The Soul I Lost is the new moniker for an experience of deep and soulful driven House music from London label Tribe records.
Tribe is renowned for its numerous releases that connect electronic music from around the globe with over 150 releases in its catalogue. Spearheaded by Zepherin Saint, the label head will be joined by the legendary Alton Miller (Detroit) and musical alchemistAYBEE (Oakland) to take you on an exploration where your dance senses collide with Soulful, Deep, Afro and Techno influences.
Ahead of the inaugural party in Berlin Tonight at Prince Charles. Data Transmission got a chance to sit down for a discussion between Zepherin Saint, Aybee & Alton Miller – we discuss house music, creativity and much more.
All of you have moved from one country to another, whether it’s from the USA or UK to Europe. What prompted the move and has it inspired or fuelled your creativity?
ALTON MILLER: I started traveling at a very young age and was exposed to different peoples and cultures at the same time. As I got older and began my career, I was able to live abroad in different countries and this has definitely had an influence on me as a human being and artist. I knew I had to leave the States to further my career in dance music because I found that music was being supported in all ways and it was a big part of the culture.
AYBEE: I left the US searching for a wider creative canvas. Bandwidth. Though every situation has it’s pros and cons – I made the right choice. I have continued to grow as a creative, and feel like I am just beginning to tap into my potential.
ZEPHERIN SAINT : For me London had changed from the thriving creative melting pot it once was so I wanted to move to a place that had an environment conducive for creative freedom. Travelling and witnessing different cultures is important for me to keep my creativity stimulated.
House music has given birth to many different genres over 3 decades. How have you managed to navigate your way through the evolution of electronic music? Are monikers and pseudonyms still a way forward to stay relevant or is simply sticking to one lane – the answer?
AYBEE: I have never been trapped by one sound because I produce a wide spectrum of sounds. I don’t think that is the best practice for ‘relevancy’…but then relevancy is not my prime directive in music.
ALTON MILLER: I really try not to get to hung up over different monikers and genres. I am a lover of good music. If it moves me and resonates I am totally open to all forms and styles. I was fortunate enough to grow up during an era where many different styles of black music were being played on the radio so I have followed that format as a consumer and as a DJ.
What is your creative process in the studio and what’s the longest time you have gone without writing a single chord or making a beat?
AYBEE: Probably two weeks.
ZEPHERIN SAINT: Nowadays I approach my creative process by clocking in and out as any regular job. Routine has allowed me to have more focus, a consistent output and a general balance in life. Now I have adopted this approach, creative blocks tend not to have a big effect on me.
Where do you search for your creative inspirations?
ALTON MILLER: Wine, women, song, art, food and day-to-day existence. I listen to a lot of jazz and that really pushes me to create
AYBEE: Every day life.
Mos Def was once quoted as saying that “the music of the time will always reflect where the people are.” Do you think this is accurate?
ALTON MILLER: Yes, most definitely. What’s being played on the radio says it all.
ZEPHRIN SAINT: We all exist on different levels as does music. Whether its mainstream, underground or the independent scene it’s all relative to where that community is at. What are we fighting for, missing or hoping for in each other. Music is our voice to express this, no matter which language or remote part of the earth we live in. It reflects the people.
Disco, funk, soul, dub, new wave, jazz, (amongst many other genres from black culture) can be found in today’s house music. Which elements or techniques from other genres or eras, if any, do you find yourself naturally gravitating towards in your productions?
AYBEE: The Be-Bop era was a rhythmic quantum leap in the 20th Century, that would be followed by the Jazz Fusion movement in the early 70s. The spirit of those two eras have always been a guiding star because of the freedom and explorative nature in which musicians pushed the music out of the boxes.
ALTON MILLER: Jazz, funk and afro cuban jazz have always been heavy influences and my go-tos for the creative muse. All from the late 60s to 70s.
What is it like to play from the soul rather than play by formula?
ZEPHERIN SAINT: Chasing goose bumps is my musical compass. Not only for the dance floor but for myself. I feel the dance floor senses when a person is playing from the soul and a true dance floor is a sanctuary, a safe-haven where people go to either celebrate or forget. Playing from the soul allows us the pleasure to enhance a human feeling.
ALTON MILLER: It defines who you are and it is your voice when you play from the soul. There is nothing like conveying messages, taking people on journeys and having a sonic rapport with your dance floor. It’s a gift and an art form.
I am sure at one point we have all experienced ‘the no-one is dancing’ moment. As a DJ, how do you feel about a light dance floor and how important is preparing a set versus playing a non-programmed set?
AYBEE: The magic lies in the moment…can’t be programmed.
ZEPHERIN SAINT: Where your intuition and nervousness collide is what you train yourself to ride out and explore when DJ’ing. Programming a set takes this feeling away. However, knowing your music is key in order experience this and that takes homework.
Are you playing for the crowd’s expectations or are there times where your soul needs to communicate, taking over the process?
ALTON MILLER: Both. Finding balance, timing and being open is part of the process.
ZEPHERIN SAINT: The sweet moment of any gig for me is when the dance floor is reacting to something they are hearing for the first time. It takes work to get to that pivotal point in a set fusing crowd expectation in your set, to allow your soul to communicate.
You have all been champions of underground music culture from a more soulful and edgy perspective. Besides your own projects, is there anyone out there grabbing your attention?
AYBEE: There’s a kid – t. Siza – out of South Africa – that I have been in contact with for a while. I really like the direction he’s headed. He is taking on the Future…The Cosmos…from his perspective sonically. Refreshing. There is also AshTreJenkins – a producer out of South Central LA. He’s made his name in the Beat Scene, but is bringing a fresh outlook to uptempo rhythms.
ALTON MILLER: All things good and funky. There’s so much music out there that it’s hard to keep up. My player is always a hodge podge of everything so I cannot really say.
ZEPHERIN SAINT: Jose Marquez from the USA has a distinct flavour and way of taking something that is indigenous and making it bump on the dance floor. Brewed Souls from South Africa are making some great music – fusing afro ,soul and tech elements. Really digging Dan Kye’s take on soulful dance music
What are you focusing on at the moment? What can your fans look forward to for the rest of 2017 and going on into 2018?
AYBEE: I am presently working on 2018 projects at the moment. For 2017 I have two EPs coming out before the year’s end. A solo EP on Molly’s RDV label in September and a collaborative EP with Lars Bartkuhn on my label Deepblak in October.
ALTON MILLER: I am finishing an album for Sound Signature and the scheduled release is date early 2018 along with a slew of singles and remixes.
ZEPHERIN SAINT: I’m currently working on a new band project called IFA IYAY. Set for release early 2018 As well 3 singles due out on Tribe before the end of the 2017. Just started a new compilation series called ..the dub i lost.. coming out on CD in Japan and Vinyl everywhere else. It includes Dubs from Larry Heard, Ron Trent, Danny Krivit, Timmy Regisford to name a few It’ll be released Aug 9th on CD and Sept 8th on Vinyl.
The Soul I Lost takes place at Prince Charles in Berlin on Friday 4th August for tickets head to RA: http://bit.ly/2vnviG2