I would tend to think Europeans have ended up havin’ a representation of Detroit that was not the real one. That Techno happened to be more of a state of mind – like the British DIY – at the end than a genre on its own. And even more when lookin’ at what the Europeans – and more precisely the Germans – like at Berlin’s Tresor – have done of it. Your feeling?
“There is nothing new under the sun. There will always be innovators, inarguably adorned in cultural, social, and historical relevance. Inevitably there will those who are touched by that expression, and may choose to extend themselves in an effort to find a unique connection it.”
I understand you were born in Philadelphia. A city renown for its open-mindedness musically speakin’. Has it been of anything in your inner being? Then in the rendition Paul Randolph gave it as an artist? In the way you come up with such a versatile way in your compositions. Not to mention the choice of the ones you’re collaborating with?
“My parents moved from Philly when I was a child. So my connection to it has been through them and the music they exposed me to. Of course I continue to keep my ear to the ground and stock my library of reference.”
Then how about Brazil where you’ve spent some time???
“It had a tremendous impact on me. I learned a second language, had new experiences, began studying music. But most importantly, it taught me to not be afraid of the world, to embrace diversity, and be thankful for what you have.”
You have an obvious penchant for jazzy vibes in addition to Soul, Funk and eventually Electronic music. Jazz to me stands as a synonymous with free thinkin’. Any comment?
“I would add: ‘freedom of expression’.”
Let’s speak about some selected episodes in your repertoire beginning with Isoul8 featuring Paul Randolph’s ‘On My Heart’ back in 2006…
“I don’t recall how Enrico and I met. However, we immediately became friends and have unreleased material in the wings. I wrote the song for a deceased friend.”
Then Jazzanova came to remix ‘Believer’ for you, givin’ it a bumpin’ electronic feel. I’m referring to the Funkhaus sessions.
“The remix was first released as a 12″ single back in March March 2007, then featured on the double CD version of ‘Lonely Eden’. Subequently, the same remix was added to the Jazzanova Live set, hence why it is featured on the Funkhaus sessions.”
The first in a series of consistant collabs along with time, with the first Jazzanova featuring Paul Randolph cut by the likes of ‘Let Me Show Ya’.
“I met members of the crew in Berlin and later in Australia. I believe it was Jurgen who sat next to me at a BBQ in Sydney and asked if I would be interested in collaborating on what came to be the ‘Of All The Things’ album…”
This bringin’ us to your current / forthcoming project(s) with your band…
“My new album is ‘In the Company Of Others’ on Mahogani Music. We put out 2 sets of vinyl. The full album and its remixes are only available digitally. I produced/composed/performed a song currently featured on the latest Gilles Peterson Bubblers 12″, ‘Could You Be Me’. There are remixes available by Theo Parrish, Opolopo, Kuniyuki, and Gilles/Simbad.
Ralf (GUM) and I collaborated on a newly released single ‘We Repeat’ on his GOGO Music label. I recently recorded a new song for next year’s Jazzanova album. There is a Rock/performance art project I will release in 2018 along with a Donald Byrd cover of ‘Fancy Free’ featuring Dayme Arocena and Kathy Kosins. As for touring with my band, it is always in the work… soon.”
I can’t help thinkin’ of ‘Don’t Take It Personal’ which you recorded with another German act (Wahoo). One of your definitive peaks. Your feeling???
“Mmmmm. That’s a tough one. I’m never quite sure who supports my music. If I were to rely on digital sales for example it’s sketchy at best.”
Meanwhile the 2004 As One featuring Paul Randolph’s ‘I’m Down’ saw you evolving in more intimate (downbeat) territories. Somehow reminding me of singers like Roy Ayers wondering if he’s been somehow an influence. Or Noel Gourdin later on with cuts such as ‘Beautiful’ and ‘One Love’…
Wonderful artists, but no.
I can’t help neither thinkin’ of Lamont Dozier’s ‘Going Back To My Roots’ (at least vocally speakin’) when havin’ a listen to ‘Now There Is Me’. Any comment?
“Again great artist, but no. Honestly I had no singular reference in mind, I reacted naturally.”
2016 has obviously been a busy year for you. Either on your own, either in terms of collaborations. Where do you find such an inspiration?
“Hunger, desire, play, exploration, current events, love…”
One word about Ralf GUM featuring Paul Randolph’s ‘We Repeat’ which we recently welcomed as a Single Of The Week…
Then this collab with Detroit singer Kathy Kosins – ‘Could You Be Me’ – which we also recently reviewed…
“‘Could You Be Me’ came at the perfect time, I needed something to occupy my time. I knew early on what I wanted to do musically, which of course evolved. Kathy came up with the idea to use quotes by Miles Davis as a starting point lyrically. We worked separately and collectively until the story was transparent…”
One last question then, meanwhile thanking you for your time. What will tomorrow bring?
“Opportunity, endless possibilities, ever-expanding good, prosperity, hope, divine-expression. Joy, fun, laughter, gratitude, love, service, compassion, understanding. Wellness, wisdom, inner peace, beauty, art, and more music.”
Interview: Paul Randolph