Here's a recent interview I did.
Soulpersona Interview for SoulM8online.com
Soulpersona, Producer, Arranger & Remixer, thanks for speaking to SoulM8 online.
The name Soulpersona, how did it you get it and what does it mean to you?
It comes from my love of soul music, I suppose I'm a soulful individual, I have a soulful persona, hence the name Soulpersona... And with a name like Soulpersona, you kind of know what genre of music I’m going to be creating.
Give us an overview of your music styles?
I’m into producing anything soulful really, stuff that gives me goose bumps, weather it be soulful jazz, funk, hip hop, disco or just straight up soul. I try to incorporate all of these elements into my music. I have a love for the Fender Rhodes piano, I try and use it in everything I produce, just because I love how it sounds. When I produce, I try not to dabble with the latest sound technology, I like to keep it how it would have sounded back in the 70’s, so I just use sounds that would be used in the 70’s, like drums, piano, strings, synths, bass and guitar. I try to leave all the fancy production techniques alone.
You have a natural instinct for quality music when working with artists - where does that ability come from?
Thankyou! Haha, umm, I didn’t realise! Well I started off playing the drums and have always played piano by ear, so I suppose I've always had an ear for music. Also listening to Marvin Gaye, Leon Ware, Roy Ayres, Freddie Hubbard and countless other influences kind of taught me how a record should sound. I’m a groove kind of person, so as long as the groove is there, the vocals should be able to do the rest of the work.
How did you get in to the soul music scene and when did it all begin for Soulpersona?
I have always loved and listened to soul, jazz funk, rare groove and disco music from a young age and started off just making little demo’s on a Yamaha sequencer plugged into a midi keyboard. Through those demo’s I got signed to an awful garage music label where they expected me to produce garage music, every mix I did for them they told me it was too soulful, it became such a struggle to make music that I wanted too, so after a year of that I left and refused to make commercial music ever again. I then bought some basic production equipment of my own and decided to make music that I loved, just for the love, with no expectations. I then made a little demo which got into the hands of my friends manager who really liked my stuff. On the strength of that he called me one day and told me that Jocelyn Brown was looking for producers to work with. I went along to the meeting and she loved what id done and I ended up working for her company Joycee Music as her personal assistant. I spent the next 5 years going with her to meetings and shows, learning about the industry and gaining inspiration from her wealth of musical knowledge. I also got to hang out with some of my musical idols that often stopped over at her house when they were touring. It wasn’t unusual for me to turn up for work in the morning and find a legend in the kitchen making tea... I once spoke to Pattie Austin for about half an hour in Jocelyn Brown’s kitchen before putting two and two together! So I’d say, it all began there, and over the past 9 years it has given me the knowledge to create what I do now. Jocelyn Brown has been my mentor and friend throughout, and I have learned so much from her. She’s an incredible lady on both a personal and musical level, and i’ll always be eternally grateful for the knowledge, inspiration and support she’s given me.
On your myspace page it comments “Soulpersona has dedicated his life to soul music, a decision that paid off in 2001” tell us more about that?
I guess it finally paid off because I met Jocelyn Brown, she was my key into the soul music industry and opened doors for me that before were locked shut.
Your currently working closely with the brilliant Jocelyn Brown and other featured artists, with the intentions of releasing a new album, how is this going to differ from any other soul album?
This album is something that I am so passionate about, It’s an honour to work with the most incredible female singer in the world, and I’m still waking up and having to pinch myself that it’s really happening. This album is going to take the listener back to the late 70’s and early 80’s when Jocelyn was often going under the name of Jocelyn Shaw singing sessions for Kleer, Change, Luthor Vandross, Cerrone, George Benson and so, so many other acts that we now consider to be rare groove. The album is a 50 50 collaboration, I have produced all the music and Jocelyn is writing and singing all of the songs. We are currently recording the vocals and she is sounding totally beautiful, she is also a brilliant songwriter too, a skill which so many producers have overlooked in the past, always preferring to get her to sing their lyrics and songs. I particularly wanted her to write her own songs on this album because I believe in her writing ability, I mean, she did write a hit song “Somebody Else’s Guy” and I believe she can write many more. She has a wonderful gift for writing good hooks and catchy chorus parts and I just love hearing what she has done with all of the songs we’ve done. I think people will have a bit of a shock when they hear it, because it’s the kind of music that every soul music fan would wish from a Jocelyn Brown album. I’ve also used some fantastic, talented musicians on this album. my good mate for over 20 years Paul “Punk Pappa” Lancaster plays all the bass and guitar parts and my other good mate Nick Van Gelder (Who was the original Jamiroqui drummer) is doing all the live percussion. It’s all sounding really good and I can’t wait for people to hear it. It’s also being done with no record industry intervention, myself and Jocelyn are funding the whole thing ourselves and releasing it ourselves, in the hope that a distributor will see the potential and help us out on a larger scale.
