It seems like only a few years ago that the international EDM scene was in some sort of minimal techno dark age.
The sounds were cool and slick and oh-so-Berlinesque, but they just weren't very fun.
Fast-forward to 2011 and Boston's Soul Clap have helped kick-start a veritable clubland renaissance with their fun-loving approach to dance music.
Along with Brooklyn's Wolf + Lamb (who signed them to their label) and their extended network of producer pals like Lee Foss and Jamie Jones, the Clap are digging deep in the crates and bringing back the unabashed pleasure of those old-school jams. Their DJ sets are highly sexy affairs, touching on everything from '80s electro-funk to garage (a special blend they've dubbed "E-funk") and their pop re-edits have listeners across the Atlantic smitten.
Most recently, the pair have teamed up with fellow Bostonian producers Sergio Santos and Tanner Ross to form the supergroup S.E.C.T., whose debut effort on L.A.'s chic Culprit imprint has been making big waves. The foursome will be throwing down at the Electric Pickle on Saturday with PL0T, and we caught up with Eli Goldstein and Charlie Levin of Soul Clap ahead of the show.
New Times: How did Soul Clap first come about?
Soul Clap: Sitting on the porch, drinking 40s, at Eli's mom's house.
How did you first transition from DJing to production work and what is your creative process?
Eli started messing around making hip-hop and jungle in synthesizer class in high school. Then around summer 2003 we both got to sit down and start working together. Our first project was a housey version of a Faith Evans track and we were really trying to bring hip-hop and R&B sounds into house, but just weren't able to do it right. Then in 2009 we went to the Marcy Hotel and Gadi [Mizrahi], Lee Curtiss and Seth Troxler showed us the power of Ableton. That allowed us to really capture our original goals and put the funk back into house music.
You guys are in your late 20s but old souls when it comes to bringing back those old forgotten jams. Where does this appreciation for the past come from and where do you guys go crate digging?
We've been really lucky to have some amazing mentors, but the most important were Caril and Tom who ran an amazing shop called Vinyl Connection in Boston. We basically learned the history of house and disco and the art of digging from that shop. Then Boston's most hidden jewel, DJ Kon, took us under his wing and got us deeper into boogie and R&B. Unfortunately, there are very few record stores left in the US, but our favorite spots for digging are Gramophone and KStarke in Chicago and A1 and Dope Jams in New York. There's also Halcyon and Detroit Threads in the States and we love Phonica in London, OYE in Berlin and a bunch of amazing shops in Tokyo.
What are the pros and cons of the EDM scene in Boston?
There's a tight group of really dedicated DJs and ravers in Boston, which makes all the parties really personal and intimate -- usually just in lofts and living rooms. The problem is that most of the clubs are just bottle service Top 40 bullshit. There are a few good ones, like Phoenix Landing, Middlesex and Goodlife, but even they close at 2 a.m. because the local government does everything in their power to keep us from dancing. We do owe Boston everything though, because it kept us musically diverse and we had to work super hard all the time to make our own opportunities to play.
Do you think you'll be staying in Boston much longer, or do you have plans to relocate to a bigger EDM capital?
Tanner [Ross] and Sergio [Santos] are still holding it down, but Charlie and I already left Boston last summer to stay in Berlin and now we're living in Miami for the winter. But one thing's for sure, you can take the boy out of Boston, but you can't take Boston out of the boy.
Can you explain the concept of "E-funk" for our readers?
E-funk is an acronym that stands for "Everybody's Freaky Under Nature's Kingdom". It's our mission for everyone to get down and feel sexy during our DJ sets. To break out of the typical fist-pumping swordfight that is the techno dancing experience. I mean really, we want babies to be made to this stuff. E-funk also is a more appropriate genre that describes some of our '80s funk-influenced, synth-heavy slow-mo music. The sound is somewhere between house, breakbeat and funk.
2010 was a huge year for you guys, with major releases, bookings and accolades. What were some of your personal highlights?
It was for sure a year for the Soul Clap history books! Here's the highlights shortlist: Playing the Bar25 closing in Berlin. Throwing the Yo Yo Yo 90's Rave Jam in London. Remixing DJ Harvey (due out sometime in the spring.) Our Resident Advisor podcast. Our first official compilation mix CD for No.19 Music (owned by Jonny White from Art Department, due out February 2011.) Playing in Japan. And getting signed to do a Soul Clap vs. Wolf + Lamb DJ Kicks mix CD for iK7 Records (due out in spring 2011.)
What else do you have going on in 2011?
Lots of music releases and touring planned for 2011. To name a few important highlights, there will be a SECT EP forthcoming on Wolf + Lamb. Two full months of touring in Europe and North America with all four Soul Clap and Wolf + Lamb members to support the DJ Kicks compilation CS. Lastly, 2011 will be the year of the long-awaited Soul Clap album also due out on the Wolf + Lamb label.
How did your collaboration with Sergio Santos and Tanner Ross as S.E.C.T. come about?
S.E.C.T. is about as homegrown as it gets. For about 4 years until the fall of 2010, Tanner and Sergio and Charlie were all living together in Allston, MA, with Eli just around the corner. It was Los Angeles-based Culprit Records that gave us our first opportunity to release a record as a group, and once that was complete it was clear we had a lot more collaborative music to write as a family. After spending so much time together we totally existed on the same musical wavelength.
And what can Miami expect during S.E.C.T's performance at the Electric Pickle on Saturday?
Easy! Hot S.E.C.Ts on a platter all night long!
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S.E.C.T. With PL0T residents. Saturday, January 22. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave.,
Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.