Hailing from Tottenham, North London, they’ve been laying down riddims now for over a quarter of a century. Working with everyone from Gappy to Buju, King Jammy to General Levy, they are associated with legendary UK labels such as Sip A Cup, Fashion, Gussie P and Saxon as well as their own Mafia & Fluxy label.
We conducted a Q&A with Dave and Leroy about their origins in the Soundsystem scene, their reminiscences from working in Jamaica and plans for the future.
How did you both get into music initially?
In our family home my uncle had a sound system called Wizard Hi-Fi. We used to play on the sound system everyday when we came home from school.
What was the sound system scene like when you started? Could you give us an idea what it was like to grow up in the era of legendary UK sounds?
Yes, we had huge sound clashes with sounds like Fatman, Jah Shaka, Sir Coxsone Sound, they were the top 3 sounds in London at the time.
Any dances that stand out in your minds over the years? What were your favourites growing up?
Fatman versus Jah Shaka was always the top dance for me!
What was it like when you first started traveling out to Jamaica as a rhythm section? Any stories you can share with us?
Yes, it was like being on a battlefield. Plenty of Jamaican producers said they did not want any UK musicians building riddims for them. It was a good thing we knew producers like Bunny Lee, King Jammy & Winston Riley because they told other producers about how good we are, so it was easier to get work.
You used to have a residency at the 100 Club with your band The Instigators supporting some of the biggest JA artists around, who were your favourites to work/hang out with? Any memorable moments? How did the transition to full backing band come about?
Well, we used to enjoy hanging out with Al Campbell, Barrington Levy, Clint Eastwood & General Saint, Trinity & Dillinger.
The 100 Club was were we got our live experience from, we were backing plenty of artists until people were saying we needed a lead singer so that we could do our own set before the main artist performs, so we brought in a female singer, Toyin who was later replaced by a guy, Courtney Bartley.
What big studios have you recorded at in JA?
We have recorded in: Channel One, Penthouse, Mixing Lab, King Jammy’s, Jack Scorpio, Beres Hammond’s Harmony House, Bunny Lees, Harry J’s, Music Mountain, Gussie Clarkes’ Music works, Mickey Bennet & many more!
How does the music system there differ from here in the UK? Is it easier to get tunes made out there? Less red tape?
In Jamaica there is much more recording going on everyday, they’re much more active with plenty talent.
Do you prefer playing live or laying down tracks in the studio?
We love playing live as it’s nice to see the reaction from the people with the tunes we make.
Are there any artists you’ve worked with who were unknown at the time you started working with them, but who are now household names?
Oh yes, people like Buju Banton used to hang with us when we first started going to Jamaica, also Anthony B. They both used to want to record for us but we told them that they were not ready yet.
What do you guys think of people sampling your music, and sampling in general? Have you heard any junglist versions of your tunes?
We don’t mind them sampling our tracks just as long as they give us our credits its fine. There were plenty jungle tunes sampling Mafia & Fluxy beats back in the day.
What do you think of the reggae/dancehall scene in the UK right now? Do you listen to the newer young generation of dancehall artists like Stylo G & Gappy Ranks?
Yes those two artists are running things right now. We actually made the riddims for most of Gappy Ranks’ tracks as well.
Who is your favourite artist to record with? And is there anyone still on your wishlist?
We love recording with Beres Hammond, Buju Banton also Garnett Silk was amazing to record with. We have not worked with Bunny Wailer as yet but would certainly love to.
What are you guys working on right now?
It’s been 25 years of Mafia & Fluxy this year, so we are compiling a 25th anniversary album and a tour to go with it.
Any artists/producers we should keep our eyes peeled for?
Yes we have some great fresh talent to bring to the world, the hottest right now are: Notrelle and Stephanie Wright.
This is the 50th year of Jamaican independence, how are you celebrating and what is your favourite era of Jamaican music?
Well, we are booked for the 50th JA independence concert with Baby Cham & Gyptian in London on the 5th August. As for our favourite era I think was the 70′s, when Channel One studio was Fire!
Thanks to Mafia & Fluxy for taking the time out to talk with us. Here are our fave M&F productions from over the years.