Mark Iration speaks in a booming voice; his dub roots sound system
prides itself on being one of the very best and certainly one of the
loudest in Europe; and the man even writes in capital letters.
Everything about his is about giving his all.
The sound system culture of sound-clashes boils down to holding your own against the other sound system, about feeding off each other, about raising the pace and winning the crowd. Following in the footsteps of the sound systems that inspired him, Mark Iration, with partner Dennis Rootical, has moulded and crafted a very personal Iration Steppas vibe, a particular style that has grown to be internationally recognised as one of the best on the block.
Mark’s initial involvement in the sound system world was purely as a fan following the likes of Jah Shaka and Jah Tubbys back in the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s. Like any real music lover he collected vinyl and got into DJ-ing, but it took the encouragement of a number of close friends until he started to put together his own system in 1990. Around the same time he also began to make music in his own studio, High Rise, culminating in two well-received debut releases ‘Scud Missile’ and ‘High Rise Vibrations’.
However, it wasn’t until he met Dennis Rootical back in 1993 that the Iration Steppas as we know them now were born. They met at a night called House of Roots down in London and very quickly realised that they were into each others sound.
“We linked up from that day there, we haven’t looked back since, just got tighter and tougher and stronger as friends and bredrins”.
This newly united duo began to record together, creating the quintessential techno-tinged dub sound that we now associate with the Iration Steppas. Releases such as ‘Killimanjaro’ and ‘Reminiscence’ affirmed that the Steppas were here to stay”.
The Iration Steppas now had a following of their own, and from the responses they got from their peers and their crowds they discovered that their sound system and the music they were making was inspiring others to do the same, much to Mark’s delight: “For Iration Steppas to inspire people to build sound systems and build music, bwoy, it’s a great honour because I know how they feel. That’s how I got inspired - through a lot of other sound systems way back in them days, so I know what kind of feeling they are going through.
Never one to leave their roots very far behind, the Iration Steppas, along with local DJ Simon Scott, run the continually packed-out monthly Subdub night in Leeds. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Jah Tubbys, Vibronics and Horace Andy are among the artists pioneering use of DAT machines on their sound system at Subdub that gave them the real edge, and they are now widely credited for having been the first to use DAT recordings of their own tracks and mix in live within their sets.
Always keen to spread the dub sound, the Iration Steppas have taken their unique style all over the world, from Norway to Italy, from the USA to Serbia and from Holland to Japan.
If this wasn’t enough, there have been plenty of side projects: Kitachi, their trip-hop style dub band which saw them tour with Prodigy and Dreadzone amongst others; Mark’s production work for other artists like LSK (signed to Sony); and of course the continual search for new cutting-edge dub acetates with which to wow their crowds.
Whilst many fall by the wayside in the music business, fourteen years on from their initial beginning the Iration Steppas are still going strong and, in fact, are more focused than ever, being on the cusp of releasing both a much anticipated debut album ‘Dubz from De Higher Regionz’ on the acclaimed Dubheadz label as well as a highly desirable Subdub compilation entitled ‘Digital Afrika’, out on their own Tandoori Space imprint.
It’s here we hit on the real heart of what the Iration Steppas are about: passion for music and perseverance, as Mark himself has said “If you get knocked down, you just have to come back stronger - it’s very important to persist in what you are doing and to believe in yourself”.