Wolde Egziabher interview with Seafront

Greetings from Jan Steadyrocka and Simon Chaozlevel, the Tallinn Seafront sound system. Seafront became one year old. This year was quite an effective year. We had a couple of great sessions here in Tallinn. In April 2017 we were invited to play at Helsinki Dub Club in Finland, an important heavyweight event alongside Ivah Sound system. It was a great pleasure and gladness for us to travel all our sound system for the first time abroad. We will do our best to choose records from the 60’s and beyond, not to forget about our own special material. Now, we have three superscoops to offer this rumbling bass that the reggae lovers are addicted to!


(Seafront sound system, from left to right – Art’ came from Moscow to join our dance and help with our boxes, Simon Chaozlevel & Jan Steadyrocka @ place Kolm, Tallinn 2017 in session with I-Fi Sound system)


For our next event, we have invited the Wolde Egziabher sound system from Vilnius, Lithuania. These men are well aware of how to handle the sound and shake the whole building. The head of the sound system, Ras Wolde, tells us a bit about his work and how life goes on in Lithuania….

(Ras Wolde with his Wolde Egziabher sound system stack, Vilnius 2013)

Tell us a story of your sound system

All this begun somewhat about twelve years ago, when I’ve joined a local selector Pijus, who is in the Kala sound system now. I did a MC thing and was responsible for the mic on a dance. It was a time when the movement emerged, and we did the things just like we were able to. A time to remember, because we did something never done here before. After three years our roads separated, and I tried to do a selector’s job and after a while had an idea to build a sound system too, because we have never had own speakers before. My selection became more and more about roots and dub. It was something different for us and the people, who were standing on a dancefloor and spectating us or just leaving away. As life went on, people heard the music and now things are going better. For about four years I was collecting records and equipment. At those times we had a band called Wolde Egziabher. In summer of 2013 was the last performance of the band, just when the sound system was born. Since that we play in Lithuania, played in Riga and looking forward for a dance in Tallinn.

Could reggae music exist without soundsystems? What do you think?

Reggae without sound system is like a fish without water. I think that artists, producers and sound systems depend on each other. Sound system is a radio for reggae music. Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs – all of them got to the charts because of sounds playing their music. It seems that without sound systems reggae would have already been a thing of the past, but it’s still alive and popular. Musicians and producers inspired with sound systems create new genres that come and go, but reggae stays. I think that reggae is the most influential music of the last 40 years.

What is the future of sound system?

Right now sound systems are popular like never before. Each continent has sound systems on it. The culture is very varied indeed, each sound follows its own way. We will protect roots and dub and hope that new sound systems will emerge to celebrate originality and follow the style. We believe in sound system and that the energy and a message of ours make a positive impact on the society. We try to teach the youth that education is a key for the future, that fait can move mountains, that each one has a talent and our duty is to work for the good of the country and all humankind. We believe that when people hear the message no one stays indifferent.

Tell us about sound systems, selectors and musicians that inspire you

Inspiration comes from the Almighty Creator. If to speak about musicians, it’s surely Dennis Brown, Culture, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Count Ossie and all great musicians, founders of reggae. The list is too long to mention all of them: Bim Sherman, Ijahman Levi, Vivian Jones, Dennis Bowell, Twinkle Brothers, Dub Judah, Johnny Clarke, The Congos, Ras Michael, Idren Natural, Dread & Fred, Noel Zebulon, Mad Professor, Freddy McGregor. Amongst soundsystems these are legendary Jah Shaka, Coxsone, Roots Injection, Jah Youth, Entebbe and all big and small sounds. Each one brings his own thing and gives inspiration.

We’ve heard that you make a production too. Tell us about it

I try to make music as long as remember myself. First recordings I made were on two tape recorders, I was seven or so. Unfortunately I haven’t got any musical education, because of doing a judo. There was not much time left for the music. When I left the sport because of trauma I started a self-education in music. For some time I was a part of the Wolde Egziabher band, and now I’m working on my own production. One song under the name of “Right Way” was released on On In The Spirit Records in England in 2016. We also plan to start a Wolde Egziabher label. At the moment I work with Ignas, a man of our sound system, on a project in Lithuanian and English. I can’t tell all the details now, but we hope to do a first release next year. Of course, there are some other projects running which I want to finish soon and hope that at least part of them will be released. Usually I play all instruments by myself, but different musicians often visit our studio as well. So that we try to create a sound that combines live and digital. Hope that we can reanimate our band in the nearer future too.

What selection could we prepare for on an upcoming dance?

It’s the most difficult question. Each dance is unique with something, especially when we play somewhere not in Vilnius. Anyway, I promise a tuff selection from the old days to the latest releases. Dennis Brown, Bim Sherman, Johnny Clarke, Tenastelin, Idren Natural, Dread & Fred, Twinkle Brothers, Vivian Jones, Cultural Roots, Ijahman Levi and some fat dubplates!

(Ras Wolde with his friend – “Sound Works”, Vilnius, Lithuania) 


Article been written for Rada7.ee – read the original version in Estonian language, click here!
To listen special mixtape by Simon Chaozlevel dedicated to this meeting sesssion, please click here!



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Special thank you to all Wolde Egziabher family!
(C) Written and edited by Jan Steadyrocka