When I say the name Ultra Syndicate, many might wonder who or what is it? Well just to enlighten those in the dark, Ultra Syndicate was a sound system we built during our high school years.
How was Ultra Syndicate Started
It all started when Yohann “Zoph” Stephens brought a Gemini mixer to school (Manning’s High, Westmoreland, Jamaica) with the intention of selling it to another student. I saw this thing and wanted to know what it did. When I approached him and asked, he explained that it was for mixing and DJ’s use it to fade between two turntables. This sparked my interest but at $300 JA (I only got $10 for lunch), I know I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I didn’t own turntables but I had a stereo at home which I used to play my records, or should I say the records at my house.
The sale never occurred that day, and for some reason (I rather not say why) Zoph didn’t take the mixer home. He instead asked me to keep it until the customer was ready with the money. Well, the customer never got ready! We instead decided we would build a sound. Since we had no budget, we would get old equipment from his father’s shop or wherever and repair them, old speakers and recone them and so on. We did fundraising when we wanted to build our first scoop (bass box) and stole plywood from dance ads to make speaker boxes. The name was derived from my name at the time. I was Ultra Kid and the sound was Ultra Syndicate.
The team was Zoph and myself Ultra Kid (Speng-Calico) as the founders, later Zoph moved to KGN and Baby C (now Fire Splert) took on the task as CEO. Professor Wadah (Carlton Simpson) was the Deejay, Edge Michael (Oral Durloo) and Riche Stereo (Headley Simpson were the singers. Oh how could I forget Ippy Ranks aka Pagal aka Patrick Hailstorm another singer on the sound 🙂 . Johnny Crazy was the chef, and we would sometimes get other locals artists to represent on the sound.
There was a lot of people who actually played a part who wasn’t mentioned. Some I just don’t remember but there nevertheless are equally as important.
The Team Now
Giving thanks to my humble start, I now own my own sound called Calico Mix Machine, Calico Studio in the Bronx New York and Calico Mix Machine record label.
Baby C aka Fire Splert own’s Good Life sound system in Houston and can also be accredited for building numerous sounds in the Texas area. He now lives in Texas.
Professor Wadah Now goes by the name Toppa Norris. you can find his songs on Youtube. He also now lives in Texas.
Zoph, still Dj Zoph rocked on Kool Fm in Jamaica. Now resides in Canada.
Johnny “God’s Must Be Crazy” is now an accomplished sound system technician and speaker builder and repair man. Also the owner of Johnny Sound Killer sound system in Bahamas.
Edge Michael is still singing and tours as the Nephew of Legendary Peter Tosh. He now resides in Florida.
Pagal is now in promotion and has been the promoter of one of Jamaica’s biggest party “RIO”. He Lives in NY.
Although it was a small sound, we did a number of events that still stand out in my memory. Our first event was a soundclash versus another local sound system called Heatwave (not Digital Bobby’s Heatwave). Which we lost the battle and indeed won the war. We did class parties, concerts, fun days, and sports days.
We also won against King Savage a sound from St. Elizabeth, an event where we basically got kidnapped! After killing the sound on a Thursday night, the promoter decided that no one would show up the following night. Why one would ask, well our competitor was the house sound! So, we were forbidden to leave until Monday. Actually (Badness it name) we just couldn’t leave.
There was also the clash in front of Savanna-la-mar Court House which we mash up the place. I don’t think a winner was declared but I beat them in tune for tune.
With all said and done, I learned a lot with from Ultra Syndicate. It lead me to do music my entire life, maybe it was destiny. Thanks to all who played a part in making it possible. From Edge’s granny who used to keep the sound on her veranda to the people in Burnt Savanna who became family. Fish Tea, Dwight, Boardy, the technician in front of Simmo shop (Park), Perry (Ghetto Phonic technician), Chicken, Rambo Sound, All Parkist, Desta, Manning’s, Gold Dust and Terror just to name a few.