Familiar faces

Interview with Soul Clap

Familiar faces

02-04-2013 | 11.19

Our respected April residents stated that Trouw is like a home for them. Maybe that’s why my whole talk with Charlie and Eli had this aura of domesticity and hominess around it. And amongst your family it’s ok to be in pajamas, right?

What do you do on a regular day?
Charlie: ‘I live in Miami, so I like to go to the beach. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga. I like to make nice healthy food, and work on music. And talk to my partner Eli. About stuff. I’m living with Gadi and Zev from Wolf + Lamb. Zev is very healthy, always doing some lifestyle experiment to make you stronger and healthier. Today we had this magic breakfast made of flax oils that keep us super-powered in our quest of musical world domination.’
*Eli grins*
And Eli, what is your regular day like?
Eli: ‘I live in Boston and my day is very similar actually. I live with my wife who is getting her master’s degree in gastronomy, she experiments with a lot with different recipes as well. So I eat a lot of good food, do some yoga, work on music, play some records, go for a walk. Maybe go see some friends at night, or just hang out and watch some terrible television show.’
Charlie: ‘We’ve been watching this thing here called... what the hell is it called? Something tuna. Watching these guys pull these tuna fish out of the water is like cra... zy.’
Can you tell me about Eli’s mom’s basement?
Eli: ‘For a good 3 years we used to have our studio down there. We slowly built it up with some different gear. At one point I had this really old Soundcraft Series 1 mixing board, so we could run everything through that and it all sounded really dirty. It only worked for a couple of weeks and then it broke.’
Charlie: ‘Just a little history on the studio... for a while Eli and I had another business, with a third partner that did a lot more hip hop nightclub stuff. Around 2007 we decided that if we wanted to be serious about dance music, we would have to focus entirely on it. We went from having a studio in a nice building, to having no money at all. We said: hey, where can we go and make noise? The basement was a place where Eli had parties all through childhood. It had graffiti all over the walls. That was a perfect place to give birth to Soul Clap for real.’
So for 3 years you had a studio there, but before that it was like a hangout spot?
Eli: ‘It was my bedroom! I moved down there in high school and decked it all out. My friends would come over and we’d be sneaking beers in through the windows. We had this back room that was padded, so we could smoke weed in there and my parents wouldn’t smell it. Also, I learned to DJ down there. And even to this day we still keep all our records in that basement.’
How is your record collection organized?
Eli: ‘It’s only partially organized. We have 2 massive shelves of house music, organized by record label. We have another shelf of pop music from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, that’s organized by beats per minute. And after that everything’s a mess.’
Charlie: ‘The basement flooded many times. The amount of mildew down there is almost unbearable at this point. We built these risers that the whole collection is on, so nothing is touching the ground. The vinyl is safe but the lungs are not.’
Do you see each other as best friends?
Charlie: ‘I view Eli as a brother. Together we’ve seen it all. The good times and the bad times. The fact that we’re still cool and tight and on top and moving forward together, is perfect.’
You seem to strive to bring artists together to stand as a big family with one message. Are you creating a P-Funk-like universe?
Eli: ‘Wolf + Lamb has taught us how to have a family of artists, not just have a label or a collective. It’s always like: oh cool, we can put out music from our homies and have our homies remix it! We’re always giving each other feedback and collaborate on stuff. We’re being honest so we can grow together. I guess it is kinda like P-Funk in that way. But in another way it’s very different, because P-Funk is really George Clinton’s vision and musicians came and went around George. But us, we always stick together.’
So why are you not with P-Funk?
Charlie: ‘We kind of are with P-Funk. We finally met George Clinton this year and we travelled twice to their studios to collaborate with the younger musicians down there. George Clinton’s nephew named Sa’D Ali has knighted us as honorary funkadelics. So we’re not in the band, but we are in the crew.’
This year was the first time you met him? That surprises me!
Charlie: ‘Hey you know, it surprises me too! I was hoping that when I came out of my mother’s womb that George would be there to slap me on the butt. But no, it took 32 years.’
Apparently you also have a consulting business, doing music for coffee bars and things?
Charlie: ‘Before we were Soul Clap the touring artists, we were already Soul Clap the brains. And at that time, living in Boston, we were really thinking of ways to not have to go and DJ at these cheesy clubs where no-one wants to go and the people aren’t cool and the music sucks and the vibe sucks and it’s 20 dollars for a drink and it’s fake boobs and overall fakeness.’
Eli: ‘A DJ there was this kind of throwaway thing, there was no respect. So this consulting business was much more rewarding. We were growing as business people and as creative people, and at night we had the time to focus on writing music.’
Charlie: ‘If it wasn’t for this venture I don’t think we ever would have explored this genre that became new disco for us. Right then we were doing hip hop and house, but we weren’t doing this beautiful dreamy emotional beach outdoor sound. We made songs that we wanted to be able to mix in our DJ sets, and those were the edits that got discovered by Wolf + Lamb. So if it hadn’t been for this corporate work, we would have never become the Soul Clap that we are today.’
Do you have a nice memory to share about Trouw?
Charlie: ‘Changing clothes in the DJ booth. From comfortably dressed up at the airport to crazy funky free pajamas!’

Text: Tessa Velthuis