It's that time of year again when we look back at some of the quality music released in the past year. We've had big names contribute in recent years like Diggs Duke, The System and Ledisi to name just three and we've not let you down this year either.
Answering our questions this year are:
Omar Lyefook MBE: Legend. Do we really have to explain who this man is? Didn't think so. Safe to say he is a British Soul stalwart who has worked with the likes of Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Caron Wheeler, Angie Stone, David Frank of the System and many more. Stevie is quoted as saying, “When I grow up I wanna be like Omar”. Nuff said.
Mark De Clive-Lowe: Mark's a musician and producer originally from New Zealand, and now based in L.A since 2009 after residing in London. He has been one of the key musicians in the broken beat and nu jazz movements, blending jazz, ethnic music and urban grooves into a his own sound. He has been involved with over 150 releases, collaborating, remixing and producing with as diverse a range of artists as Lauryn Hill, Jody Watley, Sy Smith, Sandra St.Vincent and the aforementioned UK soul legend Omar
Joanne Borromeo: Joanna released Kaleidoscope this year, an album lush with beautiful ballads and hypnotic, head-bobbing up-tempo grooves. She fuses jazz and soulful R&B and is a consummate singer/pianist whose self-expression comes from years of exploring the music of classical and jazz masters. Complimentary to that, Joanna's love for everything groovy under the sun (Motown, neo-soul, disco-funk, hip hop, latin music and R&B) has contributed to her unique sound, and we marked her out as one to watch in our Best of Review 2012 when she released the Through the Dark EP.
The Rebirth: “THIS JOURNEY IN”, the bands first single, was released almost 10 years ago and became an underground monster being added to comps by GILES PETERSON’s Trust The DJ, and NORMAN JAY’S GIANT 45. The LP of the same name followed in 2005 and made our list of best LP's of that DECADE. Seriously, its that good. They've recently restructured the group with original lead vocalist Noelle Scaggs leaving to pursue a solo career. They now consist of Carlos “Loslito” Guaico,
Latisha Baskerville, Mark Cross, Patrick Bailey, Chris Taylor, Daniel Seeff and Nikki Campbell. Loslito, founding member of the group, contributes here.
Moonchild: Amber Navran, Andris Mattson and Max Bryk are a trio of musicians based in Los Angeles who aim to bring a new sound to the neo-soul genre while drawing upon other influences such as Erykah Badu, Bon Iver, John Coltrane and D'Angelo. Released in 2012, their LP "Be Free" became a hit with those in the know (and we've championed it!) and they've recently been remixed by the great Jazzy Jeff. The definition of New Talent, jump on board the bandwagon before everybody knows their name.
Water Seed: Originally from New Orleans, WATER SEED is a 6-7 piece band. Made up of Grammy winners, Major Label side players and accomplished composers, Water Seed has a free flowing membership which currently includes:
Lou Hill - Drums, Leader, Song Writer, Producer, Composer
Jeremi Crump - Keys, Song Writer, Producer, Composer
Cinese Love - Flute, Song Writer
Shaleyah Grant - Vocals, Song Writer
Anthony Duplesis - Keys and Vocals
Imari Adams - Guitar/Bass
Mykel Deveraux - Vocals
This year they released the acclaimed WONDER LOVE 2 LP.
That's the Introductions done. Press play on the mix below of our best LP's of 2012, then read on with our questions.
1) Back in the day, compiling mix tapes for friends, family, or loved ones was commonplace. Here at the Soul Mixtape, we still do just that via our mixes for our followers. If you compiled a Mixtape of tunes from 2013, what tunes would have to be on there?
Nakamara- Hiatus Kaiyote
Her Favorite Song - Mayer Hawthorne
Treat Me Like Fire - Lion Babe
Retrograde - James Blake
Pretty Green - White Denim
Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark) - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Is This How I Feel - The Preatures
Latch - Disclosure
So What If It Is - Foreign Exchange
The Art of Forgetting - The Stepkids
Alchemy - Moses Sumney
Oração Ao Tempo - Maria Gadú (released in 2011 but discovered in 2013!)
