The reggae sound system scene today

Long-time reggae aficionado and author of Sound System Culture, Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems64 published in 2014, Paul Huxtable has traced the evolution of reggae and sound systems that came across the Atlantic from the West Indies and helped to transform Britain and the towns and cities within it.


The Reggae Sound System Scene Today

Wood Street, Huddersfield HD1 1DU, UK

The Reggae Sound System Scene Today

Saint Thomas' Road, Huddersfield HD1 3LG, UK


When Paul first arrived in Huddersfield in 1996 the reggae sound system scene was already quite established and there were a lot more venues prepared to put on a sound system dance back then. ‘It’s very difficult with venues these days, a lot of complications with the no-smoking ban and environmental health and noise complaints and a general complacency has killed it down a bit. I caught the last of the vibrant years in Huddersfield, but unfortunately witnessed the decline of it,’ he says.

Paul started building his own sound system in the late 1980s and since then has made his living building sound systems all over the UK and abroad. Originally the sounds he built consisted of some valve equipment but as the sounds got bigger and bigger the valve amplifiers got replaced with transistor amplifiers. Eventually he decided to build a sound system from scratch using valve amplifiers and has been playing and promoting and touring with his authentic sound system Axis Valv-a-tron and has gained an international following.

The Axis Valv-a-tron plays every second Saturday of the month at Northern Quarter, formerly known as the Builders Club which at its height was Huddersfield town centre’s premier venue for live music. ‘The Northern Quarter is a truly grassroots venue. The organisers believe in the music and the cohesion of the community through music. There is a bigger purpose behind the venue – it’s not just a financial thing – it’s about making people feel comfortable,’ he says.

Another popular venue is BASSment Studios which hosts music events throughout the year that celebrate bass heavy music and sound system culture. Zion InnaVision sound system founder and promoter Marshall Harriott, who hosts his regular night Dub It Up at the venue, believes reggae music is all about uplifting and inspiring people. Marshall says, ‘The main aim is to reignite the town’s long tradition of live reggae and dub music and to create good vibes and love from above.’

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