General Echo: The ‘Wednesday Alternative’ Mix
General Echo is a monthly night in Walthamstow, North London. Held in an unassuming upstairs pub called The Victoria it’s a modest but welcoming reggae / dub disco with a relatively seismic sound system and reputable Guinness, all tied together by selectors and guests who acknowledge the innovation, mutation, spirituality and psychedelia that characterises Jamaica’s most influential artform. In the night’s curation there’s a recognition of what producers like King Tubby, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Prince Jammy first pioneered yet equal appreciation for the many evolutions and leftfield turns that have transpired since.
You’re as likely to hear the cult and the contemporary as you are the classic, from Wackies 12”s, On-U Sound rarities and the latest Equiknoxx outings to dusty 7”s of vintage ska, rugged roots and treasured lovers rock. Recent nights have played host to the likes of Warrior Queen, Domestic Exile and their next sees Gizmo from Berceuse Heroique manning the rig. More than most General Echo represents a forward-looking celebration of reggae and dub’s timeless futurism, both its unabating relevance and its continued reconstruction.
Here they provide an alternative homegrown history of dub music as realised on our very own humdrum island. As a mix this is more instructive than most charting how dub has influenced many hearts & minds on these here shores, sending inimitable shockwaves through post-punk, grime & beyond. Here's a reflection on ‘English Echoes’ in their own words:
Please introduce yourself…
We are General Echo Sound System, a monthly reggae disco in Walthamstow, London E17. The night is named in tribute to Jamaican MC Earl Anthony Robinson who had deejay hits with "Drunken Master" and other classic tracks.
Can you draw what you think it sounds like for us (an image from the old internet is acceptable)?
Here’s the poster for our first ever General Echo session, hand-drawn by Dan:
Where was the mix recorded?
In one of our front rooms in north-east London
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
Playing darts in The Victoria public house in Walthamstow (General Echo HQ). Doing hash and cigarette shotties in your mate’s living room when their parents are out.
What should we be wearing?
What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?
Two walkmans and some effects pedals – have seen Tapes do this in Phonica and it was ace
Which track in the mix is your current favourite?
Love Clinic – Reach Out – brilliant Mad Professor production and sounds great at any speed
What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?
This Strictly Underground megamix that Kenny Ken did on a CD that came stuck to the front of To The Core magazine. 22 minutes of Pure mid-90s jungle business.
If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why?
DJ Derek forever
What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?
Then: soundlab dlp1rs and a gemini mixer (from when HMV sold kids DJ kits in a box at christmas) / Now: Technics 1210s / Xone 23 / 4-track tape recorder / Space Echo / mystery tone box.
What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?
Work from the middle outwards…. Like watching a dubplate being cut, but with the video being played in reverse
What were the first and last records you bought?
I’m going to cheat and tell you about the first and last record I bought specifically to play at General Echo, no-one wants to hear about my teenage pop transgressions. First: Marcia Griffiths – Hurting Inside 7” / Last: Pedrodollar – Born Free 27 12”
If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like?
If it was an animal what would it be?
An elephant, the most dub of all the animals
One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?
That’s the beauty of spinning reggae: it’s more about playing great records than seamless mixing. We’re selectors not DJs! Anything can go into anything else with some dub siren in the middle.
Upcoming in the world of…
Our second birthday party with guest selector Giz from Berceuse Heroique
Anything else we need to discuss?
Respect to all the guest selectors and musicians who have ever played for us: DJ Ray the Thinking Man’s Skinhead (king of revival sounds), Vital Sound (soundclash victor), Domestic Exile (hypnotic dancehall), Dubplate Pearl and Mister Swing Easy (south london’s finest), Mark Hart (MVP in the Walthamstow scene), Byron’s Yard (master of the dubplate lathe), Darren Hayman (modular synth genius), Huw Davies (harp extraordinaire), Seb aka Computer Crash (digidub and sleng teng specialist), Michael Hodgson (Dub Module/Pitch Black), Sugar Records crew (most exciting new label in London right now – their 2 EPs to date are absolutely essential), Ben (Horus Records/Lion Vibes), John Eden (Woofah Mag/Uncarved), Miles Opland (Bokeh Versions – check all their releases), Andi Nixon (Valley Of Golden Skulls/Deathcount In Silicon Valley), Also Axel & Henry (Wheel Up Sound System – great crew who throw the best parties). Mad Professor, Andy Weatherall and Adrian Sherwood for letting us warm up their decks! Big up DJ Mancunian Way for releasing our Jungle Echo tape on Too Fucked To Dance and Lean Low for the Warrior Queen dubplate hook-up.