Reggae music, the online search comes up with a result of Jamaican culture of making music which strikes hearts through its part jazz part blues favour. The genre music was started in the late 1960’s as an off-shoot of American Blues and got evolved into its own rustic savoury over the years. Reggae for the uninitiated works with elements from rhythm and blues, jazz and a celebratory rural folk form called Mento. With offbeat themes and participative nature, Reggae is music for happier hearts and free minds. Within India, of course, Reggae is being explored further with wonderful bands and artists coming together to form music with newer elements and innovation. One such collective, Reggae Rajahs, have been the prime pole bearers of the movement.
Reggae Rajahs are India’s first reggae sound system. The crew of DJs and MCs are reggae entertainers and promoters based out of New Delhi. Formed in 2009, they have dedicated themselves to spreading the sounds of dub, reggae and dancehall music across India. Reggae Rajahs have opened for Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion in New Delhi and have also shared the stage with a number of established international artists such as Dub Inc. (France), Million Stylez (Sweden), Ziggi Recado (Holland), Tippa Irie, Apache Indian, Mr. Williamz, Brother Culture, Soom T, Deadly Hunta, Mungo’s HI Fi, Gaudi, Dub Phyzix (all UK), Supa Bassie & Sargento Garcia (Spain), Subatomic Sound, South Rakkas Crew (both USA) and Dreadsquad (Poland) amongst others.
We had the opportunity to catch up with them, in their super busy schedule, and talk to them about the music they make and it’s significance in the world we live in. The excerpts of it below..
Why reggae music? The first most obvious question. What made you pick this genre of music?
We are lovers of reggae music and Jamaican culture and felt the need to promote it in India. When we started there was no one really pushing this vibe in India.
When and why did you start this reggae movement in India? And for someone who remains unaware, how do you define reggae sound system, as opposed to other western musical genres or offshoots?
We began this Journey about 8 years ago in Delhi. We started this movement as we realised reggae culture was non-existent in India.
A reggae sound system is a custom built box of speakers (and a crew) that is dedicated to playing reggae music. The sound system is specially built to highlight the deepest of bass frequencies that exist in this genre of music.
Where do you see reggae in India in the future? And how do you think bands like yourself are propelling the genre forward?
We see it growing and reaching parts of India other than metro Cities. We keep promoting through various ways via radio shows, gigs, festivals and recording and writing our own music.
Which reggae artists worldwide do you draw your inspiration from? And what are the particular elements that you try to infuse in your works from them?
There are way too many reggae artists to mention on that list. We appreciate all sub-genres of reggae music whether it is ska, rock steady, dub, or dancehall, and incorporate different elements of each into our own style.
You guys started India’s first reggae festival “Goa Sunsplash” tell us about what inspired this and tell us about this festival.
We had the opportunity to perform at some of the biggest reggae festivals in the world and this inspired us to have our own festival in India. The last edition took place in January this year, we had over 1200 attendees from all parts of the world. The festival included 3 music areas, live bands, food stalls and a flea market.
As reggae ambassadors, how do you support the work of new and upcoming reggae artists and Selektas from India?
We encourage them to do shows with us or perform at our curated events and festivals. We need more selektas, deejays, MCs, singers and players of instruments in this genre. That is the only way we can move onwards and upwards in this reggae movement.
We came across a new music video from your side – Dancing Mood, tell us about it! And what are some of the future projects from the Rajahs, that we need to be excited about? Any collaborations and such coming along the way?
Dancing Mood was shot last year in Goa. We really wanted to capture the vibrant nature of the parties there and wanted to include some of our friends in the video as well. It was just us having fun!
In terms of future projects, we are bringing down legendary UK MC, Tippa Irie this May for a 3 city tour. We are releasing a music video for our song “Roll With Me” in the next few months and we are looking to collaborate with other Indian reggae acts such as Riddim Funktion, Kavin and Dew Drops.
So that were the Rajahs speaking to us all about this very new and very happy artform. Don’t forget to subscribe to their YouTube channel and visit their official website for more. Till the next time then, Keep it Moving..!!