Virus Sound System, or VSS, as they’re known in Melbourne, is made up of a crew of dedicated artists, collaborators and singularly robust characters whose creative stories span both multiple decades and the globe.
“As a teenager in Liverpool (UK) circa late 1970s, I was exposed to the Jamaican sound system culture in Toxteth L8. I watched old Rastas build speakers in their railway arches with determination and absolute love. When they got the stack out every Sunday arvo for a jerk chicken street BBQ, it was the healing of the nation right there. The whole community would be out in the street and be actively reclaiming or blocking the space… the police generally didn’t interfere in the daytime, but at night it was a different story.”………Chris Virus
Attending Jamaican ‘blues’ parties as a punk rocker inspired Chris to build his own system. The traveller scene in the UK, which at the time was intrinsically linked to a number of seminal activist and creative movements, also directly influenced the original VSS crew.
“I’ve experienced first-hand the life of what was then termed ‘New Age Travellers’ in the UK from the mid 80s through to 1998 when I left for Australia. ‘Travellers’ is a generalist term for individuals and communities who lived an alternative lifestyle outside of the mainstream. Roaming and gathering in the UK, Ireland and Europe in trucks, campervans and even horse-drawn vehicles, these communities made a living as they went. At that time, they often travelled alongside activist and creative troupes such as Mutoid Waste Company, 2000DS, AutoCrow Show and SCREEEETCH Rock, Bedlam Sound System and Spiral Tribe (the list goes on). We also lived through and felt the takeover of early electronic, acid house and hardcore sounds over rock music – astonishing really!”
Virus has been doing warehouse and bush parties in and round Melbourne since 1998, and of course the infamous weekly club night in Geddes Lane (1998- 2000) still has tales to tell. If you were there – you know what I mean.
“We left Melbourne to travel and live in Europe in 2007 and wasn’t until our return in 2016 we made the decision to rebuild the Virus Sound System, but with our own slant. Let’s just say that if you’re passionate about what you do, you can’t keep an ol’ dog down”.
The Mutoid Waste Company has continued to be a key influence for the art associated with VSS as the Virus crew continue a tradition of constructing controlled kinetic sculptures made from recycled materials. Most recently, VSS has collaborated with industrial sculptor, metal worker and engineer Murray Adams, fabricating a 2.8m bass bazooka speaker named “ROOZOOKA” with a second one on the way to accompany the VSS timber speaker boxes.
“Currently, we have a traditional 4 way frequency split into 8 timber boxes with approx 20kw of sound. Additionally, we have 4Kw of sound in 4 floor subs and of course 2.5Kw of more sub coming from the two ROOZOOKAS!”
VSS has an open and co-collaborative approach to musical programming, which means the sounds they play are across the board: expect a fusion of Jungle, Techno, Ragga, DubStep, old-school rave, Hip Hop, punk and more.