Tag Archives: Internal Dread

A bright light on the Swedish reggae scene

Renowned Swedish producer and sound wizard Internal Dread died in a traffic accident August. One of his last projects was Swedish ten piece roots reggae rockers First Light and their debut album Judgement Time.

This twelve track live played reggae album is directly derived from vintage Jamaican roots and early dancehall. Lead singer and percussionist Michél León’s youthful, energetic and high tone resemble vocalists such as Triston Palma, Barrington Levy and the late Hugh Mundell.

Internal Dread used his dub skills when mixing the album and effects are present throughout the set, especially echo-laid vocals and guitar.

Most of the album is based on original riddims, and the only relicks are a bouncy version of the Studio One classic Real Rock, and a lethal cut of the Cuss Cuss riddim, one of the most versioned riddims ever and originally produced by Harry J and sung by Lloyd Robinson back in the late 60’s.

The tragic and untimely death of Internal Dread has hit the Swedish reggae scene hard, but Judgement Time is highly respectable legacy.

Judgement Time is presently only available on CD, but will soon also hit the stores as limited vinyl and legal download.

1 Comment

Filed under Record reviews

The mystic world of Jonahgold

Jonahgold is one of Sweden’s most notable reggae producers, and has worked with both domestic and international artists. He is a sound engineer, producer and musician and has learned his craft from legendary Swedish studio owner and producer Internal Dread. Reggaemani got a long chat with Jonahgold in the Rub a Dub studio.

My first contact with Jonahgold was in relation to the release of Sheya Mission’s acclaimed debut album Nine Signs & Heavy Bliss. From our e-mail conversation prior to the interview I learned that he works at the Rub a Dub studio, just around the corner from where I live.

We decided I should drop by.

A few days later I sat down in a well-used sofa in the studio, located downstairs in a backyard at Södermalm, an area in central Stockholm. A room that seems to serve as a living room, bedroom and kitchen.

We discussed reggae. I greated singer and trombonist Joseph Beckford, studio owner Internal Dread and two Swiss musicians on a visit.

Jonahgold showed me around the studio. Though he has worked there since the late 90’s he still looks like a child in a candy store when describing the different elements in the heart of the studio. Delays, reverbs and other equipment essential to a sound engineer and producer.

Unfortunately I had to leave after just a few minutes. We decided to set a new date for an interview at the coffee shop opposite the studio.

Jonahgold

Jonahgold is one of Sweden's most notable reggae producers.

A week goes by and I’m heading for the interview. Just when I’m about to reach the café I notice an individual outside the studio entrance, sweeping the street clean from gravel. It’s Jonahgold.

“The coffee shop is closed for renovation”, he says and suggests that we use the studio instead.

Jonahgold boils tea and we sit down in the sofa for the interview. A long interview.

Jonahgold is thoughtful, low-voiced and cool and he often emphasizes certain words.  He has long hair, round glasses and gives the impression of an intellectual as we talk about his passion for reggae and mysticism.

But let’s take it from the beginning.

Started as a tennis player
Jonahgold started playing the piano at an early age and he also went to music school in Stockholm.

“I played boogie woogie, and really liked it,” he says.

He was also a promising tennis player and competed in his early teens. One of the players he met was former world no. 1 Björn Borg.

“I played against him when he was about to make his first comeback. It was great fun,” he says, and continues:

“I believe that tennis gave me discipline, dedication and focus.”

Jonahgold says that the basis for his musicianship is the keyboard, but that he hasn’t got enough patience to practice. He is rather in the studio behind the mixing desk.

He started out in a local reggae band in the 80’s and sometimes played with Cool Runnings, a band that worked with late producer Denniz Pop.

“I also played with a band called Yardem Riddims, which had Sheya Mission on vocals. We did recordings and sent them to some labels.”

Working with Daweh Congo
His first release on his own label – Goldheart Music – was Sheya Mission’s Valley in 1997.

“We were almost the only ones putting out Swedish produced singles,” he remembers.

Since then much has happened. Jonahgold has produced Daweh Congo, Mysticman and Desmond Foster.

“Since the label started in the mid 90’s I have put out records every other year.”

Jonahgold is lucky. He has had the opportunity to produce his favorite singer and lyricist Daweh Congo. It begun in 2004 with a few recordings and in 2009 Daweh Congo’s praised album Ghetto Skyline hit the streets.

“He performed at the Uppsala Reggae Festival in 2004. He came to the studio and we recorded Steppin’ and Ganja Baby,” Jonahgold says, and adds:

“When we later did the album, I recorded the music here in Stockholm and sent the riddims to him in Jamaica.”

The two also recently worked together in pair with Hawaiian-based label Jah Youth.

“Daweh Congo had recorded some a cappella’s which needed music. Jah Youth contacted me and I did the music,” he says, and continues:

“It was free tempo and was sung on a free key. His singing was surprisingly steady. It was a challenge, and I built the music from scratch,” he smiles.

Other possible collaborations
He would like to get the opportunity to work with Army from St. Croix or Keith from Keith & Tex.

“I’ve contacted Keith, but it hasn’t resulted in anything.”

He also gets inquiries from artists from time to time. But he turns down almost everything due to lack of time.

