A WEBSITE DEDICATED
TO A PROGRESSIVE RIDDIM & DUB COMMUNITY
these times - official download-sites like "mp3.com" are
caught in some
legality problems with the post-capitalistic music industry - started
a new and wonderful download site offside these ugly scenes to support
the public interest
in reggae and itīs segments dancehall, dub and roots.
The site, who gives progressive reggae musicians a community and a
forum, is called "versionist.com" and is really well equipped.
Every musician and band, who is involved in dancehall, dub, roots and
reggae vocals, can register and get his own subsite, can make his/itīs
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 itīs own zine, a forum, a chat room and itīs own radio. And,
last but not least, thousands of tracks and sketches in here are downloadable for free!
But, as opposed to comparable sites, "versionist.com" has
truly the spirit of being a community, the spirit of solidarity in
their musicianīs 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 and
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 the world.
an interview with the webmaster of 'versionist.com' for getting some
background information about this site - to this time I found no
article about "versionist.com" in the internet or in German
Hello, 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 in NYC.
How was the idea of "versionist.com" born?
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
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 itself.
How do you get the first projects "on the boat" before starting
(mailing?), and when did you start the site?
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
I think, there have grown many new musician friendships since starting your
site, and international connections. Can you tell me an example?
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.
It seems 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?
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.
Who works 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.
Is "versionist" 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.
Who decides 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
know if some artists have grown more successful since being on your site
(label contracts, tour partnerships a. o.)? I know, for instance,
"Systemfailure" has made a deal with the new label "Dubflash
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
Mr. Versionist, 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:
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."
'versionist.com' a big standing for the future. Respect for work,
engagement and idealism.
To all reggae- and dub-fans: Make 'versionist.com' one of your 'favourites'!
Nightmare? P.I.L. enthusiastics?
Whatever, DUB TRIO from NYC are my youngest personal favourite on this site.
A guitar, bass, drums combo, dubbing live simply but great, and they are
spreading lots of energy, spirit and humor.
Rastafari-socialist MESSIAN DREAD from the
netherlands: a hard working musician, publisher and connector in the
international dub scene.
For him the internet is no "babylon place" but the chance to
connect the international reggae & dub scene in the best and cheapest
On many internet-places you can find his excellent tunes and comments for
free: Also on "versionist.com".
nameful and interesting dub artists on versionist.com (excerpt):
Apocalypse Dub Fraction (GB)
Dub Trio (US)
Hoester Sound System (D)
Jah Acid Dub (F)
Jah Roots (NL)
Johnny Redlocks (NL)
Messian Dread (NL)
Minds Eye Dub (MAL)
Muffy Dane (DK)
Solomon Jabby (US)
Stout System (F)
Technician (Trevor Mckenzie) (AUS)