A post for Omnified by Selecta Drek
Derek Fead, also known as Selecta Drek, explores the dub spectrum and the different aspects of Berlin’s dub culture, as well as the artists, venues, and events behind it. Selecta Drek is a dedicated fan and DJ of reggae, dancehall, ska, dub and all things music and culture to come out of Jamaica. Before moving to Berlin, he hosted a radio show on WHFR Dearborn in Detroit where he explored the influence that Jamaican music has had on music around the world.
“Reggae in Wedding,” which takes place on the last Thursday of each month, has become a staple in my monthly musical intake. For the past year, the event has been run by Black Mountain Sound System and co-hosted with Genys, both of whom have been DJing Jamaican-influenced music in different capacities for years.
Black Mountain Sound System began in Madrid, Spain, over two decades ago. “We were three: One operating, one selecting, and one on the mic,” said Fred, also known as Black Mountain.
Then, in 2006, Black Mountain moved to Berlin. Now not only does he operate all three roles of the sound system by himself, but he’s also taken on a fourth role as equipment manager, which includes hustling his own speakers, turntables, and records to and from events.
But with Genys coming on board to co-host the five-hour extended sets typical at “Reggae in Wedding,” both DJs have more freedom to fluidly exchange roles over the course of the evening. The night also occasionally features performances from guest artists coming from around the world, such as the excellent French emcee and selector, Tonto Addi, whom I saw at my first outing in April.
“I try to present the artist, producer and culture,” said Black Mountain of his style. He mostly plays 1970s era reggae and dub reggae which is considered the golden era of Jamaican music, when artists like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, and Lee “Scratch” Perry began gaining global recognition and Jamaican music as a whole became increasingly influential to the evolution of music around the world.
Black Mountain will occasionally get on the microphone throughout his sets, speaking through a voice modulator typical of reggae sound systems and give the audience information on the records he is playing, adding flavor to his mix and presenting the records in a typical Jamaican sound system style.
These purely roots reggae nights are hard to come by in Berlin which is why I am so drawn to “Reggae in Wedding” and its commitment to authenticity in the face of a very limited fanbase in Berlin. “Reggae…is always out of the scene in Berlin,” said Black Mountain, “outside of techno and house.”