There’s evil abroad in the world of dance music and the Wolf + Lamb/Soul Clap Justice League are the last line of defence. This coalition of glitterball superheroes and 4AM villains has come together to fight the forces of too dark, too loud dance music. The League’s mission statement: “We want to bring the sexiness back to the dancefloor.”
OK, so it’s a daft scenario, but Wolf + Lamb and Soul Clap, two of the most exciting DJ duos of recent times, don’t believe in taking themselves too seriously — at a recent press shoot they really did dress up as superheroes. Meanwhile, their DJ-Kicks mix is diametrically opposed to the banging soul-less beats that have dominated the club scene for, well, far too long. A 27-track journey full of emotion and changes of tempo and mood, it ebbs and flows like a moonlit summer tide, from gorgeous downtempo grooves such as ‘Can’t See What Is Burning There’ by Nicolas Jaar to the slinky disco-house of ‘South Aphrika’ by Lee Curtiss. It has more in common with Metro Area or even a disco icon like David Mancuso than anything else. Eli Goldstein from Soul Clap sums it up perfectly when he describes it as “gentle and deep”.
Soul Clap (Eli Goldstein and Charles Levine) met Wolf + Lamb (Gadi Mizrahi and Zev Eisenberg) in September 2008 when they travelled from their native Boston to attend Wolf + Lamb’s underground club, the Marcy Hotel in Brooklyn. The four of them hit it off pretty much instantly. “At the time we had made a couple of edits and we gave them to Gadi and Zev,” says Eli. “We released stuff on their label [also called Wolf + Lamb].”
When !K7 approached the four of them to do a DJ Kicks mix, the initial idea was do it as Wolf + Lamb versus Soul Clap. It wasn’t long before they realised something more collaborative was where their heads were at. Eli explains: “So much of the power of the music we do comes from the idea that we’re a collective, even expanding beyond the four of us to acts like No Regular Play and Nicolas Jaar that come under the Wolf + Lamb label umbrella. Performing together is our strength.” Gadi continues: “Yeah, the concept for this mix was originally that going to be to use our favourite tracks from the last two years —y’know, classic stuff — but then we thought it might be a stronger idea to do something that was about our world. We have such a strong sense of collective about the way we do things at the Marcy Hotel and on the Wolf + Lamb label. It’s very loose and we bring all our artists together and we kind of play it by ear and the vibe is very chilled out and deep. We figured if we could bring that to a mix and keep it in the family, with people who’ve released on the label we would have something special.”
The collective vibe is reflected in the fact that the entire mix is music from family and friends, with 9 exclusive tracks being released only on this mix. Says Eli: “The two we are the most excited about are ‘Lonely C’ by Soul Clap featuring Charles Levine. It’s a special vocal track, really deep, but still catchy and emotional. There’s also this one by SECT called In The Park with vocals from Ben Westbeech. It’s a really floaty slow track with an incredible pop feel.”
As well as capturing the Wolf + Lamb/Soul Clap sound, the DJ Kicks mix also helped them to define it. “Doing the mix we realised that our vibe has something to do with emotion and I think it has something to do with tempo,” explains Zev. “The music that comes from our camp is slower than a lot of other dance music.” Charlie adds: “Also something that’s totally important is that we’re all American artists at a time when America is lacking in decent dance music. We’re very much trying to take the torch back and this legitimises what we’re doing. For Soul Clap, a lot of what we’ve done that has been hyped over the last couple of years has been edits. Now we’re looking at all original material released on !K7. It’s a timeless label and DJ Kicks is one of the oldest compilation series. It totally legitimises Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap and this new sound.”
Charlie concludes with this thought. “Growing up in America in the ’80s and ’90s we were exposed to funk, disco, R’n’B and black music. This music that we’re making is very much rooted in all of that. People also forget that house and techno came from the States. We’ve grown up studying those artists. There’s this history there that we feel connected with.”
It’s a lot more than a connection. Wolf + Lamb and Soul Clap have written the next chapter.