Interview with Wolde Egziabher (June 2017)
As time passes by, we have one month left before the great dance. The leader of Wolde Egziabher soundsystem, Pavel Ras Wolde, gave us a little interview.
Tell us a story of your soundsystem
All this begun somewhat about twelve years ago, when I’ve joined local selector Pijus, who is in Kala soundsystem now. I did an MC thing and was responsible for the mic on a dance. It was a time when the movement emerged, and we did the things just like we were able to. A time to remember, because we did something never done here before. After three years our roads separated, and I tried to do a selector’s job and after a while had an idea to build a soundsystem too, because we’ve never had own speakers before. My selection became more and more about roots and dub. It was something different for us and the people, who were standing on a dancefloor and spectating us or just leaving away. As life went on, people heard the music and now things are going better. For about four years I was collecting records and equipment. At those times we had a band called Wolde Egziabher. In summer of 2013 was the last performance of the band, just when the soundsystem was born. Since then we play in Lithuania, have played in Riga and looking forward for a dance in Tallinn.
Could reggae music exist without soundsystems? What do you think?
Reggae without soundsystem is like a fish without water. I think that artists, producers and soundsystems depend on each other. Soundsystem is a radio for reggae music. Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs – all of them got to the charts because of sounds playing their music. It seems that without soundsystems reggae would have already been a thing of the past, but it’s still alive and popular. Musicians and producers inspired by soundsystems create new genres that come and go, but reggae stays. I think that reggae is the most influential music of the last 40 years.
What is the future of soundsystem?
Right now soundsystems are popular like never before. Each continent has soundsystems on it. The culture is very varied indeed, each sound follows its own way. We will protect roots and dub and hope that new soundsystems will emerge to celebrate originality and follow the style. We believe in soundsystem and that the energy and a message of ours make a positive impact on a society. We try to teach the youth that education is a key for the future, that fait can move mountains, that each one has a talent and our duty is to work for the good of the country and all humankind. We believe that when people hear the message no one stays indifferent.
Tell us about soundsystems, selectors and musicians that inspire you
Inspiration comes from the Almighty Creator. If to speak about musicians, it’s surely Dennis Brown, Culture, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Count Ossie and all great musicians, founders of reggae. The list is too long to mention all of them: Bim Sherman, Ijahman Levi, Vivian Jones, Dennis Bowell, Twinkle Brothers, Dub Judah, Johnny Clarke, The Congos, Ras Michael, Idren Natural, Dread & Fred, Noel Zebulon, Mad Professor, Freddy McGregor. Amongst soundsystems these are legendary Jah Shaka, Coxsone, Roots Injection, Jah Youth, Entebbe and all big and small sounds. Each one brings his own thing and gives inspiration.
We’ve heard that you make a production too. Tell us about it
I try to make music as long as remember myself. First recordings I made were on two tape recorders, I was seven or so. Unfortunately I haven’t got any musical education, because of doing a judo. There was not much time left for the music. When I left the sport because of trauma I started a self-education in music. For some time I was a part of the Wolde Egziabher band, and now I’m working on my own production. One song under the name of “Right Way” was released on One In The Spirit Records in England in 2016. We also plan to start a Wolde Egziabher label. At the moment I work with Ignas, a man of our soundsystem, on a project in Lithuanian and English. I can’t tell all the details now, but we hope to do a first release next year. Of course, there are some other projects running which I want to finish soon and hope that at least part of them will be released. Usually I play all instruments by myself, but different musicians often visit our studio as well. So that we try to create a sound that combines live and digital. Hope that we can reanimate our band in the nearer future too.
What selection could we prepare for on an upcoming dance?
It’s the most difficult question. Each dance is unique with something, especially when we play somewhere not in Vilnius. Anyway, I promise a tuff selection from the old days to the latest releases. Dennis Brown, Bim Sherman, Johnny Clarke, Tenastelin, Idren Natural, Dread & Fred, Twinkle Brothers, Vivian Jones, Cultural Roots, Ijahman Levi and some fat dubplates!