Detailed productions
And if you listen to his productions you will probably notice why. The songs are carefully crafted and detailed.

“Nobody produces on a detailed level anymore. I often out start very ambitious, and the Sheya Mission album took some time to finish,” he says, and adds:

“I often pay attention to details, but it starts to get a bit slack. I haven’t got the same craze anymore.”

Running a label these days isn’t easy. But according to Jonahgold it’s not all that bad.

“It has never been easy,” he states, and continues:

“But today it’s cheaper than ever to distribute an album and get it out all over the world. It’s a new world order, but I don’t know if it’s better or worse.”

Aside from producing his own music, Jonahgold is a freelance sound engineer, both live and in the studio.

“This is my school”, he says and looks up from his cup of tea.

“Tom [Hofwander aka Internal Dread] has taught me everything. I have been working with him for many years. He is a sound guru, and it has been a great school. He has a fantastic feeling for frequencies.”

Spirituality important
Jonahgold’s latest work is something in the dub poetry vein. He is into mysticism and has set sound to Mooji, an advaita vedanta teacher based in the UK.

“I like the spirituality in reggae music. I’m on a quest for freedom and self-knowledge. No aggression or depression. I want to be really free and distinguish between what has been taught and what is the real ‘I’,” he says, and concludes:

“I have advanced during the last ten years or so. Maybe it has made my music more soothing and meditative.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Interviews

House of Reggae pays tribute to Internal Dread

German reggae blog House of Reggae has produced a tribute mix to Swedish reggae in general and producer/engineer Internal Dread in particular.

The mix contains 18 tracks ranging from 2002 up until 2010. Artists include newcomers such as Robert Athill and Mysticman as well as veterans like Desmond Foster and Joseph Beckford. There are also several dub songs included, mixed by the great Internal Dread.

Nils Kersten, editor of House of Reggae and producer of the mix, writes in an e-mail that he loves the deep warm analogue sounds of Internal Dread’s production and mixing techniques.

− It reminds me of the Jamaican roots sounds of the 70’s. I haven’t expected something like that from a producer out of Stockholm, he writes, and continues:

− Over the last years some Swedish reggae artists have gone international, like Million Stylez or Serengeti. But I’m more interested in native tongue artists. I found out about Governor Andy, Junior Eric, Syster Sol, Swingkids and Kapten Röd. I love all of them, even if I don’t understand a word.

Listen to the mix here.

2 Comments

Filed under News

Svensk reggae mer än Peps Persson

Intresset för reggae i Sverige har vuxit explosionsartat de senaste åren. Nu kommer boken Jamaica – Sverige tur & retur som syr ihop hela Sveriges reggaehistoria. Bakom boken står journalisten och författardebutanten Kristian Lönner.

Kristian Lönner älskar reggae. Utan tvekan. Hans förälskelse är tydlig i färska Jamaica – Sverige tur & returStenberg-Schentz förlag.

Jamaica – Sverige tur & retur tar med läsaren på en reportageresa genom den svenska reggaeutvecklingen. Resan går från söder till norr och är 40 år lång. De flesta nedslagen är i Skåne, Göteborg och Stockholm.

Men den mest intressanta historien hittar man någonstans mitt emellan Stockholm och Göteborg. I Östergötland finns det lilla samhället Skärblacka, som i boken kallas Sveriges Kingston. Här har invånarna spelat reggae i decennier och arrangerar årligen en hyllningsfestival till Bob Marley. Kristian Lönner tecknar en rörande bild av samhället och dess befolkning. Det är ett underbart stycke svensk musikhistoria som endast ett fåtal känner till.

Och det är precis i de delarna Jamaica – Sverige tur & retur är allra bäst. Det här är inte bara en bok om reggae och svensk musik. Det är en bild av det svenska folkhemmet, om föreningslivet och, kanske framför allt, om mängder av intressanta människoöden. Tom ”Internal Dread” Hofwander, Tony Ellis och Papa Dee är bara ett axplock av de människor som varit öppna med sin livshistoria.

Jamaica – Sverige tur & retur innehåller matnyttiga tips och spännande historier för nybörjare och den stora massan som inte lyssnar på reggae (varför man nu inte skulle göra det vet jag inte). Men det finns också fakta för den som redan läst en reggaebok eller två. Jag har sällan intresserat mig för svensk reggae, eller svensk musik för den delen, men sträckläste ändå stora delar av boken. Och jag hittade nya spännande saker hela tiden.

Kristian Lönner vill väldigt mycket med den här boken. Han förklarar reggaens alla genrer, Jamaicas kultur och rastafarireligionens rötter. Boken skulle förmodligen tjänat på ett inledningsavsnitt där han förklarade begrepp som har med reggaen i stort att göra. Då skulle avsnitten blivit mer kärnfulla och fokuserade. Men det är en smaksak och spelar ingen roll för helhetsintrycket. När de knappt 200 sidorna är tummärkta så är det människoödena som etsat sig fast.

Du behöver inte älska reggae för tycka om den här boken. Inte heller vara expert på dancehall, steppers eller rastafari. Det enda du behöver är ett öppet sinne och nyfikenhet på människor och musik. Det är nämligen i det gränslandet Jamaica – Sverige tur & retur lyckas bäst.

2 Comments

Filed under Recensioner