Soul Central

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of Soul Central, the duo return to the fold showcasing their Balearic edge with latest release ‘All This Love’ – out now on Tropical Disco Records. If summer was a sound, this ensuing anthem is the perfect season all year round! DMCWORLD checks in for another world exclusive…

Matt, Paul a huge welcome to DMCWORLD. What is the best piece of new music you have heard this week?

Paul :  It’s got to be St Germain – “Rose Rouge” (Atjazz Galaxy Aart Remix), I can’t stop playing it.

Matt : I’m hung up on a mix we did of Future Sound Of London “Papua New Guinea” as it keeps true to the original with some new inflections to help deliver it to a new generation.

So, in a very unexpected and unimaginable summer, it’s great to know we can rely on one thing! A great piece of new house music from the Soul Central boys! Please talk us through the sound and history of new drop ‘All This Love’ swinging our way via Tropical Disco…

The idea was to get a cool band feel, jamming through a disco groove. We wanted to deliver something that could be played by DJ’s across the board and stand the test of time as a modern classic. We connected with Moodena who was just as excited by the track as us and also put on his executive producer cap, it was a collaboration between musicians, our vocalist and people that love quality Disco.

The track has seen support from such heavyweights as Horse Meat Disco, Graeme Park and the Melon Bomb quads. Who though were your early musical influences when first starting out in this industry?

Paul: Mike Oldfield & Prince were huge influences because they both demonstrated that one person could lock themselves away and produce records. Derrick May’s records were a big influence also.

Matt: Loads of labels and producers from the late Disco and early House / Techno scene. I really loved music from Shep Pettibone, Tony Humphries, Kevin Saunderson, Larry Heard, Todd Terry, Frank De Wulf, the list is endless.

Soul Central - All This Love (Club Mix)

Do you both hail from musical families? What is your earliest memory of music as a child?

Paul: My dad played piano in pubs and clubs so we were the “go to” people for music at parties, this continued with my record collection. My mom is a massive Jazz fan, so music was always in the house, I was lucky. No toys really, just music.

Matt: We had a piano when I was young, and although encouraged I really didn’t take to it, (or the drums my older brother had, I had to fight to get a turn). My Mum always encouraged us to be creative through art so I guess it started a fire early on. In hindsight her early records were quite influential, she was a hippy and very liberal so that ensured I always wanted to be different. My parents supported my forays into DJ’ing, making slipmats, boxes for turntables, even screen prints for my club and radio brands. My Mum would take me record hunting to some incredible places, I once found a box of Grandmaster Flash records at 10 cents each.

If you hadn’t have been setting dancefloors alight with your music, what other careers beckoned for you two?

Paul: I love film, art, it would have been in the creative arts sector.

Matt: I spent many years in hospitality so no doubt I’d have my own restaurant and bar, before switching to music retail, so a record store could’ve easily been on the cards. I actually bought doubles of many records to ship back to Australia for this purpose mid 90’s. I now co-run The Everyday Agency which is a marketing agency, alongside managing a label and a few artists. I love to be busy I guess.

The other big news for you guys right now is of course the 20th Anniversary of Soul Central! Firstly, how did you meet and how did the act begin?

Paul: Andy Ward and I hooked up in 2000 for a chat and decided to have a bash at making some tracks. The first track we did was “Strings of Life”, nobody was covering techno tracks at that time, it was too early I think. So we did a house version of the techno classic. Then Matt joined me to kick start Soul Central again last year and we decided to revisit it as an anniversary and a rebirth.

Matt: Strangely enough we were always connected through local promoters and events, releasing and producing under different monikers together over all this time. I accompanied Timmy and Andy to the House Music Awards way back when, which remains one of the funniest memories we all share. I was drunkenly invited to the Dutty Funk (We Can Do) video shoot with MN2S, Barbara Tucker and Timmy but had to get back to Birmingham.

Who excels in what department in the production process?

Paul: Difficult to say because the track gets bounced back and forth until it’s finished.

Matt: Yes we’re both really hands on until the final mix down is complete. We pretty much hold the same vibe and the production takes a natural flow when it comes to keys, rhythm and arrangement. We trust each others experience and vision (with a few minor nudges whenever necessary to ensure it’s 100% gold).

To coincide with the anniversary you have released a rare rework of your hit ‘Strings of Life. Tell us about the track and what was the idea behind it…

We wanted to mark the 20 years and honour the original and our version, so we kind of imagined it being played at festivals at daybreak, how presumptuous we were thinking people would play this at festivals when the pandemic just ended all of that this year! We added a vocal and parts from another one of our tracks called “Un Amore Supremo” which is a tribute to Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”. It’s very subtle but hauntingly beautiful. The vocal features Tara Chinn, who also sings  add libs on “All this Love” out now on Tropical Disco Records.

The past few months in London and around the world have seen scenes reminiscent of the acid house days of the late 80s with illegal parties springing up everywhere. The lockdown has literally seen us taking to the streets again to dance. What’s your take on the government’s stance to nightclub/festival/live venue shutdown…the long lasting effects on our music scene is unthinkable. What are your thoughts on all this chaos…how can we get back to normal?

Paul: IMO the UK Government acted too late and has handled COV19 poorly compared to other countries. I’m in Vietnam at present and they nailed it. I hope things get back to normal for schools, education and businesses asap. Clubbing isn’t a priority but it has hit us all very hard. The NHS have done amazingly, as they always do in these circumstances, they deserve better salaries along with a stream of medals.

Matt: I was in lockdown in UK and now back in Ibiza, so Ive experienced a mixed bag of impacts including the loss of traditional clubland. Rather than turn political I think a collective and unified effort to address the policy and support issues is necessary. More noise needs to be made and it will be  a long process to rebuild the damage, sadly it’s too late for many. It’s a changing world and a new approach needs to be ingrained into old systems and thought processes. I believe in forging forward so brands remain buoyant and also have a running start when the floodgates re-open for events. Staying relevant and active (engaged) until that point is essential.

Matt you live in Ibiza, still regarded by many as the clubbing capital of the world. Like 99% of the world there has been no dancing there this summer. Will the White Island be allowed to bounce back in 2021 or do you think major changes are afoot?

As you know, things are changing on a weekly basis. Already a few positive steps forward have been restricted again so sadly I feel it’s all a little too early to forecast correctly. I’m in constant talks with businesses to the council for various projects and there isn’t a clearly defined timeline whilst this pandemic continues. With the trialling of socially distanced events popping up I think it shows the authorities have a view of how ad what they will allow things to return which may impact for another year or two before settling. Scary yet interesting, evolution may resolve some of the practices of previous promoters for the better.

You are asked to play a classics set at festival next summer. What are 10 are the tracks in your set…any genre, any year…

Rhythm is Rhythm – The Dance

A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray

Renegade Soundwave – Probably a Robbery

Orbital – Chime

Paradox – Jailbreaks

X-Press 2 – Muzik Xpress

Jaydee – Plastic Dreams

Romanthony – Bring U Up

Golden Girls – Kinetic

Inner City – Good Life

And finally, what is coming next from you guys musically?

We have a new track “Jack The Power” with old school flavour out now on Kenny Dope’s label, and another already signed to follow up. The Tropical Disco deal was for three tracks, so we’re already onto number two whilst “All This Love” is still dominating charts. There’s quite a few tracks that are about to be signed off to some incredible labels (but best we keep them under wraps until the ink is dry). We have a Classic House release coming on DJ Spen’s Quantize imprint, which is a collaboration we co-wrote with Kathy Brown during lockdown. We also have a few heavy hitters that will change the perception of Soul Central as a House influenced act, musically we are back to make an impact.