Jamaican-style sound systems – many of them mobile rigs loaded with a generator, turntables and speakers – are typically giant powerhouses of sound made for pumping out reggae and dub cuts.
From the classic DIY Jamaican systems to the sound trucks of Brazil’s Carnaval parades, the systems in many parts of the Americas aren’t built for a high-fidelity concert hall experience. These are systems for the street, for the block parties, for the masses.
Within the past year, a local version has emerged: Dub Connection Soundsystem was hand-built in a Toronto garage in 2012 by dub and reggae purveyors K Zar and Woodsman.
They drew inspiration in part from worldwide dub stars Iration Steppas, one of their major influences:
Origins: Inspiration and Perspiration
K Zar had been doing underground reggae and dub parties since 2003. He’s a keen follower of the sound system scene in UK and Europe, where crews built big systems in the Jamaican tradition.
Woodsman had also been following the same scene, and was interested in the technical aspects of the systems. They had each started putting together their own systems when they met in 2012.
From the moment Woodsman and K Zar met, they began plotting the creation of a sound system that would truly rock a dancehall with power and clarity – Dub Connection Soundsystem was born.
“Once we sourced the speaker plans, it went from being a concept to something we were ready to start building. We started sourcing materials and gear as best we could, driving all over the GTA and beyond to find amps, rack gear, speakers. We got our wood cut into the jigsaw puzzle-like pieces of wood that would eventually form our bass bins.
“My tiny garage was quickly filled with sawdust, as we pieced together the system. We’d already booked our venue for the launch, so we were under the gun to get it done on time. We worked on it in all our spare time, and it finally came together about a week before the scheduled launch. It was sunny and warm when we started, and cold and snowy when we were done.”
It took six months to design and build the system.
The launch party was December 21st and the rest is history.
Hurdles and Rewards
“There were many challenges, like sourcing the grade of plywood we needed at a reasonable price. Then finding a laser cutting shop in the city that would take the time to look at our plans and really understand them. Once we had our cuts made, we were off and running.
“The whole project itself was just a kick to get done … awesome. There was a hell of a lot of decision-making happening via texts. We sourced all the gear on a shoestring budget, and we didn’t settle until we got the pieces we wanted.
“The packed house at our launch party, and the vibe in the room was great. Unleashing the system, watching people’s reactions, seeing people come together and jump around the dance floor. Having people skanking to the system made all the work worthwhile.”
Frequencies for the Future
“For the immediate future we’re going to continue to do our dances and continue rocking venues. We’re striving to find new places in the city to play the system.
“We’ll also continue to tweak the system and try to improve the quality of the sound. Some exciting things are in the works. We have plans to bring in reggae and dub acts that we don’t normally see here, particularly on a sound system.”
The future is full of big warm bass, sharp midrange and crisp high end.
Dub Connection Soundsystem goes down at Lee’s Palace on Friday, June 21 in Toronto. Facebook event page here. K Zar will also appear at Block Party 2013 on Sunday, June 23.
UPDATE Oct. 2015: Dub Connection and its system have appeared at many events including the annual Block Party jam. Last winter we joined up for Winter Nite at Geary Lane, which is where the Saturday Jamboree takes place on Oct. 17, 2015 as part of our fifth annual Uma Nota Festival.