Boston duo Soul Clap has been flyin’ high and doin’ it right in 2012 with the release of their debut album EFUNK, yet another mega world tour and, last but not least, the launch of their very own label, Soul Clap Records.
Ofm vinyl had the honor of pressing the first vinyl for their label, a beautiful red and blue splatter 12″ for Nightplane’s Heartbeat EP. Needless to say, we couldn’t resist calling the Beantown boys to chat about vinyl.
First vinyl memory?
Eli: My first vinyl memories are my dad’s jazz records. He has shelves of them. I remember looking at them as a toddler, looking at the artwork and trying to figure out what those things were. And then being amazed when I’d put them on a turntable and they made sounds. And then from there, when I was in middle school, I started to scratch with those records on the turntable and he got mad at me.
Charlie: My first record memories are all of my parents’ vinyl too. They had bunch of jazzy stuff too but also Bob Marley records and stuff. I don’t wanna call them hippies, but they had some hippie intentions. I also remember seeing some guys scratching on TV, going up to my parents’ turntable and trying to bust some moves on there, and they would also get pissed off. Wasn’t there a hip hop song that was like “don’t try this at home on your parents’ turntable”? I wonder if with the next generation of kids whose parents don’t have vinyl it’s going to be something that’s lost, because for children, records are very curious things.
Why is vinyl superior to other formats?
Charlie: This question kinda caught me off guard, cause I don’t know if vinyl is necessarily better. It’s got unique qualities that make it exciting. First and foremost it’s big, it’s this thing you can hold, and when you’re manipulating it as a DJ, it’s extremely enjoyable to touch the vinyl and use a turntable to perform with.
Eli: There’s also digging through crates and going to record stores to find old vinyl. It’s such an amazing experience, you can spend days and days digging, and putting your hands on a record you’ve been looking for for a long time is really the only way to get that feeling of finding a buried treasure.
Charlie: A vinyl is also this enormous canvas for whatever the cover art is. It’s blown up and really beautiful, and that’s why people frame their vinyls.
Eli: And then I think the sound is very unique: it’s warm, it’s crunchy, it’s got this real sound which makes everything sound old and authentic. I feel it sounds more real than listening to an MP3.
What are the best spots to buy vinyl?
Eli: Oye records in Berlin is our favorite these days, there’s also Phonica in London right up there, Rush Hour in Amsterdam is amazing, there’s Gramophone in Chicago, Halcyon in NY.
Charlie: Strong record stores like that just kept getting stronger while the other ones kinda died away. Now there’s only so many. One year, before Eli and I even had our first record out, we spent a Winter driving around America in a Subaru, just going around from one record shop to another. Texas, San Francisco…SF used to have some great shops, and it still does, it was unbelievable.
Eli: Also, we can’t forget this shop in Tokyo called Disk Union. It’s so awesome. There’s everything there, all the old Detroit, Chicago, New York house stuff that we’ve been looking for forever. It’s amazing.
How big is your collection?
Charlie: Well we have a joint collection. That’s kind of the thing that started Soul Clap when we figured that we should put our record collections together. Because at that time, we weren’t using CDJs, and the only way to have a song in your collection was to have it on vinyl. By putting these two collections together, we had this much bigger catalogue of music, so we’ve been sharing a record collection and growing it together for ten years now. Granted a lot of that stuff is just collecting dust but we probably have around 10’000 records in a secret location very close to Eli’s mother’s famous turkey soup.
What are your most cherished records in this collection?
Eli: Wow…that’s a great question. It’s hard to go through it..
Charlie: Well, we’ve got some pretty cool older Chicago and Detroit classics. Actually, I don’t even know if people still relate to that stuff but we went crazy collecting Nice N Ripe records.
Eli: I would find them on Ebay and pay $50 for records just to complete the set.
Charlie: Eli probably has one the best collections of UK Garage in America. Actually, we teamed up with the guys who are now in control of Nice N Ripe records, and all of its subdivisions, Nice N Fruity, Up in the Air, etc. They reissued all of it on Beatport, and we’re in the process of doing an official compilation CD that will come out in 2013…
Eli: Soul Clap mixes the history of Nice N Ripe basically.
Charlie: All that time and money spent buying these records and searching them out kinda comes full circle, that’s pretty cool.
What are the craziest-looking vinyls you’ve seen?
Charlie: We both agree that Genevan Heathen’s Charlie Sheen vinyl is the craziest looking record we’ve ever seen.
Eli: Just to have someone’s face on a record is awesome, but then he took his lips and super imposed them on Charlie Sheen’s face on the b-side of the vinyl, how did he do that stuff? It’s so crazy.
Charlie: You know, there was this Paul Johnson record on Dust Trax, where he’s just got a pair of tits in his hands. That’s pretty cool.
Eli: We have to do a picture disc at some point.
Are there records you’re still looking for? That special buried treasure out there?
Charlie: I just came full circle on a record I’ve been looking for for such a long time, it’s a record by Romanthony featuring Nyree, called Good Tymz. We just got it at Oye in Berlin two weeks ago. I’ve been looking for that record since I was a teenager. That was a big moment. I found it totally by accident. I freaked out.
Eli: That is the best feeling. For me, I actually had a bag of records stolen eight years ago. It was a bunch of my UK Garage and 2step records, and there was this one on 4 Liberty Records from the UK, it was this amazing 2step record. I’ve never been able to find out what this record was, it’s one of those records where I knew what it looked like but not what it was called…and it’s not even on Discogs, I can’t fucking find it! So that’s one amazing early 2000 kinda r&b / garage record that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find again.
Charlie: Maybe we should ask the Dream Team guys and they’ll give you a copy.
Eli: That would be amazing.
Do you feel the younger generation of DJs who were born in the digital era should learn to DJ with vinyls? Is it an essential building block when it comes to being a DJ?
Eli: Look, at this point there’s so many amazing technologies and there’s so many crazy things that let you push how you use sound and performance, and that’s cool. But a lot of those things you can now do aren’t really DJing. For me DJing is putting two songs together to create a feeling, it’s not like looping over and over again and putting a bunch of tracks on top of each other. It’s the traditional feeling of it. I think kids can learn how to DJ with Traktor and CDJs, but they’ll never be able understand what it feels like to DJ if they never use vinyl. This feeling is irreplaceable.
Charlie: Maybe it’s like kung fu. You gotta learn the history before you can get to the nunchucks.
Eli: Or it’s like photography where if you want to be a real photographer you really have to use a darkroom so you can understand the technique that you’re using, even when you’re editing digital photography. It’s the same thing. Computers open up all these new doors, but to really become the master of an art form, you really have to understand the way it’s built.
Where do you see vinyl in 30 years?
Eli: Oh man, obviously where we’re going is complete loss of electricity, the whole infrastructure of the world is going to break at some point in the next 30 years, we can all agree on that. So we’ll have to go back to vinyl since there won’t be any computers or electricity anymore. You’ll have to get a stone and turn it around the record so you can hear the sound from the groove, and that’s where vinyl is going.
Charlie: I actually foresee a culture where music boxes replace all vinyls. You’ll have to turn that little crank on tiny music boxes, and that’s all you get.
Eli: So I guess we’ll get back to gramophones where you have to crank it yourself.
Charlie: I foresee a lot of Lindy Hop.
Nightplane “Heartbeat ep” (SCR1201) is out on Soul Clap Records on 12″ marbled red/blue vinyl.
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Buy Night Plane ft. Heather D’Angelo EP on vinyl