City Paper feature for MIDNITE show
Joy & Paine
DJ Rob Paine on 15 years of making reggae in the house of Worship.
by A.D. Amorosi
Published: Jul 18, 2007
TOASTED: Rob Paine (left) and El Feco B team up on the new Solomonic Sound System presents El Feco B and Family.
photo : starkey/ www.starkeymusic.com
Jah loves Rob Paine. The Philadelphia DJ/Solomonic Sound system operator/music maker/label owner has been creating dub-house and nu-reggae for almost 15 years, with residencies in the tri-state area, Washington, D.C., and even Honolulu. Paine and company’s sound is a thick yet flighty, humidly atmospheric electronic groove, one that enhances each record he puts out on the Worship label. (He’s coming up on 30 releases.) But as Worship pulls up to the bumper of local poet/toaster El Feco for Solomonic Sound System presents El Feco B and Family, Paine’ll bring to the stage Wareika Hill — one of Philly’s finest young live bands to back Feco & Fam for a mix of federation tradition and kinky vibes.
City Paper: Fifteen years? Ain’t you tired?
Rob Paine: I personally DJ, engineer, produce, own a record label, promote events and do sound design/rentals to get by. The only part that wears on me is the DJing and sound rental. To pay the bills for musical passion you have to cover the business.
CP: I adore old-school locals like Timmy Tanzania, new-schoolers like Wareika Hill and its offshoots like Inspector 7 and King Django’s Roots & Culture. But on the local live reggae, dub or sound system tip, there seems as if there have to be more acts. Are they hiding in plain sight?
RP: There are more. But them so irie they don’t get out and push hard [laughs]. There are more solo artists developing compared to actual bands. There’s New Kingston Band and Crucial. On the dub/foundation tip, there’s Iron and Iyahni Arkestra. Vybz Xpress is touching the production table now. Solo artists like Flippa Mafia, Beneton the Menace, Summer Angel, Ambulance — so much talent. But there’re too many haters and not enough people supporting each other. Not saying it’s all like that, but it’s there of course.
CP: Do you feel as if the younger lions have as much dedication to Rastafari as you did coming up?
RP: Some people come into reggae music through their interest and devotion to Rastafari. [For] some, it develops. As an individual I feel you have to separate Rastafari from the music business. It gets confusing. That sounds strange ’cause my beginnings in Rastafari were through the music — back to the ’80s with Bad Brains. Solomonic’s main sound is Rastafarian artists and riddims. But we’re entertainers and want to make everyone feel nice, so we touch on all aspects of reggae sound-system culture and make sure we play some tune for everyone when we perform. Either way, it’s not for one man to judge.
CP: There’s a separation in audiences between the rootsier sounds and the electro-reggae dub-house thing you often do. Can a show like the Midnite/El Feco/Wareika one come closer to uniting them?
RP: There’s definitely a separation. With time, people will fuse more. That said, the El Feco and Family show is an all-roots, culture and foundation showcase. There will be no fusing at this one. [Laughs] But I can assure you anyone who likes even a dash of reggae — pure-quality, forward-thinking reggae — will be won over.
CP: El Feco B’s an amazing writer and toaster. How’d your partnership come about?
RP: Kenny Meez introduced us. [Feco’s] so talented it is a sin he is not making millions. He can write over anything. I gave him this acoustic guitar progression and he wrote “Soldier’s March” (the last tune [on El Feco B and Family]). He had us in tears it was so deep. First take. No punching in. Solid as a rock. Then Feco just phoned people, called up my number one Lady Alma who filled the whole thing up with backing vocals and hooks for some of the songs — even caught her rapping on one track. He’s got more tunes that you can shake a stick at. The links were strong between us from day one. After we both lost our mothers in the same month the friendship grew even stronger. We just poured that emotion into our works together.
CP: And you and your wife are having a baby. When’s the due date and what are you naming her or him?
RP: August 10. Kingston if it’s a boy, Livity for a girl.
Midnite and El Feco B and Wareika Hill perform Fri., July 20, 9 p.m., $25-$30, Fillmore at the TLA, 334 South St., 215-336-2000, www.worshiprecs.com, www.ticketmaster.com.
SHOW RESCHEDULED FOR WED SEPT 26th 2007