Tony Cannam is the Songwriter, Producer and Band Leader of Soulnaturals an original, high quality UK Soul/RnB project, producing classic inspired songs with outstanding special guest singers and artists. They have received rave reviews from the likes of Blues & Soul, Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show, BBC6, Peter Young Jazz FM, Andy Peebles Smooth FM, Solar Radio, BBC Regional, Clash Magazine, DMC World, Altsounds, London Live TV etc. Live shows include being the first act to open the newly refurbished Jazz Café supporting Billie Rae Martin, headlining Pizza Express Jazz Soho, Vintage Festival, Blues Kitchen, Paperdress Vintage and famous Swinging 60s Soho clubs that are still swinging Scotch of St. James and Bag o’Nails. In 2016 they collaborated with Secret Cinema for their ‘Dirty Dancing’ festival spectacular in Jubilee Park, East London. Soulnaturals released their debut vinyl album in 2017 as part of the national Record Store Day event, receiving strong critical acclaim, including contender for album of the year from UKVibe.org and SoulDonuts.com blogs. Collaborations included Australias’ First Lady of Soul Kylie Auldist, fresh from her huge summer worlwide hit with Kungs vs Cookin’ with 3 Burners ‘This Girl’, and reggae legend Dave Barker who had the UKs first reggae No.1 hit with ‘Double Barrell’ by Dave & Ansell Collins. International DJ remixes have included Swedish House Maestro Opolopo and Australian Disco crowd pleaser Dr. Packer. And now Tonydelivers the first single release of his forthcoming solo album project‘The Re-Set Trilogy Pt.1’, the first of an ambitious trilogy of albums documenting personal and global events in an expansive cinematic and soul/funk/classic pop landscape. ‘Keep It Tight’ is an immediate, delicious slice of catchy, funky, retro soul pop designed to make the nation smile. A perfect opportunity to grab a DMCWORLD world exclusive…
Hi Tony, it’s great to hear from you again and with news of another album to come. what was it that inspired you to start a Solo Project?
Before the Lockdown kicked in I was working on the next Soulnaturals album project, recording new strings, brass, meeting new lead singers etc and everything just ground to a big halt, same for everyone around the world. So I was stuck indoors, a frustrated Songwriter, whaddayagonnado? I started writing and demoing and could not stop. At the start I got into a daily habit of picking up a guitar, press record on my mobile and see what happens, don’t think about it, and leave it, don’t listen to it afterwards. I did that every day for a period of a couple of weeks and then I started listening to the recordings and sifting through, finding out what was working and what was the strongest ideas. I also sang every day, more and more, it started to feel like a solo project and I felt that I needed to sing these songs. There was a lot to go through! But a set of ideas emerged and then I started the arrangements and recording at home.
What records were you listening to when you started writing for this album and did they inspire you?
I came across a brilliant radio station website called radioooo.com, its described as ‘a musical time machine’ you can click on any country in conjunction with any decade going back to 1900 and to the present, its fuelled by record collectors/obsessives from around the Globe who sign up to the site and post their recommendations. I absolutely loved it and got addicted! For whatever reason I got into Italy / 1960s, and was listening to a lot of Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota and Italian one hit wonder bands covering 60s Hits. I don’t know if it factored into the new solo album, but a lot of cinematic instrumental ideas started coming out which are going to form the basis for the next solo project album. Its a deeply creative time and the ideas keep coming everyday. I think the album was inspired by books I was reading and UK/World events I was following also, conversations and interactions with friends and neighbours. The thread through the album is strong melody and arrangement, is it strong melodically, lyrically and what arrangement does it suggest? The arrangement link throughout is a rhythm section of drums, bass, acoustic guitar, Clav and Fender Rhodes, layered with beautiful SoulGospel backing vocals. At the time I was reading ‘1967: The Year That Changed Soul’ by Stuart Cosgrove, it’s a great book that chronicles Motown, MC5, the politics, music, riots and police brutality in Detroit 1967. Theres a track on the album ‘There Will Be a Reckoning’ that was inspired by the tragic story of a young group of soul singers, The Dramatics, who were victims of police brutality in 67 and it also echoed what was happening in the US in 2020. Having said that, the album is joyous, playful, dark , angry and moody, as all good albums should be.
What’s behind the name of the Album and is there a concept to the record?
