Words: Zulu Swarm & Irie Vibes [insta] @irievibesyork

Irie Vibes and Zulu Swarm are soundsystem collectives in York and Leeds respectively. With a mutual love of reggae, roots, rocksteady, ska, dancehall and dub, both crews share big sounds and big love across both cities. Head to the West Indian Centre to hear Zulu Swarm’s regular sessions, and catch Irie Vibes on the 7th December at The Drawing Board’s Late License Xmas Party and at The Crescent’s New Year’s Eve Party. 


Irie Vibes

Jacob Miller – Dock of the Bay

A reggae re-lick of the Otis Redding stone cold classic. It’s uplifting and lively but laid back, in the way that only Jamaican music can be. ‘Killer’ Miller was tipped to be the next Bob Marley in Jamaica but tragically died in a car crash the year before him. We like to play stuff from right across the decades, and we played this one to warm up the dancefloor early on at our 10th birthday session in October and the party pretty much started there and then. Picked up at an absolute favourite crate-digging haunt, York Racecourse car boot sale.


Johnny Osbourne – Buddy Bye

A crucial tune on the immortal, invincible Sleng Teng ‘riddim’ (instrumental rhythm track) that sent Jamaican music digital crazy almost overnight. There are hundreds of vocals recorded on this riddim, but asking us today, we love this one the best! This tune always smashes it when the dancefloor is packed and the crowd are with you. It’s one of the best audience call and response party tracks, with an inexplicably addictive bassline that’s a joy to behold when heard through a big sound system. Our resident jungle DJs Yorkshire Tea Party also run a remix of this one.

Jerry Johnson – Major Minor Diminished

This one’s on a romping dub 10” produced by Brooklyn-based Digital English. The bassline has a pumping 4/4 groove that pneumatically powers a dancefloor, and Jerry Johnson’s sax is so catchy, and masterfully played. Jerry was a top-tier musician in the Bronx, and has spent many years playing for UK band Steel Pulse. We first heard this tune helping out on the door at a night in London for Tudor Lion (Channel One/Creation Rebel) and Real Roots Sound System – cooperation is what makes this scene happen. When they played the sax cut, about 5 DJs rushed the turntable to find out what the tune was!


Zulu Swarm

Fabian – Prophecy

This was a great track from the late 70s which has one of the deepest roundest bass lines produced, great vocals and energy flow. It is an evergreen in roots music.


UK Principle – Mistry Babylon

This track, released a few years ago, is a new roots production that encaptures the flavour of old times. With its strong lyrics rolling bassline, it is just right.


King Stanley – Life Experience 

This is a brand new track that captures the new roots flavour in a different fashion. There are strong conscious lyrics which are inspired by his own personal experiences.