This summer, local reggae fans were treated to a unique reggae experience. Crucial B of Crucial Vibes Sound System and Julian Livity of I-Livity I-Fi-Roots and Culture Sound System, two veteran German reggae selectors, spent about three and a half weeks here.

Primarily in the country to perform at  the ‘Off The Radar’ (OTR) festival (Wellesford, Auckland, 31 Jan – 2 Feb), the pair also spent time travelling and performing a few extra gigs. Now back in Hamburg, I caught up with these selectors to reflect on their visit and to find out more about what brought them to this end of the world.

Firstly, let’s find out how the journey began. Julian Livity describes how friends of his in Germany initiated the connection, “The guys from ‘Hafenklang’, the venue in Hamburg where we play regularly, know somebody who owns land in New Zealand and they decided to build up a festival together. The Hafenklang people already have experience with festivals since they are also involved in the famous FUSION festival in eastern Germany”. As the technician for I-Livity I-Fi, Crucial B was invited to join Julian for the trip.

Julian was requested by the organisers to bring his own sound system down under, “They asked me if I would provide the system for the festival for the dance floor. They got another one for the stage. The line-up for the dance floor was organised by the End Of The Line crew, some technoheads from New Zealand. So, unfortunately the OTR is not a reggae festival. But it was a good opportunity to travel that far with the system”.

Why? Julian admits, “probably because I’m kind of mad” and points out that “OTR is a non-commercial D.I.Y. based festival. They didn´t want a regular rent-a-sound system and it was even cheaper for them to take my sound, put it in a container together with another sound system and lots of stuff like generators, decorations etc and pay me the flight to NZ, than to rent a system in NZ”. So, the pair packed their sound and a few other essentials into a shipping container and set sail for Aotearoa.

Crucial B says he “played 3 gigs and 2 radio shows” while in NZ and adds that “Wellington was definitely nice – I like the vibes there!”. He played at Laundry on Cuba St with local support and treated the enthusiastic crowd to many reggae and dancehall classics, along with a great variety of exclusive tunes and specials. This included quite a few German voicings and originals.

He says of the OTR festival, It was nice to play outside in the heat, open air dances are the best!” While in the country, he distributed some exclusive 7″ singles to a few lucky selectors; including some very tasty Studio 1 remakes from his local Love Tank label.

Julian says he “only played at the OTR but would have loved to travel with the sound in New Zealand and play some more dances of course”. He enjoyed “meeting the bredren from Lion Rockers Hi-Fi and staying a couple of days at Lion Rockers HQ in Piha, and meeting you guys, the Wellington crew, of course!”

Looking back, Crucial B thinks that “people are definitely more friendly than in Germany, Hamburg is very rude sometimes”. He says we have some “strange slang, but after a week I got used to it”, and says some of his best memories from the trip to New Zealand were “Bundaberg ginger beer and meeting some good people”.

Both are already planning their future moves. Each has their own sound and both are busy on individual projects. Crucial B says it is “business as usual” and that he has “some little dances and radio shows in Hamburg, and other towns in Germany.” He’ll be “working  [on his] own sound system” and “going to work at the Reggajam Festival in Bersenbrück Germany, the best Reggae festival in Germany”. Julian also intends to “play more dances and show the people what it means to experience deep roots music played on a heavyweight sound system”.

Currently, it looks like the pair will return for the 2015 edition of the Off The Radar festival, and both are keen to play more gigs next time around. Crucial B says that they met “a lot of people and will have some more possibilities to play”, so their next visit should see them perform at a few more gigs.

It was a rare treat to have these selectors bring their irie vibes down our way and we are looking forward to their next visit. Follow the links below to check out these guys online and keep your ears peeled for details about their next trip.

More info:


Winston Spliff