The first question only seems right to ask, when and where did sound system culture all start for you?
The first real interaction I had with any kind of "sound system", would have been when I inherited my dads old PA from his old band in the mid 90s. A family friend used to do school discos and parties, and during this time he stopped doing it, and gave me all his retro lights and bits! So for a few years I'd do school discos and birthday parties in the local village hall!
It wasn't until I moved to Leeds in 2006 that I'd have my first interaction with a real "sound system" as we know in this context. For anyone that knows Leeds, there are totems dotted about around the city covered in posters for club nights. When I was driving to work one morning I saw a drum and bass DJ on a poster and decided I'd try and go along. I'd never heard of the name of the night before, but it was called SUBDUB......
From the moment I pulled up outside The West Indian Centre, I knew this was no ordinary club night, with the entire place shaking with bass! After paying the door fee (to a Mr Simon Scott no less), I wandered to where the bass was coming from in the main room. For those that know, walking down that wheelchair ramp into the main room at West Indian Centre was hilarious, the whole thing would shake!
I saw these big stacks of speakers around the room with brightly coloured grills and had no idea what I was experiencing. The music that was being played was reggae classics that I knew, but then new intense modern sounding productions that I couldn't explain what they were. This was all pre-facebook, pre-youtube days, so information gathering was hard on the subject. But I knew what I was listening too was something special, and what I was experiencing for the very first time was something that would change my life, Iration Steppas.
You spent many years as an apprentice of Iration Steppas sound system before you went on to build your own sound system. What was it like to be in Marks (Iration Steppas) training camp and how much support did you receive when building the sound system?
For the young keen aspiring sound boy, Mark is the ideal teacher. He is at the top of his game, and the consummate entertainer. Building a sound system is much much more than literally "building" it. From stack placement, to loading the van, to liaising with venue owners, interacting with the crowd, playing the right tune at the right time, tuning the frequencies, it goes on and on! He also has very high standards, so for myself a new comer, I started out with high expectations of what I should be doing. Like many practical jobs, running a sound system really benefits from working with an established teacher, as these are things that cannot be taught in books, to which Mark is the ideal teacher.
How did sessions compare from when you first debuted the full sound system in 2014 to now where you are booked in advance for most weekends?
When I first debuted the sound system back then (with Solo Banton no less!) it was mainly small, local sessions near to Sheffield. So say Leeds, Nottingham, Leicester and the like
Now, it has turned into practically a full time business thanks to a hard working team behind the scenes. Myself and my friends run a hire company out of Sheffield called DEM (Dedicated Events Management), so we have a full complement of engineers to hand. This means that it is possible to have Sinai in multiple cities on the same night. I think the record in recent memory is 5 cities in 2 days, which is all a bit mad really.
What we are able to offer is the presentation of a hand built sound system, but ran with top of the range amplification and speaker drivers
In 2015 you provided the sound system for Boiler Room. What impact did this appearance have on the sound system?
That was one of the pivotal moments in bringing Sinai to a larger audience, and has had a real impact. On the night itself in London, I had to turn off all notifications on my phone, as Boiler Room has such a large social media reach, I was getting more likes than my phone could deal with!
Thanks to this event, and Mala and Steph from Deep Medi especially, Sinai is now a popular choice for dubstep events around the country
There is a shift towards powersofts in the scene, something in which you were one of the first to trial. How do you feel this has influenced the scene and what do you think will be the next advance in the sound system scene?
I have a number of friends who run large scale PA audio companies, so they have access to new and interesting equipment such as Powersoft amplifiers. I've always had a very keen interest in technology, so any advances I could gain from this has always been super interesting for me!
When I moved from my old void amplifiers to Powersoft amplification, I figured out that if I took two stacks out, I would save 330kg in weight! Which is pretty much the weight of 3 scoops (sub bass cabinets)
They are very efficient on power usage, so when using normal 13a "wall sockets" they are still able to perform really really well, unlike older amps where you would need a dedicated high power outlet
Another super handy side effect, is that the UK service centre for Powersoft is approx 1 mile away in Sheffield, so any problems can be fixed super quickly
As for as new advances, I think we're going to see some more box designs start to appear in the scene. Traditionally, most sounds have used scoops for their sub. But as the PA world develops newer designs, I think that is going to mirror over to the sound system world, such as tapped horns and bandpass boxes.
What is the real bonus of recent years, for bad or good, is the internet. In years gone by, if you wanted a certain type of box built, you'd have to travel round the country to find the right builder that would decide they would build for you. Now, it's possible to get a plan from the internet, then providing you have the tools, build it yourself
Lastly, on a light note, when you look back over the years, do you have a favourite moment, either as a fan or a sound man?
Playing in Paris for the first time with my own sound, with Mark Iration as a special guest DJ was a very special moment. The French crowd is very receptive to dub music and really enjoy what you play, and the vibes and atmosphere was on point.
Being asked to play at Boiler Room by Deep Medi was really special. The crowd was fully surrounding the DJs and the sound controls, and whilst only was a short session, the vibes were incredible. Not only that, it gave the sound some amazing promotion
Bringing the sound system to Croatia both this year and last felt like a real achievement. Outlook festival is seen as the pinnacle of sound system culture festivals and I've been coming to it as a punter for years, so making the transition from that, to being part of production and being asked to bring our own soundsystem was a real pleasure.