Unlimited Culture ADD

Interview with Unlimited Culture

09/21/2014 by Gardy Stein

Interview with Unlimited Culture

It is often lamented that the youngsters of today ("Generation Y") spend too much time in the virtual world of Mobiles, Tablets and the World Wide Web. And even though there is a growing awareness of global injustice and what we can do about it, few are those who spend their time and energy to speak up and get active.

Thus it is great to see that upcoming artists take the challenges of our times serious and do all they can to make people think and bring about a positive change. One such example is the band Unlimited Culture which formed around Lenny Souljah (who, by the way, is only 22 years of age) and just released their first EP Plant A Seed. In a gleeful mixture of German, English and Bavarian (I really wish I could have left in the original quotes, like "He, mi gfollt dei Mukke!"), Reggaeville spoke with two of the five band members via Skype and enjoyed a conversation of smiles and laughter, touching on some very serious topics as well:

Greetings to Riedenburg! Can you introduce the band members to us before we start?
Lenny: Sure! Max here is our bass player. He is in the band since 6... 7 years. Wait, really that long? (laughs) Then there is our drummer Skanko, he joined us about a year ago, as well as Riese, the keyboarder. Flex on the guitar is in the band since two years.
Max: Lenny Souljah has been there the longest. We had different members before, too.

So, Lenny, you are the founder, right?
Lenny: Yes, me and the old guitarist were the founders, then we had a lot of changes. But I think by now we are all set!

And why did you change the name of the band?
Lenny: Well, it was 7 or 8 years ago when we started out, we called ourselves Ribbonpics. That time, we were a rock band...

Really? You did Rock?
Lenny: (laughs) Yes, we played Rock'n Roll and some covers and own stuff. Then one day I wrote my first Reggae song and we performed it live and it was greatly received. So, after that we decided that the name didn't fit anymore and it was time for an image change. And Max suggested the new name Unlimited Culture...

How did you come up with this?
Max: Well, Reggae is connected to a lot of cultures. This connection is actually unlimited, it's an unlimited culture. It just popped up in my head and...
Lenny: It's a perfect match!

It is! And when did you start to work on your EP?
Lenny: In this constellation, we started about a year ago. We went to a studio and refined the songs a bit, but actually this is a compilation of songs that we used to play before as well. We just chose the songs we liked best and were like 'Let's smack these six on the EP!', also because they have the messages that we want to bring across to the people.

What is the feedback so far? Do you have reactions from the people?
Lenny: Yes, our online shop crashed the day we put the pre-orders up… the massive just mashed it down! (laughs) There were too many orders at the same time that the server couldn't handle... The last gig we played was the first time we sold the CD live and we sold quite a few. And those who heard it are celebrating the songs!

Your song Vegetarian Food features on the CD for Da Sandwichmaker's MOA FIRE II. How did that happen?
Lenny: This happened like all things in Reggae... you meet, you get along well, you do something good together. We met him three years ago at the Sunrise Reggae Ska Festival and he said "Hey, I like your music, would you like to put a song on my cook book CD?" and we said "Sure!" and we exchanged contacts and became friends and cooked together...

And made a video together...
Yes! So until now we visit each other and we are always happy to meet at festivals. It's a good friendship!

Nice. And the others, Otter Records and Ants Can Dance, did it happen likewise?
Max: Ants Can Dance is the studio of Michael Straube. He is my bass teacher, I started to learn with him three years ago. Out of that, the friendship developed, he is now a friend of the band as well. He is musician too and has a studio, thus we recorded the whole EP there. And Otter Records is owned by a friend of Michael, so he suggested that this could be the label and we said yes...

What about Ring-A-Ting, did you know Fabi before? When did you decide to make him your art director?
Lenny: Ha, you won't believe it, but this was the same Sunrise Reggae Ska Festival (laughs), and one hour after we met Da Sandwichmaker, Fabi comes along... "Hey, Rastaman, shake your hair, I want to make a video!" and then we started talking and then we were like: 'Hey, we live in the same city!' And then Steffi from Ikwaliti Booking joined us and we discovered that we actually live in the same house. Really! So then this friendship grew as well... that was a nice coincidence!

