The bass and the drums are the key to great reggae music. But in today’s reggae, where computers do much of the work, bass players and drummers are not in demand any more. However, UK-based Mafia & Fluxy keep their flag flying high.
The riddim section is the foundation of reggae music. The bass player and drummer are vital to any recording, but they’re probably unknown to the casual reggae listener.
But if you ask the more dedicated reggae aficionado he or she will probably jabber on about the Barrett brothers, Errol “Flabba” Holt and Style Scott and, of course, Sly and Robbie.
All of these are Jamaican riddim sections. And if you should ask about a European counterpart, most reggae listeners would probably mention Mafia & Fluxy, the only British born riddim section.
The duo – made up by brothers Leroy “Mafia” and David “Fluxy” Heywood – started their career in British reggae outfit The Instigators in the 70’s. Fluxy explains in an e-mail to Reggaemani how it all begun:
− My mother got Mafia an acoustic guitar and he started picking the bass lines of records and said to me “you better start learning the drums”. So I started tapping and put beats on a home made drum kit which was a speaker box, bicycle lamp and a microphone.
It was their uncle who got them into reggae. And it started – as with many reggae musicians – with a sound system.
− My uncle who lived in the house with us had a sound system (Wizard HiFi). We grew up playing that sound listening to ska, rock steady, blue beat and soul music.
The kinship is something Fluxy thinks is one of the success factors behind him and his brother.
− We are brothers by nature so we have a natural bond. Same goes for Carlton and Aston “Family Man” Barrett who were the riddim section behind Bob Marley & The Wailers.
Mafia and Fluxy are a versatile duo. They have just produced UK lovers rock singer Adele Harley’s debut, and have also laid down riddims for Gussie P and Irie Ites, productions that have a more hardcore reggae feeling to them.
It’s certainly impressive to have that kind of musical range. When asked what a great riddim section needs, Fluxy gives a short and simple answer.
− Creativity, feel and groove.
It also seems like these brothers want to increase their versatility even more. On top of Fluxy’s list of people to work with are U.S RnB producers.
− We would like to work with any of the top American RnB producers. They take their elements from reggae and we would love to vibe with them and bounce ideas together.
However, that may not be just yet. In December they are following Luciano on tour and Fluxy’s main mission for the future is very clear.
− To keep reggae music alive!
A FEW FAST ONES TO FLUXY
Strange Things (Irie Ites)
Down the Line with Gregory Isaacs
Donovan Germain/Dean Fraser/Lloyd Campbell
Chi Chi Bud