Thursday, 08 October 2015 02:31

Bringing soul to the people

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Recently I read a post on Facebook asking ‘Where are real DJs?’ and it made me think.

It questioned the whereabouts of DJ’s who used to break artists and play the latest unheard tracks.

In the post the writer explained:

“The original voice of the DJ was their playlist. The DJ's influence grew with their ability to play one tune after another while creating, managing and building moments based on observing an audience. This was called "moving the crowd."

This ability to move the crowd was seen as an asset. The DJ's slowly became radio personalities. Early in this transition, the DJ was allowed to choose their own playlist. As radio strengthened it's ties with financial interests of sponsors, labels and money interests... the playlist of the DJ changed dramatically.

The DJ had to make a decision. Keep the position of influence associated with popularity and success (personality) or keep their playlist, poise and passionate playing preferences unaffected by outside sources.

What happened?
Popularity trumped passion.
Money tainted movements.
Egos begot egos.

Now DJ's no longer break new artists, sounds or create trends. They are pawns in a game controlled by the short-term interest of a few and long-term interest of fewer.”

I know this has been case as we struggle to get all the superb soul tracks we’ve discovered heard by a majority of people. Listening to international mainstream radio (US and Europe) constantly re-affirms this as each DJ seat is swapped with a new DJ who plays the same songs you just heard 2 hours ago.

However, without backing the Scandinavian soul scene just wouldn’t have grown as it has, and we’ve had fantastic support from several DJs.

I spoke to three of the key DJ's; DJ Niceness, Will Sawney and Rich Chocolate, who still play music from pure passion and have supported us by playing tracks from the exciting, new and largely unheard genre we call ‘Scandinavian soul’. 



WillSHow long have you been a Club/Radio DJ?
I’ve been a radio DJ since September 2013, broadcasting ‘The Will Sawney Soul Show’ every Thursday for two years, from London, England.
What excites you about soul music and the job you do?
I really love the diversity of soul music.
There are so many inspirational singers, musicians, songwriters, composers, producers and many others behind the scenes who’ve contributed to the ethos of soul music, as it is known today. 
The importance of soulful vocals, songwriting and composition along with improvisation, dexterity and creative freedom has always been significant to me. 
I also really love discovering the work of old, new and undiscovered artists. That feeling you get when you buy a CD or when a new promotional track lands at your desk and the artist just blows you away with their talent. It’s always a pleasure to incorporate the old and new artist within my radio shows.
How did you discover soul music from Scandinavia? Any favourite artists or tracks so far? 
I discovered a fantastic website called ‘Scandinavia Soul’ on the internet and I was very impressed with the Jazz, Funk, Soul and R&B talent available. I’ve featured ‘Time To Break Free’ by Carina Andersson, ‘Magnetic’ by Christoffer Hiding, ‘Mastermind’ by Beat Funktion and ‘Summer Feeling’ by Rebekka B Maeland. There’s so much more talent in Scandinavia and I will therefore feature more artists, in due course.
When and where can we hear you? 
‘THE WILL SAWNEY SOUL SHOW’ is available via every Thursday between 8pm – 9pm GMT from London, England.


godfreyHow long have you been a Club/radio DJ
At six years old I fell in love with music while playing around with my father’s radio/record player. This new found admiration of music started my long journey in the music industry.
As a teenager, I began to volunteer at my school's music youth centre where I learned how to deejay. By the age of 18, I began deejaying on the local radio station called, Skyline FM.  While deejaying for the station, I won the title, "Best Soul DJ".
I've been performing in nightclubs in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent for 30 years.  

What excites you about soul music and the job you do?
I feel Soul music has lost it’s position on our mainstream radio stations to a lot of songs with no substance or feeling. By going out there and doing a weekly radio mixtape show it brings great artists from all over the world together. I think by doing this it's bridging the gap between mainstream and indie artists, bringing light to the underground and it gives you the quality music you want to hear, not have to hear. It also restores integrity back into the music.
The most rewarding part of my career has been seeing artist benefit from the support I’ve provided. 
How did you discover soul music from Scandinavia?
Well I brought this amazing CD ‘Just Becuz by Kenya & Nemor’, and really started loving tracks like ‘Give It To Me, Stir it Up & This Is Real’. I just want more so began searching for them on Facebook, then asked them if I could blog about them. Whilst speaking with Jay Nemor he suggested to check out and get over to the Scandinavian Soul Festival 2013. The rest is history.
Any favourite artists or tracks so far?
Well, in 2014/15....
Ankah - P.O.M (sliver) 
Charlotte Dos Santos - Watching You 
Jay Nemor - Music 
Kirsten Rigmor Nissen ft. Shanell Renee - From Me to You 
Anya - Need To Know 
Adee - World on Fire 
Marie Dahlstrom ft Sophie Faith - Look The Other Way 
Kriswontwo ft Nanna B - Origin of Eye
Rebekka B Mæland ft Sheila Simmenes & Sarah Evelyn -  Better
When and where can we hear you?
5-8 PM EST | 10PM-1AM GMT 


