Music Q&A: Manasseh Sound System

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MUSIC Q&A: Nick Manasseh

Returning to the LCS stage, music producer, DJ and co-founder of Manasseh soundsystem Nick Manasseh is amped for another good year.

You’ve played at the LCS a few times; why do you keep coming back?

I’ve played three or four times and I absolutely love it. It’s excellent and I appreciate it as a former local (Nick lived in Brixton from 1990-2000). I always think the agricultural side of it really works too; the kids love it and it’s just something very different.

How do you keep it fresh each time you play here?

This year is a bit of a strange one for me because I’m playing both days. I’ve got to come up with a non-reggae selection, which is cool because I’ll get out all my other music and it’s fun to try different stuff. I’ll be playing quite a lot of classics -plenty of Marvin Gaye- as well as funk, soul and jazz.

Tell me about the Manasseh soundsystem…

We started it in ’85 in West London and had a physical soundsystem for twelve years where we held sound clashes with all the big sounds. The London soundsystem scene has a real family vibe; once you’re in, you’re in and the main guys get a great following.

Most soundsystems don’t really exist anymore, nevertheless success brings that same community leadership and it wouldn’t surprise me if people like Dizzee Rascal had the same standing in their communities.

That old school soundsystem spirit is still alive but kids are less focused on music than they were in the ‘70s or ‘80s. Back then the music you aligned yourself with determined your whole style and outlook on life. Nowadays kids are less aligned. My daughter has reggae running through her blood but she still listens to pop and lots of other kinds of music. It’s great that you can listen to anything on YouTube now but on the downside there’s not the same effort going into becoming an expert in music. We had to physically go and line up at the record store, waiting for the new releases; it’s very sad that a lot of the record shops are gone now.

Do you use mostly vinyl when you DJ or have you gone digital?

If I’m playing reggae I use vinyl but it’s not a big dogmatic thing for me; it’s just that I have a lot of my music on vinyl and it would take forever to put it all on my computer.

Vinyl is hanging on.  In some ways the internet looks like rather than gobbling up vinyl, which is un-downloadable, it will just go directly to taking over the CD. My record label manufactures vinyl and does downloads but no CDs.

I still buy vinyl; it has a wonderful feel when you’re DJ-ing and flipping through records and people can see the covers. You see DJs peering over their laptops trying to read the names of the tracks and it’s not sexy. It’s not rock ‘n’ roll.

Nick is playing on the Main Stage at the Lambeth Country Show on Saturday July 20 and Sunday July 21at 1:30pm, 3pm and 4:30pm.

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