Inside The Funky Universe of Soul Clap [Exclusive Interview & Photo Gallery]

Dive into the world of one of the funkiest groups in the music game right now. Words and Photos by Will Benrubi
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Dive into the world of one of the funkiest groups in the music game right now. Words and Photos by Will Benrubi

With the explosion of House and Techno pushing harder than ever, Soul Clap are bringing down the funk, not only in house music, but in every way possible. The duo, consisting of Charlie ‘Lonely C’ and Eli ‘Bamboozle’, have established themselves as true tastemakers in the scene. Their record label Soul Clap Records and artist collective Crew Love with Wolf + Lamb, are benchmarks for a culture rooted in timeless rhythms of the past, but aimed straight on into the future.

They started off their DJ careers spinning at Bar Mitzvahs and weddings when they were in their early teens. As they grew older, eventually they met their mentor, DJ Caril Mitro, who exposed them to various styles of dance music and instilled a devotion to vinyl culture. Later on, Lonely C and Bamboozle linked up with the duo Wolf + Lamb and the rest is, as they say, history.

Soul Clap and George Clinton. Magnetic Magazine Feature

(Left to Right) Charlie 'Lonely C', George 'Dr. Funkenstein' Clinton, Eli 'Bamboozle'

The glory behind Soul Clap is the funk and soul they bring to the dancefloor. Their musical output is not only limited to four to the floor House beats (although they do make some spankin' tracks), instead they focus on an infectious groove. They've done it all from House to Disco, to R&B to you name it, creating their own sound known as E-Funk. These funky efforts have paid off as the duo have recently collaborated with one of the forefathers of Funk, Dr. Funkenstein himself, George Clinton, along with his group Funkadelic. 

Eli Soul Clap Kristina Records Photo Will Benrubi

Eli of Soul Clap record digging at Kristina Records | Photo Will Benrubi

If you got into a time machine and went back to the '90s for little Sally Rosenberg's Bat-mitzvah (that was being DJed by Charlie and Eli) and told them that one day they would collaborate with George Clinton... mid Hava Nagila, they'd shit themselves! It was during that time that the likes of Dr. Dre would sample P-Funk music, helping give birth to the G-Funk era. Today, George has teamed up with the guys who are responsible for E-Funk, combining it with the classic ways of P-Funk to create an array of new funky tracks for your extra terrestrial ears. If that's too much funk for you, then you might need to get your head examined. There's never enough.

Funkadelic & Soul Clap Album

We met up with Charlie and Eli when they hit London for the weekend for their Watergate 19 release tour and NTS Radio session. We met up with them after their gig at Fabric to get some insight into the Soul Clap vision. They told us all about their lil' seshwa with Dr. Funkenstein, along with a few other collaborations and other projects they've been working on. 

Will Benrubi for Magnetic Magazine: What was it like working with George Clinton? Run me through the studio session.

Charlie: Having the opportunity to work with George Clinton was beyond our wildest dreams. When it was actualized, it was an incredible learning experience to be able to just take just a glimpse at his process in the studio. He’s such a master, I don’t even know how to describe it. The moment seemed to be organically beneficial, for us, exceedingly because we had an opportunity to work with a legend. It seemed to revive something in George according to Sa’D, like we inspired… I don’t even know if inspire is the right word, but it seemed like after that meeting there was a new energy with Funkadelic and their album First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate. If that's actually the case I'm feeling fulfilled from this experience, because P-Funk is the be all end all for me, musically. And it's not all about just George Clinton, there are so many pieces to that puzzle, with Bootsy and the rest of the P-funk collective, but this was our entry way.

Eli: In the studio he has so much energy and vision. For each part he sat there and walked through with the musicians or with his grand daughter Tonysha who is singing background. Really just working through everything to make it exactly the way that he was hearing it.

Charlie: Definitely steering the ship

Eli: Steering a ship in a way that was really exciting and unreal.

