I spoke with our good friend Adrian Sherwood of On-U Sound Records back in January 2014 about his longtime friendship and collaboration with “Style” Scott. Here is an excerpt from that interview. (CLICK HERE to read the full interview)
Lincoln Valentine “Style” Scott comes to Creation Rebel in 1979 by way of Prince Far-I, who recruited the star drummer for his backing band The Arabs. As a member of The Arabs, Scott is featured on Cry Tuff Dub Encounter Volume 3, which also features young Sherwood under the pseudonym “Dub Syndicate” as producer-in-charge. Scott is recruited to join Creation Rebel and eventually plays in several On-U Sound collectives.
It is with Dub From Creation and Creation Rebel’s highly experimental studio and dub albums released between 1978 and 1983 that Sherwood develops the On-U Sound – a highly experimental, innovative, and downright heavy cross-pollination of punk, industrial, drum and bass, and Jamaican dub mixed to perfection by the unapologetic conductor extraordinaire himself. It is also during this period, especially starting in 1980, that several different musical collectives form, composed of the musicians that Sherwood personally seeks out for their musical abilities.
Sherwood forms his On-U Sound label in 1980 in order to release the growing number of studio projects that he is stocking away working with this evolving collectve of talented and dynamic musicians. Dub Syndicate emerges out of these sessions. Over the next several years, Dub Syndicate releases a handful of notable dub experiments, including a few collaborations with Lee “Scratch” Perry, the famed dub reggae mastermind behind the Black Ark sound. It becomes increasingly evident that the heart and soul of Dub Syndicate lies in Style Scott and he steadily becomes the band’s driving spiritual force, recording most of the riddim tracks in his native Jamaica and having them overdubbed and mixed by Sherwood in England.
Sherwood doesn’t mince any words when it comes to Scott – he is the best dub reggae drummer on the planet.
“I’ve been working with Style since 1978. By the time Far-I was murdered in 1983 he was recording and working with Gregory [Isaacs] and Roots Radics. The Radics actually got their start with Prince Far-I as Cry Tuff and the Originals. It’s on the credits for Dub To Africa. I don’t think he gets any credit for that. He joined Far-I after recording David Isaacs’ “A Place In The Sun.” That is the first tune he played on. So I would see Style every time he came to London with Gregory and I would record him.
Style is amazing if he is with the right musicians. He slashes the snare and bashes the cymbals like no other. His high hat playing is simply the best.”
So what is it that makes Style Scott such a dominant drummer? According to Sherwood it all starts with tuning.
“He tunes every kit meticulously before he plays so that whenever you hear him you are hearing the same Style Scott no matter what he’s playing or where he’s playing. His high hat playing is just amazing, the best I’ve seen. His timing with the cymbals, his drum rolls. He walks the baseline with the foot drum. So when you listen to all those early dancehall records that the Radics played on that’s my man making those beats.”
A lot of those records that were cut in Jamaica using Roots Radics were recorded very specifically always using the same drum sound with a mix by Scientist or somebody, and there was a special connection between the producer, the band, the engineer, and the studio. You will never see that magic again. I recorded Style a bunch over the last three years in London, brilliant stuff, an Arabic version of ‘War,’ and ‘To Be Rich Should Be A Crime’ by Jeb Loy Nichols. I will be the first to tell you that Style Scott still has his chops. He’s fantastic.
Whether Dubbing to Africa with Prince Far-I, making a Miracle with Bim Sherman, or “Pounding The System” with Style Scott and Dub Syndicate, Adrian Sherwood has been a Creation Rebel from the start. He is the man who made it possible, and even prudent, to rebel against creation, step over the line, kick aside the boxes, and experiment with a new sound.
“I’ve been very blessed in my career. The only instrument I play is the mixing board. I’m sort of the conductor I guess and I finish everything off with my style of mixing which is quite unique as well.
I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always worked with brilliant musicians like Skip McDonald or Style Scott or a host of many others. I’ve worked with so many great people in my career. I’ve had the opportunity to work with all my heroes. I always try to come up with something new, not a repeat or recycled sound, but something fresh. It is one of the most valuable lessons I learned from working with Lee Perry.”