Events Walthamstow

Reggae disco celebrates seven years

An interview with the founders of General Echo, a monthly reggae night in Walthamstow

By Victoria Munro

Matthew (right) with August guests Papa Scotchie and Melvina Moves (credit: Jas)

Seven years ago, two friends started a monthly disco to bring a celebration of reggae to the borough.

Matthew Jones and Dan May held the first General Echo in The Victoria pub in Hoe Street and say the night was originally “pretty low-key”.

Since then, it has grown enough to attract big names in the genre, including Dennis Bovell, Don Letts and Tessa Pollitt, former bass guitarist for The Slits, playing this month.

Matthew told the Echo: “Dan and I just wanted to start a little night playing reggae tunes in a pub. We’re both big fans of this music and used to run a night in Leeds, where we went to university, and had bought a lot of records over the years.

“After a few months, we realised it would be quite boring if it was just us playing every month and started inviting other people to play. There’s a real wealth of selectors in London who are passionate about this music.”

Explaining his years-long passion for the genre, he said: “I think reggae is really unique, so much incredible music has come out of this tiny island in a relatively short space of time.

“We’ve been doing the night for seven years and every month I still hear things I’ve never heard before that I think are amazing. Once you start getting into it, it seems to be a bottomless well of treasure.”

The night is currently hosted in Walthamstow Trades Hall and Matthew added that the volunteer-run venue is a “perfect home”.

He said: “Everyone that works there basically volunteers trying to keep a venue going that’s an asset to the local community and welcoming to everybody.

“We want to keep General Echo going as long as we can. We’re not in it to become DJs ourselves or do anything bigger or better than where it’s got to now, we’re really happy with it.”

Find out more on Facebook and Instagram @generalechosound or Twitter @gen_Echo_echo