Interview: The Heatwave
Dancehall crew The Heatwave are infamous for putting on some of the most exciting raves in the scene. The Wrap Up’s Shireen Fenner talks to crew pioneer Gabriel Heatwave about the energy of dancehall music, their Showtime event in Birmingham and the new label the guys are launching called Heat Wax…
The Wrap Up: Hey Gabriel! You started The Heatwave in 2003 with a few friends - how did it come together?
Gabriel Heatwave: We just wanted to do a night that was playing dancehall and bashment all night. At that time we felt that there weren’t many events on for Jamaican music; we wanted to give it the recognition that it needed. Mainly, we wanted to put together a sick party where everyone would come to dance and enjoy themselves.
TWU: Where do you find the link between the dancehall, jungle, garage and grime that you play?
Gabriel Heatwave: Dancehall and reggae events in the 70’s and 80’s introduced the first big raves in the UK and that’s what set the template from everything to acid house through to jungle, garage and grime. A lot of the people that are making music in the UK come from the Caribbean or have parents that come from there, so growing up listening to that music will influence their tunes. Prodigy does it and Shy FX and Apache did it with ‘Original Nutter’. In terms of garage, Troublesome and all the stuff Sticky did with Ms Dynamite and Stush was reggae influenced. He grew up with reggae and dancehall and started out as a dancehall and hip-hop DJ. All the garage he made has got that heavy bass sound that works with dancehall style vocalists.
TWU: The Showtime event looks pretty special, with a line-up of old school and new school. How well do the different generations mix when it comes to the music?
Gabriel Heatwave: I think it mixes really well because what they do is all essentially the same. The artists that we have on the line up come from different eras and genres; for example Top Cat is a jungle artist and Durrty Goodz is a grime artist. What they do is the same; they have all come from the same tradition, which is MCing, sitting on rhythms and passing the mic. Whether they are doing it at a festival or on pirate radio it’s the same set up and they all come out of the reggae and dancehall sound system traditions.
TWU: For people who haven’t been to any of your raves or parties, how would you describe them?
Gabriel Heatwave: People always say it is just madness! There is so much energy in the music and the way we present and play it; you will hear 50 tunes in an hour. We have a couple MC’s who host it to make people go mad. The whistles and the horns we give out just create a noise and an atmosphere to hype people up. It’s just about dancing; our raves are not about people coming in and posing or checking people out, it’s about getting involved and enjoying yourself. ‘Showtime’ is more like a concert vibe where you listen to people’s lyrics and watch the MC’s.
TWU: You’ve recently launched your own label called Heat Wax. Can you tell us more about this?
Gabriel Heatwave: It going to be launched in August, around carnival time. We’ve kind of released music before; such as our own remixes and just putting out our production. We wanted to do something where we are pushing other people a bit more. The UK is stronger than it has been for years, but there isn’t really anywhere central for the scene to revolve around. I think for the UK dancehall scene to really grow and be big internationally, it needs a label as a vocal point for all those artists so they can push their sound. We’re doing stuff with Stush and Sticky is going to be involved. We’ll also be working with the MC’s we normally work with, such as Stylo G and Gappy Ranks.
TWU: What else can we expect from Heatwave in the future?
Gabriel Heatwave: We’ve just kicked off festival season; we are doing around 10 festivals this summer and a few carnivals like Leeds and Notting Hill carnival, of course. Summer is always super busy for us with loads of events like that. Especially this year because we are celebrating 50 years of Jamaican independence!
Keep up to date with The Heatwave by following them on Twitter.
Words: Shireen Fenner (@shireenxoxo)