When can we expect the next Soulpersona instalment?
That would be the Jocelyn Brown & Soulpersona album... Hopefully it will be ready for an Autnum 2010 release.
Tell me about your recent debut album – SOULACOASTER describe the music, working closely with the artists via the web and how long it took to produce?
The Soulacoaster album took me about 3 months to do all of the music, and it took three years to get all of the vocals on it. I was mainly working with Princess Freesia at the beginning, her songs were done really quickly, she wrote and recorded the vocals and sent me back the accapellas to sit on top of my music. I then met Darien, and he did the same format. Replife came to the UK and stayed with me for a couple of days and recorded his songs. Through Replife I met Deborah Jordan and co produced “Home” with Marc Rapson for her “The Light” album and through that link I gave her a couple of tracks to sing on Soulacoaster. Thing is, “Soulacoaster” wasn’t really an album as such, it was just a collective of songs I was doing for the love that gradually grew bigger and bigger. I them met Sibel Thrasher from working with RAMP, and she did a couple of songs too... Then last Summer I thought I had about 15 songs that could potentially lead to an album. I decided I’d just put this collection of songs together and get some CD’s pressed up, my brother Tukka designed me a nice bit of album artwork and that was it. I remember picking up the box of CD’s and expecting to only sell a dozen at the most. I honestly thought they’d be in that box, in my my loft for the rest of my life. I had no expectations, and then suddenly it took off. Not massively, but enough for me to tap into listeners that loved my kind music.
What do you offer that’s different to any other producer / arranger / remixer?
I wouldn’t know how to answer that question, you’d have to ask people who like my music. I just try and keep things simplified and create good honest soulful music that comes from the heart. I suppose as long as I give the listener goose bumps, my job is done.
If you had a chance to work with any other artist (passed on or still with us) who would it be with and why?
I would have loved to work with Marvin Gaye because he just epitomises soul music for me. Leon Ware would be nice too as would Jean Carne and Marlena Shaw... Todays artists would be Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Q-Tip, Dwele... I remember always wanting to do a track with Hinda Hicks back in the 90’s cos I adored her voice...And had a crush on her! So many to choose, but if someone has a great voice or can play an instrument well, no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they look like, I’d love to work with them.
Where do you see yourself placed in the music industry in the future, where do you want to take Soulpersona?
I don’t see myself in the music industry, I see myself as a free agent working with people that I enjoy working with. In my experience the minute the “Industry” gets involved, the music seems to get diluted. I’d like to get my band together and do live studio recordings on reel to reel and record using the same philosophies used back in the 70’s using traditional vintage instruments and recording desks. I also want to play drums more and play live... In the next 5 years, if I can have a nice big studio where I can record live music every day, and do loads of gigs, then I’ll be happy. My ambition is to run my company Digisoul using elements from the Motown blueprint, have a bunch of in house musicians where we develop the next generation of soulful singers and produce beautiful, supa soulful music for the masses to enjoy.
As the music world continuously changes do you think you will eventually venture into a different style of music?
Never! I will only ever do what I know best. I want people to know that whenever they buy a Soulpersona record, they’ll know exactly what they’re going to be getting... Soulful music.
Do you live and breath your work?
To a certain extent, because most of my songs start as emotions that reflect my day to day life, music is a kind of therapy, if I'm sad, i’ll make a sad song, if I'm happy i’ll make a happy one... But I do like to do other things apart from music. I’m a massive Chelsea supporter and if there was the choice of studio time in the best studio in the world, or watch a Chelsea game, id pick the Chelsea game every time. Love my football, when I'm not making music, I'm either watching it, or playing Fifa 10 on the PS3!
Can you name a personal standout track from your own album or some else’s?
Freddie Hubbard “Little Sunflower” from his Love Connection album... It’s a musical journey that always leaves me speechless and goose-bumpy.
What are you personally listening to at the moment?
Hmm... Just looking at my “Last Played” in my itunes... Randy Brown, Alphonse Mouzon, Dwele, Ana Mazzotti, Azymuth and Kool G Rap.
Personal taste, Old Skool or new?
My main preference is music from the 70’’s to early 80’s... But I like artists out now who try to give a respectful nod to the old skool.
What other projects have you got on offer?
I’ve just finished mastering an instrumental album I've called “The Lapdancer” it’s a collection of sampled grooves from the 70’s and early 80’s that I've added instrumentation too, ranging from disco, soul, jazz funk and old soundtrack music. Sounds very pornographic and ideal for the bedroom, or for simply just putting on when your driving, or walking along with your ipod. I’d ideally like to make a film to accompany it, but that’s another future ambition all together!