The Groove Thief traveled to Bordeaux, France, to represent NiceUp at the 2015 Reggae Sun Ska Festival.

The following interview comes from backstage during two days of the festival, with Fogata Sounds – Krak in Dub (DJ) & Troy Berkley (MC).


TGT: Hey Troy… This is The Groove Thief, with NiceUp outta New Zealand – I’m wondering, at this festival, you’re not playing with Krak In Dub?

TB: Yeah, tomorrow!

TGT: You will?

TB: Yeah! Definitely man. Could you imagine Krak In Dub being here and me not singing?

TGT: Well that’s what I thought! But I talked with him a couple of weeks ago on Facebook and he wasn’t sure how it was gonna work out…

TB: Yeah, I think I’m gonna be with Krak In Dub, O.B.F, and L’Entourloop.

TGT: So you’re gonna have a busy festival, huh?

TB: Yeah, a big meal. I like it like that.

TGT: Awesome.

TB: Yeah, for real.

TGT: And, how’d your collaboration [“Lobster Shwarama”] with L’Entourloop come together? Cause I mean, their whole album is such a nice mix of reggae and hiphop, and then you’re kinda the launching point for that.

TB: Well, we we were playing with them a couple of years ago, with Krak In Dub, and they liked the vibe, we liked their vibe – it just happened.

TGT: Yeah, ok, ok. So you went to their studio and put that together?

TB: Nah, I did that in Brittany. They just sent me the riddim and I hooked it up in Brittany, as I’m living over there. In the studio eating crepes, you know what I mean? [Laughs]

TGT: Ah, yeah yeah yeah. And what are you and Krak In Dub working on next then?

TB: Well, I got an album that’s finished, and maybe in October it will be ready to be released.

TGT: OK, so that’s gonna be the Troy Berkley debut album, yeah?

TB: Yeah – it’s funny to hear it like that, but uh… yeah! Debut – I don’t know, because I’ve been around for a long time, with a lot of different names.

TGT: But at least under your own name… right?

TB: Yeah, you know what I mean.

TGT: What’s the general style and vibe gonna be?

TB: It’s, how do you say it… it’s very Fogata. So, the whole album’s Fogata. So it’s fat riddims.

TGT: Yeah, with that sort of electro-ness. But obviously not fully electro, right?

TB: Yeah, that rub-a-dub-step.

TGT: Ok, ok.

Troy Berkley with L'Entourloop.
Troy Berkley with L’Entourloop.

TB: That rub-a-dub-step is exactly how he calls it. Yeah, that’s cool… outta New Zealand – big up New Zealand, man, that’s amazing man.

TGT: Haha, yeah, well, the rest of my crew are French, so I decided to mix a holiday with a little work you know.

TB: For sure, profit, that’s what they say.

TGT: [Laughs] Exactly. So you were just on with Legal Shot…

TB: Yeah, because they’re friends, I’ve known them for a while. So it was a pleasure to sing with Shinehead.

TGT: Of course, of course! He’s a legend, so…

TB: Yeah, I remember being a kid, and Shinehead showing up in Bermuda, where I’m from, and it was just like… oh, fuck! And now I’ve been sharing the stage with him, so that’s like, that’s cool. Real cool.

TGT: Do you get back to Bermuda often?

TB: I haven’t been home in a while, but… alright man, it’s been cool.

TGT: For sure, I’ll definitely see you tomorrow, thanks.


[discussing performing]

TB: I like when you’re in a situation, no one has a clue who you are or what you’re doing, and then you put them in the pocket on the slow route – you take that slow route and it’s just like at the end – phftw! Yeah, I love that.

Fogata Sounds - Krak in Dub & Troy Berkley
Fogata Sounds – Krak in Dub & Troy Berkley

TGT: If you really like what you’re doing, then you’re happy to do that. That’s the challenge as an artist right? Do you just wanna do your show, or have to sell a crowd, right?

TB: Yeah, for sure man. I mean, I’ve been doing so much – so many different recipes you know what I mean – I remember being like a sneaky MC, in techno parties, where they hate MCs, and they’re sneaking me behind boxes and shit, so they don’t know you’re there. You have to come in like a sample, as an MC, you can’t be the front, but in the background.

TGT: Yeah it has to sound like you’re on the track…

TB: Exactly, so I love that shit – at the end of the night they’re like ‘holy shit, it’s that guy singin’ – it’s like, ‘yeah, it’s cool.’ So you gain, you gain people that you never would’ve had if you went the normal route, you know?

TGT: And I think that’s what’s fun right, trying to give people something that is a step away from the familiar, so it’s not alien but it’s not what they expected either, right?

TB: Exactly, exactly. And I’ve been doing that for years man, I’ve been doing it because it was natural to me… so, in 94 and 95, there was no one really fucking singing, no one really toasting, or rapping, on house beats, or electronic beats. No one was really fucking with that.

So when I got into France I was like ‘oh shit, OK, I’ll put my flag here!’ Cause, with a bunch of friends that I’d made – they were in hiphop, so like, I realized when I got to France, the crowds were very young. So I felt kinda too old for this crowd, the hiphop crowd. So it was like, OK, I’m gonna turn to the free parties. The jungle, the techno, the hard house, the this-that-and-the-other. But I’m coming from hiphop and ragga and dancehall, so that’s what I was bringing to electronic – fifteen years ago, you know what I mean, when no one was doing that. Plus everyone was kinda like shocked, like ‘what the fuck – but it’s wicked though’ [laughs].

