In 1980 during the 2-Tone era and via that label I discovered reggae and dub music, I was always interested in the slower cuts and the instrumentals of that era’s output including associated acts such a UB40 and The Beat et al and running along side all this I discovered that wonderful eclectic triple album by The Clash, ‘Sandinista’, and also ‘Black Market Clash’, which led me to Jamaican radio DJ and recording artist Mikey Dread and then loads of vintage Jamaican dub albums begun making their appearance in my collection and by the end of the 1980s I had hundreds of albums and 12″s. I, like many of us back then, spent every pound I had every week on vinyl. Then at the end of the 80s I got into the hip hop and funk of the day, with plenty of trips up to Camden Town to purchase bootleg cassette mixtapes by the dozen sometimes and buying music by Public Enemy, James Brown’s ‘In The Jungle Groove’, all sorts of hip and the hop and groovy vibes.
My other life running in tandem during the 80s was being a musician, a drummer playing in two indie bands between 1983 & 1987 after which I relocated from Hertfordshire to Hayling Island near Portsmouth, which at that time had a couple of great vinyl second hand shops, which I frequented on occasion and discovered my third music passion after Dub and Hip Hop and that was (after buying blind a handful of old vinyl albums going cheap) the progressive/experimental era of the 1970s. But reggae and dub has always been my first passion and it is where I’m most confident in talking/writing about, especially with both todays and the recent past underground dub scene for which I have been a solid supporter of since the early 2000s.
In 2006 I launched an underground label called SpringlineJamaica, with the view of becoming a fully fledged record label with incorporation of online radio stations and promotional websites within, and in 2007, after many months of research and courting a dozen or more underground dub artists who were profiling on the website ‘Versionist’.com and a handful of DJs I launched Springline Records as the umbrella for SpringlineJamaica Radio, then Uprising Radio and a bunch of subsidiary/imprint labels each designated to certain artist releases, much like the old Trojan label once did, each artist had their own publicity website paid for by Springline plus heavy rotation on our two stations, this was before the days of Facebook and YouTube, all initial promoting was done via the old music forum networks. The label ran for almost ten years and it released over 30 albums and CDs from individual artists and producers as well as a half-dozen run of V/A albums, EPs and singles, most of which were taken down from stores after I had put the Springline name to bed, and the online radio stations (there were a few more) ran up until 2016 with my last owned station, ‘Versionist Village Radio’, which was embedded inside the newly re launched Versionist.net which featured over 100 profiling dub and reggae underground artists and a few hundred members. A kind of mini Bandcamp where I provided the artists with their own page that they could edit and customize and either sell or give away their works to registered members, the station had twenty live DJs on cam throughout the week, it all worked well, but as with most largish financially unbacked projects (except for my own cash injections into it as with the labels and stations before) they can only survive for a limited time before the bank stops being friendly. More recently, after my divorce, I decided to treat myself to a home studio and some keyboards and rediscovered making music. After an 11 year break of not playing any instruments I now record and mix under the name Kingdom Signal, some of my works have been described as ‘progressive dub’ all hand played, no loops or fancy programmes, just playing and overdubbing into a Tascam 8 track machine which I really enjoy doing, re discovering and recording, a continuation of my last home studio which was back in 2003 in the village of Boxmoor in Hertfordshire where myself and friends recorded. I moved to the island of Corsica in 2005, all the labels, the radio stations and web sites were operated from this island, I learnt a lot during that university of labels and stations and met some really cool artists and DJs in the dub arena and now bang up to date I am honoured to be part of and enjoy immensely writing for UK Vibe magazine reviewing underground and uprising artists.
You can perhaps delight your ears by tending my Kingdom Signal Soundcloud page, also somewhere on mixcloud are some examples of my radio shows, just search either/all Gibsy Rhodes, Versionist village radio, Kingdom Signal, Haji Mike & Kingdom Signal ‘Live’, SpringlineRecords and something will appear.
I released an album as CD and DL with Haji Mike in May 2016 entitled ‘One Summer’ and we toured the album both here in Corsica (as a duo) and in Cyprus (with a band).