BOOGIEWALL SOUNDSYSTEM with DJs Peace Harvest, Steve Yanko, Chocolate, Chuckie Boom, Leon Knight, Rob Nice and more, at Roxy Blu (12 Brant), tonight (Thursday, September 5). $5 at the door. www.playrecords.net
Ska fans may have been wondering what happened to local reggae fanatics the Skanksters.
The last most had heard of them, they'd shrunk to a six-piece and were concentrating on dub rather than ska. Since then, they've renamed themselves and expanded their mandate to include elements of electronic music.
The Boogiewall Soundsystem function more as a collective than a normal band, seeking out collaborations with DJs and dance music producers as well as MCs and horn sections. While the debut album of this genre-bending project is still some time away from being ready for release, they are putting out a teaser EP with local house label Play Records.
The disc also features remixes by UK dub hero the Mad Professor and house mixes by Rob Nice and local boys Peace Harvest and Alfonz Lanza.
Fans of the Mad Professor's dub mix of Massive Attack's Protection album should be especially interested in this project. While Boogiewall Soundsystem are much more rooted in reggae rhythms than in Massive Attack, the collision of musical influences is common ground. The song that the Mad Professor decided to rework, Confide In You, is one of their least reggae-influenced, and much closer to Massive Attack's dreamy downtempo.
"It grew out of a passion for other kinds of music," explains vocalist and keyboard player Tanya Kornobis. "I love dancing and going out and listening to house as well as dub.
"We wanted to merge what we've been doing really well for a long time, which is dub, with all our other interests."
Many Toronto bands have been sucked into the trap of trying to reproduce authentically a style and sound from another place and era without taking into account their own musical history and tastes. At a certain point, the desire to express yourself more honestly as a musician takes hold.
"Our roots have always been in early-70s roots reggae, but we're playing now, and it seems closed-minded to be traditionalists about it," guitarist and producer Sean Richards acknowledges.
"I went to Japan last summer and was really encouraged by the stuff coming out of there -- Japanese domestically produced R&B-reggae hybrids that you'd never imagine would even be heard over there and have made number 24 on the charts.
"We love separating our music here. It's one of the worst tendencies in our music industry."
Reinventing yourself and the way you make music isn't easy, but advances in home recording technology make it much more affordable than ever before to try out infinite possibilities.
"We're not in a hurry. It's a labour of love," says Kornobis. "Our first CD as the Skanksters took six weeks to do, while this has taken two years. We've been working on it really hard, getting the sounds exactly the way we want them.
"We're not settling for anything less than exactly how we want it."