Sat | Oct 31, 2020

5 Questions With … Walshy Fire

Published:Sunday | May 17, 2020 | 9:12 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
Walshy Fire
Walshy Fire
Walshy Fire
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Event producers and entertainers still have a while to figure out how to right themselves after the threat of COVID-19 has passed. But that doesn’t mean they should wait until a vaccine is developed or until people begin to brave skies and crowds again to act. Now, more than ever, is the time when entertainers, content creators, and other brands should seek to own their digital assets.

Music producer and globetrotting selector Walshy Fire gives a perfect example of exactly how taking such action can pay off with the steady growth of his pandemic-inspired concept, Quarantine Clash.

For almost two months, he has hosted sound systems from countries like the United States, France, Israel, India, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago, which participate in weekly clashes and sessions, presented by soundclash.com.

Quarantine Clash’s graduation from an online-based concept to a competition finale with paid entry supports tech entrepreneur Ingrid Riley’s suggestion that COVID-19 presents a perfect situation to get creative. “It’s an opportunity for event and artiste brands to get closer to their fans, to seek, diversify, and own their revenue streams and digital assets,” she said during a recent virtual town hall hosted by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association.

With soundclash.com on lock, Walshy is already on the ball.

Find out more about Walshy’s successful series in this week’s 5 Questions With … .

Was soundclash.com developed just for Quarantine Clash?

Soundclash.com is a website I bought a year ago from somebody that I know that wasn’t using it, saying to myself I’m going to start doing sound clash content. Then quarantine happened. I was like, I should just use it now.

What is the benefit of developing websites at all?

The benefit of developing a website is basically to have a home for your content that no one can dictate to you how you use it. No one can give you rules, say you can or cannot do this. You set the parameters. There really is nothing better than knowing that when you finish doing what you’re doing, nobody can take it down. That’s what I think everybody’s starting to realise with copyright and other parameters. You’re not able to really build a home for your content. Everyone should have a home for their own content.

Quarantine Clash is truly international. We noticed the winning participation of Bass Foundation out of India recently. How do you find them?

This is the one thing I can say is a blessing from being able to travel the world with Major Lazer and solo, doing music. I tap into the reggae and dancehall communities of every single country, and I find the Jamaicans in every country. Dem deh everyweh! I think that’s what I add to the landscape; is a lot of people might not have ever seen these guys, but I was already able to tap into the communities.

I’ve performed in India tonnes of times, so I know them.

What does the community among sound systems across the globe feel like now?

The global sound-system community is much more foundation. It’s much more into actual sound-system speakers, vinyl – and I have to hope that Jamaicans realise that the things we’ve kind of left and walked away from are the things that they (foreigners) love. We shouldn’t completely walk away from it. We should understand that that market is there that wants to buy vinyl and do small presses of vinyl. The market is there who wants to learn how to build and brand a proper sound system. Our old stuff is still highly valuable. Moving forward, we should combine that with technology and the new stuff.

Approximately how many people tune in to Quarantine Clash each week?

I think about 100,000 people watch each clash in total.

Bonus: Quarantine Clash has been free, but the finale costs US$5. How did you get the audience to buy in?

This is the seventh week we’re doing this, almost two months of sound clashes for free, where none of the DJs got any money at all. They just did it for the love. And it just costs US$5. I think everybody understands the value of what’s happening.