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British Association of Static Sound Systems – B.A.S.S

Written by on 16 June 2020

BASS (British Association  of Static Sound Systems) is  an organisation  that  represents  the  static  Sound  Systems  licensed  to  play  on  the
streets  in  London’s  Notting  Hill  Carnival.  Arguably  it  is  the  Jewel  in  the  Crown  operating  as  carnival  in  the  UK. BASS is one of 5 disciplines that operates under CVT (Carnival Village Trust) Sound systems have been operating in the UK almost since people from the Caribbean came to the shores of the UK. Black people came over to work in the UK taking up jobs in hospitals, sewerage and transportation industries. Their free time was a frustrating one because the fun back  home was not available in the UK. The house party became the normal thing  because halls & centres were not available and if they were, they had to be vacated very early in the evening. shift work was much the norm for black people so many were just getting home to change and go out when halls were set to close so the house party was the place to attend.

It is imaginable that there was a lot of upset caused because the people of the UK were not used to parties going on late at night but the need for some fun had to go on. There is a bigger story that has to be told on house parties but ultimately Notting Hill Carnival was and still is a celebration to the contribution for Black people who gave so much to help the UK get back on its feet after the 2nd world war. For over 50 years Notting Hill Carnival has entertained people who has travelled from near and far to enjoy the skills of the what a sound system can do to music. You can actually know a song that is being played but it sounds so different but so good. The skill of the person on the microphone and the expertise of the controller playing the frequencies of the pre-amp to accelerate the sound into your mind.

The sound systems throughout the year  will be playing music in halls and venues to give that something different to people who appreciate the skills of the sound system. Some have broken through to represent their skills abroad to many countries to places like China & Japan, indeed many countries have people creating their own sound systems and they even want to clash us . Clashing is when 2 or more sound systems meets in an arena and play music against each other to be declared the winner usually by crowd  participation or judges that are respected in their field of sound music or maybe a combination of both. In Notting Hill Carnival it is seen as the highlight of the year, they come onto the streets ,set up and play music to the crowds for 14 hours over 2 days. Sound systems gets to play their special music and show of the might of their systems.

There are 38 static sound systems licensed to play on the streets of Notting Hill Carnival and in the early years there were at least twice that many playing music anywhere they could get away with it. Suffice to say that not all of the static sounds play Reggae, some play Soul RnB Latin Jazz & Dance music. Love TKO Sound has been playing in Notting Hill Carnival for 30 years and its about the same for a handful of us despite some people thinking that there has been no new sounds.

Sound Systems who have never played carnival thinks that it`s easy until they get an opportunity but they find its much harder on the streets than playing ordinary venues. Arriving with extra equipment usually hired adds to the setting up on the streets and the rain which has tried to dampen spirits in some years still dont stop people from revelling to the output on their favourite weekend of the year.

Despite owning LOVE TKO SOUND I admire many of my colleagues from near & far. I have been in their crowds and seen them at work and because of my background I can feel the skill and quality of the setups. Some of the sound systems are like royalty and to sit in a meeting with the heads of sounds is mind blowing, you take a moment to tell yourself that in this room is the centre of popular music, the people that transform music into an art form.

As a fly on the wall you can see the fist pumps and biggups flying around the room as we meet and greet and often exchange records. We tell each other about up coming gigs and when we are travelling abroad or going into the studio to produce some exclusive music. his information lights the blue touch paper as you wait for what happens next. Please be reminded that when you come to carnival and have a good time amongst the boxes of the sound systems that we are there to entertain you


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