influence. Other than him we’re inspired by sounds like Stereo Mars. Danny Dread for example was a bad operator back in the day. I don’t think we can really mention any current sounds that we really admire or have been inspired by. We mostly look back in time to get the inspiration we need. A sound like High Tension in Kingston has meant a lot to us, but they’re also really old school. King Addies, Black Scorpio and local Danish sound Sky Juice are also worth mentioning here.
# What was the first dubplate you ever voiced, and do you still play it?
Our first dubplate was made by a competing Danish sound, Rootsman Hi Fi, it was in Danish and we don’t really play it any more – even though we should. It’s actually a very good dub!
They actually voiced two for us – one on the Bellyas and one on the Stalag-riddim. Both have very funny and original lyrics and they were a great inspiration for us to start working on our own tunes. Rootsman eventually beat us in the Danish Soundclash Championship but next time we will definitely execute them. Unfortunately, we promised not to use their dub against them – which we now bitterly regret.
So everyone make sure to check out the new Mastermind Computer Style v 3.0 Mix and, of course, the old ones if you didn’t do that already.
Thanks for the nice Interview Firehouse, and big up the whole of you.