Q&A: Soul Clap On Meeting Diddy, Wolf + Lamb Initiation Rituals & Fighting For No Reason in Beantown
"Before today was yesterday and tomorrow is the future," but this is what happened in between. In a very short period of time, Boston party starters Soul Clap splashed down onto the international scene in their quantized spaceship of funk. Eli Goldstein and Charles Levine were pulled up and into the superstar DJ world by the animal hands of Wolf + Lamb (the duo, the label, the idea) and funked their way to the top. They started with an unprecedented string of absolutely stellar R&B edits and quickly moved to the upper echelon of a new breed of pitched-down househeads, taking their game on the road with their pals to all corners of the world. With their debut album EFUNK (Wolf + Lamb), they've come into their own as producers as well. We sat down with the affable brotherly-like duo at The Marcy Hotel, Wolf + Lamb's East Coast headquarters/office/party bunker.
How did you guys end up getting drawn into this family?
Charlie: Well, we stumbled into the Marcy about 2007-2008, it was the Mini-Tech Festival, and we just heard that there was an afterhours, and we ended up here
Eli: Seth Troxler, Lee Curtiss, Shaun Reeves were playing.
NJMEA All-State Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble & Women's Choir
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Brazilian Carnival featuring Marcus Santos & Grooversity, Cornelius Ba
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Arcangel El Alfa Camilo
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Charlie: This is how to do it! And from then I met Zev that night. [To Eli] I didn't meet Gadi that night&30151;did you?
Eli: No, I didn't meet either of them.
Charlie: I met Zev, and I was with an ex-girlfriend. We were still at the stage where we were handing out a lot of business cards, so of course I saunter up, give him the business card; he's like, "Sure sure, buddy," and then proceeds to hit on my ex-girlfriend, so I was glad that she was there to kind of bait him. From there we started communicating over Skype, and we really saw a similarity, two partners that had been in it for a long time with very similar musical desires...
Eli: And work ethics.
It's seems like such a tight-knit family that I imagine you guys having some sort of initiation ritual or beat people in.
Charlie: Maybe lie on a staircase with mattresses, and feed someone a hit of nitrous, and throw 'em down?
Charlie: Then we sent them the 'Love Light' and 'Conscious' edits, and those became staples in their DJ sets...
Eli: To the point where they started Wolf + Lamb Black, the bootleg label. But until now, we didn't have a release on Wolf + Lamb proper.
Charlie: Yeah, this is our first release.
I didn't realize that.
Charlie: Talking about our edits though, the one that if it came out, would just crush, would totally be "Extravaganza."
I honestly have never even heard the original version. Why would you? I consider yours the standard.
Charlie: There was this really funny moment at DC-10, where we were introduced to Diddy, and it was like, "Oh, those were the guys that did the Jaime Foxx edit," and like, he knows? And Bad Boy is a subdivision of Atlantic, and Jaime Foxx is on Atlantic? So I was hoping that there would be this conversation where it would be like, "Hey, Puff, like come on, man!" [Laughter]
Tell me about Boston's dance scene. It seems like a small but tight-knit group.
Charlie: Ah, the Bean. Boston, back in the day, had a cool bridge with New York according to our guru, Caril Mitro from Vinyl Connection, which is the place where we were educated on so much, especially disco. Caril was one of the first DJs in Boston, coming from the lesbian disco scene on Cape Cod; and she said that a lot of people used to come to Boston for dope music from New York in the 1970s.
I can only imagine the nascent Cape Cod Lesbo Disco Scene back then. Wow.
Eli: Boston used to be a lot dirtier in the '80s, even into the early to mid '90s, when we started going out. Chinatown was like the Red Light Districtit was lawless.
I haven't spent a ton of time up there clubbing, but I feel like for the times when I have, it's very aggressive. Maybe because it's such a sports city.
Eli: Yeah, it is.
Jon Stewart had this amazing rant on The Daily Show when the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl a few years ago about how it finally sealed the deal that New York was "better" but "Boston's still a wonderful place to go if you want a bowl of soup made in a bowl cut out of bread, or if you're looking to get into a fight for no reason." [All laugh]
Charlie: It's like New York's little brother kinda attitude! Everybody's always got to fucking prove themselves. Always. But especially now that we have a little distance, we haven't really been living there, we've got a lot of love for Boston. I don't think we could ever build a dance scene there, but...
Tell me about your party Dancing On The Charles.
Eli: We got so burned.
Charlie: We got burned by the city; they really let us down. We started Dancing on the Charles; it was a place where these other guys had done this psy-trance party on a much smaller scale...
Eli: It was right on the Charles River in Cambridge at a VFW post, we paid $200 to rent the place, had a barbecue and invited our friends.
Charlie: And 200 people showed, which was bigger than anything else we had done.
Eli: So we went right into doing seven the next year.
Charlie: Yeah, it was a blow-out success. Huge, packed.
Eli: And it was like, "Wow! Finally people are going out and it doesn't feel like we're in 'shitty, soup bowls made out of bread, fighting for no reason' Boston." [All laugh]
Charlie: Now that it's a success though, the hippie, psy-trance, computer ravers are totally hell-bent on dissing us because...
Eli: "You guys ruined our fucking venue!"
Charlie: So they started a smear campaign against us, and took our Soul Clap logo of two hands clapping and made it "Foul Crap," with one hand holding a doo-doo. And these stickers started appearing all over the city.
That's kind of funny.
Charlie: It almost promoted our shit.
Yeah, it totally promoted your shit.
Charlie: Then the city comes up with this laundry list of hoops you've got to jump through to make this thing work; inspectors, contractors, teamsters and whatnot. It was ridiculous. We kept going for a good while but it was too much of an uphill battle.
Eli: It was a heartbreaker; a back breaker even.
Sounds like a ball breaker.
Eli: We had been talking about going to Berlin for the summer, come back and do Dancing on the Charles, and this was a sign, we're out, peace.
Eli: Thank youwhat the fuck was his name?
Charlie: Richard Skelly!
Eli: Thank you Richard Skelly for chasing us out of Boston and making us superstars.
Alright, let's talk about something happier. My last question is a write-in from my friend Chuck 'Da Fonk' Fishman, who plays with George Clinton. He asks, "A lot of people cite P-Funk as an influence, but I definitely hear it in Soul Clap's sound. If you had to pick which album is your favorite, which is it, and are there any specific sounds you've incorporated into a Soul Clap song?"
Charlie: Standing On the Verge of Getting it On, I believe, starts with, (going into robot mode he bangs out this monologue in record speed) "A luscious bitch she is, true. But it's not nice to fool Mother Nature. The proud mother of God like all hoes is jealous of her own shadow. Who is this young Vic Tanny bitch who wish to be queen for a day? Who would sacrifice the great grandsons and daughters of her jealous mother by sucking their brain until their ability to think was amputated. By pimping their instincts until they were fat, horny and strung out in a neurotic attempt to be queen of the universe. Who is this bitch?" Red Hot Momma, right? So this one is the poem that defines the album, which is very much what we try to do with the intro track, having the poem about something going on, and interplanetary funksmanship, and all of this funkateer fun stuff.
Eli: And even to the point where EFUNK is an acronym, Charlie came up with it, "Everybody's Freaky Under Nature's Kingdom" which is very P-Funk.
He also said if you guys would like to meet George, just let him know.
Charlie: Get the fuck out of here!
Eli: Can we high five that one?
Sure we can. [Everyone high fives]
Charlie: I feel like this should happen as soon as possible!!
Stay tuned... .
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