"She"- Laura Mvula
"Retrograde"- James Blake
"Broke"- Bear Attack
"World Without Your Love"- Emily Elbert
"Nakamarra"- Hiatus Kaiyote
1. Make Me Lovely by Laura Mvula
2. Wildest Moments by Jessie Ware
3. Falling by Yuna
4. On A Day Like Today by The Foreign Exchange
5. Her Favorite Song by Mayer Hawthorne
6. Do It by Tuxedofunk (anyone else out there think Mayer sings on this?)
7. What's It Gonna Be? Busta Rhymes x Janet Jackson remix by Kaytranada
8. Q.U.E.E.N (feat. Erykah Badu) by Janelle Monae
9. Neverland by Quadron
10. Underway by Dexter Story
11. No Love Dying by Gregory Porter
12. Clementine's Nights by Maylee Todd
13. Rubberband by Derrick Hodge
Mark De Clive-Lowe:
Janet Jackson's If remixed by Kaytranada
Hot Music from my One Take series
Something from Ross McHenry's new album Distant Oceans
Layfar's Let Me Fly Away
Kid Fonque's Two Sides
Sandra St. Victor's Stuff Mama Used To Say
Kendrick Lamar's Rigamortis
Hiatus Kaiyote's Nakamarra feat Q-Tip
Feel Loved by Theo Parrish and Tony Allen
Chris Dave Drumheadz beats
Something from my big band album Take the Space Trane... there's been no shortage of great music this year!
Truth be told b/c we have been in writing mode for about the past 18 months I tend to shy away from really listening to anything modern. So though I have heard some really good new material I haven't really sat with any songs for fear of it influencing my muse. I like to stick to the classics when writing. Here's my list of tunes that I would put on my out of date mix tape.
Steely Dan - Back Cow
Herbie Hancock - The Triator
Jamiroquai - Use the Force
Mos Def - Umi Says
Quincy Jones - You've got it bad girl
Rapheal Saadiq - Love that Girl
Sly and the Family Stone - (You Caught me) Smilin'
2) Some say the LP is dead as people tend to purchase single tracks. We love to champion great albums and encourage people to purchase them. So what LP's of quality would you recommend from 2013?
Really like Bilal’s A LOVE SURREAL Album. Also like the new Gregory Porter, tracks like No Love Dying and 1960 what? Which had a great remix from Opolopo who have just remixed my track TREAT YOU with Caron Wheeler.
I'm such a one-album-at-a-time music lover that I could go for weeks playing the same record. And I'll periodically take short breaks from it, only to return to it for another several weeks and that'll pretty much be all I'll listen to. That one record for me is Quadron's release, Avalanche. I compare my experience with the record similar to my experience with any Erykah Badu record post-Mama's Gun. For every one of those records, I had to spend time with the record before I fell in love with record, making it a go-to album forever for me. I love every song off of Quadron's new record that I'd be tempted to buy my friends a copy of it and say here's your "mixtape"!
Great albums are about consistency and not only do they kick ass live but White Denim - Corsicana Lemonade is one of the favorites.
Runner ups for the ability of combining ambitious records with its own unique style, strong songs and unanticipated rhythm and chordal movements underneath their production focus - II by Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Overgrown - James Blake, Tawk Tomahawk - Hiatus Kaiyote, Settle - Disclosure, Troubadour- The Stepkids
"Sing to the Moon"- Laura Mvula
"Overgrown"- James Blake
"Tawk Tomahawk"- Hiatus Kaiyote
Mark De Clive-Lowe:
Sandra St Victor - Oya's Daughter
Houseshoes - King James
Kid Fonque + Friends
Tommaso Cappellato - Astral Travel
Ross McHenry - Distant Oceans
NEXT Collective - Cover Art
Mark de Clive-Lowe + Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra - Take the Space Trane
Theo Parrish's Black Jazz Signature on Snow Dog
I'm really feeling the new Dumpstaphunk - Dirty World, Clarence Johnson, III - Watch Him Work, Janelle Monae - Electric, and Tank and The Bangas - Think Tank
3) Championing new artists is another thing we like to do via our Street Sounds mixes, and getting them heard is a real priority for us. What new or independent artists/bands should we be keeping an ear out for?
