Women uprising movement in soundsystem culture
'Soundsystem’ refers to a group of selectors, MCs and engineers playing reggae, ska, dub and bass music, usually on their own soundsystem set-up.
Blog number two is finally here and the feedback I got after publishing the first one was, to say the least, amazing. What I liked the most was that it sparked a conversation about the position of women in the soundsystem scene, and I really couldn't have asked for more.
These positive vibes are what keep me going in my mission to write about interesting women in the soundsystem scene, and to try to make a positive impact on girls that are interested in this culture that we all love so much.
On another, more personal, note... last year I started my own journey in becoming a selector, after years of just being an organiser and promoter of events and a participant on the local scene. It's been interesting to jump into this world on the other side of the dancefloor, and I am slowly embracing everything that comes with the territory.
From playing at events and festivals on proper soundsystems, learning about the selection itself, making it flexible to fit the vibe of the crowd, thinking about the sound, learning about the equipment, thinking about the vibe of other acts on the line up, playing in front of experienced selectors, producers and soundsystem crews, dealing with sound hiccups and technical problems, and finally trying to overcome stage fright and actually enjoying the session in the end!
I still have a lot to learn but I have big plans for myself as a solo act and for the project I have with my singer buddy Aklea Neon, called Sista Salute. Go big or go home, right?
So enough about me, let's start this new year on a high note with the list of more amazing women in soundsystem culture :)
Kenyan-born, Netherlands-raised Black Omolo has been making music since she was 5 years old. Growing up, she came into contact with several different music styles. From early on, she was singing in the church choir, taking private lessons, and listening to music by singers like Lauryn Hill, Tracy Chapman, Erykah Badu and Anouk.
Black Omolo also got inspired by her Mother, life, ancestors and experiences. During that time, she grew more conscious about life and got a spiritual connection and started living, feeling and breathing Rastafari Energy, which led her straight into roots music and working with her dutch reggae band Gideon Grounds.
Nowadays, she is one of the strongest and most energetic vocals on the soundsystem scene, playing at such events and festivals like Reggae Geel, Zwarte Cross, Amsterdam HMH Reggae Festival, Mek It Burn, Rototom Sunsplash, Hootananny London, Zion Station, Amsterdub Weekender and many more. She has also been touring Europe, Jamaica and South America; playing and collaborating with some of the biggest names on the scene such as King Shiloh, Black Board Jungle, Black Rose, King Alpha, Pacha Mama, Lions Den, Black Rose, Hardlife, Warrior King etc., confirming her strong status on the soundsystem scene.
Black Omolo is growing more and more as she is preparing herself for more work around the globe.
Here is her single with Mystic Pulse “Pressure and Tribulation”:
Sista Livity has been influenced by black music since her childhood. Over the last few years she has focused on conscious reggae music. Emerging from the Barcelona soundsystem scene, she has been part of Purple Rockets collective in the past.
Nowadays, she is still involved in Good Over Evil and Dr. Dubwiser, under the record label Handcart Records.
In 2018, Sista Livity released some singles including “Ova Dem”, a 7”, alongside Good Over Evil and La Panchita Records. Her latest work was released this year: an album in collaboration with Sista Moni, again produced by Good Over Evil.
Check out her single “Ova dem” :
Mina's Collective is a group of three selectress from different places of the world: Laura from Argentina, a member of the Warriors of Dub Sound System with several years of experience; Paula from Catalonia, sound technician and Roots lover, and Txofi from Galicia, who has been involved in soundsystem culture throughout the last decade.
They have been a part of the Catalan soundsystem scene since 2017, and over the course of these two years they have been present in line-ups alongside Aba Shanti-I, Word Sound & Power, Biga Ranx and Tetra Hydro K, and have had sessions powered by sounds like Greenlight Sound System, Rebelmadiaq, Babel SS and Dubatriation (FR). They have also shared the stage with singers like Belén Natalí and Sista Livity.
Mina's Collective are continuously spreading the message of unity, love, peace and respect through the powerful selection of dub music. Their styles range from classic Reggae Roots to the more current UK stepper.
Check out their session at No Callarem here.
Manuka Sound is a new collective, born in 2019. It consists of two friends, Stephany and Raluca, who were united by their love for reggae, dub and soundsystem culture. These music enthusiasts and vinyl collectors are currently on a mission to build their own soundsystem. They take inspiration from the greats, such as Alpha & Omega and Channel One Soundsystem.
Their name Manuka Sound originates from New Zealand's Manuka honey, which has powerful regenerative and healing properties; just like this honey heals wounds, they want to heal people with their conscious music selection and positive vibes, hoping people leave their session free of negative vibes from their daily life and society's problems.
This is such an exciting new female soundsystem on its way people! Bookers and promoters keep an eye on them!
Check out their session here!
Anja Siren has been spinning records and organizing dub events since the late 90s. In 2008, SIREN SISTERS started with regular sessions at Sunny Red / Feierwerk, Munich – often inviting soundsystems like DubRise, Jah Chalice, Dandelion, and guests from all over Germany and abroad. The events are a platform for upcoming artists and veterans
alike, with a special focus on female artists.
In the selection, Siren Sisters focuses on mystical wake-up tunes, with a strong message of love and unity – from the finest roots and the heaviest steppers, to sweet unreleased material and rare dubplates. Often, she is accompanied by the mic and effect master MC Treasure Irie, or the beautiful voices of Sista Sherin and Sista Kaya.
Siren Sisters are also part of Kulturimpuls e.V., a non-profit association that makes the Rootsbase on Fusion Festival happen and also organizes events like Rootsbase Festival and Dubimpuls in Freising. Anja contributes regularly to the German RIDDIM magazine with articles about sound system culture. In 2019, she founded the female sound collective LIONESS AWAKE."
