Reggae-based musical collective Trensettahs Sound System recently dropped a new single/music video, “La Fiebre.”
Trensettahs Sound System was founded as “a collective of Afro-futurists working to create and promote reggae music to fans all around the world.” With their prolific output and resounding art, the group achieves a cohesive, spiritual whole greater than the sum of its parts while collaborating with artists and philosophies across the globe.
While most artists simply plan singles or albums, Trensettahs Sound System has planned an annual festival in Ethiopia, a collaborative album featuring artists from Jamaica, Ethiopia, Columbia, and the U.S.A., as well as a 5-part docuseries that follows the collective to Columbia, Jamaica, and the U.S.A.
Thematically, Trensettahs Sound System resonates with social resistance and the reclamation of personal power. Knowing how critical it is to have strong limbs, this collective recruits the best of the best when it comes to collaborators. Their raucous track “La Fiebre” features celebrated vocalist Sizzla Kalonji and musical visionaries Zalama Crew.
Tattoo.com spoke with DJ Fyahman, the orchestrator of Trensettahs Sound System, to find out more about the project.
What inspired the new single/music video, “La Fiebre?”
Trensettahs Sound System bridges the connection between Black Diaspora People. The song and the video were made during the filming of episode 3 of the docuseries ‘Black Sounds of Freedom.’ I brought my group Zalama Crew to Jamaica where we made part of that video and part of the episode. I took my Colombian friends on a journey of the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica. I then brought the singer of my band Rootz Underground to Cali Colombia where we explored African Diaspora in Latin America. Steve from Rootz Underground and I played at shows as a sound system performance and spent about 10 days exploring the culture in Cali Colombia
How did you connect with Sizzla Kalonji and Zalama Crew?
Zalama Crew is on the label Trensettahs. I have known them for years, met through other DJ friends, and began DJing together. Sizzla is the most prolific Rastafarian singer of my generation. I have been building a relationship with him for 10 years. I had to connect these creative forces for this hit single.
How and when did Trensettahs Sound System form?
I have been thinking about the mission of Trensettahs for 30 years, but I actually formed the entity in 2014. I have been involved with reggae and hip-hop music since the ‘90s but in 2014 my ego took over. I think the roots of the Rastafarian movement are the basis for reggae and in recent years money has gotten involved in the music. This money then separates the music from the mission because you have to please an audience if you want the money. We cannot socially collectivize if we need to produce music that negates the movement. In 2014, I had enough. There are people making more money than has ever been made in reggae and they have perfected the look of Rasta and a sound that reaches more people than ever. But they are not Rasta. Very much like the scene in ‘Pootie Tang’ when David Cross and “The Man” have perfected the look of Pootie so they could maximize profit without Pootie being involved.
What is the mission/goal of Trensettahs Sound System?
The mission is to connect Diaspora peoples with the new emerging Africa. The Marcus Garvey Black Star Line was not a shipping company necessarily for moving people. The focus was more on moving goods between the continent and the African Diaspora. Black people’s labor in the West is going to produce things Africans consume, and labor on the continent is going to consumerism in the West. We are still on a plantation if international corporations make a profit on the trade of labor and services between global black people.
Trensettahs Sound System doesn’t simply turn out singles and albums, they plan out innovative projects. What projects are coming down the pipeline?
We are currently finalizing the release of the ‘Black Sounds of Freedom’ 5-part docuseries. For the rest of 2023, I will continue to release the songs for the soundtrack and early in 2024, we will release the full docuseries. I think that the docuseries will make the actual festival in Africa become a lot bigger.
Are there any recording techniques you like to use in the studio?
I recently read an article about the creative duo Steely Dan, Walter Becker, and Donald Fagan. They would make a song with all the parts and changes in it then spend way too much time bringing in other musicians. Then the two of them would sift through all of the takes and different directions that a song can go. I was amazed when I read this because I thought I invented this method. Every song I produce has way more musicians than you hear or would expect. I am not very efficient; I listen and explore and think about the different feelings a song can give. It takes me a very long time.
How do you keep your sound consistent on stage?
Trensettahs is a live performance DJ show. I am not a singer but when I tour, I feature singers from the album on the DJ stage performance. I intend to explore how we can give live improv excitement in a DJ show.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
I am all over the place with what I listen to. I grew up on reggae and know it like the nerd I am, but I definitely like the other interpretations of reggae, like 2 Tone Records, like the California sound. I am an actual club DJ, so I listen to and play all reggae music. There are definite times when I am cringing because I am playing a hot song that I have to play because people are out to have fun, but I cannot stand the song.
What’s your definition of success?
This thing, Trensettahs Sound System, will be successful if we can keep doing these three aspects of the mission: make music and connect musicians, have a festival in Africa that acts as a pilgrimage, and continue documenting these things in film. I currently still have a full-time job that I would love to not have time for anymore.
What can your fans expect over the next six months? New material? Music videos? Live gigs?
2023 Trensettahs is literally touring the World. Feb till mid-March, Ethiopia, where we opened a music venue, VW in Addis Ababa. April in Jamaica, DJing shows at SIzzla’s Judgement Yard and Jr Reid’s One Blood Lounge. The entire month of May, touring Colombia. June, back in Ethiopia. July and August in Europe and then bringing it back to Ethiopia one more time for their new Year in September. There is a new Album of other sounds I am working on, called ‘The Last Soctt of Kingston.’ Trensettahs is also releasing multiple full albums in 2024; Sizzla – ‘Judgement Yard Repatriation,’ Zalama Crew – ‘Cali Music Cartel,’ Rootz Underground – ‘The Pilgrimage, and Lavosti – ‘Invitation Home.’