I caught up with the pair before they arrived down-under for a chat about their upcoming album, the Australian tour and their growing breaks empire back in the London.
“It all started when Jem and me met about seven years ago and started making tunes,” explains Justin. “We set up the label which was basically about pressing up records and putting them through a distributor - then it developed alongside having a bar and record shop in London, which is the base where it works from. Now we have a record company with 22 people working within the whole set up from artist’s management to the publishing wing and accounts department - it’s a huge organisation to be in charge of.”
Jem agrees, saying the whole thing has “grown enormously” and admits the pair constantly juggles a heavy schedule of DJing, production and label management commitments. When asked if they favour any one particular role Jem says, “We much prefer accounts,” laughing, he adds, “No, what we really want to do is make music because as Justin said, we started the label as a way of getting our own stuff out there. It was an opportunity for us and we took on a few different names and started working out our own sound. That was the whole joy of it but now the whole thing has really taken over and we find ourselves in the position that all we want to do is find time to go back to making music.”
It looks like the pair finally has a break in their schedule and is currently working on a new album ‘Soul Shaker’, set for release in October this year. Although Soul of Man has released a number of successful singles such as ‘Dirty Waltzer’ and ‘The Drum,’ and complied and mixed albums ‘Breakthrough Vol. 1’ and ‘Fingerlickin Thang 1’ and ‘Fingerlickin Thang 2’ this will be their first artist album.
“We’ve been meaning to do one for about four years and we’re piecing together some of the previous releases we’ve re-worked or remixed,” explains Justin. “It’s kind of a retrospective of work we’ve done but a lot of it is going to be new stuff as well. It’s part of what you do in artist’s development."
“We’ve done the same thing with a lot of the artists off Fingerlickin like ‘A Plump Night Out’, which was the Plump’s first album - a collection of their mixes and remixes. We did the same with Lee Coombs, ‘The Future Sound of Retro’. Each time it really raises the profile of the artist and pitches it to another level.”
Apparently the new album will follow in the tradition of Fingerlickin’s much loved and unique funky breaks sound. “Your typical Soul of Man - chunky style with a few variations,” says Jem.
“It’s our first album so it’s different for us because over the last few years we’ve been making singles for DJs and for us to play out so, this is an opportunity for us to be a bit more indulgent, a bit more experimental. It’s still got very much a dance floor flavour to it but with more variation for people to listen to away from the club so, hopefully it takes you more on a journey.”
Souls of Man’s frequent escapades into the Southern Hemisphere have already won them massive support from audiences down under. I ask the pair why they think their breakbeat sound is so well received by Aussies.
“I think the dance scene is slightly behind in Australia, so there’s generally a younger crowd who are into the dance scene,” says Justin. “Those younger people have gone through the slightly more obvious trance and more banging rave oriented stuff and have found something a little bit different. The freedom that breakbeat gives is not specific to one sound -it comes from different things - it’s funky, it’s fun and it’s got a party element to it."
“The Aussies know how to have a good time and the whole party aspect of the break beat sound appeals to them. Fingerlickin’s attitude is exactly that - so the marriage is born!” he declares.
At the time of the interview the duo were eagerly anticipating their upcoming tour and Jem gave me a run down of some of the places they planned to play at during the UK summer.
“We’ve got Ibiza, where we’re playing at a party around the water. Poland, Finland, loads of festivals over summer – Shambala [?] in Canada, which sounds amazing. It’s up in the mountains.” Justin cuts in to announce that “It’s a farm where they grow the biggest amount of marijuana in Canada and police turn a blind eye to it,” he says like a kid in a lolly shop. “In order to get to the festival people go on a strange pilgrimage!”
“But we’re leaving for Australia the day after Glastonbury, so we’re going to be quite fried,” confesses Justin. “That 23 hour flight on a come down from Glastonbury is not typical work like accounts but it’s much harder,” he laughs.
Apparently Soul of Man absolutely blew people’s minds at the festival and almost took the roof off when they dropped their brand new single ‘Kickback’. So what did they pack in the record crates for their Australian tour?
“New bits we’ve been working on - some Plump stuff you wouldn’t of heard yet. Lots of forthcoming Fingerlickin stuff and a conglomerate of Meat Katie, Lee Coombs and Rennie [Pilgrem] exclusive up front versions of tracks they’ve been working on,” explains Jem. “Quite a lot of exciting new breakbeat – it’s gone through a resurgence recently so there’s definitely a lot of stuff around.