TGT: If you’re able to work in different scenes… that’s good as far as giving the crowd something more interesting. Not just hiphop only.

TB: I mean, I couldn’t even fathom it really, but now with Fede [Krak In Dub], we got this album, this Fogata album, and it’s completely reggae, you know it’s one direction, and I’m doing hiphop, I’m singing, I’m doing a whole bunch of different shit. So it’s kind of funny that – it’s me, it’s just one side of self. It’s just one side of self basically.

TGT: So yeah, you were saying yesterday that the album is pretty much done-done, yeah?

TB: Yeah, I’d say it’s pretty much finished, yeah. We’re pretty happy. We just need to record a video or two, and then try to deal it. Hopefully we can get someone…

TGT: So it’s in the post-production stage at this point.

TB: Yeah pretty much.

TGT: Cool man, that’s awesome.

TB: Yeah, big time! I’m psyched, I’m pumped, the album’s fucking… it’s so fat man, I can’t wait for it to come out! It’ll be cool. It’s gonna be cool.

Troy Berkley with O.B.F Sound System
Troy Berkley with O.B.F Sound System

TGT: So then as far as touring – you’re ready to tour once the album drops?

TB: Sure. I think Fede, there’s something he’s putting together in order now, as we speak, as we’re pretty much finished…

TGT: Well, I’ve been begging him to come to Japan so then we can get him to come to Hong Kong, so hopefully that’ll be able to come together.

TB: For sure man, hopefully.

TGT: But if you come with L’Entourloop, you know, I’m not complaining!

[All laugh]

TB: I would love it man!

KID: Yeah, those youth – they want to eat the world. Like [eating noises].

TB: [Laughs]

TGT: I feel like they really are doing something fresh, it’s hiphop and reggae but not in a cliché/dated way…

KID: It’s a real turntable show, you know, it’s a turntablist thing. So – it’s a good show.

TGT: I feel like their sampling is very nice as well, they bring a lot of interesting elements, so there’s sort of a sound collage aesthetic to it… it’s nice to hear an LP that actually sounds new – even though, like, alright there’s an old sample, but…

TB: … it sounds fresh.

TGT: Obviously that’s what you guys are doing as well, bringing the electro sound into reggae, to create what you call rub-a-dub-step. But that’s really creating something new, bringing several influences in.

KID: We don’t try to copy, it must be new.

TB: Yeah, for real.

TGT: So when did you first get the inspiration for rub-a-dub-step? Because you [KID] have a history in jungle as well…

KID: We had a tune, Lone Ranger and Guive, a French singer…

TGT: Yeah, who was here yesterday with Dubmatix.

KID: Yeah yeah. And Hug Ho, the other half of Fogata, had a tune with him, so we were like ‘let’s remix it’ and we did a brand-new riddim for it. The tune is named “New Start” it was like, let’s do a new thing, a new sound, so we did it.

TGT: What was that process like, of doing the remix. Was it like a simple thing, you sat down and put some new sounds in, like ‘damn that’s good,’ or was it a longer process?

KID: It wasn’t really a remix, as the original riddim was made by Hugo, so it was already a family riddim, so we only twisted it.

TGT: So it really was a half-step from what you were doing already, but obviously into something new?

KID: Right.

TGT: So how do you balance your jungle side with your rub-a-dub-step side? Since if you look at Youtube you’re a jungle hero, you’ve got a million fucking plays on Youtube… [TB laughs]… and then the style that Fogata Sounds is pushing is not jungle most of the time.

KID: At all, at all. It’s not jungle.

TB: It’s rub-a-dub-step.

TGT: So as an artist, how do you find that balance? Do you have two sides, or…

KID: If you give me enough time to play, I’ll play a progressive set. I will go from rub-a-dub-step to jungle, even sometimes hard things.

TGT: But as a producer, where’s your heart leaning?

KID: My heart stands in changing [laughs], every time. If you program too much jungle, you get bored – if you only program one type of music, it’s like boring.

TGT: So maybe in five years rub-a-dub-step will be dead?

TB: I doubt it. Partially because it’s so reggae, that I think it’s only gonna grow.

KID: We’re not trying to push a new name, it’s like, let’s call it that way: rub-a-dub-step. But the thing is, we’re just pushing music, lyrics, vibes, and that’s it. No new names [laughs].

TGT: You always seem to have a fresh take as far as the music, with great choices of vocalists. It never seems to me that you’re just pushing things out, it seems to me you’re always waiting and finding the right match, and then you go.

KID: No, we’re lucky [both laugh] we get the right things straight. Few times, some riddims, they just wait a long time before getting released – a year, year-and-a-half – sometimes, after the vocal session is recorded, sometimes the time just passes.

TGT: But are you playing those tunes in your sets?

KID: All along, yeah. Some mastered, some just mixed yesterday at the studio, every kind of tune is played.

TGT: Just by random chance I was just on tour with Lady Chann in China for a few days, and you remixed one of her tunes.

KID: Yeah, for Dreadsquad.

TGT: But I was talking with her, she didn’t even know that you’d remixed it.

KID: That’s the world of remix, that’s how it goes.

TGT: So was that an official remix then?

KID: Yeah, for Dreadsquad. As he was the producer…

TB: Ah, Dreadsquad produced the original for Lady Chann? Wicked, I didn’t know that.

TGT: Yeah, kinda funny… well, thanks so much guys!

More info:

Fogata Sounds website
Krak in Dub Facebook
Troy Berkley Facebook

The Groove Thief
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