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Interview: Coxsone and Saxon Sound Systems at One Love Festival

Interview: Coxsone and Saxon Sound Systems at One Love Festival

Interview: Coxsone and Saxon Sound Systems at One Love Festival

By on - Photos by Veronique Skelsey - Comment

"It's a love business still"

The Sunday of the One Love Festival saw, what was billed as, an all day collaboration between legendary sound systems Saxon and Coxsone. As these two sounds have been rivals in the UK since the 1980s, it was interesting to see them work together rather than clash.

In the marquee, with both sounds set up side by side in clash style, and none of the members of either sound even making eye contact with each other, you did wonder how much of the event was as friendly as was originally billed. I caught up with both Sir Lloyd Coxsone and Dennis Rowe from Saxon to ask about their thoughts on this. However it seems that the two sound representatives had different ideas about what the day meant…

Lloyd Coxsone

Sir Lloyd Coxsone (Coxsone Sound System)

Sir Lloyd, tell us a bit about what’s going on today in this tent.

Today is the One Love Festival commemorating the Jamaica 50th anniversary, so Coxsone and Saxon, we get together and are playing in a tent down here in Kent, and it’s a wonderful day, we are enjoying it so much.

How do you feel about collaborating with Saxon, because when you usually meet them it’s a clash, but today feels more of a coming together to celebrate the music?

It’s nice. Sometimes we play for honours, you know, and the next time we just flex together and just play nice. Today’s not a competition day, but we are playing nice to entertain the people we have here in one unity, because it’s a one love concert. Sometimes, Coxsone and Saxon do get into big fight, sound system fight for honours, when we are playing for a cup or anything – then it’s serious business. But it’s a love business still. Big up Jamaica 50th anniversary, and it’s very nice to be down here in Kent.

Dennis Rowe (Saxon Sound International)

Dennis RoweWhat’s most striking about today is what you are doing with Coxsone. When we usually see you and Coxsone together it’s in a clash setting and today is a collaboration……

It is a clash. If two sounds meet together, no matter what they’re playing, it’s always a clash. It’s just some clashes are more aggressive than others.

When you’re in a clash [with Saxon], it’s a one horse race really. In the 36 years that Saxon have been around we have made history, and there have been sounds before us, but the only sound from England who has also made a history is Shaka. I’ve known Coxsone from when I was around Shaka. Coxsone sound do their thing, in a different town we do our thing. You can say that reggae music, as a sound system, we took it to the furthest…. Obviously there were foundations there before us, we had Shaka, we had Coxsone, Tubby’s…. [Coxsone] never thought I was going to be as dangerous as I was, so they sold me all their tunes, all their dubplates, they sold all of them to me…. So I had all of what they had, and slowly but surely I built my own contacts around the world and was getting tunes differently, and I always out-shined them so they didn’t like me. I was younger than them…. So, me and Musclehead, as 14 year old music heads, started this thing.

And how does it feel coming together, 36 years on to recognize that?

It feels good to see that people have recognized Saxon. A lot of people spoke to me today and have asked me some remarkable questions, questions which show that they really have been doing their research and listening, which makes me see that people are still in tune.


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