The Heatwave: London’S Dancehall Dons
Get ready to beat down the walls and bruk out in the sunshine. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, 2011 is the summer of bashment and, in London, we have The Heatwave to thank for pushing the sound to the level that it’s at today. The Heatwave – a dancehall DJ collective, Rinse FM A-listers and ambassadors for the Jamaican sound in the UK – have been representing the culture of bashment for almost a decade.
Birthing and nurturing a movement solely dedicated to spreading the love, energy and excitement that dancehall embodies, they have a record label and immense club night under their belt as well. Spreading their style and sound across the UK and Europe, The Heatwave stands at the forefront, leading the dancehall revolution.
With everyone from Rick Ross and Busta Rhymes, to our very own Chipmunk and Sneakbo collaborating with Jamaica’s generals, its sound is prominent in most of the music currently topping the charts. From Rihanna’s ‘Man Down’, Nicki Minaj collaborating with Gyptian and Beyonce’s take on Major Lazer’s ‘Pon Di Floor’, the lingering resonance of the fundamental rhythmic style that characterizes the basis of all Jamaican music is in everything.
Gabriel Myddleton founded The Heatwave in 2003. “It started off as a night in east London,” says Gabriel. “I’d been playing dancehall for a couple of years outside of London and I wanted to play it here, in my hometown, where I first discovered it.” Teamed with a reggaeton night, The Heatwave soon became an event of its own – attended by some of the most well respected MCs and DJs of the time.
The nights at east London’s infamous Rhythm Factory were just the beginning. They evolved into their current club night, ‘Hot Wuk’, which truly captures the essence of what a dancehall party is all about – good music and good vibes. It also continues to build the already solid relationship between The Heatwave and the legendary Sticky, who is a resident 'Hot Wuk' DJ and of course producer of some of the baddest tracks from the past and present, which tear up dancefloors all over the country.
Always experimenting with the dancehall sound, The Heatwave’s label, Punchline, was a channel for releasing their ingenious mixes and blends. “We started the label in 2004 to share our remixes with the world. I'd been making them for a couple years already, just doing them live and recording them on minidisc. Old school!” says Gabriel. “Then Henry Heatwave got a dub cutting machine and we started playing them out on dubplate. People kept asking for the tunes, so we pressed up 500 copies of ‘Trick Me Twice’ on 7" vinyl and it went crazy.”
“The other big releases on the label were probably ‘World A Jamrock’ (Damian Marley and Ini Kamoze) and ‘Mad LDN’ (Lily Allen and General Levy), which is one of my personal favourites,” says Gabriel. “It was the first time I got feedback from the artist featured.” General Levy said to me, ‘I'm loving the remix, and from the streets are happy, I'm good!’”
Although they stopped putting out vinyl when most record shops closed down, the remixes continued and the most recent refix has blown up on a global level - The Heatwave take on Adele’s number one hit, ‘Rolling In The Deep’. Originally remixed by Jamie XX, The Heatwave turned it into bashment.
“When I heard Jamie XX's ‘Rolling In The Deep’ remix, I was like, ‘This is a bashment tune!" The instrumental reminded me of the ‘Diwali Riddim’. My first thought was, ‘I wanna hear a dancehall vocal on it.’ For us, it's natural to get Jamaican vocalists on the riddim,” Gabriel explains. As for upcoming remixes from the Heatwave – they have some up their sleeve for us to look forward to, “most of them are top secret,” laughs Gabriel. “But I can tell you about a version of Rihanna's ‘Man Down’ featuring Lady Chann, which I'm just about to finish off. That's gonna be huge.”
And that’s the most exciting thing about what The Heatwave do – their ability to blend the sexy, exciting and fun elements of dancehall, whilst always maintaining a link to the UK sound. Their weekly show on Rinse FM showcases the originators as well as the new talent from both Jamaica and the UK. In 2011, it looks like it’s about to explode further. If you tune into The Heatwave’s show, you will hear Gabriel mix Jamaican heavyweights with stars from our side of the pond, and he does it so effortlessly that it almost seems as if UK dancehall is blowing up live on air.
On June 15, Cargo nightclub in London will play host to an event put on by The Heatwave featuring 14 UK MCs. From jungle to grime, past to present - the likes of Wiley and General Levy will pay homage to the original formula that was set so many years ago by the masters of sound-system culture. "Showtime is gonna be when we do what Shabba and Yellowman and Ninja did back in the day on those big sound systems,” says Wiley. “Kids are gonna watch it in a hundred years and think, ‘I wish I was there.’”
“‘Showtime’ is a development from what we used to do at Rhythm Factory back in 2005/2006,” says Gabriel. The Heatwave have always booked UK MCs and encouraged them to spit over bashment – so this event seems like an inevitable progression. “Back in the day, we booked people like Stush, Riko Dan, Doctor, Rodney P, God's Gift, Blak Twang and Klashnekoff. Stush told me that it was the first time she'd ever been booked at a bashment night! We also had people like Skepta, Jammer, Gappy Ranks, No Lay, YT and Warrior Queen. It was always best when they spat over bashment.”
“I was chatting to Wiley about dancehall in March this year and about how much it had influenced him to pick up the mic when he was younger and he was like, ‘Gabes, you need to put on a show with all of us doing a thing like those dancehall artists’, which really prompted us to put together the event sooner rather than later,” says Gabriel.”
So what is coming up for The Heatwave? “It's gonna be a busy summer for us! Festivals, carnivals, a boat party in Croatia and a few cheeky ‘Hot Wuk’ parties around the country. We're doing ‘Hot Wuk’ at Fabric on July 15, which will be a big one. Then we’re playing at Glastonbury, Bestival, Notting Hill Carnival and we're going to round off the summer with our 8th birthday party in September.”
Whether you're new to the sound or an old school dancehall don, summer 2011 is looking good for you. It’s set to be a scorching dancehall celebration and with carnival season fast approaching, now more than ever before is the time to pay attention to The Heatwave and witness the dancehall explosion taking place right before your very eyes!
The Heatwave’s club night, ‘Showtime’, is taking place tonight at Cargo, London. For more information, head over to the Facebook event page: H E R E
Check out The Heatwave on Rinse FM every Sunday 1am – 3am.
Stay up to date with The Heatwave on Twitter – www.twitter.com/GabrielHeatwave
Words: Loukia Constantinou (@LoukiaC)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)