The funk phoenix rises from the flames of rave.
Soopasoul is that rarest of things in this electronic age of dance music. A band where everything is played in live, where loops and plug-ins are passed over in favour of a drum kit in the living room, guitars and bass that are lying around and a funky horn section so steeped in tradition that you can feel the real deal being played out in front of your ears.
Danny Hybrid the man behind Soopasoul grew up in Manchester and has been a music pioneer since the age of 14. He bought his first Technics decks at the age of 15 with the proceeds of long hours of glass collecting in a club. This was in the eighties when you were as likely to find a time machine in your house as Technics decks. He was told by the sales assistants that these “were for professionals son” which made it all the sweeter when he paid for two and a mixer in cash and told the startled assistant to call him a cab to take them home in. Next up was an 808 which he started to program creating beats for his scratches. He started writing his own music signing to Playhard records (home to the Happy Mondays in those days) then started his own label Megablast releasing a couple of big tunes Twisted Tambourine and Hypnotising. It was here that Danny got his first taste of the dog eat dog world of the music biz as his record was ripped off by a London Crew called Caveman who had a chart hit with their version “I’m Ready” Ouch.
Danny was happily perfecting his funk / hip hop sound when one of his faster breakbeat funk tracks came to the attention of Manchester mover Mike E Bloc who ran one of the city’s biggest record shops. He offered encouragement and backing to form the record label UFG and Danny went on to write and release rave classics as E-Lustrious, Direkt (2 Fatt Guitars) and Rollin Gear amongst other pseudonyms. This was the wild west days of sampling in dance music and another of Danny’s tracks under the name Elate was lifted in it’s entirety by Chicane for his first big international hit. Ouch again !
But times were good, Danny was travelling the world as a DJ / Producer, playing at the Hacienda and Wigan Pier, remixing the likes of Kylie Minogue and living the life of a player on the northern rave scene, hearing his records played wherever he went and soaking up the love vibes.
It was quite literally the time of his (and many other peoples lives. However by the end of ‘96 Danny had become disillusioned with the scene. The records he was playing as a DJ were getting further and further away from the funk that was where his heart was and after 8 years playing for pill poppers on the rave scene he’d become a bit bored of the same old conversations. What to do now ?
Simple - turn off, tune out, drop out.
In ‘96 Danny bought a rather tasty camper van, a rather large bag of weed and decamped to Newquay where he spent the next two years looking at the sea and surfing. “ I became a bit of a hippy to be honest” says Danny “ I just chilled out, listened to anything that wasn’t house music, from the doors to Jimi Hendrix to all my old funk records. I bought a guitar and learned to play that properly.”
It was the perfect antidote to the rave madness that had been going on and allowed Danny to get back to the music he loved. He started getting some equipment together and began jamming with local bands and heads playing bass, drums, guitar or whatever and slowly building up a network of musician contacts. Players on Soopasoul include John Woolams a 75 year old cat who played with the funk greats in the 70’s and is a mainstay of jazz movers The Atlantic Trio. “John’s the man” says Danny “I write the parts, show him the dots and he’s off improvising and making it happen. He plays sax and flute and another couple of guys Tim & Liam play trumpet and flugelhorn – it’s like the Newquay commitments round my house some days !”
“I’ve been getting back to learning about music. I never had any formal musical training but my DJ background makes it easier for me to put together a track that makes people dance. In the late 80’s I used to enter the DMC mixing championships, I made the national quarter finals one year and it’s something you don’t forget how to do. When I used to DJ on the rave scene, me and Mike used to DJ together and I’d be scratching away which added a new element to it flirting in vocals and scratches which very few people (Carl Cox aside) were doing at the time. Now when I DJ it’s strictly a funked up experience but I still bring all those elements into it to make things happen on the floor”.
Over the last couple of years Danny started to put out some serious records. Wild Mad Beat and Feel Allright were released on Danny’s Nu-Funk label getting major props from the funk breaks scene. Danny got a show on a local radio station dropping funk science. One of the other DJ’s was Andre a US army recruit based in Cornwall who had a show playing hip hop. Andre introduced Danny to his wife - Mississippi born gospel singer Nikeya, and a writing partnership was born. “Quite a few of the songs on the Soopasoul album stem from that phase – we came up with some great songs before they shipped back to the states”.
Around this time Danny’s output came to the attention of Jalapeno Records boss Trevor Mac “I loved Danny’s records from day one but I couldn’t work out which funk records he was sampling. I got in touch with him to let him know how much I liked his stuff and he told me that there were no samples - he’d written all of it. As soon as I knew that I offered him an album deal”
So here we are – the old but nu sound of Soopasoul is about to make Jalapeno Funk history. Danny is embarking on a series of DJ gigs to promote the album and clubs are finally waking up to the fact that people want to dance to something real, not the sound of Fedde Le Grand’s food blender playing pong with his shaver.
Soopasoul - Swing Down EP will be released on November 5th with the debut album due for release at the start of ‘08.