OUT NOW: Nick Monaco – The Stalker EP [SCR1206]



Words from The Clap:
Soul Clap Records’ resident butterfly spreads his colorful wings revealing The Stalker EP, a body of truly sophisticated music. Written at home in his San Rafael studio Nick Monaco combines his vision for dance music futurism with his roots in 90’s pop and psychedelic rock. The result is three wild and original songs: “The Stalker”, a psychedelic dance with a sonic theme, “Boy Meets World”, a throwback 90’s party jam that channels Deee-Lite and would make Malcolm McLaren smile from the heavens, and “Night Shift” a smooth bass driven deep house groove, brimming with creativity and only available on the vinyl. To round out the EP we call in remix contributions from ourselves (Soul Clap) on the classic New York tribal house tip; Boston Crew Love representative Tanner Ross on his signature spaced out hip-hop tip, and French G-Funk futurist Wadz on that gangsta tip.

Here’s the scoop from Nick Monaco himself:
“I was visited by my muses one ordinary evening in my studio just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Feeling distant from characterless electronic sounds, they let live drums and real instruments be the backbone of the instrumental, feeling inspired by Laid Back and Dire Straits, I added my vocal. Only a few hours later,  The Stalker came to life like Frankenstein, eager to creep into your soul and amuse.   The b-side “Boy Meets World,” is a response to “Naked Is My Nature,” my first ep on Soul Clap Records, which saw a young boy spilling his heart on wax. After nearly a year of touring all over the world, my cocoon has been cracked and the butterfly is spreading his wings. Nice to meet you, young world.”


Musical Messages: Detroit


Today we kick off what we hope is the start of something bigger here on the Soul Clap Blog, we’re calling it Musical Messages and the goal is to explore political and social issues using music. What better place to start than the once and future great city of Detroit and we’re playing there tomorrow so the timing couldn’t be better.


I’ve been meaning to write this piece ever since my mother, Dr Diane Levin had her first blog published on the Huffington Post. Diane is an early childhood educator who’s life work is trying to understand how social phenomenon like violence, the media and poverty can effect child development. She’s also an activist who uses her knowledge to improve our education, build supports systems and fight negative influences. By random luck she was an intern in Detroit during the riots of 1967 and the piece she wrote for the Huffington Post connects the experience she had in Detroit with broader issues of poverty, education and the prison system in the U.S.

Her initial experience in Detroit that summer was full of hope, “We were studying how President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” would help children and families who were living in poverty in the inner city. A focal point of the “war,” Head Start, was in its infancy. It offered new hope, part of a comprehensive set of programs and services designed to help “lift” children and families out of poverty. There was much optimism about the future for Detroit’s poor. Officials described Detroit as a “demonstration city” that had quickly and effectively implemented all available programs and resources provided by the federal government to fight the War on Poverty. The deterioration of inner city Detroit had been halted, and many in high places were hopeful that the downward spiral had even been stopped, even reversed.”

Then one hot summer night, everything changed. Detroit and the entire country would never be the same. This amazing song by jazz musician Gregory Porter captures this moment in a way only music can:

“It’s neither a celebration or degradation of the political uprisings that happened in the US in the ’60s – all over the US, not just in Detroit. That level of uprising caused a shift in politics, and a shift in peoples’ attitudes towards people. It’s essentially a documented conversation of the absurdity of injustice, and the pain that injustice causes, and the after affect of that pain. ‘If you’ve done something to me, I’m gonna strike back the only way I know how. I’m going to do something to myself,’ essentially. The people that riot, mostly just often burn their own neighborhoods.” -Gregory Porter on Soul Culture UK.

Fast forward to 2007 and my first visit to Detroit for the Movement Festival. My first impression of Detroit was the biggest ghost-town I could ever imagine. Abandoned skyscrapers littered downtown and the streets were entirely empty in the daytime. Yet, I still couldn’t mistake how welcoming everyone I met in the city was. From my interactions at the airport, with taxi drivers, at restaurants, and of course at the festival, I came away with a feeling of deep respect from and for Detroiters. Nowhere is this more palpable than at the Guardian Building, an internationally acclaimed art deco masterpiece and one of the few downtown buildings that is not only maintained, but kept in impeccable condition. To me this building embodied my experience in Detroit and like the city’s rich musical history, it stands as a sign of all that has been and all that can still be. I knew that I needed to come back and properly explore the Motor City.

All my further experiences in Detroit have reinforced my initial feelings. There was our magical pre-Thanksgiving set (our first ever performance in Detroit) at the Bohemian Cultural Home, when techno legends Stacey Pullen and Eddie Fowlkes gave us the warmest welcome any young artists could ask for. We got the full city tour from John Johr, including the Motown Museum, old rave spots, burned out blocks and of course the Heidelberg Project. Then in 2011 we got to play, Movement our favorite festival in the world, probably the biggest honor for any America electronic musician. There may be poverty and hardship, but there is no denying that Detroit is one of our richest cities in authentic culture, spirit and love.


Through all these experiences I began to realize that Detroit is a symbol for the broader United States. Once our industrial heart, we’ve allowed our arteries to become blocked and stopped the flow of this culture and spirit in and out of this once rich city. In Dr Levin’s words, “The declaration of bankruptcy by Detroit occurred almost 46 years to the day, in July 1967, when the catastrophic riots broke out. This year’s monumental event too graphically symbolizes the failure of America to implement the commitment it made in the Sixties to reduce poverty, especially among children, when its lifelong effects can be the greatest. The reality is that poverty has gotten worse in the intervening years — in Detroit and throughout the country. In 2011, child poverty levels in Detroit were close to 60%, among the highest rates in the nation. But beyond Detroit, Measuring World Poverty (UNICEF 2012) reports that of the top 35 economically advanced countries, the U.S. ranks 34th on levels of children poverty with a rate of over 23%?”

