WEBSITE DEDICATED TO A PROGRESSIVE RIDDIM & DUB COMMUNITY
these times - official download-sites like "mp3.com"
are caught in some legal problems with the post-capitalistic
music industry - a new and wonderful download site has started
offside these ugly scenes to support the public interest in
reggae and it´s segments dancehall, dub and roots.
site, who gives progressive reggae musicians a community and
a forum, is called "versionist.com" and is really
Every musician and band, who is involved in dancehall, dub,
roots and reggae vocals, can register and get his own subsite,
can make his/it´s entries and put own downloads in it.
But that's not all: The site offers samples (basses, drums,
horns a.o.) for the musicians. The site has it´s own zine,
a forum, a chat room and it´s own radio. And, last but
not least, about over five hundred tracks in here are downloadable
But, as opposed to comparable sites, "versionist.com"
has truly the spirit of being a community, the spirit of solidarity
in their musician´s working for the love and the development
of their sounds and visions. All musicians and registered users
are asked to give comments to the tracks of their musical brothers
So you can find beside every track enthusiastic comments, fair
advices and ratings, and in the forum and the chat room as well.
The most downloaded tracks are recorded in a chart; other listings:
artists a-z, brand new and top rated download tracks.
Some listed acts are known for own record releases and sampler
contributions, but most of the part are amateur-musicians and
bands. For them, "versionist.com" is a big help in
their musical orientation and development, in getting connected
with other musicians of similar or different styles all around
Groha od Dub-O-Rama leads an interview with the webmaster of
'versionist.com' in order to get some background information
about this site - to this time there is hardly any article to
be found on "versionist.com" in the internet or in
reggae-friendly magazines of Germany.
Mr. Versionist. Can you tell us about the man and the people
behind "versionist": Who are you, where do you live?
I go by the name Versionist on the site. I currently reside
was the idea of "versionist.com" born?
I started to become disappointed in the direction of contemporary
reggae music - dancehall in particular. Riddims coming out after
2000 began to really go downhill, and many mainstay artists
were not helping matters much. Lyrics were poor, and riddims
lacked imagination. In fact, many dancehall riddims nowadays
sound less like reggae and more like techno. So, decided to
see if I
could do any better. I bought various music production programs,
and churned out about 20 riddims in a month. Some were good,
some were not so good. But, I was doing it, and I wondered how
many other people were trying to do the same thing. So I decided
to try to make a place for this sort of thing.
were the difficulties and challenges getting the site started?
Who were the people who pushed 'versionist.com' forwards?
At the time, I did not know anything about creating a website
with a database and PHP. The most difficult thing was to try
to find a free, off the shelf web package that could be used
to allow visitors to upload tracks, and to allow listeners to
leave comments. I found one, but I really had to tweak it to
get it to do exactly what I wanted. It became very cumbersome,
so I decided to teach myself PHP, and rebuild the site from
scratch. That was done in March 2003. With a new design and
more features, the site really began to take off. It was the
members of the site that really pushed me to improve the site
further. The site now has a life of its own, and basically runs
you get the first projects "on the boat" before starting
(mailing?), and when did you start the site?
The site was started in January 2002. The first members of the
site came as a result of my posting on message boards. I really
didn't do much in the form of promotion, because this was just
a side project of mine. It has been word of mouth that has really
made the site take off. Versionist now serves about 70.000 streams
per month, and averages a visitor growth rate of 10% per month.
there have grown many new musician friendships since starting
your site, and international connections. Can you give examples?
Well, not any in particular. But there are many collaborations
between artists, some of which produced fantastic results. It
is one of the great things about the internet, and Versionist
takes full advantage.
that dancehall artists are fewer interested on your site as
dub- and roots-musicians. Dancehall is more live-oriented; the
scene seems, sometimes and partly, a 'lil vain and selfish.
Do you agree?
I agree somewhat, but I do not think that is why there are fewer
Dancehall contributions on the site. I think the most prominent
members of the site are roots oriented, which makes it seem
like it is a roots oriented site. But the site is for everyone
that wants to make Reggae, and eventually may become dancehall
oriented. It's hard to judge.
on the site, and how is it financed?
It is primarily financed by myself. I recently included advertisements
on the site, which help a little. But, this is a project that
costs money, not a money-maker.
operating from one place or in a network way?
Versionist resides on a webserver somewhere on the west coast
of the United States. Not sure where! Although it originates
from the United States, it is only made possible by contributors
from all over the world.
the files for the "artist of the day" and the "riddim
of the day"? Is there a system behind these decisions or
is it the enthusiasm about a well-discovered entry on your side?
These are randomly picked on a daily basis, with every song
or artist having an equal chance. Even the not-so-good submissions!
know if some artists have grown more successful since being
on your site (label contracts, tour partnerships a. o.)? I know,
for instance, "System Failure" has made a deal with
the new label "Dubflash Records"/Berlin.
I think there is one other artist that has had recent success,
but I am not at liberty to comment. But on the most part, members
of the site are just happy to be able to have their music heard
by a wide audience.
are the advantages in login and registration for a normal user?
Right now there is not too much advantage. But as the site grows,
there will be more features that will only be available to registered
users, so it can't hurt to reserve your favorite name!
thank you very much!
Now we now
a little bit more about the birth and growing of the site "versionist.com",
but got no information about the man behind the scene. We have
to respect his decision to stay incognito. But: He also has
his subsite under his name with downloadable tracks. His own
entry makes a warm and human closing accord to this article:
"Just trying to make a mark, not
necessarily for myself, but for others. Most people who post
here are 14.5 times better than me in terms of production, skill
etc. So, this site is for them. Hopefully someone gets to the
next level, and has something good to say about this little
corner of the web."
Dub-O-Rama wishes 'versionist.com' a big standing for the future.
Respect for work, engagement and idealism.
To all reggae- and dub-fans: Make 'versionist.com' to one of
Bernhard Groha (05/2004)
Some nameful and interesting dub artists on versionist.com (excerpt):
Dub Fraction (GB)
Dub Trio (US)
Hoester Sound System (D)
Jah Acid Dub (F)
Jah Roots (GB)
Jah Warrior (GB)
Johnny Redlocks (NL)
Messian Dread (NL)
Minds Eye Dub (MAL)
Solomon Jabby (US)
System Failure (DK)