Talking about the lyrics of your songs, I find it fascinating which issues you address. Smog or Vegetarian Food are themes not heard very often. How do you get inspired?
Lenny: Well, every song reflects a life situation. I see something or somebody says something to me and then I get the feeling that it is worth to write a song about it. Vegetarian Food for example I wrote during my holidays. I was in Croatia, and, believe me, this is the meat country par excellence. So I was upset that you could get only meat there and I thought, 'People, just look at what you eat!' I don't mean they shouldn't eat meat at all, but to check a little bit where the food comes from... Then I thought I'll write a song about it. Every person has his experiences or stories to tell others, so I just process mine in our songs. Smog likewise, this was a time when I was blind and couldn't see what was good what was bad... so I thought we have to stop going through our lives with eyes closed. The children only learn how to make money, not how to be happy. This has to change!

Why do you think these subjects don't feature more prominently in the international Reggae scene? Especially ecological issues are so pressing that they should be heard more, right?
Well, about Jamaica, I can't say much, because I don't live there. The interests in Jamaica may be different. But if you look at Germany, there is a growing consciousness for these things... If you listen to Martin Zobel, Uwe Banton, Ganjaman or Lyrical Bama, there are quite a few who bring the message across. They all talk about political and social problems, healthy food and conscious living.

True. But internationally, stars that got really big and a lot of airplay like Sean Paul, Vybz Kartel, Busy Signal… we don't hear them sing about these things!
Max: I do think that those artists are more into Dancehall, so they often consider what the people want to hear. And many people don't want to hear about this maybe, they want to party and have a good time.
Lenny: You'll find these subjects more in Roots Reggae. The Reggae Revival is quite productive in this field actually. If you look at Chronixx' Spirulina or Avocado by Jah9... so there are some but maybe they are not that known.

What are your three suggestions to make our world a better place?
Lenny: First of all, everybody should be himself. Nobody should pretend to be someone he's not. And everybody should learn to be happy. Because only if you are happy yourself you can make someone else happy, that's my conviction. And we have to think about Mother Nature. Right now we are about to poison our planet... we just push away our litter so that nobody sees it anymore... Out of sight, out of mind! And what is left over doesn't matter to anyone. So, everybody should respect Mother Nature!

Besides your music, are you active in these fields?
Lenny: Not in an institutional way, no. We do support Baobab Family for example, through concerts and such. Plus, I work part-time in a child care centre, so I really try to pass on important values to the kids there in every moment of my life.

Wow! Do you want to continue this kind of work?
Lenny: Caretaker is one of the jobs the system offers that I can imagine to do, yes. I am still at the beginning, so I don't know yet what life will bring. But yes, this I could really see myself doing! Maybe not 30 hours a week, though... (laughs)

No, actually you will become very famous and then you will earn your money by making music!
Lenny: Yes, that's the plan. And then we'll have showcases in the kindergarten (laughs).

Speaking of... you had some festival gigs during the summer. Was there any one special?
Lenny: All of them were really cool actually! We had about ten gigs… Afrika Karibik Festival was great, Isle of Vibes Festival was cool too... A very special one was the Sunrise Reggae and Ska Festival. We stayed the whole time from Friday to Sunday and enjoyed the vibes there. We had the last slot, so we closed the Festival and that was a wonderful experience!

And are there any upcoming shows where we could see you still?
Max: On the 18th of October we play at the Afrika Night in Türkenfeld and on November 29th at the Winterfestival Weißenburg... just check our homepage to stay updated!

Do you manage that yourself?
Max: Yes, I take care of it. We try to do as much on our own as possible.

Is an album planned after the EP?
Lenny: Yes, of course we have an album planned! Right now we are enjoying the EP and then we'll start to look ahead. We won't be gone! (laughs) We might do a little tour in winter, that's what we are working on right now.

Ok, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. Any last words?
We are looking forward to meet many new people out there. And we want to thank all fans and supporters, namely Ikwaliti Booking, Ring-A-Ting, Otter Records, Ants Can Dance… and Reggaeville of course!