Lewis Marnell is mostly known for exploits riding a skateboard, with stand-out parts in Nike SB’s ‘Chronicles Vol. 1’ last year and Almost’s ‘5 Incher’ in 2012, cementing him as one of the best skateboarders in the world, let alone Australia. Since his first exposure to reggae music Lewis has become an avid fan of the genre, which lead him to his passion in collecting classic and hard-to-find reggae records from the ’70s and ’80s. With summer around the corner, we thought it would be great to get our mate Jah Lew to put together an hour long mix of some of his favourite tracks for ACCLAIM readers to enjoy. Get his ‘Duppy Mix’ here, get the ‘erbs prepped and enjoy our interview with the talented Lewis Marnell.
So how did you get into reggae music in the beginning?
I always liked reggae as a kid, and it was funny because when I lived in Sweden in the 90’s I remember my friend giving me this tape and it had all these old reggae songs on it. I used to listen to that on my Walkman, it was a lot of roots reggae and dub and stuff but I didn’t actually know what reggae was. So I used to ask my buddies like “hey what’s that music? It’s kinda bassy, and it has like the echoes and effects on it.” Someone would tell me “oh yeah that’s like psy trance trance” and I’d go home to the computer and download a bunch and I’m like…this is not quite it…(laughs).
So I was venturing through a bunch of weird music before I actually got clued on that it was dub and reggae, and the whole association there. I’d listen to old Linval Thompson, stuff like I Love Marijuana and all those classic jams, a lot of Bob Marley I guess in the beginning you know, of course and then the associated artists and it just really snowballed from there.
I almost feel like I don’t even have time for any other genre of music because I’m just scratching the surface. Pretty much all of my stuff is 70’s and 80’s related and I still everyday find more and more stuff that I’ve never heard, it’s awesome.
Why did you choose that era of reggae music out of all the other periods?
I think that’s when all the roots reggae stuff really started. It was during the time where everything they’re singing about was going on out there n Jamaica, I guess those dudes back then in that time were the trend setters to what reggae is today.
When did you start collecting reggae records?
It was when my buddy Garry Smith from London had to move back to London and I bought his turntables. The reason why I wanted to get turntables was that I wanted to buy vinyl because all good reggae was released on vinyl and that’s where you’ll get all the rare versions. Certain things would come out on vinyl that would never ever be released digital unless someone rips it off the record.
And when did you start DJing?
Well I wouldn’t even really call myself a DJ, I just call myself someone who loves reggae, I wouldn’t say I know how to move a crowd, but I know my music pretty well but I wouldn’t say I’ll come DJ at your party and get a whole dance going, but I’d definitely create a vibe.
Well tell us about the mix, what is your favorite track on there?
One of my favourite songs on the mix is by Clint Eastwood and General Saint called Too Bad DJ and a Duppy. It’s a bassy, heavy, good rhythm and it’s funny. He sings about walking home through a cemetery, he’s got his cigarette but no lighter and he bumps into these two ghosts that he ends up hanging out with. The Jamaican term for ghost is Duppy and so I’ve called the mix Duppy mix…I don’t know why that one song just stood out to me.
Have you taken on board the sort of like Rastafarian lifestyle?
Yeah definitely, as a kid listening to reggae, I was always listening to it, but not really hearing the message they had in the music. But once I started hearing this, yeah it’s something I adopted and would live by, you know
Tell us about this Jah Lewis’ Boom Sound.
Ja Lew’s Boom Sound! Well I had this bike trailer that I was going to build a little speaker box in that could connect to bikes so you can just ride around, and you have beats where you go. I had that thing sitting at home for ages and I was trying to work out what I was going to do with it, and then I went on tour and stopped over in Copenhagen in Denmark and saw all these people riding around on these Christiana bikes. Christiana it’s a free city in Denmark, free city as in they’re separated from Copenhagen law, they’re like these hippies that took over these old military bunkers and made their own little independent city within Copenhagen and they make a lot of cool stuff out of there like these bikes.
So I saw those while I was over there and thought that this would be perfect for what I want to do…it’s like this three-wheeler bike and yeah it carries up to 100 kilos so I tracked down one of them, then I built a test run with old stereo speakers I had at home. Mark II now is great, Mark I is good but I really surprised myself with Mark II.
What’s your plans for it then?
Have parties, play good music to the people and create a vibe and see where it leads us from there. I’ve gotten together with my homie Rob and he’s built one for the trailer I was going to use originally so I’m rocking the three wheeler bike with the sound system on top and then we can hook them up together, and you get double the sound.
Download Lewis Marnell’s Duppy Mix from our SoundCloud here.