Stoke Newington musician given new sound system after storage fire
- Credit: Razvan Pestean
After losing 40 years worth of sound equipment, a Stoke Newington musician has been given a brand new sound system designed and built especially for him.
Alan Rolle of the famous Jah Youth Roots Ambassadors reggae sound system has been making music since 1975, but recently, lost all of his sound equipment and dub plates in a storage fire.
He was devastated when he found out his insurance didn’t cover fire damage.
Alan said: “Yeah it was everything, I was just left with nuts and bolts and what couldn’t be burnt in the fire.”
He added: “When it burnt down I was off the circuit for a good old time.”
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So the 62 year-old asked designer Mykey Hurley to build him a brand new sound system.
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Mykey had previously built some of the equipment lost in the four day storage fire, so he got to work creating a new sound system especially for Alan which he dubbed Phoenix Rises.
Alan told the Gazette: “He showed the designs but to see it was amazing! And it sounds amazing as well.”
The long-time reggae musician says “things are up in the air” since Covid-19 hit but he looks forward to starting a residency at Wally Foster Community Centre near Kings mead estate in Homerton.
He wants to get young people involved and learning about sound systems, how to operate and get one up and running.
“I came to Hackney in about 1978 or 1979 and been here since that time. We’ve been using sound systems in Hackney and all around,” Alan said.
Jah Youth sound system was set up 45 years ago, a few years before Alan moved to Hackney from Forest Gate.
Today, it is known as one of the top roots sound systems in the United Kingdom and Europe.
While based in Hackney the system, which has a minimum crew of 10 persons including singers and DJs, has toured Europe and Africa extensively.
Jah Youth got its name Roots Ambassadors in the late 1980s after a years long trip to Africa.
The system played music in city halls from Kenya to Zimbabwe and Ghana.
In 1992, they returned to the UK leaving behind half of the sound system with a group of Kenyan youths who called themselves the Jah Youth Crew.
They carried on the musical tradition in Kenya.
Click here to follow Jah Roots Ammbassador sound system on Facebook.