‘The Re-Set Trilogy Pt.1’ – Well the world and it’s people are definitely being re-set and re-designed, but the question is who is doing the re-setting and who’s driving it. If it’s the Elites, Billionaires and Corporates driving it, then it’s not good news for the rest of us and democracy. On the other hand, if the driving comes from below, from those who believe in defending democracy in response to the pushing from above, then we can create something fresh, new and progressive that benefits all of us and the planet. The track ‘Where Is Our Future?’ asks this question. I think the consciousness of the worlds peoples is rising and people are asking questions. This album observes and poses its own questions, but also just celebrates life and dancing, which is as good a response as any. Over the next 2 to 3 years the songs and ideas will keep on coming, it will be a very colourful time for writers and creatives everywhere, so The Re-Set Trilogy Pt.2 & Pt.3 will be a melodic and lyrical response to what happens next, watch this space. The concept of this album is to step outside of conscious thinking into the realms of the unconscious and respond in song, thats where the gold is. It’s musical meditation.
What was it like working with Mark Anderson, and do you think his background in TV gives him a unique insight to music production?
Me and Mark have very similar influences, we are both into Norman Whitfield, Temptations, the later, more psychedelic, darker side of Motown and The Beatles, so that was a good basis. He’s a real guitar head and has a huge collection, we ended up using the Coral/Dan Electro Sitar on quite a few tracks, it was popular in the 60s, Motown used it on quite a few hits like ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ and ‘No Matter What Sign You Are’. His experience in TV and library music gives him an instinctive feel for what sounds right, he’s also very good at getting performances out of singers and musicians, its always about capturing some studio stardust and he’s got a real flare for that.
There appears to be a bit of a funk & soul revival in Britain going on with the rise of artists like Celeste, Joesef, do you think this seems to be the case?
I think there tends to be a Soul revival every year to some degree or another, it usually cents around production style, but its quite strong at the moment. I like what Celeste is doing, strong songs and there is a classic 70s soul feel to her voice, and that what a hairstyle, love it. I really like the retro analogue, early 60s, mixed with a more modern, compressed sound, Joesef has a classic feel too, its passing on the beautiful baton of Pop Music at its best. I would like to see more of a funk revival too, we need more bands, not just solo artists. Start a band!
Vinyl also appears to be on the up again which is great news for the industry, do you think nostalgia plays a part in this?
Great, I think its partly nostalgia but its more of having something real to hold on and testify to. If you buy vinyl, it’s like you were really there, it’s part of your life, you remember that time in your life, like being at that unforgettable gig or the World Cup final. Whilst we have to currently live with it, streaming does not do that. The Revolution Will Not Be Streamed.
If you had to abandon your record collection but could pick five records to save what would you choose and why?
Help!! I find these questions almost impossible, but if your gonna hold a gun to my head … 1) ‘Whats Going On’ album by Marvin Gaye – I cannot live without this, my brother Lee introduced me to it when I was a teenager and it blew my mind, I’ve never really got over it and it changed my life, I am and will always be trying to reach it’s spiritual glory, joy and power. ‘ Songs In the Key of Life’ by Stevie Wonder – Stevie at the height of his powers, an explosion of song, melody and colour, drenched in classics and taking you through an unforgettable journey, this is the power of the album, why real albums are an experience not just a collection of tracks. 3) ‘Wichita Lineman’ by Glen Campbell – the perfect pop record, beautiful and mysterious, such memories of girlfriends, parties and people past. And that vocal by Glen Campbell, it just aches. 4) Revolver album by The Beatles – my favourite Beatles album – the experimentation, the melodies that burn your mind, the drugs, the gentle psychedelia, but never forgetting at its core great songs, Tomorrow Never Knows is stunning. 5) MacAarthur Park – my Mums favourite song and the most haunting and passionate song Ive ever heard, its an album in a single and a journey in its own right, one of the greatest songs ever written, I have sung it live, it’s not easy, Im going to record a cover in the studio at some point, also The Four Tops version is majestic.
When can we expect to hear more music from the Soulnaturals?
We have some tracks in the bag, I will get back to finishing the Soulnaturals album I was recording, ‘Expressions’ – it was aiming to be a dance, disco funk album underpinned by classic and strong songs, that will be released at some point. I have been working with a great new singer Chalibrann, he’s got the Barry White, Teddy Prendergrass thing going on, he features on ‘Fire Knows Only To Burn. Pt.2’ on the new album, which is going to be a special vinyl release as part of the campaign. We have finished a very powerful Soulnaturals track with Chalibraan ‘Give Me The Strength To Be Me’, that will be released this year also. Stay tuned to this station folks!