Soul Clap in Paris

February 18, 2017

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Back in October I had the pleasure of kicking it with the Soul Clap guys, Eli and Charles, in Paris on the day of the release of their self-titled album Soul Clap. We chopped it up about the album’s recording sessions down at George Clinton’s studio in Florida, favourite French records and artists like Daft Punk and Air, and personal music memories that influenced their creative direction. The interview was conducted at the Hotel Amour in Pigalle (one of my favourite local spots), in the comfort of the most pimped out hotel room I’ve ever set foot in – the entire ceiling was covered in motorised disco balls (see the picture above)!

Check out the full Wax Poetics feature with the video for their single “Synthesiser Girlfriend” here.

I had a great time chatting to Eli and Charles, such nice dudes. Afterwards we rolled to their show at Nuit Fauves, a neat club on the River Seine, and my buddy DJ/producer Jamurai from London happened to be in Paris and came through. All round good vibes and memories!

Peep the interview below…

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Tell me about the recording sessions for Soul Clap. What was the atmosphere like?

Eli (a.k.a. Elyte): The original recording session was down there [at George Clinton’s studio] in Tallahassee, Florida.  We went down there not expecting anything, at the very least we would get to see the vaults of all the tapes of a lot of the P-Funk stuff, and just maybe we could meet George Clinton. So we just went in there and got loose and started jamming the two of us, and getting to know the musicians down there. Then all of a sudden George showed up and said “bust the studio,” and we just carried on working on music. We got the hang out with him there and played him a bunch of stuff.

Charles: Obviously leading up to that P-Funk had been a big influence for us. We played him a piece of music we had already worked on using Ableton that was little samples of Funkadelic songs, lots and lots of samples. His ears really perked up then because he could hear the original ideas re-contextualised. I think that showed him that we weren’t just a couple of chumps [both laugh]; that we knew the music.

 

Do you feel like you learned a lot working with him? If so was there anything in particular? 

C: We learned a tremendous amount working with George Clinton. Just the inspiration and confidence of having a titan like him say “hey, that’s cool what you guys are doing.” And I noticed being around him that he really responds well to people who are confident in themselves and have their own thing going on. I think that’s a beautiful thing to put forward.

E: Also the way he works in the studio was almost like how a producer works on a computer. You see how the recording process used to be, having to pull all these musicians together to play the parts that were in his head and guiding it to become a piece of music. It’s much easier now where you can do all those parts separately, but that’s still how he thinks. He teaches each person what he’s hearing and then records, so that was really a learning process seeing how he works.

 

I interviewed Shock G 3 years ago, and he described it like there was before working with George, and after working with George, that his life was better after. I’m just curious if that’s a common experience? [All laugh]

C: I think Shock G said it right. I can totally understand that. It’s like there was an unknown, but now there’s an experience and a known, and we’re carrying it forward. So that’s a beautiful thing, and why the album is so magical. You get a sense that we’ve accomplished what we set out to try to create musically. That’s why this is a self-titled album. In many ways a new beginning I think.

E: All those years finally paid off.

 

Do you find you go through phases where you get a little obsessed with certain types of music or certain artists?

E: Definitely. I would say right now, hip-hop is finally exciting again. It’s been super exciting for me, starting with Kendrick’s album [To Pimp A Butterfly]. Plus that whole explosion of exciting jazz and funk coming from L.A.. Kaytranada, he’s working with this guy Mick Jenkins, then Chance the Rapper is doing all this exciting stuff too. It feels like hip-hop is in an exciting musical place again. The first time since I was a kid, which is so cool.

C: I’ve been listening to a wide variety of things, but I guess artists that jump out are Little Dragon, Death Grips, and we saw Herbie Hancock in concert a few weeks ago.

E: We’ve been listening to all the Herbie Hancock we can.

 

Do you ever notice a difference in the different cities you play, in that the crowd has a different feel? Or does it tend to be a similar vibe at most of your parties? 

E: I think our parties bring an eclectic crowd to them because we play a range of music, but we’re based in dance music and house music. There’s a big difference from the U.S. to Europe, and the the U.K. to Europe is another thing. We’ve been touring for 6 or 7 years, so you really get to know a country. We always try to bring a general funkiness to the equation, which I don’t think necessarily always happens at a lot of these dance clubs. So that brings us a universal family of freaks.

C: I like that [both laugh].

 

Being that we’re here in Paris, do you have any favourite French records, producers, or artists?

C: We’re Serge Gainsbourg fans.

E: Daft Punk, obviously. Homework is one of the best albums ever. Charlotte Gainsbourg too had some really awesome stuff. I recently found out Tony Allen played on a couple of her albums, which is amazing. I think he lives here now, so he’s done a lot of work with French musicians including Charlotte Gainsbourg. Also gotta shout out Air, so good, and I.Q., one of our favourite house producers.

C: Breakbot too.

E: Phil Weeks. Another great house producer from here.

C: Just going back to Daft Punk, all the amazing French stuff, that really left an impact on us as disco house ravers in the nineties.

