New Zealand has another addition to the growing sound-system scene with Ghetto Vibes International.

NiceUp talks to crew founder, DJ Maniac, about his musical beginnings in Zimbabwe, how he built his own sound-system and the music his crew are spreading around Auckland city.

Can you give us a bit of history about yourself and your crew?  How did you form and how did you get your system?

Zimbabwe is one of the countries where reggae music is just as big as it is in Jamaica. My interest in the music started way back. I remember the days when I used to record reggae music from the radio onto an audio cassette and play it at the back of our house, having what we used to call backyard bashments.

I built a small sound-system in 1985 and I called it ‘Bronx International’. Like everything else, I started small. I was taken for granted by the well-established reggae selectors, like ‘Stereo One’, ‘Silverstone’, ‘Star Time’ and ‘Roughneck’. My sound grew big as time passed.

When I came to this country in 2004, I was impressed by the reggae band Katchafire. I suddenly got back to the mood of the reggae ting! Somethings never change. I decided yet again to build a sound-system and I decided to call it ‘Ghetto Vibes’. I thought the name has some substance in this part of the world.

I didn’t bring anything with me from my previous system, I left everything with my old crew back in Zimbabwe. I started to buy most of the tunes I used to play back home and word went out. I caught up with Shingi, selector Jigga-boo.  I select under the name of DJ Maniac and we now run Ghetto Vibes together.

What kind of styles do you play and show-case?

We play mostly conscious reggae although the massive here are more oriented to the dancehall part of it. Usually a sound is considered big by how much conscious music it plays.  The relics contain positive messages concerning ways of life and all. What we are doing now is to flow with the current while at the same time introducing  the conscious riddims.

I play 95% of my music on vinyl, I’m used to them and I do not intend to change. It feels so good holding the vinyl in your hands, placing it on the turntable and playing it. Nothing beats that in any dancehall!

Tell us more about the sound system.

The sound-system is custom built. I am a tradesman by profession and I love making things. I built six bass-bins, two of which are ‘W’ bins and four are folded horns. Each bass-bin has an 18″ 1000 watts RMS speaker. I also made four mid-range speaker boxes with two 12″ speakers in each box. The sound is massive!

I also have two Technics turntables, a four-way mixer, two CD-players, three power amps and a good crossover. And we have ‘Vitual DJ’.

You’ve been playing some gigs in Auckland. What have you got coming up?

We have done a few shows. Our first show was in Auckland city at Coherent Bar. Those who came to check us out for the first time were surprised by what they heard. Like I said before, we have come far. We know what we are doing when we do our ting! All in all we have done about seven shows.

We do have a lot of problems in advertising these gigs. Back home we used to get posters done, it was our duty to place them where ever we thought was appropriate. Here you let some company do it for you and most of the time they do not place them on time and they do not cover all the good areas. Sometimes you don’t even know if they have put up the number of posters you have payed for. This is a hurdle.

We are having a gig at the Rising Sun on 29 November, 9pm till late. Hope to see you there!

How do you think the NZ scene is progressing?

The progress is going to be slow. Not a lot of people seem to be in this line of business. If we can manage to get the word out there I think the future will be promising. I believe ‘easy come easy go’ so the harder it is, the more we are going to have a secure and solid base.

Any other words for the NZ massive?

To all massive out there, Ghetto Vibes is here to stay and we promise you reggae music is going to be very, very big in this country. Support us and we guarantee you only the best in reggae and dancehall!

Venus Hi Fi