Around 2012, Peng Sound label boss Dan Davies was given a CD from a couple of mates – Joe ‘Kahn’ McGann and Sam ‘Neek’ Barrett. On it was ‘Find Jah Way’. That would be the inaugural release for both Peng Sound and Gorgon Sound. Since then, they’ve continued to drop a flurry of successful releases on the label, as well as recently branching out onto Mala’s celebrated Deep Medi imprint.
Despite some of their other collectives (Bandulu and Young Echo) enjoying more of the spotlight, Gorgon Sound, in a traditional sound system manner, has always let the music stand alone – no press, no hype. Their uncompromising commitment to only doing things the way they want to do it, with no regard for the popular or easier route, has only added to their allure. We were very grateful to be able to exchange a few questions with Gorgon Sound to unveil a bit more about what’s behind this timeless project from the talented pair. You can catch them making their fabric debut in room 1 tonight alongside Benny Page, Ragga Twins and more.
Can you tell us a bit about how Gorgon Sound first came about?
When we first began building tracks together about 7 years ago it became apparent quite quickly that we wanted to form two separate identities for our music projects, one being Kahn & Neek and the other being Gorgon Sound.
We were inspired from our experiences as teenagers seeing artists like Iration Steppas, King Earthquake, Disciples, Aba Shanti and O.B.F at events like Teachings In Dub in Bristol and began experimenting within the harder, UK style of sound system reggae and dub.
How do you both find it juggling your numerous musical outlets? Do you find one can suffer at times at the expense of another, or do they all feed into each other?
The positive aspect to having two separate projects is that we can go between them depending on our mood in the studio, though there certainly is a bit of a crossover in terms of the sound palette we use.
With the Kahn & Neek project taking up more of our time in the past couple of years I think it’s fair to say that Gorgon Sound has taken a bit more of a back seat, but it was never really our intention to be constantly releasing material more that we could switch between either project when the energy was right.
Is there any intention to branch out on the label front in the future?
We work with Peng Sound mainly as we’ve known Dan Davies (who runs the label) for a long time and in part he essentially started the label to give a platform to our community of friends and artists in Bristol to do high quality vinyl releases.
We’ve done a single with Deep Medi too, which helped opened us up to a slightly different audience. We’ve recently just come back from a North American tour with Mala where we performed both as Gorgon Sound and Kahn & Neek, it was a great opportunity to showcase a style of music which they don’t hear that often in the U.S.
Are all the vocalists you’ve worked with friends or friends of friends based in Bristol?
It’s a mixture, for instance we had a vocalist called Junior Dread from Brazil on our first E.P but also worked with Guy Calhoun who’s been a figure in the Bristol reggae scene for many years.
Young Echo members such as Ishan and Rider have ventured towards a similar steppers vibe. Gorgon is completely separate from Young Echo though right? Why is that?
It’s actually not separate, the whole idea of Young Echo is it’s inclusive of all our individual projects. On the whole, the crew at large isn’t as ‘club-music’ orientated as perhaps us and Ishan Sound are, but at our events we play music from all across the spectrum without prejudice.
Do you have any future plans for Gorgon to collaborate on a song with Ishan, Rider or any other Young Echo members?
We’re always sending ideas back and forth so there may well be more collaborations in future.
What is it about dubplates that are so special to you both, and how did you first immerse yourself in the dubplate culture?
When we started the Gorgon Sound project we made a conscious decision that we wanted to perform the music out using dubplates. Many other DJs and sound systems that we take inspiration from, both in Bristol and further afield, still cut and run dubplates regularly and we just wanted to continue that tradition. We’ve been lucky to have Henry at Dub Studio on our door step here in Bristol who cuts all our dubs for us.
Are there are any particular sources for your specials? Have you ever ventured to Jamaica in search of rarities?
Whilst we’ve never been to Jamaica ourselves, we have got some specials made from various Jamaican artists in the past.
Collecting specials is a full time thing and we fully respect those sounds who do it regularly, but it’s never really been our main focus with Gorgon Sound.
Are your releases sporadic in order to keep alive a sense of intrigue in your sets? Is it less about mixing, and more about the selections?
As we said earlier, it was never our intention to be constantly releasing material. We write and release music when the energy and time is right for us.
The style of the Gorgon Sound DJ sets are certainly more focused on tune selection than mixing which comes from traditional sound system culture.
Gorgon Sound play fabric room 1 tonight. More info and tickets here.
Words: Joe Mills