Billed as a double A-side, Iron Gate Sound’s Cornerstone EP is a global project of heavyweight proportions. The riddim, lush yet deep, finds meaningful vocal traction with both Fikir Amlak and Rider Shafique: Australia to America and the UK, by way of the Caribbean.

The title track features Fikir Amlak delivering a conscious message, a Rastafarian ode to empowerment. The chanted chorus ‘I am the Cornerstone’ becomes hypnotic, vibes properly voiced.  On “One Life,” Rider Shafique mines his internal uncertainty to reflect upon the broader perspective. The wisdom is present and potent: ‘we live and learn, let us grow; embrace life stages, meet your potential; await the greatness.’

Each track intrigues with tonal interplay between the instrumental and the featured artist, while the riddim itself wraps up the release. As global dance culture continues to reemerge, this is a logical cornerstone for the next late-night session near you.

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TGT: The riddim here strikes a nice balance between dark and light, creating a nice sense of sonic tension. How do you feel this production connects with last year’s Different Hours EP, especially the closing “Truth A Truth,” as well as where Iron Gate Records is headed with upcoming releases?

Iron Gate Sound: Between the three of us (Kid Fiction, Gilsun, Flip), our musical tastes are diverse. When we come together we converge around a unique sound that defies a single genre.

You could definitely draw a connection between this release and “Truth A Truth” on the last EP. Although “Truth A Truth” was mainly produced by Gilsun and Cornerstone by Kid Fiction, we have all grown up around a very broad spectrum of music and the deeper, more experimental sounds in electronic music have always been a big inspiration for both Gilsun and Kid Fiction.

Like “Truth A Truth,” Cornerstone is a conscious and introspective release with deep and meaningful lyrics from two of our favourite wordsmiths.

The vocalists we work with are a massive inspiration to the music we make. Michael St. George, Rider Shafique, and Fikir Amlak are all conscious voices that need some scale in the production to really translate their message.

The future releases are a big mix bag of sounds, we like to keep it moving! We’ve got a bunch on that reggae/hip-hop tip, some more grime flavours with UK legend Manga Saint Hilaire, some dancehall with Shanique Marie from Jamaica’s Equiknoxx crew, a few steppas for good measure, some more chill stuff too, as well as some more collaborations with Fikir Amlak! Lots of surprises in store!

TGT: Lyrically this is a rather positive release, celebrating both Haile Selassie I and self. How did the collaborations with Fikir Amlak and Rider Shafique come together? And why did you feel they were the right artists for this project?

Iron Gate Sound: Early in the COVID-19 lockdown, Gilsun and Flip were going through a treasure trove of productions on Kid Fiction’s hard drive. When Flip heard the instrumental, which would become Cornerstone, he thought it would suit a dub poet. He reached out to Rider Shafique who lent his vocals and words on “One Life.”

While Rider was voicing the song, we were also recording a bunch of tunes with Fikir Amlak (which will be its own forthcoming standalone EP). We gave the beat to Fikir Amlak and he recorded “Cornerstone.” The two releases are complementary, so we decided on putting them out as a double A-sided release with the instrumental as well, for good measure. Both Rider and Fikir are pure artists that sing songs from the heart. We knew they would deliver on this otherworldly beat.

TGT: Please tell us more about Iron Gate Sound and Iron Gate Records. What should readers know about “this future roots and bass trio from Sydney, Australia,” and are there other works to be aware of from the crew?

Iron Gate Sound: Flip and Gilsun started Iron Gate Sound ten years ago. Gilsun was running bass conscious nights in Sydney. He wanted to run a reggae night and called long-time friend Flip to see if he would be interested in spinning tunes together. With that, Iron Gate Sound was born.

During those early years, they cut dubplates, released mixtapes, and played residencies at the Lansdowne Hotel in Sydney. They were also regulars on the festival scene, including Subsonic and Return to Rio.

When they turned to producing music, they started the Iron Gate Records label and released the Lion Inna Den Riddim (featuring Sizzla, Lutan Fyah, and Exco Levi) and the Jah Jah Solve Dem EP with Addis Pablo (son of Augustus Pablo) and Suns of Dub. Between 2015 and 2018, Iron Gate Sound released a steady stream of mixtapes including Dubs Fi Di Road, the first 100 per cent dubplate mix out of Australia.

Kid Fiction joined Iron Gate Sound that same time, bringing his texture-focused electronic music production to the collective. Aside from the previously mentioned heavy release schedule for Iron Gate Sound, the crew will also be busy with their other projects, Kid Fiction is going to be pushing on in 2021 with a new EP that you should definitely keep an eye out for and Gilsun is also working on house and dub techno label Nightime Drama under his Oscar Mike alias.

More info:
Iron Gate Sound Facebook

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Writer: NiceUp
Editor: Global Reggae Charts Magazine