RichCHow long have you been a Club / Radio DJ:
I’ve been doing the radio thing all together for about 4 years. 
It happened purely by chance when I got asked by friends who I had a regular DJ gig with at a bar in Soho on the weekends, to co-host a radio show on an FM station in London, as a trio.  I was asked because I had been buying music for a few years and had amassed a decent collection, and I was able to cover musical areas they couldn’t, alongside playing music that wasn’t the tried and tested, I always liked to experiment.  
I didn’t have a huge record collection by any stretch of the imagination, but I was buying records (and CDs) on a weekly basis from different genre’s and eras, including classic and current Jazz, 60s-90s Soul, and Latin and anything that had a soulful flavour.
I never imagined when I started that I would be hosting my own show. 
Those initial shows were shockingly bad (I’m so glad they were never recorded), as none of us had any experience of DJ’ing on the radio, but we had a love and passion for music, and that’s what drove us.  
Whilst I played tracks until my heart was content I very rarely talked on the microphone, feeling that the music should speak for itself. 
That show lasted about 4-6 months, and it was number of years before I had the confidence to try to take the reigns of my own show, but when I did, it was an amazing experience.  I suddenly realised that having an outlet for my creativity lay in my ability to seek out great music, to pass on that message and knowledge to anyone who’d listen. 
What excites you about soul music and the job you do?
At the beginning of every year I wonder if there will be as much great music released as there was the previous one.  To date I have never been disappointed.
The exciting thing for me about soul music is how talented the majority of the artists who embrace this genre are, and how they weave intricate tapestries of art, life and love into each on every release.  
Every artist has their own voice, and it’s a continual journey of discovery listening to how each artist or group interpret what Soul music means to them. I feel refreshed by this music and it resonates with me personally.  
Music, but soul music especially has been a constant companion in my life for as long as I can remember, and it sounds cliched, but it really does chronicle the ups and downs of life, where there is nothing more satisfying then being able to listen to something which can express the mood, the circumstances or the desire in a more eloquent or refined way than I ever could.
The beauty of me doing my radio show is that I get to blend the different eras and sounds together, where you’ll hear Jazz, Classic Soul, newer versions of soul, and fantastic covers of tracks we know and love.  In my opinion the common theme they all share is a timeless quality. 
I find myself in the music I listen too, and feel passionate about telling people about the lineage and rich heritage present in the music I listen to, and play, each week on the radio.  
Doing the Radio Show feels like an investment, where I take real pride in being able to promote the music I purchase, and believe in.  
Without Soul music I would not have met many of the people I have shared fantastic experiences with, I wouldn’t have been been star struck and left speechless by meeting artists whose LP’s I’ve worn out by listening to them so often, and I probably wouldn’t have travelled to some of the amazing places I have done.
I also wouldn’t have met a kindred spirit in the team at, which has allowed me to participate in the Scandinavian Soul Music Awards, and to play lots of the Scandinavian soul tracks that I feature on my shows.
How did you discover soul music from Scandinavia?
I’ve often said that I was listening to Scandinavian Soul before I knew it was Scandinavian Soul.  
My earliest clear memory is hearing Stephen SimmondsTears Never Dry’ and purchasing his Spirit Tales LP (released as ‘Alone’ in Sweden), realising how special it was. 
Along the way there were  other tracks that filtered through from Linn Segolson, Blacknuss Allstars and Robyn, but it was Jonas’s ‘Sweet Dreams Guaranteed' where I realised I had to spread my musical wings further than the US and the UK.
I had been travelling back and forwards to Sweden since 2008, but my immersion in the Scandinavian soul scene came during a visit to the Stockholm Jazz festival in 2012. Whilst window shopping around Slussen (40% tax is the reason it’s only window shopping :) many of the shops were playing warm and engaging music, and when I’d ask they all happened to be from Scandinavia.  
I got back to the UK and simply googled Swedish Soul and one of the first entries was  It was like an oasis in the desert. Whilst looking at the site I realised that a number of artists I was familiar with were not from the US, as I had assumed, and more importantly I got to experience artists I would probably never have heard of.  
Any favourite artists or tracks so far?
This is such a difficult question as there are so many artists and groups that I hold dear to my heart and listening ear, but off the top of my head.… 
Jonas Rendbo is just a star.  
Vocally sublime and lyrically he is so talented. There is a reason he is so highly regarded, hearing his voice live for the first time this year, I understood why. 
Jay Nemor’s fabulous Just sayin' LP from the end of 2015 perfectly blends sociopolitical commentary with just supremely soulful grooves.
Dolla Lova’s amazing Fall For You LP, for me one of the standout  LP’s from 2013.  
Whilst the group are no longer together lead singer Heini is another serious talent, as are the individual members of the band in their own right.
Sense/Sensibility from Finland’s Humus is as eclectic an LP as you’ll listen to this year. It stretches the boundaries of what Soul music is, and is rewarding from start to finish.  there’s lots of humour and honesty in there too.
I would also highlight the recent EP from The Magnolia, bluesy, deep, meaningful and filled with lashings of soul.
One of Sweden’s rising stars is Fatima, whose Yellow Memories LP maintains an edgy soulful vibe.  
The artists I am eagerly waiting to hear more from include; Lisolette Östblom, Moses Hightower, Coco O (and of course more stuff from Quadron,) Dim Out, N Stuff, Artifact Collective and Rohey amongst others. 
When and where can we hear you?
Sunday Mornings 11am-1pm (CET)


Soulvation Radio Show #118 (23.08.2015) by Rich Chocolate on Mixcloud


Special note to: SoulOP Radio (DK) Jakob Schapira and Urbanlife Radio (SWE) DJ Mr C!  The shows may be gone but not forgotten! 

Andy Collins

I'm a South Londoner now living in Sweden. I'm also a part-time DJ/ founder of Urbanlife Radio and co-founder of Scandinavian Soul. Music has always been my soundtrack to life and although I listen to everything, soul is always in my playlist.

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