As children on earth, they were driven to understand the history of dance music and found their teacher in original boston disco DJ Caril Mitro who admitted them into the temple of Vinyl Connection (whose members included Dimitri From Paris and Frankie Knuckles plus many more). Caril taught Soul Clap that “house wears many hats” and instilled the sounds of American dance music while fostering an addiction to digging that has become a worldwide quest to acquire the best vinyl. Soul Clap´s training goes beyond history lessons to mastering all the elements of the DJ: knowledge, mixing, programming, performance and experience. With their roots firmly planted in their hometown of Boston, Soul Clap went out into the world to perform at places like The Marcy Hotel, Fabric, The Electric Pickle and Bar25 and in smaller places in America, Europe, Japan, Mars and Jupiter plus dancefloors in other galaxies that you haven´t heard of. They blasted into space with a series of game changing edits (including the summer 2010 anthem Extravaganza), originals (Action/Satisfaction & Lonely C) and remixes (for Laid Back, Metronomy, Little Dragon, Robert Owens, DJ Harvey and more). They joined forces with Wolf + Lamb to mix a chapter of the legendary DJ Kicks series and broke musical ground on a two month world tour of 6+ hour DJ sets. They always believe in sharing the knowledge by teaching college courses, doing workshops, speaking on panels and making sure to include forgotten classics in their epic DJ sets.
When did you start writing/producing music – and what or who were your early passions and influences?
Both of us had some experience playing around with playing instruments, bands and music production since we were teenagers but we didnt get serious about it until 2007. That was the year that we decided if we didn’t jump in with two feet we could forget about making it as real touring DJs! Our musical backgrounds are in Jazz, Funk, Hip-Hop, Reggae, Soul, Blues, Rock and an enormous array of electronic music. From Trip-Hop to ambient to Jungle/D&B to hardcore to techno to HOUSE even some early trance!
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
This definitely rings true for us especially because our popularity stemmed from the re-edits we did. Here we essentially took others’ brilliance and just re-contextualized it for a modern dance floor. But these influences then challenged us to figure out a way to create these moods and vibes with original content. It’s taken years, but now, especially with where we’re at with our EFUNK sound we’re really on to something powerful.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
Look, its been an uphill challenge the whole way! We’re entirely self taught, composition, arrangement, performance, mixing, mastering … There are so many elements that go into making a record and we’ve had to figure it out for ourselves! We’ve been lucky to be surrounded by so much talent in our Crew Love family, like the mixing/production genius of Tanner Ross or the jazz/composition virtuosity of Greg Paulus, so we’ve soaked up a lot. We’re like two funky sponges!
Tell us about your studio, please.
Our studio situation is always in flux. We’ve got a home set up at Charlie’s apartment, but the neighbor complains if things start bumping so we gotta make music REALLY quiet. For years we used to just plug our two laptops into a headphone splitter and connect to the speaker at whatever hotel we’re at in whatever country we’re performing in. Overall, mood/vibe takes the cake for us over technology. Its all about maximizing what you got. If someone said heres a coconut, a french poodle and a microphone … now go make a record, believe we’d find a way to get FUNKY.
EFUNK really seems like a turning point sonically. Were you trying to achieve something different or was it because of that transition in terms of software?
We had made the jump long before that. We had been Ableton devotees for many years at that point. I think the first one was kind of trying to show how far and wide our musical influences reach by having kind of a little representation of everything. But I’m really looking forward to sharing this new material that’s going to come in the next year or so because I think that, to me, that album is kind of to get your head around but this one, there’s a lot of space and it kind of takes the pressure off. I think we’ve been able to make some really cool stuff.
How important was Caril Mitro’s figure for your artistic growth?
Caril played a tremendous role in our growth by teaching us about house music’s history, telling us stories from disco’s past and teaching us about life in general. We have humbled that Caril and her business partner Tom accepted us and took us under their wing. Getting with those two was a really important moment in our history in the early Soul Clap days.
You guys are fairly coordinated dressers. Where do you get your influences from?
It’s kind of funny that there was like a, you know, distinct, ravey style that’s always coming in and out of clothing. Especially for us when we’re out working and doing DJ sets. We’ve had some cool collaborations that we’ve been working on lately in terms of fashion, to share some of our fashion ideas. One is the t-shirt selection we’ve been designing and releasing through Millionhands in the UK, but also we’ve linked up with your fellow Australian Zanerobe who we helped with their Fall line that’s just been dropping in America. So it’s cool to see these products on the shelves, that’s really chill.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that’s particularly dear to you, please? Where do ideas come from, what do you start with and how do you go about shaping these ideas?
To this day we still get tons of fans showing us love for our remix/re-edit of Laid Back’s “Baker Man”. This was a song suggested to us by our dear friend Paulo Reachi’s (Airdrop Records) brother Alex. He knew with what we had already done with Stevie Wonder’s “Love Light In Flight” and Womack & Womack’s “Conscious” that we could flip this into something special. So we went to work pulling elements from “Baker Man” and creating a groove that could loop forever. Next we make some expert cuts, add filters and reinforce everything with synth melodies, bass lines and the secret Soul Clap touch we call “pads and washes”! Basically that just means lush pads and sound effects. Where do these ideas come from? Somewhere deep inside!
How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
For us these two elements are practically married. Improvisation and jamming almost alway play powerful roles in developing our ideas. That being said there are plenty of instances where we have a specific musical goal we want to achieve, but even then some layer will be written with an improvisational feel.
What’s your view on the role and function of music as well as the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today – and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
As a recording artist eventually you realize the power you have to be able to convey a message to your audience. You know, most of the time in dance music that message is “HAVE FUN AND PARTY!” or “LEAVE YOUR BODY AND LOSE YOUR MIND!” But with so much going on in the world, more and more we try to include positivity and love. We want the listener to walk away conscious and awakened to the idea of spreading this infectious goodness and intelligence. We do this with vocals, samples and overall uplifting vibes.
Catch Soul Clap on Nov 10th, at Ulu CLiffhouse. Click here for more info.