Check out her session in Munich:
DAWTAS OF AYA
Hailing from Sao Paulo, Brazil, 'Dawtas of Aya' are three sisters (Carol Afreekana, Regiane Cordeiro and Sistah Mari) in the African diaspora, united in their desire to share their own experience and reality with the world, along with the reality of their sisters at home and abroad.
Their songs and lyricism are spiritual, poetic, hypnotic and inexhaustible outbursts of feminine energy, which speak about the pains of 500 years of oppression, and speak of the struggle and hope of freedom for all brothers and sisters in situations of oppression and inequality worldwide.
On their European tour they had the opportunity to showcase their poetic and musical power in many countries and at numerous festivals, including the renowned Rototom Sunsplash, the world's largest reggae festival. 'Aya' is a West African adinkra, meaning 'perseverance and endurance'. It is symbolized by the image of a fern, a plant that is well known for its robust strength and ability to thrive in unfavourable conditions. Nothing could describe the spirit of these indomitable sisters more succinctly.
Check out their single “Energia”:
Anja G is a singer from Zagreb, Croatia. In 2017 she released her first single, 'The Meaning', with Dr.Obi. Since then, she has been a part of Croatian dub-duo project Anja G & Dr.Obi. Their sound is a powerful lyrical message, combined with their unique creative production work. With the establishment of Amplifyah Music Label, Anja G & Dr.Obi are now releasing their own digital to stepper productions.
Anja G & Dr.Obi exploded onto the scene loud and clear, with no compromise on the quality that creates deep and complete sound impressions. Their mission is to provoke a change of consciousness and to challenge the listener's limits. Their music is a tool to promote their ideas: to make you think, and to make you take a stand against the system and all oppression!
Check out their session for Education TV:
Housewife’s Choice have been firm favourites in the Australian Reggae & Dancehall scene for over 15 years. Together, selectors Miss Fee and Bellyas set dancefloors alight with soul-stirring musical fire, performing around Australia and abroad to deliver uplifting music to the people, in their signature high-spirited style.
When the pair met in 2004 they immediately found musical synergy and joined forces, becoming known for juggling up-to-the-time riddims alongside foundation tunes and exclusive dubplates at their monthly residency Riddim Method and a host of events in Melbourne, staying true to the authentic culture and sounds coming out of Jamaica.
2019 was a significant year for Housewife's Choice, who not only celebrated their 15 year milestone, but have been busy building their very own soundsystem, which is set for completion in early 2020. They are proud to present the first all-female built and operated reggae soundsystem in Australasia, replete with handcrafted speaker boxes and their inimitable style. Built by Miss Fee using her own custom designs, Housewife’s Choice Sound features 4 x 18’’ scoops, 4 x 15’’ kickbins, 4 x 12’’ mids and 2 x tops powered by QSC amplifiers. On their soundsystem, Housewife’s Choice will continue sharing the music they love by bringing their unique act to even more people in the community, and delivering a message of hope, strength and celebration.
Check out their dubplate:
Makeda is a sound engineer and singer from Madrid, working in different spheres of music. She started in the early 2000s, collaborating with different projects as a member of bands or in the production of different kinds of events. Since then, she has been working in many areas of executive production and management.
Over the years, she has become more focused on the technical area, working as a sound engineer and offering technical services in workshop. She focuses on the sound elements, but always combines the technical with musical creativity. She has also collaborated with different soundsystems as a boxwoman and a driver.
She says: “I don't always find it easy, as a woman, to find the space and the balance in the kind of lifestyle I choose, but if I look back, I am thankful for all the experiences, knowledge, and all the people I met that have helped, taught and given me the strength to keep on fighting. I make spiritual music with a message that tries to give some love and strength to the people that want to fight against this world system. From my heart and life teachings, I just wanna share how big His love is and how powerful we can be if we remain united. Babylon must fall down!”
Check out her session at Dubmingos here.
Muxima is one of the first international reggae sound women in Europe. Hailing from Italy, she has been selecting for over 20 years. In the late '90s she launched, together with her crew, the King David Warriors Sound System and toured all over Italy and Europe.
Her selection covers all reggae music history, from calypso to the latest dubs. She co-produced the infamous Benidub's "Reconquering Lion" with Echotronix, Michael Prophet “Hold dem” and Afrikan Simba “So important” with Echotronix, Roots Defender and Dub Terror; Michael Prophet “Get ready”, and Johnnie Clarke “One man’s life” with Echotronix and Dub Defender.
In 2007 she launched her new label "Muxima", with the popular "Kings Music" and “Skank 11” by Dub Defender and design by incoma.biz. She co-directed the video "The only good system is a Sound System", screened at Tate Britain and Whitechapel gallery, and in selected festivals. Recently, she has been heavily involved in the Sound System Outernational and Reggae Research Network conferences.
Nowadays, she enjoys playing on her own or alongside the one and only Oxman (Dub Vendor/Souljazz/Dill-Ox) and Reddog on mic duties.
Check out her session:
As if all of that wasn't enough, Anja from Siren Sisters has been kind enough to curate a playlist especially for WXMB 2. Enjoy it on:
Feminine energy, energy reign
- Sampa The Great
One love! Omega vibes!
NOTE: This list is not closed, I would like to present more soundsystem crews, collectives, selectresses, MCs, singers and producers in my next blog post. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mirna will also be with us at our celebration of International Women's Day at Colours, Hoxton, on Sunday 8th March so come along to meet her in person!