DJ Grassroots is a long time player in the Auckland reggae scene. Some of his early reggae influences began in the early 90s as a teenager, when he would spend Sunday evenings at ‘Dub Sundays’, with New Zealand reggae stalwarts, Dubhead, Big Matt, Yardboy and Tuffy Culture in session.
He was also influenced by the original Twelve Tribes of Israel base in Grey Lynn where weekend reggae parties were held. This musical foundation has had a lasting effect, as Grassroots still favors roots and foundation music, early digital and cultural dancehall sound.
Grassroots went on to spend a few years living in the UK collecting vinyl, attending sound system parties and MCing. Eventually tiring of buying records, he decided to get serious about making music.
On his return to Aotearoa, he used his technical knowledge as a Video Technician to research and construct an elaborate midi studio and started working on his own material, basing his productions around the MPC 4000 midi sampler sequencer.
Released in 2011, DJ Grassroots’ debut album This Time is a collaborative effort, featuring a number of musicians, and top local reggae producers Dub Terminator and Iron Will, alongside LA Bassman and Producer Extraordinaire Steve ‘E’ Ross.
‘This Time’ covers a range of genres and styles, showcasing Grassroots’ versatility as an MC, with the single ‘Seem’s Like’ being a benchmark cut for both himself and the evolution of New Zealand dancehall.
Grassroots also runs the Back-A-Yard Sound System. The sound came about in 2006, through organising large summer backyard parties for the community in Ponsonby with Mr Major.
As time went on the system got heavier and Grassroots began running the sound for several dancehall nights in Auckland, including the crucial One Foundation nights. The Back-A-Yard Sound System is currently sitting at around 12K and has no plans for further expansion (citing a lack of venues in Auckland where a large sound can play and the lack of a truck to move a bigger rig around).
Always keen to collaborate, Grassroots is a key figure in the promotion of dancehall and sound system culture and has a vision of a NZ sound system event that draws in the wider community – bring it on!
DJ Grassroots website
Big up to DJ Grassroots for his Top Ten tunes for October 2011.
1. Toots and the Maytals – Rastaman
2. The Maytones – Gold On Your Dress
3. Marcia Griffiths – Dreamland
4. Junior Reid – No Darkness Tonight
5. Ras Stone – Love You So Much
6. Soom T – Puff the Weed
7. The In Crowd – Back A Yard
8. Tarrus Riley – Living The Life Of A Gun
9. Freddie McKay – Creation Rebel
10. Riddim Tuffa feat. El Fata – Tell Them Again