Daniel supports, as an integral part of the Hibration and I-Revolution sound system, Hamburg Dubscene with his singing and speaking parts, the so-called toasting. In the interview he talks about the possibilities to act creatively, critical topics within the scene and his experiences in Jamaica.
What were your first points of contact with Dub and sound systems and how did you get into toasting?
Daniel: I have always wanted to articulate myself creatively. When I was 15 I tried to write my own rap lyrics and then practiced them in front of the mirror. At some point, however, I realized that there were no beats in the village where I grew up and I couldn't produce any myself. Writing poetry somehow seemed like the closest thing to rapping and that's how I got into poetry slam. On countless afternoons in the park many years ago, a very good friend just gave me his guitar and showed me two chords. I really wanted to learn this instrument in order to accompany me while I was singing, which I also really enjoyed doing besides the poetry slam.
Musically I was definitely influenced by an evening in a club in Prague, where Dubstep was played. I didn't even know this music and especially the ragga / jungle floor was so electrifying that I danced along wildly. When I moved to Hamburg in 2010, I was naturally looking for something similar here too. When the Dub-Band Zion Train in the harbor sound five years ago I couldn't hold back and jumped around like a rubber ball. With the sound system, of course, I came across the port birthday sessions and the events of the Dubcafes in the red flora in touch. Since there was always a microphone lying around there, I dared to use it and quickly replaced the guitar for me personally. At first I wasn't very tried, but I still got great vibes. Last year, through my appearances at Local Sounds here in Hamburg and even all the way down to Munich, I felt there were more events than there are weeks in the year. I remember when I first became aware of the music, there were maybe four events with 15 visitors, and now several are taking place every month.
So you seem to be in Hamburg Dubto be very firmly involved in the scene. How would you specifically describe your role or your function?
D: I think I'm only gradually finding this role myself. In principle, the role that I take on the microphone is to be seen both in the form of vocals and a bit as a medium between the audience and the people who put on the music. In addition, I describe myself as an activist, sound system activist. Setting up boxes and doing these sessions, I think you can give the world something good with that. To create a breeding ground for something that is good for this society. Just at Dub at this volume, there is something inspiring about it, somehow gives strength on an emotional level. I think “Roots & Culture” is a term that I associate with a lot Dub and sound system. Roots would be this term that covers the fact that this music describes where we come from and who we are in this world, a conscious music or a music with consciousness. Culture as the other part of the whole means you can create a kind of culture, a good breeding ground for culture.
A culture where everyone can bring in what they want.
Do you talk a lot about culture, especially creating your own new culture?
D: Yes, a culture where everyone can bring in what they want, a very open space. Creating is one aspect, although I don't think it's just about creating a culture. Rather, to create a situation, because I think we actually all have a culture. But you can only live this out in certain situations in a special way and the sound system dance offers an ideal situation for this. In the end, I think that we already have everything we need, you just have to give people the opportunity to live it out.
So on the one hand the reinforcement of certain positive aspects; Do you also address critical issues during your performances?
D: You know that at events where people go at night to have fun. There is certainly breeding ground for things that are not so good, sexism or sexual harassment are examples. Such issues can be addressed in a peaceful manner, and when they happen, it is of course out of affect. In addition, there are political, social or personal things that you can talk about in general, so I think about what I want to say in advance. I bring issues that concern myself to the outside world.
Since you are talking about sexism: A topic that is also criticized in connection with reggae, Rastafari and Jamaican music is the accusation of homophobia.
D: I think when it comes to these critical issues, it is good to talk openly about them without putting the devil on the wall: If there is something, if you are being molested by sexism, you will not be left alone with it. I don't even want to give homophobia the space as something that I don't approve of and where, musically, I really don't know what it is doing in this music. Although this topic is of course a problem for society as a whole, which unfortunately also finds expression in this scene. These problems should also be seen everywhere they take place and where they are approached. I believe that exchange is the right way to go and that there are people with whom you simply don't meet.
I have just been back to Jamaica for a few weeks, where homophobia is also an issue and homosexuality is even prohibited by law. I think the cultural background has to be understood, but promoting this way of thinking is wrong, a line should be drawn. However, we have had many discussions in our society that did not take place in Jamaica, regardless of the cultural and historical background. I can also imagine that many Europeans and people from other parts of the world who go to this island because they love what happens there, because it has inspired them and because they find themselves in it, share a lot of their attitude towards there bring there. I think the people who listen to reggae here are not very sexist or homophobic. They see this rather critically and react very sensitively to it, bring such topics into this society and sensitize them in a constructive and positive way.
I take issues that concern myself to the outside world.
Another topic that toasters and singers like to address in this music is Rastafarian. Apart from the negative elements that we just mentioned, do you bring the more positive elements from them into your texts?
D: Definitely the term Babylon, that's an integral part. Although I have to say that I'm not a Rasta. I do believe that there is more than we can see, understand, know, calculate and describe. But I am critical of religions when things are forming and organizing. Rastafarian has elements, like other religions and philosophies, that make sense to me. What I really appreciate about it, for example, is that this religion created identity in the time after Jamaica's independence, which was very important. In addition, this religion brings issues into society, such as awareness and spirituality, but also conscious and healthy nutrition and an ecological lifestyle. I have great respect for this belief and this culture.
Chanting and talking in the Jamaican Patwah is also common. How do you feel about the accusations of the cultural appropriation of this language by “whites”?
D: Of course, if that's someone who feels that way, I can understand. True to the motto: The guy has now heard reggae and is simply parroting the language. But my experience in Jamaica was that people celebrated that when I used it while toasting and singing and I don't think they took that as a disrespect.
You just said quite nicely that some people go to this island to find themselves. Did you find yourself there? What experiences are you richer by now?
D: I definitely found myself in reggae. Since I like making music and being creative, reggae showed me the meaning behind it. That feeling was reinforced in Jamaica. Our recording of one was a very nice experience Dubplates in the studio. In addition, I was able to meet many great people, taste delicious food and enjoy the beautiful nature. What was really unique was that when looking into the jungle, due to the density, I couldn't see two meters far.
How is it going Dub in Jamaica?
D: Often stands Dub as the headline for the events, but that's not that Dubthings we do here. I think there were very different developments when the music came to the UK from Jamaica. Dancehall is definitely very present there, but also a lot of roots and rub-a-Dub. Definitely good music.
Dub for me is: musical, interpersonal, cultural, spiritual.
“Different things than we do here” - what is Hamburg doing Dubscene for you?
D: As I said, there used to be very few sessions and over the years the number of events and sounds grew. I talk to people in sessions, including those who support all of this. A lot more people want to be active in the scene. What is also an important point in character is that when we put on a dance, we have to take care of everything ourselves. We don't go anywhere, play our stuff and leave. We have to take over the whole fucking place. Build the infrastructure, equip the bar, occupy the door. Building up is one thing, doing it and then dismantling it. That's why I'm doing it, that's why I'm there, for the dismantling (laughs). A lot of work, but you get the opportunity to do everything yourself. A lot happens here in Hamburg, both in front of and behind the sound system.
Finally, the standard sentence for you too: Describe Dub in one sentence?
D: After my formative Zion Train event at Hafenklang, I read a quote: “Instrumental psychedelic reggae”. For me it is a lot more than that: musically, interpersonal, cultural, spiritual.
Interview from 17.05.2019