Roots Rock Rebel (11 février 2006)

Voici un entretien avec Aaron Lakoff, animateur de Roots Rock Rebel sur les ondes de CKUT. Les deux heures de son émission, qui se déroule les mercredis de 22h à minuit, sont bourrées de contenu digne d'intérêt. On vous encourage à lire ce qui suit, ainsi qu'à découvrir l'émission en syntonisant le 90.3 FM.
- Cath

[CATH] Sum up the essence of your show in seven words or less.

[AARON] Ska, punk, reggae got soul!

[CATH] You're not strictly limiting yourself to ska/reggae/rocksteady during the two hours you take over the airwaves. Tell the kids what they can expect.

[AARON] The goal of my show is to explore ska music not just as a genre, but also as a movement. Most people know that ska music started in Jamaica, but little is known that through migration, Jamaican musicians brought their music all over the world with them. This led to ska’s infusion with punk rock in the UK, with bands like THE SPECIALS and THE CLASH, but today you can find ska bands in Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, Cuba, and even Australia. Some say ska is dead, but they just ain’t lookin’ hard enough.

[CATH] What made you want to get a radio show?

[AARON] I used to live in Toronto and fell in love with this show Mods and Rockers which aired on CIUT (University of Toronto) radio every Monday night from ten to midnight. JC was the host, and not only would he play amazing punk and ska music, but he would always do these wicked political rants. JC really inspired me. I think that community radio is one of the greatest assets we have in our society. It’s the voice of the people, and the only place where you’ll hear diverse, underground music.

[CATH] How long have you been doing this for?

[AARON] I’ve been at CKUT for almost four years now. My show used to be called Rude Rude Radio and was on Tuesdays from three to five am. But then I just got bumped up to a better time slot (Wednesdays ten to midnight) last November, and changed the name of my show to Roots Rock Rebel, which I thought better encapsulated the show (Roots Rock Rebel is a line sung by THE CLASH in their song White Man In Hammersmith Palais). But before I moved back to Montreal, I was helping out with Ska Party and DJ Skip on CIUT in Toronto.

[CATH] You used to have a crazy time slot for your show, to say the least. Do you feel you have a broader audience now because of this change?

[AARON] I’d say the show has really been able to flourish since it changed time slots. Three to five am on a Tuesday was kind of a crappy time to be listening to ska music, which is very high energy. I find for myself and other people, you usually want chill-out music in the middle of the night. Now that we moved slots, I get to interact a lot more with happy listeners who call in, as well as record labels who are sending their releases to the station for air play.

[CATH] Do you personally listen to CKUT and if so what are some of the shows you enjoy?

[AARON] Of course I listen to CKUT! It’s the best radio station in Montreal! We have some amazing shows. Positive Vibes (Thursdays three to five pm) spins wicked reggae, Venus (Thursdays, noon to two pm) plays a lot of cool women’s music, Off the Hour (weekdays five to six pm) is an alternative news program, and Aack! (Fridays three to five pm) is just all over the place. Those are some of my favorite shows. I also help out a lot with the news programming at the station, and often do reports for Off the Hour.

[CATH] The intro to your show features a famous quote from PRINCE BUSTER. How much of an influence did older reggae/rocksteady artists have on you?

[AARON] I actually got a chance to see PRINCE BUSTER play live with THE SKATALITES in Toronto at the infamous Legends of Ska show back in 2002. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I’ve had a chance to see a lot of those old ska/reggae legends play live – THE SKATALITES, DERRICK MORGAN, DOREEN SHAFFER, TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS, LORD TANAMO, STRANGER COLE. Sadly, some of the originators of ska music have been passing away recently, for example Laurel Aitken died just last summer. I think it’s really important to see these guys play before they croak, because it’s inspiring that some of them are still playing the music they love, and some of them are sixty or seventy years old.

[CATH] What are your thoughts on the more contemporary brand of ska/reggae-influenced music?

[AARON] I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of ska-punk. I love ska, and I love punk, but I don’t think they work well together. Only some bands do it right, like OPERATION IVY, LEFTOVER CRACK, AGAINST ALL AUTHORITY to name a few. But I’m a huge fan of two-tone ska, and of course, the traditional stuff (THE SLACKERS, GO JIMMY GO, HEPCAT, etc.). I would have to hand it to Tim Armstrong and Hellcat Records for having a great taste and still putting out some of the best ska releases to date.

[CATH] Are you able to put your finger on what it is exactly attracted you towards the music that you listen to?

[AARON] A friend of mine handed me a PLANET SMASHERScd when I was in grade nine. I remember listening to Mission Aborted, the first song on their first album, and it all went downhill from there. I was hooked! I’d have to say that the Anti-Racist Action (ARA) in Toronto really got me into ska and punk, because the ARA used to put on these awesome shows in Toronto called Ska Ska Oi! I was just getting into activism at the same time as music, and it was all the ARA’s fault! But seriously, the ARA are wonderful. I’ve had some of the best times of my life at their shows at the El Mocambo in Toronto.

[CATH] In the past little while, you've traveled to Palestine, Haiti... You're involved with Resist! and probably a bunch of other stuff I'm not aware of. Where do music and activism meet?

[AARON] Well, I’ve always seen ska and punk as being political forms of music. Ska emerged from the shantytowns of Kingston, Jamaica right around the time of the country’s independence from Great Britain (1962). Ska is a poor people’s music, “folk” music, and a lot of early ska was reacting to class issues. Then when Jamaicans started migrating en masse to the UK from the 1940s-70s, you had Jamaican kids mixing it up with working-class British white kids. In a way, this was beautiful, and gave way to bands like THE SPECIALS and THE SELECTER, but it also had racist and violent consequences at times. This was also when the fascist and anti-fascist skinhead cultures began to emerge, and why the skinhead movement was very integral to ska, reggae, and punk. So to me, ska and punk is about fighting different forms of oppression such as neo-fascism, racism, and poverty. The work I’ve done in Palestine and Haiti is along those lines too – fighting global oppression (all my articles and radio reports from Palestine and Haiti can be found on my blog site).

[CATH] Your favorite artist ever?

[AARON] I’d have to put THE SLACKERS up there, but also THE CLASH and TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS.

[CATH] Your favorite local band?

[AARON] ARK OF INFINITY, KALMUNITY and JEUNESSE APATRIDE are some of my favorite locals.

[CATH] What else do you do other than host a great radio show?

[AARON] I write as much as I can, and do radio news. I’m involved in different activist and anarchist groups. I used to volunteer at Montreal’s anarchist bookshop on St-Laurent. Now, I organize a lot with migrants rights groups, and am part of an organization called Solidarity Across Borders which fights against the detention and deportations of migrants and refugees. I’ve been traveling a lot over the last few years since I dropped out of university – I’ve been to Israel/Palestine, and Haiti, as you mentioned, and all over the US and Canada. I’m unemployed right now….. a full-time anarchist, I guess.

On remercie Aaron d'avoir pris le temps de discuter avec nous.

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