Raving Kings: Alric and Boyd + The Untold Story of Dance Music in Jamaica

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April 3, 2013

Asylum Rave

BOYD: Because Asylum was an all-dancehall club, every Monday night weโ€™d have to transform Asylum into something totally different. Thatโ€™s how [Jamaican set designer Michelle Simone Clarke, aka Siim] got started in set design. She did our set design. Weโ€™d have a theme every year, whether it be Mardi Gras, or skeletons, or Ministry of Sound-looking things with acid pills and smiley faces coming down from the roof. Theyโ€™d bring in all different lighting, lasers, techno beams and so on. To give you a proper show. So when you go into Asylum youโ€™re saying, “This can not be Asylum.”

Asylum Photo
Raving at Asylum

In 2003, Smirnoff Experience came to Jamaica because of the heightened awareness of the music. Smirnoff puts on these parties, itโ€™s a big rave, actually, around the world, and they came to Jamaica for about two years. [During] that two years, they sent us as the Caribbean entity to different places in the Latin American region like Argentina and Mexico, playing big stages for 10,000 people. They came down here and brought down DJ Alfredo, Nicky Holloway, Jazzy B from Soul II Soul, Roy de Roach. Big people.

I would say now there is a new resurgence of dance music in Jamaica that is good and bad. You have people who only want to see people fist pump, so they only play what they think is popular. We left Fame in 2009, and after we left it went back to just playing the popular songs, where we were not playing popular songs, we were giving you the energy of trance, the energy of techno, progressive house or whatever to understand what it is. You are not going to hear energies. People don’t know Avicii did โ€œLevels,โ€and it is actually two to three years old. They think it is a Flo Rida track. We were watching a documentary on the history of house music and clubbing, and all the songs that changed the world that they embarked on were big here, and we used to play on the radio here in Jamaica. Jungleโ€”Shy FX and themโ€”and when jungle went into two-step and speed garage, funky house and hardcore drum and bass. We used to play all of that on Jamaican radio here.

Alric and Boyd

We are very happy that dance music is the No. 1 genre again. Why? Because there are no cultural differences in the dance music. It is easy to reach people. Barbados and Trinidad have the jump on Jamaica right now [as far as EDM]. We had the jump on them back in the day, but they areย  taking it to another level now. Big names like Armin Van Buuren play at their big club in Trinidad called Zen. In Barbados, you have the Music Factory, a big festival partnered with Ministry of Sound. In Jamaica, we are trying to get there again now.

Alric and Boyd Barbados 4
Alric on the decks at Barbados’ Music Factory festival

For more on Alric and Boyd, read our feature on their new EDM production unit, Jamroc