Ju Lion (Selecter beim Kaschpasoundz Soundsystem) traf sich letztes Jahr für Radio Funklust auf ein Interview mit dem Londoner Dub Produzenten Alpha Steppa. Nun könnt ihr das Interview nochmal exklusiv hier bei uns nachlesen. Viel Spaß dabei und Big Ups an Ju!
Ju: Hi. I’m here with Ben Alpha, also known as Alpha Steppa. Ben, would you like to introduce yourself?
Ben: Greetings. My name’s Ben, Alpha Steppa. I run a label called Steppas Records and a label called Trigram. I produce Dub, Reggae, Bass, Soundsystem music and I travel around this world playing this music to as many people as I can.
Ju: You grew up around Dub & Reggae music. Your father and aunt are dub producers (Alpha & Omega) themselves. When did you decide you also want to go that path and make music for your living?
Ben: When did I decide… Well… I don’t know even if it was a conscious decision. In fact my dad always said to me: “Whatever you do in life, don’t do music.” He said “if you want to make a living, don’t do music.” But you know what it’s like as a kid. You don’t listen to your parents. You do the opposite. So now I do make music.
I started making music, experimenting, producing, playing instruments at a young age, 13/14 years old and eventually after years of experimentation I discovered a sound or a sound discovered me however you look at it and that was fitting for me and that’s how Alpha Steppa began and that’s how my own style of music commenced. In a natural sense it was a progression.
Ju: You talked about your sound and what I find quite interesting is/what I wondered through my time following you is where your asian influences come from. I read that you lived some time in South Korea if I’m not mistaken?
Could you recognize some differences in the local scenes in different cultures during your travels?
Ben: Dub music, Soundsystem Culture as we always say is one family. Dub music now has gone global, so it exists all over the world. In many parts of the world nowadays you will find Dub. If you go to Australia, New Zealand, Hongkong, Japan, Latin America, USA, Canada, all over Europe, Russia, Africa.. in many places you will find this music. I’m sure there are places where there is no scene at all(, I don’t know, I’ve never heard of anything in places like Mongolia. I’m sure there is but I don’t hear about it. Maybe one day.) But nonetheless it’s a global music. I think it’s a global music because it appeals not to a specific group of people but a wide demographic(, you know?) This music is something that transcends gender, transcends race, transcends generation and transcends even culture. Because we talk about roots and culture but roots and culture specific to the individual. I think wherever you go in the world you will find that the local scenes have a lot in common.
Ju: You’re also creating music with your aunt and dad as the formation Dub Dynasty. Where do you draw the line between Alpha Steppa and Dub Dynasty?
Ben: That’s hard to say. I suppose the sound merges in some sense but also I think each sound is distinct. Alpha & Omega is a very particular sound, Alpha Steppa is a very particular sound and Dub Dynasty is something different again. And the sound of Dub Dynasty only manifests when there are the three of us. (Me, my dad and my aunt. )I couldn’t make Dub Dynasty music by myself and neither could John and Christine. So, no line is deliberately drawn but there is a line like you said and that’s a natural occurring phenomenon, I think. It depends on the people who are involved in producing the music and the influences that surround you.
Q: Who came up with the idea of Dub Dynasty? Was it a conscious decision or came it together naturally?
Ben: Again it was a naturally occurring thing. When I started my label I made some collaborations but it would be Alpha Steppa and Alpha & Omega remixing one another which is a different thing than Dub Dynasty. It’s not how Dub Dynasty works nowadays, which is a collaborative project. It started just by going around to my aunties house and I guess we had some free time and we felt like making some music and so we did. And then my dad came and started mixing the music and adding additional elements and the creative process developed from there
Ju: To quote the title of your debut LP: What keeps you “Rooted & Grounded”? Where do you draw your inspiration from after all these years?
Ben: For me personally to stay rooted I just ensure that I always ask questions. Questions of other people, of situations and of myself. Every day I ask myself “Who am I?” This is a key question. If you can ask yourself this question every day at as many intervals as possible then you’re always going to come back with the same answer, which is: I am you. I am the universe. I am the trees. I am the grass. I am the wind. I am the ocean. I am everybody. And in this realization can I help but be rooted and grounded? Because no matter what you’re doing in your life, no matter what drama or what excitement or what boredom, it doesn’t matter whatever enters into your life. You have a foundation of, how we say, oneness, connectedness, you know? When you reach a time in your life where you realize that everybody and everything is the same and has come from the same place. In a spiritual sense and even in a scientific sense. In a spiritual sense we are one consciousness, in a religious sense we are brothers and sisters, family. And in a scientific sense we were forged in the furnace of a single star 13.7 billion years ago.
Ju: Final question. What is planned for the future?
Ben: Well, from a personal standpoint I don’t have a future. I genuinely try not to think too much about the future because I just want to be here and now and that’s fine with me. But from a practical standpoint time is important when it comes to record label planning and making sure everything happens when it is supposed to happen. So yeah, I have various releases planned for the year.
And I’ll definitely be working with JahYu again because JahYu is a big part of Steppas records in fact because we first met in Korea when I founded the label. That’s when it started. When I was living over there he was living there, too. He has been a big influence to me and I think I’ve influenced him, so we influence one another. And he has an incredible sound. That’s one thing I like about Germany (JahYu is korean-german) in particular. I think here in Germany is an openness to experimentation, to new sounds. When I come to play here, you don’t have to conform to any patterns. In some places you might feel a pressure to maybe play certain tunes or particular sounds but in Germany I think anything goes. I love that.
Ju: Thank you for your time.
Ben: Thanks to you and thanks to all supporters of conscious soundsystem music. This is Alpha Steppa.