Mark De Clive-Lowe:
Kaytranada, Ta-ku, a young singer out of Norway named Miss Tati and the one everyone should have heard about already - Hiatus Kaiyote.
People like Ego Ella May, Kevin Mark Trail, Sharlene Hector. Louise Golbey is another up and coming artist that I will be working with as well. I hooked up with my old schoolmate from Canterbury, Jesse Wilson of Positive Flow, we reconnected and I did a couple of the tracks on that album.
KING, Emily King, Bear Attack, Emily Elbert, Moses Sumney, Huxlee, Hiatus Kaiyote
For new artists, Lion Babe, curious how they will develop. The Preatures bringing a little Fleetwood Mac influence. Moses Sumney is as sincere and mesmerizing as they come. The young movement of highly skilled live playing, Haitus Kaiyote, The Stepkids, Dirty Loops, Thundercat, White Denim.
LA based labels Soulection and Innovative Leisure doing good work in launching new artists and producers.
I recently got introduced to the music of Tess Henley, originally from Seattle. Her latest album, High Heels & Sneakers, is solid on all accounts - everywhere from her soulful vocals to the production and songwriting.
Water Seed:There are 2 really hot groups brewing up in New Orleans. Check out Tank and the Bangas and The Honorable South.
4) Influences. Our mixes spotlight those who have developed our soulful musical taste from the 60's to the present day. Who has influenced your music over the years?
D'Angelo, Emily King, Erykah Badu, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Caldwell, Miles Davis, Bon Iver, Russ Ferrante.
Quite a mixture of people, as I draw my influences from a wide range of artists from Level 42, Casiopia (Japanese Jazz Fusion Band, check them out!), Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye. Some reggae, Peter Tosh, John Holt, Dennis Brown, Bob Marley. Various UK Jungle too, sometimes I get some of my old rave tapes out.
Mark De Clive-Lowe:
Countless amazing artists from so many decades - Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal, George Duke, Charles Stepney, Marvin Gaye, Mizell Brothers, Minnie Riperton, Cal Tjader, Roy Ayers, Patrice Rushen, Ohio Players, Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, George Benson, Airto, Stevie Wonder, the Jacksons, Prince, Teddy Riley, A Tribe Called Quest, Digital Underground, D'Angelo, J Dilla, Pino Palladino, The Roots, IG Culture, 4Hero, Masters At Work, Roni Size, Phil Asher, DJ Spinna, Ge-ology and so so many more.
As a kid, it was Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and a ton of classical music. In my early teens, I got into Carole King and the Beatles. Chicago during the 70s was a tight band too. Alongside that, it was Janet Jackson, TLC, Brandy, Aaliyah and SWV. Later on, it was Erykah Badu, Amel Larrieux, Angie Stone, Jill Scott, Ivana Santilli and D'Angelo. Eventually, the floodgates just opened up and I got swept away by Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, Ahmad Jamal, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Brad Mehldau, Robert Glasper and Joni Mitchell.
There are many layers of influence but to name the top ones for the Rebirth: George Duke (R.I.P), Earth Wind and Fire, Pleasure, The Headhunters, The Meters, Patrice Rushen, Don Blackman, UK Acid Jazz movement, Tribe Called Quest, Rotary Connection, Masters at Work, Dilla, Oliver, MSTRKRFT, Justice, Foreign Exchange, Stereolab, Zero 7, Daft Punk, James Brown, Beatles, Little Dragon, J Davey, The Roots, Mizell Brothers, Grusen Rosen Productions, Inara George, The Sylvers, Singers Unlimited, Steely Dan, Queen, Pink Floyd, Bobby McFerrin, Brian Eno, Elis Regina, Buika, Jimmy Webb, Blitzen Trapper, Elliot Smith, Stevie Wonder, Jon Brion and Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell sprinkled in. (To name a few. lol) Actually, let's add Mizell Brothers, Queen, and Roy Ayers to that list. (I could go on forever). And, the list goes on even more once you add the more of the influences of each of The Rebirth band members.
