Sound-system culture is changing fast. Having transferred from the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica, to British church halls, community centres and streets in the second half of the 20th century, these parties – complete with turntables, speaker stacks and DJs playing ska and reggae – have gone on to influence grime and garage and play a major part in British music culture today, culminating at Notting Hill Carnival each August Bank Holiday. Yet as Boiler Room reports, this male-dominated musical sphere is currently witnessing an explosion of new female talent.
This new wave includes artists such as former radio DJ April ‘Rusty Rebel’ Grant, who set up Rebel Rock Sound, in 2014 and has been credited as the UK’s first female sound system owner and operator. Elsewhere is female-led system CAYA (Come As You Are), fronted by Thali Lotus, who says CAYA means acceptance of who you are. “It means respecting other people for who they are as individuals and really about how to be an individual,” she says. “Come as you are is the environment that I hope to create when I have a session.“
Both Lotus and Grant aim to encourage more women to take to sound-system culture and – through their pioneering projects – they hope to make its storied heritage appeal to a younger generation regardless of their gender.