G-Force & De Oxman
G-Force & De Oxman

And you went on to produce and establish you own record labels, Wiz Kidz and Dill-Ox International.

The first tune I co-produced was a jungle tune around 1995, it was me and a friend of mine called Mark AKA G-Force. It came about when I was a presenter on a jungle station called Don FM. I was the only reggae presenter on that station. I was surrounded by people playing jungle and I soaked that up.

After we made that one tune I had just started at Dub Vendor, then met Cliff AKA Junior Dubbs. Now even though there was a bit of an age gap between us we just connected man, same level. All day everyday we used to play out together as Wiz Kidz, as well as running our label. We just gelled, good man.

Dubbs used to be the house engineer at A Class Studios, which was responsible for Fashion Records, Fine Style, and Gussie P.  We had no money but we were full of ideas. We had a special deal with studio owner, John Dub Vendor, and so we were able to practise or put our ideas in practise.

We didn’t have musicians at our disposal, neither of us played an instrument professionally. We used a Soundcraft board, and a Yamaha keyboard, which I would knock out a bassline on. If I remember right, I think we had an Atari drum pad which Dubbs would programme the drum pattern on. I’d get the artists in, we would have to pay them as little as possible, not out of choice but we just didn’t have the reddys (money). Then we would get the records out.

When I listen to some of these early releases we put out on Wiz Kidz, I can hear the idea and potential is there, but the quality is very primitive. I laugh sometimes when I listen to them now, but we did alright strangely enough. ‘Praise Him’ by Al Campbell is a sought after tune.

I remember we built a riddim in the UK style, the sort of tunes I call ‘head bangers’, not usually what me and Cliff preferred. We put Sandeeno and Paul Elliott on a riddim in that UK style and we noticed the public preferred the Sandeeno version, as the tone of his voice seemed to suit that UK sound.

Dill-Ox - Civil War - Rasheeda
Dill-Ox – Civil War – Rasheeda

Also, I borrowed a riddim from Nick Manasseh, a dubplate of his, I think he titled it ‘Clash’. I used to love that tune and always requested Nick to bring and play it when we were out. When Nick informed me that he hadn’t voiced any artist on it, I simply asked him for it. I thought it was too good a riddim to just go by and people not hear it. Anyway, I voiced Sister Rasheda and Alpha Rolex Rowen on it, and Rasheda’s version ran away.

Eventually Dubbs took a break, at that time he had a lot of commitments and a lot on his plate in his personal life. I decided I wanted to continue, I had the bug, haha. So then I started the Dill-Ox label, named after the sound system I previously owned.

So where did your production go to from there?

So now, for some of the riddims that me and Dubbs built, I got session musicians in to do some overdubs to make them sound warmer and thicker. We had them on a 2-inch reel. The tapes were getting old and some of them needed baking, which is a term we use in the recording world. You see with tapes, they start to stick together and this brown solution comes off the tape and goes onto the play head, which is not good. So in order to get it usable again, they need to be heated up and dried to a certain temperature. But not too hot, otherwise the tape will simply just crumble.

I remember one particular incident at Mafia and Fluxy’s studio, my tape wouldn’t spin because it needed baking. But Mafia managed to spin the tape by hand in time, while Fluxy did the drum overdubs for me. It was madness, absolute madness, but so creative and resourceful at the same time.

I loved producing, I was full of ideas, and I still think of plenty now. As much as I love producing I think I started it too late, with the slump in record sales, the funds required to go to Jamaica, airplane ticket, artists fee, studio time. Some things you can do for the love of it and some things you can’t. I never wanted to be a millionaire overnight but at least its gotta pay for itself.

Jamaica 37th Independence Dance flyer
Jamaica 37th Independence Dance flyer

The type of tune I was producing, I would call borderline. It has got a lovers feel to it but it’s rootsy. When I build a riddim I like to make it so the artist can make it work as both a culture tune or a lovers tune, I like it on the border. The problem was, the customers who used to buy those tunes stopped buying records. So now we’re left with just the punters who buy either hard roots, or revive, like old Studio One.

For me the UK hard roots is ok, I can take it in doses, but its not musical enough for me. People may hear this and feel insulted but that’s just my opinion and preference. I like tunes to have a structure cause I’m born in that time, I’ve grown with that in the 70s and 80s. I don’t wanna make music just for a quick buck. If I make music now, I wanna make something that in 20 years time you’ll say ‘you know what, it actually sounds better know then it did then’.

It’s like what is happening to me with some of the music my brother, uncles, and aunties played. It was made well, but hearing it as a youth, I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, as you had the youth music of that time, for example, Big Youth and Jazzbo.