 

Did you ever listen to an African disco guy from the seventies called Jo Bisso? He did a lot of stuff here in Paris. The record label was Disques Espérance. A friend gave me a record of his and I’m trying to find out more about him. It’s very cool, definitely worth checking out. 

C: Sounds really familiar.

E: You know what deserves a shout out is this compilation series called Source Lab, which was actually one of the first house CDs I ever bought. I had been into acid jazz and kind of stumbled upon it, and it was just really dope french house, trip-hop, and acid jazz. The house music jumped out at me.

C: How did we forget? Dimitri from Paris!

E: Oh the best!

C: Duh.

E: Definitely the king of the edits.

 

Do you remember what the first records that you bought were?

E: My dad’s really into jazz so I started going with him to a place called Stereo Jack’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I’m from. I started buying stuff that I was into, that was when I got really into John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. But soon after that I found hip-hop and started buying hip-hop records, then house and jungle.

C: First record that I owned? Jeez that’s a tough question. It was probably digging in a used record shop, but I can’t really remember. I do remember it was drum & bass and jungle that pulled me in the electronic direction. I was listening to LTJ Bukem and Goldie in my headphones in high school and going to the record store. A guy named Francis Englehardt, who many people probably know from Dope Jams in New York, I remember he gave me a bunch of Ganga Kru records, so like DJ Hype and DJ Zinc. Those were some of the first records I clearly remember. Plus walking into Satellite Records. That’s sort of before I even realised I was into house music.

E: I actually really clearly remember going to a record fair, when I realised I wanted to buy records, and bought a record by a group called Krush – I thought it was DJ Krush – but it was actually some electro stuff…

C: Was it breakdance music?

E: Yeah [grinning]. And I didn’t really get it at the time, but I still have the record. I will always keep that one. [laughs]

 

It’s funny when you talk about DJ Hype and all the drum & bass – it takes me back – you know how when you are a teenager and music just makes you feel really cool? I went through a break-beat / drum & bass phase. [all laugh]

C: Yes! Still does today. There were a couple of kids in high-school that were older than me that were definitely junglists, I just remember them outside smoking cigarettes with big caffeine pants on. I was like “what’s going on? These guys are cool as hell!”

 

That inspired you?

C: Yeah. In America we had jungle sky, liquid sky, and DJ Soul Slinger. That was really cool music, to this day still, This Is Jungle Sky, Volume 2.

 

That’s cool. I find it can be hit and miss when you go back and return to music, sometimes it really was as good as you thought it was, and sometimes it’s not. So it’s nice when you can say: “this really was quality.”

C: Yeah. That stuff was the most futuristic, forward-thinking music.

 

Anything else you want to say about your new record?

C: Should probably mention crewlove.us – our collaborative crew website. We have a subscription based service where people can go and get all of the music, there are lots of perks there for members.

E: Crew love is true love.

Character Sketch : Hotel Costes (Just a Happy Camper)

February 12, 2017

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Slicked back hair looking like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, smoking a cigarette and drinking a glass of champagne at 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon at the Hotel Costes. Baby blue-grey shirt just undone, sunglasses tucked in the neckline, and a navy blazer with red handkerchief at the heart side. Legs stretched out and crossed at the ankle. The world was his show as he sat there and took it in with a nuclear smile.

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Frybros Photography Summer 2016

February 7, 2017

The late-June heat was starting to pick up and I was listening to “Ecstasy” by the Ohio Players on repeat. Staying with my dear friend Teru in Mid City, whom I miss now. Afternoon wine hazes and regular trips over to Delicious Pizza. I can still smell the 7Eleven across the street.

It was a Saturday afternoon that I met up with the amazing Matt Fry before I left LA. We talked and shot pictures in the still afternoon light for hours, before hitting Shintaro in Hollywood for sake and delicious Japanese food. The Cure were playing at the Hollywood Bowl that night, so the streets and traffic were even busier than usual. A magical energy buzzed through the warm evening air like iridescent dragonflies scudding emerald waters.

Below are three photos from the shoot; I love the way that they capture a certain mood.

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A Family Affair

January 29, 2017

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It was my last day in LA and such a perfect way to end my stay. I first met Jansport J in the summer of 2012 when he played DVTV (back when we used to party on the roof) and have been a fan of his music and vibe ever since. Needless to say, I was stoked to get to interview ‘Sport for Wax Poetics while in town. (Shout out to the homie Jordan Lockett for hooking it all up!) And an extra added bonus was getting to steal some interview time with Fatlip, who just happened to be kicking around DV HQ at the time.

Earlier that afternoon I had been hanging out in Topanga, the most magical place, drinking cocktails at Christian Audigier’s ranch with my very special friend and fellow free-spirit Lauren. I hot-footed it back to Hollywood for the interview, full of that sensation of awe and disbelief that I think is very particular to LA, absorbing the visceral beauty of the changing surroundings (green and yellow velveteen Topanga mountains turning to the neon pink lights of Sunset Boulevard) and counting my blessings to be creating such wonderful memories with some of my favourite people. I love you LA.

I owe a huge thank you to my friend and brilliant photographer Mekael Dawson for filming the interview and also taking these stills … Enjoy!

