Founded by the Shearlaw family in the early 2000s, “Bridgwater Reggae Soundsystem” was a semi-regular charity event held in a Somerset towns Labour club. All manner of townsfolk, from all ages, social groups and backgrounds would coalesce in the dingy clubs beaten up bar to dance to selectors such at “the Mighty J”, “General Law”, and “Ben-a-Lion” blasting Reggae, Roots, Dancehall and Hip-hop from the ropey “shit-disco” soundsystem. The nights were all community focussed and 100% not-for-profit, with all proceeds at the time being donated to charity “Water Aid”. There was nothing else quite like it for miles around at the time and the events held a special place on the calendar for all who would attended.
Fast forward 12 months and Dean (one half of Boa Kusasa and a regular attendee of the night) became involved. Dean had been backpacking in the Balkans and while in Croatia was inspired by a Zagreb crew called the “Radikal Dub Kolektiv”; a group who were combining the freedom and liberty of DIY punk culture, with the hypnotic power of heavy bass sound system music. Mesmerised by the energy from this fusion of DIY cultures Dean returned early from his travels to the UK and joined the crew.
The following couple of years were spent building bigger and better sound systems and producing more and more events; this time with the charity benefactors being “The White Ribbon Alliance for Motherhood” – a charity with close links to the crew and with that link the Soundsystems donations were able to be funnelled directly to particular projects in the developing world.
Over the few years following, Jake (one half of Boa Kusasa and “Mitzi”) Ed (Jukwa) and Toby (Teezle) all joined the crew. From here on the name was changed to “The BRSS” as the regular selectas and DJs were playing a huge variety of music, with the common thread being that these styles were all spawned from and inspired by sound system culture (the crew were the first to bring Dubstep South West of Bristol, among many other pioneering sounds at the time)
Following a midweek event in a Glastonbury pub that was so full and sweaty that the paint literally started peeling from the walls and ceiling, it was decided to relocate to the town. Here the soundsystems new hub combined with the towns unique energy and picked up more serious momentum. The crew were putting on nights up to 3 times a week all over the SW and Wales (As well as all working full time jobs to maintain the soundsystem being 100% not-for-profit) In 2010 they put on over 100 shows.
Taking in a whole heap of opportunities and experiences, the crew were the fist DJ act to play the Tate Britain in London, one of the first to play the Tate Modern, and “Babylon Uprising” even set up at the “Glastonbury Festival” exhibition in the V&A in London (which involved wheeling the entire 10Kw soundsystem through halls of priceless ancient artefacts and paintings) Alongside these more prestigious settings, also staying true to their roots and regularly finding themselves at festivals and forests in the middle of no-where playing free-parties and raves from the north of Cumbria to off the coast of Falmouth.
Early 2011, having DJ’d at Glastonbury festival a couple of times, the ripples the crew had made across the SW had not gone un-noticed by the festival organisers – and their reputation for efficiently running good vibe events fuelled just by the love of doing it, led to them being invited to build and run the first “Babylon Uprising Market Soundsystem”. The festival had previously once had a rich tradition of “Market Soundsystems” and this was something they were looking to revive. Being local, most of the crew had grown up with the festival a regular stable on their calendar, and all those that know, know that the main markets areas at the festival is referred to as “Babylon” by the festival regulars who perhaps spend most of their time in the naughty corner/Silver Hayes and Green fields. So it was decided that “Babylon” needed an “Uprising” and that’s how it all began.
Over the following few years Toby, Ed, Jake and Dean would mentor a crew of young aspiring local DJs and promoters who would all kindly help to run the stage, including Rory (Reason Sound) who was the youngest of the Shearlaw family (and who Dean used to even babysit many years prior!) which brought the founding family lineage full circle.
As the “youngs” gained more and more experience running the stage, they quickly and naturally graduated to being fully fledged members of a strong and united production family which as well as the aforementioned members includes Ben (INCA/Supper Club) Billy P, Raymon D and Matt and Mike (Village Cuts) and Jakes youngest brother Jasper (Lesula)