5) Is there an artist, producer etc that you would love to work with?
Would love to collab with LIanne La Havas and that magical voice. Producers: Dave Grusin/Larry Rosen (wonder if they still got that early 80s touch), Oliver (most of the remixes they touch are on point, mixes are top notch and "All Night" is one of those underground classics we can respect)
Bobby Womack, Id love to work with, and also Bill Withers. They are classic songwriters and they haven't managed to get in my radar in terms of working together. I've worked with some of the greats out there and would just like to add them to the roster. Sadly its like a far reaching quest because I hear that Bill is not in the business anymore, but id love to think that what we would do would be big and that he'd just like to work with me. I saw Bobby Womack live last year and he was amazing.
To work with producer Jeremy Most, would be really cool. I learned about him through Emily King's Seven EP. Working with Janelle Monae would be great too. Her attitude about everything is so inspiring.
Mark De Clive-Lowe:
Lalah Hathaway, Q-Tip, D'angelo, Jill Scott, Badu, Questlove, Herbie Hancock and more I'm sure, but at the same time, i'm excited about working with people who have no reputation or 'name' yet. sometimes that's where the really fresh creativity is at.
J. Most, 9th Wonder, Questlove
I think we would love to work with Stevie Wonder (who wouldn't), Ledisi, Lenny Kravitz, No Doubt, Prince, Sly Stone, Maurice White, Lionel Ritchie, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, George Michael, Rachelle Ferelle, Marcus Miller….I mean the list can just go on and on.
6) Lastly, 2014. What's in store for you musically? Any new LP's or tours that we should know about? And where can readers find out more about you?
I'm doing shows in Thailand in December, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, New Zealand, Australia, Bali and Indonesia so I'm going to be quite busy. I want to get back to the States as well as I haven't been there for about 4 years. Check out Omarmusic.co.uk for details or my Facebook page which is Omar Official UK, everything gets posted there. Also catch me on Twitter @OmarLyeFookMBE
Mark De Clive-Lowe:
I'm about to start work on the CHURCH album - named after my clubnite CHURCH, it's all about bringing together the jazz club and dancefloor along with soul, organic acoustic music, electronics and live remixing. there's nothing really like it. i'm on tour all the time and definitely looking forward to getting to more places in 2014 - i can't wait to get back to south africa as well as asia, australasia, europe and all over the US. i'm super easy to find online and really like that interface to be able to keep in touch with fans. the easiest way to find me is at www.MdCL.tv - there's links there to everywhere you'd want to check me out, but just in case....
I'm excited to be getting ready to do another album, which I'm hoping will be done by March and planning another tour along the entire west coast of the US. The best place to find out more about me is on my website, which is at http://www.joannaborromeo.com
We have recently completed a new full length entitled "BEING THRU THE EYES OF A CHILD." We're working out a release date for the early part of the 2014, and "This is Coming To" will be the launch single. Follow us online for details to keep up with the upcoming releases and events; we're online at www.therebirthlive.com facebook.com/therebirth, soundcloud.com/therebirthlive, or www.twitter.com/therebirthlive
2014 will be a big year for us. We are releasing a new full-length album, and touring throughout the year. For more info about us go to http://thisismoonchild.com
Water Seed:We have a few projects that we are excited about releasing in 2014. We are also starting to hit the road a lot more. We will be touring the NE, West Coast and Midwest in 2014. Check us out at http://www.waterseedmusic.com/
And that's it for Part one. Haitus Kaiyote are doing well aren't they? On nearly every bodies radar and that's before the recent Grammy nod! A big thank you again to all these great artists who have
contributed and shared their views. Make sure you check them out and support them, cause in the end we only get the music we deserve.
Part two of the review next week where I will be selecting my own favorite LP's and songs of the year and it will feature a special 90min mix of some of the best music released.
Until then, Grizz will sort you out for all your Xmas musical needs.