Did you guys go in with any material?

Charlie: Yes. We went down to Tallahassee, initially. There were a couple of projects that I have done; one was a collage of different samples of Funkadelic songs, that eventually turned into ‘Shake The Gate’.

Eli: That became the Samplecopydupeitandloopittostuipid... mix!

Charlie: Then ‘In Da Kar’ came from another project that was sort of an edit mentality that was taking… Ah I don’t know if we should reveal the source, but there was another project we played for him that sparked his interest, but it was the collage of these tracks that brought it all together.

Checkout these photographs from the P-Funk Studio Sesh, courtesy of the guys at Crew Love:

Tell me about your guy's creative approach in the studio.

Eli: We've been collecting a lot of vintage synths the last couple years so our new music is really based on those. We're also working with more musicians. We just had a two day session at Red Bull studios in New York where we recorded with Billy "Bass" Nelson from Funkadelic and Nona Hendryx who was part of Labelle. Plus a drummer and a horn section. Our new album is going to be a huge leap from the last one.

What's it like working with Billy Bass?

Eli: Funky as hell. And he also plays guitar. People don't really know that he actually taught Eddie hazel how to play guitar.

Sounds like this collaboration with George and Funkadelic has left you guys with some sick connections!

Eli: More than anything! We've ended up with Sa'D "The Hourchild" Ali and Chuck "Da Fonk" Fishman as our uncles. They're the best.

George Clinton is just one of the few legends that Soul Clap has collaborated with. The two recently teamed up with one of their main guys, Nick Monaco who was featured on the Soul Clap Records release 'Peep This', to collaborate with house legend 'Little' Louie Vega. Not only that, they recently did an epic back 2 back set with Masters At Work, Louie and Kenny 'Dope' Gonzalez's legendary house project, at Verboten for Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival.

What was it like working with 'Little' Louie Vega and going back 2 back with Master At Work?

Eli: Its crazy how many legends we’ve been working with who's music we grew up listening to, and now that we are actually working with. It’s nuts. We’ve been getting close with Louie for a couple years. We worked with him and Nick Monaco for a track that’s coming out on his album. Then we’ve hung out with Kenny a bunch of times. But to do it together with MAW in New York is a big deal. It went amazing. We got to mix some of our crowd with their crowd. You know we’re really trying to continue to grow in the soulful house world and at the same time teach the younger house fans about the history of house music, with Masters at Work.

It's great you guys are preaching the gospel. In the track you guys produced, who did what?

Eli: Nick had the idea, then Charlie flushed it out, adding more synths and vocals. Then from there we went to Louie's studio in the basement of his house in Jersey, laid down the beats and finished the arrangement.

How did you first meet Louie?

Eli: We first met him at Sonica Radio in Ibiza. We were doing a show and he his show after us.

Charlie: It was my birthday!

Eli: Yeah it was Charlie's birthday and we started talking to him and he invited us to his residencies closing party and from there we just established a friendship and eventually got in the studio with him and Nick. Nick has also done work with his label before too.

Now tell me about your latest and upcoming releases Watergate19 and Dancing on the Charles Vol III.

Eli: We just released the latest Watergate mix CD; it was recorded live at their open air in Berlin this July. Vinyl only. Mostly deep house from Chicago, New York and west coast in the late 90s and 00s.. A lot of these records brought me and Charlie together back in the day and tied our collections together. It's a great moment for us to share some of our roots and give producers we love that influenced us some shine: Scott Grooves, Ron Trent, Mike Dunn, Roy Davis Jr. and on. The track list is a labor of love, and it was dope to record it all live.

Charlie: And Dancing on the Charles Vol. 3 is about to drop. It's our third year shining a light on Boston electronic music and this year is definitely the best and most diverse yet. We got some dope funk from The Nephrok! Allstars. Another killer Bosq jam and smoothness from Rodly Cezaire and D-Lux. A lot of the artist on here we've been working with for years now and it's great to hear them develop.

