Side A: Roots Woman by Jay “Double Tiger” Spaker
Side B: Work by Ranking Joe
Dub & Loving by Hypa
Exec Produced: Lo Bentback
Artwork: Maël Boutin
Bent Back Records are there pon the case again with another wicked maxi single, with the vibes of mid-80s New York coming on their fresh and on-point label.
The third release in just over 18 months combining the old style with the new, is accentuated once again on this release. This time we see the talented young American singer, Jay “Double Tiger” Spaker on his first vinyl single release, alongside well-known veteran Jamaican deejay, Ranking Joe.
Naturally wanting to know more about this release I (RedRobin) inquired with the bossman, the ranking 80s selectah known as Lo Bentback. We spoke about his niche label, contemporary reggae runnings in New York, and how it all came about.
Lo: I don’t really remember how I got into collecting records. My Dad had a lot of punk-rock LPs. He was kind of a DJ, organising parties in the 70s, so I had always been surrounded by a certain form of quality music. So I was buying records and as soon as I got my first pay-check I brought my own turntable, so I could listen to them in my room. I was around 15 I think.
I can see from your selection you have a penchant for the 80s vibes. Why the passion for 80s reggae?
Lo: I really love and collect all sorts of reggae and also lots of different genres, but when it comes to a dance, the 80s vibes has (I think) this power of making people groove in a very special way.
With the Legal Shot Sound System, Digital Terrorist Selector Induhman, and the Bout 40 Festival, Rennes is such a hub of reggae. What were the vibes like in those years living there?
Lo: You can also name Foulek Sound (Posea), Earth Tone, I-Skankers (who are one of the most active crews in the city for the past 7-8 years), and Stand High Patrol (Brest City), who were also around for a few years.
It was amazing to grow in this city. You had every month a variety of dances where you could listen to dancehall, steppers, digital, roots etc. Every crew had their own vibes and in the mean time were also very united. It’s a relatively small city so we have a really nice reggae community in Rennes. Lots of labels, radio shows, sound systems, parties, and everybody knows each other!
Were there any specific influential people you found your style from?
Lo: I would say that the Legal Shot family did a lot to drive me in their world. Matty and Induhman had a restaurant/record shop in Rennes, and I spent hours hanging out there. They made me listen so many digital records that I became obsessed with this style.
How does one discover this kind of specific reggae?
Lo: I think the first song that hit me was Gregory Isaacs – Rumors. I didn’t know yet it was “digital” but I totally felt in love with the kind of vibe. I discovered later on that was also a complete specific genre inside reggae.
NYC being a huge player in 80s reggae, what drove you there?
Lo: My ‘real’ job. I graduated in France and luckily managed to be hired in NYC!
Why did you decide to release music?
Lo: It was kind of the natural evolution after collecting records and playing them in parties. I wanted to bring my own contribution to the movement.
What was the goal with the releases?
Lo: I’d say the spirit was about recreating the 80s vibes but also giving a pinch of modernity.
Nuff respect for the works thus far. Is there a story about the first and second 12″?
Lo: The whole process is a story. Starting from choosing the riddim, which is not a random process in my case, to hanging along these artists. They all became good friends, Devon Clarke stops by my apartment sometimes just for reasoning and drinking a coffee, Don Angelo came the other day with his wife and grandkids. It’s always an opportunity to have lots of memories and have a good whole story!
And who is Double Tiger?
Lo: He started music when he was 14, and quickly began to play guitar and sing in different bands. Currently, he is the guitarist of a US reggae band called John Brown’s Body. He is also behind all the productions of Tour De Force who are also from Brooklyn, hence the strong connexion. He is a very good musician!
What was it like working with Ranking Joe?
Lo: It was a great experience, he is such a professional and in the same time easy to deal with. I’ve learnt a lot from him.
Can you tell us about D&H?
Lo: They are From Rennes too. They were the drummer (Daddy) and the percussionist (Hypa) of D.Roots Band. Matty Dread from Legal Shot was at the keyboard, backing Jamaican artists like Sister Nancy, Sister Carol, Shinehead etc. In the meantime they had a radio show, and they started to make their own remixes. They got pretty famous for mixing Jamaican music with US hip hop influences. Now they are more into mixing tunes for different producers in all kind of styles!
The connection was also natural, we are from the same city and after all these years we understand each other very well. And they are f***ing good!
(Note: D&H were also responsible for the first pair of releases on Bent Backs Records)
How is the seemingly growing renaissance in sound system in America going? Are you involved or who are the players?
Lo: It’s growing. More and more sound system are being built everywhere in the States, and their interest of the UK scene is getting bigger. It’s going in a really positive way, but there is still a lot to do, which also, is very interesting!
I work with Dub-Stuy, a label from Brooklyn lead by Q-Mastah. He built his sound system and we organise 2 or 3 times a year a party called Echo Chamber, where UK artists can represent their art and introduce sound system culture in NYC.
What contemporary music are you listening to?
Lo: I like a lot of different genres of music but they are usually old – salsa in the 70s, soul in the 60s, reggae in the 80s etc. The almost-only contemporary music that I listen to is rap, both French and US.
Maximum respect. Finally bro any last words about these releases?
Lo: It was a pleasure to work with such talented people, so my last words are just a large up to them – Jay, Joe, D&H (Riddim and Mix), Mael (Cover), Nono (Master), Francois (Pressing). And big up to all people who support independent labels and buy vinyl. Respect.
Fittingly there is also a NiceUp mix from Bent Backs
And a killer favourite mix of mine from earlier in the year to pick up the 80s vibes
Bent Backs Records Facebook