Interview by Rob Schenk

Mungo’s Hi-Fi needs no introduction. Since 2000, the Scottish sound system and record label have been one of the pillars of the global sound system scene. Doug Paine explains the origins of the label’s enigmatic name and the connection between Scotland and Jamaica.

Scotch Bonnet Records Logo, photo courtesy of Doug Paine

Rob: Where does the name ‘Scotch Bonnet’ come from? How has the name inspired your approach to the label?

Doug: The name comes from the Scotch Bonnet Pepper. We love cooking, eating, and different food cultures. In fact, we ran a weekly event for over 10 years in Glasgow called Dub n Grub, where we played music and cooked food for people. We particularly love spicy food, and were introduced to Scotch Bonnet peppers by our friend MC Ishu.

A Scotch Bonnet Pepper, also known as a Bonney or Caribbean Red Pepper. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

He showed us how to make an ‘Ital Stew’ like they would make in Jamaica when he was growing up. They are a kind of habanero that looks like it has been crossed with a Naga Morich – they have a wonderful flavour, and are extremely spicy.

We were fascinated by the name and how it came about. Why would Jamaicans name their pepper after a Scottish hat? The reason is that a large part of the Jamaican population today is descended from the Scots, and there were thousands of them on the island, presumably wearing their traditional Tam o’ Shanter hats. This has also given rise to Rasta hats being called ‘Tams’.

Rob: Were there any other serious contenders for the name?

Doug: I don’t recall any other serious contenders for the label name. It instantly seemed right.

Rob: Who designed the artwork? Was there a specific vision?

Doug: I designed the label artwork. I wanted something that would look good spinning in the middle of a record. The orange colour was from the peppers. I liked that it was reminiscent of the yin yang symbol: both joyful, friendly and inviting, as well as deep, dark and soulful.

The Mungo’s HiFi Crew, photo courtesy of Cam Creative

Check out Scotch Bonnet Records’ latest release, “Puffer’s Choice Volume 3” on all major streaming platforms. Big thanks to Doug for his time and energy!