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Real Talk with Jansport J & Fatlip

January 29, 2017

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When we filmed the Jansport J interview In the Court of the Covina King at Delicious Vinyl HQ in July, I was lucky enough to grab some time with Fatlip to chat with him and ‘Sport for Wax Poetics about music-making, clearing expectations during the creative process, and the early days of Pharcyde …

Enjoy!

Biggups again to the homie Mekael Dawson for filming the interview, Jordan Lockett for hooking it up, and Delicious Vinyl for hosting! I also edited this video :)

In the Court of the Covina King

January 29, 2017

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Back in July I caught up with my friend Jansport J for Wax Poetics at the Delicious Vinyl headquarters on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. At the time of the interview ‘Sport was deep in the creative process, the “wilderness” as he coins it, of producing p h a r a o h : his raw, 27-tracks long, NYC-inspired, aural tour de force.

Peep the interview to see ‘Sport talk about his musical journey and influences, working with both major and independent labels and legends such as Snoop Dogg, and the timeless quality of the soul music he samples…

p h a r a o h was released January 27th via blackwhitegoldville music/Fat Beats Distribution.

Find it on iTunes here and Bandcamp/Cassette here

Biggups to Mekael Dawson for filming, the homie Jordan Lockett for hooking it up, and Delicious Vinyl for hosting! This is also the first video edit I’ve done myself .. :)

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Character Sketch : Hotel Grand Amour (This Is It)

January 21, 2017

The people-watching in Paris is on-point. Seeing characters in real life and imagining their stories is one of my favourite things to do. Here is a short piece I wrote about one character who caught my eye at the Hotel Grand Amour one exceptionally chilly evening last week …

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His style reminded me of Camp Lo in the video for “Luchini.” Sitting facing the bar at the Hotel Grand Amour he wore a camel coloured overcoat, matching newsboy hat, pale cream coloured poloneck, a gold hoop earring and assorted thick gold rings. He must have been in his early or mid seventies, with white beard stubble peppering his angular chin. He used an old-fashioned gold magnifying glass to read something, presumably messages or some article, on his iphone, whilst methodically working his way through a bottle of IPA and twelve oysters. He didn’t strike me as Parisian. More an old Harlem soul somehow lost in the 10th arrondissement. I would have loved to have spoken to him and found out his story. But alas, my friend arrived and the important task of dinner and gossip was to commence. Maybe another day, maybe another lifetime …

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Moving to Paris

January 14, 2017

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I’ve long been a bit of a gypsy, and on August 30th, 2016, I followed my little life-long dream of moving to Paris for one year. I’m now four months in and feeling just about settled. After staying in a string of Airbnb spots and sublets, I moved into my own dreamy studio in Montmartre at the start of November.

So far it’s been a lot of fun to explore, discovering dope record spots like Tago Mago (where I was introduced to Silver Apples!!!) and Superfly Records (where I picked up Tropical Gangsters on vinyl for €5!), finding my favourite local bakery Pain Pain (the best almond croissants) and favourite bistro Buvette (the best chocolate mousse), and I’ve hazy happy memories of bars like Le Sans Souci and L’Embuscade (killer cocktails at both).

Moving to a new city has been lonely too at times for sure, but I’m very lucky to have connected with and befriended some very cool souls over here. I’m very excited for this new year and am going to round off this little post on my top feel-good track right now: Prefab Sprout’s “The King of Rock ’N’ Roll’ … Enjoy!

Frybros Photography Autumn 2014

January 7, 2017

I’m such a fan of Matt Fry as both an artist and a person, and feel very lucky to have gotten to know him and his work through working together for Dazed & Confused. If you are not already familiar with Matt’s photography, check it out here : frybros.com.

Whenever I am in Los Angeles, I love the opportunity to shoot with Matt;  real conversation and connection lead the way, and perfectly timed pictures just somehow follow like cygnets paddling behind their momma swan.

It was one afternoon early November in 2014, I was visiting friends and family in California for a few weeks, that I met up with Matt and we headed to the Daimaru Hotel in Little Tokyo. We spent hours talking about all sorts of things (love, music, our lives) and I remember feeling almost euphoric afterwards. Later that evening I went to see Blade Runner for the first time at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, continuing the euphoria!

Here are a couple of photos I found from the shoot; I just love the the way the shadows and light play with one another…

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Sitting in the Park … with Dan the Automator

January 4, 2017

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Back in the summer when I was bopping around California I had the honour of meeting Dan Nakamura, a.k.a. Dan the Automator, in his hometown of San Francisco. Dan is one of those producers who is behind such a varied array of great music, I’ve often felt as though I am constantly discovering that he has played a part in hit records – it was only in conversation with Dan that I learned he produced two albums for Kasabian (dudes from my hometown!).

I interviewed Dan for Wax Poetics at the top of Dolores Park on a beautiful and rather windy day, and chopped it up about the music he loved growing up, the Bay Area scene, working with artists like Kool Keith and Del the Funky Homosapien, porno music, and much, much more … Enjoy!

You can also check it out on Wax Poetics here!

Mega props to Zhubin Rahbar and Paul Keller for filming the interview, and to Matt ‘Matman’ Smith for painstakingly editing it to be so fresh and informative! :)

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