Soul Clap lives up to its name. DJs Elyte (Eli Goldstein) and Cnyce (Charlie Levine) are lovers and creators of house music, spinning soulful, often clap-heavy, tracks everywhere from Los Angeles to Ibiza and releasing their own tunes, including the recently released EFUNK: The Album, through Wolf + Lamb’s influential label. The Boston-based duo recently wrapped up their first big Ibiza residency as well as a small tour for their newly formed label, Soul Clap Records. Now, they’re headed out west again. However, instead of the usual semi-underground parties they play in Los Angeles, they’ll be hitting up HARD’s Day of the Dead on November 3, where they will join Justice, Major Lazer, Knife Party and many more.
We caught up with Elyte in Boston, where he was taking a breather from a summer of constant touring to talk about Soul Clap’s origins, their party style and the duo’s brand new record label.
How was Ibiza?
We played Ibiza several times, but this year, we had our first residency there, at Circo Loco at DC-10. We actually got a place there and stayed there for the second half of September, first half of October, for closing. This was our first real Ibiza experience. It’s a beautiful island. The best way I can describe it is the Las Vegas of clubbing. For me, personally, it’s a little commercial. You kind of have to pump it up harder than you normally do. Everyone is full-on, they’re on holiday. They really want to rage. It’s not quite our style. It’s fun, there are great moments with friends hanging out at crazy villa after parties, but I think we’re still trying to find our home there.
What is your style?
Slow and sexy wins the race is I guess the best way to describe it.
We’ve both been DJing for 15-plus-years, so we’ve learned to play a diverse range of music. We love house music and house music is our go-to, bigger room, party style. But, we always try to mix it up with funk, R&B, disco, really push people to listen to different stuff. It’s about bringing music back and bringing emotion back to the dance floor. It’s not just this raving raging.
When did you start DJing?
I started when I was 14. I was a freshman in high school. I first got fascinated with it from listening to hip-hop, like Gang Starr. DJ Premier, who produced and did all the scratching for Gang Starr. I started hearing the scratching and the word DJ before his name and tried to figure out what that was and then learning to scratch on my dad’s turntable and then getting a job after school so I could save up to get my own turntables. I went to a rave the summer after freshman year and started to see what it was like to DJ parties. That was the final straw. After that, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
Do you remember your first big gig?
I started DJing house parties for friends and high school dances at my school. But, the first big gig was when I was about 18. I was really into drum n’ bass at that time and there was a big drum n’ bass scene in Boston. I worked at the drum n’ bass record store, sending out shipments to DJs and stuff. There was a night here for years, every Wednesday night they would get four or five hundred people for drum n’ bass. When I finally get to play that night, it was a big thing, my parents came and everything.
For Soul Clap, the first gig we did together was exciting. We had played around DJing together and both knew each other, we were both from the Boston area. We had this gig in D.C. that our friend booked us at to play separately. It was supposed to be two rooms, but ended up only being one room, so we both had to play together opening up for Joey Beltram, this old school techno guy. It was really exciting. I had a partner that I was doing drum n’ bass with and hip-hop and a couple of other DJs that I worked with, but to find this new direction in house music together was exciting.
Does playing an event like HARD change how you approach your set?
The biggest difference is that, normally, we play a minimum of three hours. For our style, there are these ups and downs, like telling a story. We play three-hours, sometimes we play 12-hours, so you get to stretch out and play everything and have segments of different genres. It’s like a party. There are people hanging out, there is slow dancing, there’s everything. When we play festivals, and we’ve done maybe one or two festivals. We’ve done Movement in Detroit, which is kind of different because it’s built around underground dance music already. We’ve been going to that for years, so that was kind of easy for us.
When we do festivals and we have to play shorter sets, it just means that we have to plan out what we’re doing. We plan our agenda and our message and start out with that and really make sure that we get that message across.
It’s so different from Europe in the States. It’s so new here. I’m curious how it’s going to translate and if it will even translate, what we do. We have a much more grown-up, mature sound. This is a great opportunity to educate, but we’re going to have to work hard to make sure we do it in the right way. It’s a big challenge.
Are you working on any new releases now?
It’s really hard to write new music when we’re touring a lot. We wrote our album in Miami when we had two months off. A lot of our original music is like that. You need a little chunk of time to get loose with people.
We just started our new record label, which is our biggest project right now. That initially is going to feature music from other artists, but we’re also going to try to put out a new Soul Clap in early 2013 and maybe collaborate with some other people.
We have our Wolf + Lamb family, this is the label from Brooklyn that has brought us along. We’ve become family over the past three years. They put out our album. We tour with them. As artists, as music lovers, it has always been our dream to have our own platform. It’s not even to put out our own music, because we have a home with Wolf and Lamb to put out our own music. It’s more to develop artists and build our own family and to really try to push music by signing really cool music and finding people who are like-minded and we can grow with.
We had our launch tour in Europe last week. We did Berlin, Bucharest, Paris and Amsterdam with our first two artists. One is named Night Plane. He’s got the first release. He’s from Brooklyn. He’s kind of indie meets house, really floaty, kind of emo-sounding stuff, which really isn’t like us. People are going to be surprised that this is the first release, but we’ve been playing his stuff for years and he’s a close friend, so it makes sense. He’s never had a break with another label, so to bring him on and develop him as one of our artists is exciting.
The other artist is this kid Nick Monaco, who is in his early 20s and from the Bay Area, who has so much energy and excitement. He started out as a hip-hop scratch DJ and has slowly gotten into dance music. He’s had a few releases out on Dirtybird. He sort of feels like a younger version of us, so that’s exciting.