Thursday 2 July 2020

The Soul Sound Collective: "The Music & Minds of..." [Interview]

The Soul Sound Collective return with 'Music and Minds, Part 2', the follow-up to last year's independently-released debut EP.

Comprised of multi-instrumentalist and producer, Craig Sims, along with long-time collaborator and bassist Tim Higgins, 'Music and Minds, Part 2' also boasts strong contributions throughout from Simon Lee on guitar and an otherwise small selection of guests including guitarist Jack Lampard who features on 'Dreaming All'.

We've gushed about The Soul Sound Collective's thrilling take on contemporary soul and the myriad of influences that permeate their distinctive blend of instrumental soul music, seemingly drawing inspiration from the likes of Sade and Roy Ayers.  And with just under a year since the release of Part 1, the time between has also led to exciting results with the release of two standalone singles in that time: 'Isn't It All' featuring Steven Bamidele and 'Love is Real' featuring Kyra Simone.  So much of the Soul Sound Collective's early releases relished in their instrumental compositions so these vocal-led singles prove just how adept they are when incorporating others into their musical fold.  The nu-soul-esque 'Isn't It All' is a joy and the drum & bass-styled 'Love is Real' was an awesome reinvention of the music they had released up to that point.

'Music and Minds, Part 2' mostly takes the Collective back to more familiar territory.  The EP opens with the captivating 'Walk In The City' - a track built around some lush piano that seems to be a song that lovingly reinvents itself as it progresses, introducing some excellent guitar work in the song's latter half.  'The Three' is a track that really finds itself at home with an almost sombre tone but elegant nonetheless.

An incredibly exciting inclusion to the project is 'Dreaming All' featuring the ethereal vocals of Flyt's Mary Mycroft marking a fantastic extension to their - hopefully ongoing - series of collaborations that started with the Soul Sound Collective remix of Flyt's 'Shadows', available as a bonus track on Flyt's excellent 'Select' album release of last year.

Blue-in-Green:RADIO is thrilled to have secured time with Craig Sims to discuss the Collective's overall sound and the brand new EP.

Which artists have had the biggest impact on shaping your music?
For me, I like everything and anything really, anything with a soulful tip.  I actually started with DJing Drum & Bass which then led me to the whole producing side of things.  I used to be in to the soulful edged area and used to think, 'where did that sample or break come from?', which then led me to researching the original artists and finding a big love for the whole jazz-funk-soul vibe.

Congratulations on the release of 'Music & Minds, Part 2': can you talk a little about what went into the making of the EP?
Cheers Imran!  In Part 2, nature and dreamy, chilled-ness was the theme.  A lot of daydreaming [and] wondering went on, kind of in the moment, don't overthink ideas.

How would you say this EP differs from last year's Part 1?
It's quite different.  With these Music And Minds EPs, I'm planning it like a series.  As we're not set in one style as such, gives us the freedom to go with the flow and experiment. We try to keep a theme going on each part. Part 1, more in that jazz-funk area.

How does the process of writing and creating new music usually work for you?
We do it a few ways but usually start out with no set idea.  I'll start with a few chords, get something clicking, colours setting and get a tight enough take down.  I'll then send over the idea/s to Tim (bass) and Simon (guitar), see if they're feeling it.  We then get together.  Due to my home setup being on the small side, we go the live overdubbing route a lot of the time.  We try to keep takes as natural and live as possible.  I'm cool with the overdubbing route, pros and cons to everything.  One thing, 90% of the time I love to track drums last.  For me, it gives a nice freedom to players and you can work early on, some tracks can work sweet drumless! After everything's tracked from our views and input we then branch out to local musicians we know for their stamp and more recently had the pleasure of working with some great vocalists! Something I've wanted to do for years.

You've had a long-standing partnership with Soul Sound Collective bassist Tim Higgins and guitarist Simon Lee: how would you describe the way you three work together?
Working with Tim and Simon is cool.  We're all pretty open minded and get the same things most of the time with each of us having a different edge in places, we get something cool going.

Last year was an incredibly productive year and this year has also seen you release the track 'Love is Real' with Kyra Simone: How did you come to work with Kyra?
Cheers for the support Imran! With Kyra, it started with me sending a Soundcloud message to her years ago.  I heard some of her work and really loved her tone and style.  Kyra was kind enough to get back.  We then sent a few ideas back and forth.  'Love is Real' is actually around five years old.  We had it sitting on the hard drive doing nothing.  I revamped the mixdown and thought, it'd be cool to get this out!  Great working with Kyra.

Mary Mycroft from Flyt appears on the EP: you've collaborated with Josh and Mary a couple times so what was it that you attracted you to the idea of working together?
I actually first found out about Flyt via Blue-in-Green:RADIO.  Great duo and vibe!  I love Mary's style, such a sweet subtle, strong and airy vibe.  Josh felt us out about if we were up for sorting a remix of a track, I thought instantly 'yes' even though I haven't touched a remix in years!  Connection went from there really.  So pleased they're up for collabing!  Pleasure to work with.  More bits lined up.

Who would be a dream artist for you to collaborate with?
Honestly, anyone open minded who gets us really lol.

Is there a song (by another artist) you wish you'd written?
That's a tough one Imran!  I can't really answer that 100%.  My brain at first thought 'Summer Madness' by Kool & The Gang', then, 'Be Thankful For What You Got' by William DeVaughn, then, Sade 'Love Is Stronger Than Pride'... List goes on.

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