Dub Pioneer Andy Scholes on 25 Years of Production, The 2 Kings Sound, and His Dream Collaboration

With over 25 years of acclaimed production and DJ experience in the dub and roots reggae genres, it’s surprising that it’s taken so long for U.K. artist Andy Scholes to make his way over to this side of the pond for his U.S. tour debut. Starting the 2 Kings Records label in 1990 with partner Jack Lundie — originally as an outlet to put out work under their Henry & Louis alias — the label has now evolved to become one of Bristol’s most influential roots, dubstep, and reggae labels. Recently, the duo performed at BBC’s 6 Music Festival, where they did a live DJ set as 2 Kings Soundsystem.

Scholes answers some questions over e-mail before his U.S. tour about his label, being a pioneer, and his dream collaboration. He headlines Dub Mission this Friday, March 11, at Elbo Room.

[jump] When did your love for reggae begin?
In 1981. I was part of a Legendary Sound System, Red Eye Hi Power with Saul Hooper and Kev Rogers (aka White Lion). I learned the rudiments of music and foundation.

In your own words, describe to us your DJ style.
YT Style playin’ Science, 16htz science, a bit like a Jedi in Star Wars, haha!
As a dub pioneer for over 25 years, what's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
In my career, never underestimate no one.

You've traveled all over the world. Which region has made the biggest impact on your career?
Kingston, Jamaica: You feel the heartbeat strong, pure and clean, tougher than tough.

How has your label 2 Kings evolved since it began in 1990?
The 2 Kings sound is built on a powerful bass platform and pulls in old-school production flavors like looped space echos, mid-range EQ, sweeps and spring reverbs. Other reggae influences come from Hugh Mundell, Johnny Clark, Nagga Morris, Barry Brown, Horace Swaby, Dennis Brown, and Niney The Observer. I come from a deep roots music involvement, triggered by my brother Mark giving me Scientist’s How the West Was Won in 1981 and leading to me joining Bristol sound system Red Eye Hi Power, through which reggae became my way of life. Reggae was also my partner Jack Lundie's first musical love, though he had also been involved with local Bristol bands before we forged the Henry & Louis partnership upon which 2 Kings is founded. Inspired, I started to write and learn ways of producing original roots music. We set up Henry & Louis in 1988 and started up the label 2 Kings Records in 1990.

What's coming out of the label lately?
A couple of forthcoming releases: One coming out this May on Zam Zam Records called Love and Understanding with Henry & Louis featuring Johnny Clark, and an LP featuring Gary Clail (On U Sound/Nail It To The Mast) coming out on 2 Kings label in September or October.

What do you think about reggae making its way into contemporary music?
Reggae music has a much wider audience. Its progression into the mainstream has opened doors for a lot of artists and producers, a knock-on effect, which is global, but let’s not forget the people who laid down the foundations. There are lots of producers out there, but few stand up to the mark in my book.

If you could collaborate with one artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
Hugh Mundell. He's a massive influence. I played him a lot on the sound system. His delivery is unique, with style. He’s also a pioneer of steppas music.

What are you looking forward to doing in America?
Play 2 kings music for the people and make them smile.

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