My mother’s article goes on to outline how powerful a tool in child development the Head Start program is and at the cost of only $7,500 per child per year it’s significantly less than the $34,000 we pay yearly to keep an inmate locked up. Why not spend now on education instead of continuing to lock up the poor and cost our country more dollars? Yet our government has cut more than half it’s funding for Head Start this year and will keep cutting unless we fight to get the word out. There’s more on this in the full article, so read it!

If every American was required to go on a tour of Detroit before they were allowed to vote, so many minds would be opened to the real work that we need to do to heal the city and our country. I truly believe that as Detroit goes, we all go. Why not start with the children!? I’m taking my mothers lead, putting my money where my mouth is and donating most of my fee ($1,000) to a Detroit based organization for kids. Now I just need your help choosing the right one. Can you help Detroit?

Tam’s Dancefloor Flashbacks: James Curd


If you’ve been paying attention for awhile then you know that the Roots & Future section of the Soul Clap Blog is a place where we share our version of dance music history. So in that spirit, today it is our honor and pleasure to kick off a new feature! You may remember a few months back over on thump, a story about how I love my virginity at a rave, and you probably asked the question, who would Eli feel comfortable enough telling this embarrassing story to? Well the answer is our long time friend and dancefloor buddy Tamara aka Tam Tam or Tam for short. Tam is an industry insider who, like us, started raving in the 90’s and more recently has been travelling the world collecting Dancefloor Flashbacks from some of her (and our) favorite DJs and producers and the best part is from now on we’ll be posting them exclusively here on the blog. So with out further ado let’s kick this party off with another Tam Dancefloor Flashback…

James Curd (Greenskeepers Music, Favored Nations)
Producer, DJ, Label-owner. Has released music on DFA, Permanent Vacation, Exploited, Eskimo, ETC ETC, Om & many more…

I’ve known James for 10 years, and helped to release his albums “Polo Club” and “Pleetch” when I worked at Om Records. I personally think that a Dj that doesn’t werk it in the booth can’t be trusted. James, is not one of those Dj’s. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching him perform – He’s got this tight back & forth jerky-dance style in-booth, that screams CHICAGO from all angles of the dance floor.

Tamara: How long have you been Djing again?
James: I mean, since 1995…so almost 20 years. Shit man, that’s longer than I’ve done anything else…I didn’t even go to school that long!

Everyone has the same story: You tell your parents you’re going one place…And then you go somewhere completely different. It was 1995. I was 15, living in Chicago and I was a skateboarder. And in the winter, if you skateboarded you were fucked. There’d be two feet of snow outside and nowhere to ride. But…I heard about a club called Medusa’s that had a half-pipe inside the venue. Only catch was, you had to be 17 to get in. Add to that, Chicago had a curfew for anyone 16 and under. I was like, ‘fuck that!’ I had a YMCA membership, and I knew a girl that worked there and I got her to make me a fake YMCA card that said I was 17.

Back then they would open the club to all ages from 6 – 10 PM and at 10:00, they’d kick everyone out, and make them line up again for the 17 & older crowd. The promoters liked having us there because we looked cool riding the half-pipe while people danced. I wasn’t even into the music at first, I just wanted to skate…But while I was there I heard people like Derrick Carter and Mark Farina, and I started to get into the sound. Pretty soon I started buying records (the only format you could find that style of music on back then) and I was hooked. I knew this local Dj who made really good mixtapes, Mark Almaria, and he basically taught me how to Dj.

I hadn’t Dj’d out yet, but one weekend a girl I knew invited me to an outdoor festival called “Even Further” in Wisconsin (and booked Daft Punk for the first time). I of course told my parents I was staying with a friend, hopped in her van (see photo) and we drove like, 8 hours to get there. It was a huge festival that lasted 24 hours for 2 days straight.

When we got there, I realized that outside each tent was a board with Dj names and timeslots. Basically, for the off-peak set times you could put your name on the list and Dj – So ridiculous! I’d like to see somebody try that shit now!

I walked into the first tent I saw, went to the booth and asked the Dj what I’d have to do to play. He said, “Dude, I’ve had to take a piss for 20 minutes…Next record, YOU’RE ON.” I ran back to the van, grabbed my milkcrate of records, and back to the nearly empty tent. I had just gotten this new record that I loved, Romanthony “The Wanderer.”
I put that record on…

And suddenly…Slowly at first, but then by the middle of the track my tent went from completely empty to about 400 people! It was crazy. It felt amazing. I started to really get into my set…And it was the best feeling in the world.

It turned out that in the crowd, were tons of promoters from Chicago, St. Louis, and other places in the Midwest. While I was playing, this promoter, Terry Martin, came up to me and said, ‘What’s your Dj name?” And I said, “Um…I don’t have one.” He said he wanted to book me to Dj at his next party.

A couple weeks later Terry met up with me to give me the flier for the first party I’d ever gotten booked to play, it was called “Submerge” (see image). The lineup was sick! Afrika Bambaataa, Miss Lady Kier from Deee-Lite, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, and Derrick May…And waaaaay down at the bottom of the lineup Terry had written, “And introducing fresh from planet Mars…Dj Jimminy Cricket” – The Dj name he’d given me.

And from there I just kept Djing. I was too young to get into most of the parties legally so promoters had to sneak me in.

J: It was a lucky, fortunate sequence of events.
T: You were fearless.
J: I mean, I really love it. How could I ever stop?