It'll blow you away

16:00, Nov 14 2012
Lion Rockers
Big beats: The Lion Rockers Hi-Fi crew clockwise from left: Heath Arnold, Daniel Kirwin, Tim Bailey, Reuben Cairns-Morrison, Daniel Godinet and Josh Llewellyn.

It stands three metres tall and can blow the windows out of a building.

Joshua Llewellyn from Piha has created a beautiful monster.

The Lion Rockers Hi-Fi Soundsystem will take reggae enthusiasts back to when music was strictly analogue.

Mr Llewellyn is a builder by trade and has been in self-exile for three years building, sanding and wiring up the DIY-project of his dreams.

And tomorrow the Lion Rockers Hi-Fi Soundsystem will be launched.

Soundsystems originated in the ghetto of 1950s Jamaica and remain at the heart of reggae culture.


"They were originally made out of whatever equipment operators could pull together to host a street party," he says.

"A culture of rivalry led to systems becoming bigger and technically better."

Mr Llewellyn's project grew from his desire to get the warmest, purest sound out of his vast record collection.

"Regular PA systems in clubs are weak and sound tinny because most people aren't out for the music. They're out to drink.

"I've never heard anything that can reproduce a record as clean and warm like this in New Zealand."

Mr Llewellyn, known as Joshwa, operates the unmarked controls of his pre-amp during shows to create a custom sound tailored while Lion Rockers Hi-Fi selectors known as Fred Ites and Riddim Tim choose records.

"We can't string up the soundsystem without our operations team. They're the guys lifting the boxes and running cables for the love of the music."

The system roars like the speakers' namesake, Lion Rock, when played outdoors, he says.

"Indoors we couldn't really get the sound up past the first notch. I'd love to have something out west, we just need the right place."

Blasting it at full bore will make the late nights all worth it, he says.

"There were times when I thought I was wasting my time. It was pretty much three years of not going out and working nights and all weekends.

"What would keep me going was people asking about when it would be done and the music."

His labours have already paid off internationally with veteran UK reggae act Channel One Soundsystem booked to perform with the speakers on January 5.

"They contacted me saying they'd heard of Lion Rockers Hi-Fi. We always thought playing with them would be something we could do in 10 years so it's pretty big."

Tim Bailey, known as Riddim Tim, encourages people to attend the launch for a unique musical experience.

"You can't have any idea of what it sounds like. Even visually the speakers are amazing but even if you couldn't see them you'd think the sound was beautiful. You can actually feel the bass move the hairs on your legs."

The Lion Rockers Hi-Fi Launch Party starts at 10pm at the Buena Vista Room, 53 Nelson St. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Western Leader