Eli from Soul Clap Record Shopping Will Benrubi

Kristina Records: 44 Stoke Newington Road, N167XJ London. Photo: Will Benrubi

Another amazing experience was going record shopping in East London at Kristina Records with Eli, talking to him and Charlie about records, his influences growing up, and running a record label. He recommended two records he dug up: 

Ben 'Cozmo D' Presents Cozmic House E.P. | 'This one is one of my favorite and first house records I have bought.' 

Scoot Grooves Featuring Parliament / Funkadelic - Mothership Reconnection | 'This is a classic, plus it has the Daft Punk remix!'

Eli: My dad had a huge record collection filled with a lot of jazz – that was really influential. I started playing jazz, playing the alto sax at age eight. Then I got into hip-hop that was sampling jazz, then from there I started listening to acid jazz and getting more into electronic music like trip hop.

Charlie: I grew up playing the guitars and drums, and my parents collection was more eclectic: Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley - a lot of reggae. My dad was also into a lot of Jazz, a long with rock like the Rolling Stones… The Stones man, THE STONES! Fleetwood Mac

Eli: Charlie had dreads at one point!

Charlie: Hahahahaha! Believe it or not I was actually George Clinton in a P-Funk cover band, back in the days of summer camp.

FUN FACT! During Charlie’s Bar Mitzvah he entered the party to ‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallica.

Tell me about Soul Clap records.

Eli: We've put out a bunch of artists from the crew, extended family, and homies we've made along the way. We're definitely vinyl focused at this point but also like to reach a wider audience with digital. In 2016 were focusing on releasing Midnight Magic's album, new original music from David Marston, Soul Clap, and a 7" series called New Directions In Funk. Then next year we're actually launching Crew Love Records as a home for all the high profile projects from our Crew Love collective. We're starting with the Crew Love Album called Based On A True Story. All new collaborations from the crew. Then we have artist albums from Nick, No Regular Play, us, and Wolf + Lamb is kicking off a new mix series we're going to do.

What are some other labels you are digging right now?

Eli: Tartelet out of Germany, Hot Shot, PPU, Cherries Records, Voltaire, on the house tip. Freerange has been back with a vengeance. Anyone putting out funky, creative music!

What about some artists and DJ you enjoy seeing live?

Eli: Obviously our Crew! Nick and Navid [Izadi] are amazing. No Regular Play live is so amazing but so slept on. The world needs to know! Outside the crew: Scott Groove, 'Little' Louie Vega, Midnight Magic (they are a full disco band and such talented musicians!), Mike Dunn was amazing with us at when we played at Fabric London... Osunlade, Inkswell, Eddie C. The list goes on and on.

Photo: Will Benrubi

Photo: Will Benrubi

You're both living in Brooklyn now, what do you guys like doing in your free time?

Eli: Charlie is Williamsburg and I'm in Bushwick. We love just hanging out, doing yoga, going to the comedy cellar...

You and the Wolf + Lamb guys just opened up a venue called the Black Flamingo in Williamsburg right?

Daniel Leinweber for Razberry Photography

The Black Flamingo | Photo: Daniel Leinweber for Razberry Photography

Eli: Yeah, Gadi [of Wolf + Lamb] and I are partners but not managing the place, just consulting. I'm the music director as well so I oversee all the bookings. And my wife is the food consultant who planned the restaurant menu. We've had some great nights there. I've done a couple back to back nights with Eli Escobar. He's one of my favorite New York DJs, but his name is pronounced L-E and I'm E-Lie. Eli X Eli. We also do Soul Clap Records night there once a month which is dope.

Make sure you keep up with Soul Clap and their future plans, after all it's only a matter of time until they collaborate with another funk legend and put out more funky material for our ears to consume. It's only a matter of time.

Follow Soul Clap: Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter |Resident Advisor