Yes Sultan, before we get started here, I’d like to big up the whole Herbalize it crew for the great performance delievered last saturday in vienna at the King of Europe clash. Now for those still not too familiar with Herbalize it, could you give the readers a quick breakdown of the sounds history, members etc.
Much thanks! The clash was crazy fun, also a big success for us regardless of the outcome. We definitely feel 100% satisfied with our performance. It was hard work but in the end it was worth it for sure.
Well Stef initially had the idea to start the sound and in 1998 we officially launched Herbalize-it in our home-town called Enschede. To this day Herbalize-it is known as the Dutch Champion hailing from En-ska-day. Then of course the process began of building. Building the name and dub-box were the main agenda because from early in the game we both had dreams of one day being rated as a top international soundsystem. In the early days we had a selecta called Hydro and another MC, Daddy Jim and this was the team. In 2005 Trinidadian born D-One (Jammasters) joined the crew and took over as main selecta and still is the main selecta of the sound. D-One and myself went on a rampage killin dances all over Europe and clashing more and more. Many people remember Riddim Clash 2008, and our wins over Love Injection,King Tubby’s and Young Hawk . The crew has since expanded with Fyah Monk who does our film and media work, selecta Carlito, Souljah an all around team player and Dave the young MC. It’s a family and solid team all about having fun, providing quality entertainment and leaving satisfied fans wherever we go. We keep pushing for higher and expanding what we do. War In East has grown to be a respectable international clash promoted by Herbalize-it and our newest venture has been a booking agency handling tours and gigs for artists like Ziggi Recado, Taranchyla, Poison Dart. Herbalize-it is a machine and we are just getting started.
Since you’re the mc for herbalize it, I wanna start off with this aspect. I’ve personally noticed that a growing number of european soundclash fans started to credit the MC for a sound’s clash reputation. Do you believe that the role of the MC has grown in Europe’s clash arena over the last years? And could this process be connected to the fact that sounds are becoming harder to distinguish on a musical level with the limitless availability of artists for dubplates?
I think the MC has always been credited for a sound’s clash reputation, not only in Europe but all over the world. Soundclash is a very personal thing between sounds but more personal between the MC’s clashing. For the simple reason that the MC is at the forefront, interacting with the public, making the speeches that would connect or flop. Think of sounds with two MC’s where one MC is better than the other. Automatically people make the distinction and associate the sound’s reputation with the better MC. Think of Squingy with Bass Odyssey. Now think of Spida with Sonic, Elmar with Sentinel and myself with Herbalize-it. When it’s about clash, people expect us. The European soundclash fan-base continues to grow and we are seeing much more younger fans popping up. The role of the MC would of course grow because the MC has to figure out how to captivate the old and new clash heads. How can we keep them interested and entertained while staying true to the culture? It’s more a sort of MC evolution actually. The limitless availability of artists makes it easier for any Sound with the available funds to get a dubplate. Artists are now spitting out standard dubplates only difference is the name of the sound but all the lyrics are basically the same. The MC’s role becomes more essential to make the distinction of one dubplate to another through the delivery of the dubplate. Still, being creative in dubplate cutting to set yourself apart from the mainstream standardized dubs is what really helps to set sounds apart. This with strong MC skills is priceless come clash time.
Attentive listeners realized that you featured a slew of new tunes (e.g. a bunch of Chronixx, new Busy Signal etc.) on Saturday. So speaking of Dubplates, when accepting a soundclash, how do you usually start your preparation, what is the process of dub cutting like?
Without giving away too many secrets let me try an answer this question. Basically we sit and first look at who our opponent is. What are their strengths and weaknesses? When we identify this then we look at what we have in house to use as ammunition and what we think we still need to cut. Its not necessarily about cutting tons of new tunes. We cut what we think we need and as I said before, due to the younger generation getting into soundclash its a must to cater to them. It’s about providing something for everyone and of course show-casing the depth and versatility of our dub-box.
The aforementioned “new tunes” seem to play a greater role in the soundclash arena again. Especially american sounds like Addies, Lp and others have recently started to feature new music as opposed to solely rely on their old catalogue of classics. Do you believe that this could be a sign of a improving connection between juggling and clash?
It’s a known fact that the clash scene is shrinking all over the world. Sounds are thinking about survival and since its not possible to survive through only clashing, it is imperative that a sound can also juggle. Doing dances gives sounds the opportunity to not only promote themselves but also win new fans. So we have a situation where the clash scene is dying and to add another dimension hardcore reggae/dancehall parties are also dying. Promoters are moving more and more into hybrid parties. Dances where reggae and dancehall aren’t the only genres are now very common all over the world. So sounds must stay up to date. Cutting new artists is a must. Connecting to the new fans and keeping your sound fresh and up-to-date s just as important as having the classics. Any good sound would tell you this.
When we reminisce about the so called golden era of soundclash, the 90’s and early millenium years, putting new tunes on other riddims seemed to work quite well. Do you think the change on the production side of the music industry (towards more pop-orientated, hip hop flavors, customized productions) makes it harder or at times impossible to cut new tunes on other riddims effectively?
No I don’t think it makes it harder or impossible. Actually I think this gives us more ideas to be even more creative. Hearing these productions opens up a whole new world for soundsystems. Its a sort of evolution again. Personally, not everything we rate or would ever use. Some of these productions are a bit over the top where you loose the essence of the culture while some are just wicked. As long as the riddim is hard and the artist experienced enough to get on a good ride, then the possibilities are limitless.
Last but not least, most readers will also remember you as the creator of europe’s topatop “War ina East” soundclash series. Obviously, soundclash has been struggling a bit here in europe for the last years. When you’re thinking of a potential line up for your clash, what are the most important traits you’re looking for in a sound? Additionally, do you think that the hestitation of some sounds to clash one another has hurt the scene over the years (e.g Sentinel vs Sonic)?
Anybody who knows us, knows that Herbalize-it is all about fun, professionalism and quality entertainment. So when we are thinking about a line-up for War-Ina-East whoever we choose must check all these boxes. People want to see a memorable clash and walk away feeling satisfied. The second part of the question is a bit more complicated. I don’t think that the hesitation of sounds to clash each other hurts the scene per-se but I think the people are ready to see certain sounds face each other. Here in Europe especially where we need to get interest and excitement alive again about clashing, I think in order to save the culture and please the people, sounds have to really contemplate their position and only decline clashing if they think that it would be detrimental to their sound. At the end of the day, none of us would walk into a burning building if we thought there was nothing in there worth saving right?
Alright Sultan, thanks for your time and once again congratulations on a very strong performance last saturday.