By Anna Arnone

Note (01/07/19): an incorrect version of this article was previously published in print and online. HIP apologises for the unauthorised and unattributed changes to Anna’s original.

Sound System session. Feel the bass. Step on the beat. Float to the kiss of the tops. Listen to the message. Hastings based Sound System Dub Generals has been nic’ing up the area with a crucial selection of Reggae vinyl for over a decade. Dub Generals’ Coz Barnsfield and Dan Carrington are passionate about bringing the authentic Sound System experience to the people. If you too love Reggae you’ll probably know what a Sound System is. But if you haven’t experienced the delights of being swept into full on physical magical offbeat vortex in a Sound session then suffice it to say that Sound Systems are the combination of equipment, power, music selection and, most importantly, the people who crew the Sound.

The Sound playing with Coz on the mic, Dan operating and Henry Tenye waiting for a turn on the mic
©️Anna Arnone

Dub Generals is Coz’s third Sound. His first was Minista, which he describes as “…a really small System. That was in the 90’s, when everyone else was doing Jungle and I was still trying to hold Reggae parties. We had one big bass box and a couple of full range tops. So it looked like an old Jah Shaka Sound System from the 70’s, which they used to call the ‘house systems’, where you’ve just got one wardrobe with a big bass speaker in it and a couple of purpose-made tops… yeah, that was it. But it was loud enough to fill upstairs of a pub. It weren’t a big banging Sound System but you could please a couple of hundred people in a room.”

Coz, a talented “Mic Chanter” (MC) and music selector, was introduced to Sound System culture at a young age through live “session” tapes. He became determined “to get into the Sound System thing, but how it was in the 80’s with the Reggae. So I was desperately trying to create nights that were resembling all the tapes I was listening to in the 80’s. I wanted that…”. But Jungle was taking over and Coz eventually gave up on Ministax, deciding “I’m just going to be a Jungle MC, the same as everyone else…”. Inevitably, he was drawn back to his initial passion, setting up 3D Sounds which after a few years of crowd-pleasing, mainly underground sessions evolved into Dub Generals.

Coz checking the speakers before a session

Dan, operator and technical genius behind Dub Generals, became involved when the Sound started playing regularly at a bar that Dan was running. From the age of 13, Dan worked for PSL (a local disco equipment supplier) and he started to supplement Dub Generals’ set at BarCelona, “’I built and bought into the [PSL] business so I had my hands onto any speakers that I wanted and it was at the time, wa’n’t it, [Dub Generals] were lacking in equipment.”. Coz adds, “We wanted to run two rooms and we could only cater for one. He brought boxes in to use. This happened a few times and I just said, ‘look, if you want to carry on doing this why don’t you come into the Dub Generals and build boxes for it and make it as big as you want?’ And from that day that’s what he’s done.”

Dan, whose enthusiasm and energy for all things technical is obvious (he designs and makes some of the speaker boxes) came to Reggae when he was 12 or 13, “…I blame my mum and stepdad, and this was what kicked off the wanting to do speakers and hiring [out equipment] and getting into the industry, they took me to Notting Hill Carnival and I was just like, wow, wow. What have I been missing out on? I walked down the street and it was all different speakers up. And I was, wow, OK. And that was what influenced me [to get] into Reggae dancehall and the genre.”

Dan wiring up the Sound
©️Anna Arnone

Dub Generals will be holding a free session on 13 April 2019, 8pm to 2am at Crowley’s Bar, joined by brand new Hastings Sound, Humble Rumble.

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