No matter where your tastes in dance music lead you, you have to give it up for a work of painstaking musicianship, exquisite songwriting and genuine soul. Golden Lady is that type of album, and it doesn’t hurt that it also kicks ass.

Golden Lady is the new studio album from Reel People (after Second Guess and Seven Ways to Wonder), featuring the talents of Tony Momrelle, Darien, Shezar, Phil Asher, BSTC and others (see my review this month for the full breakdown).

Formed by Papa Records founder Oli Lazarus in 2001, Reel People’s songs have been the foundation for an incredible live show featuring the various members of the ensemble – we talked about that & more with Oli and Tony ahead of Golden Lady’s February 28, 2011 release.

There’s sometimes a story behind cover songs, sometimes not, but since Stevie Wonder’s “Golden Lady” also became the title for your new album – what was your first exposure to it, and the story behind your cover with Tony Momrelle?

Tony: I have always been a fan of Stevie’s work and writing style. It was Oli that brought up the idea of covering the song quite some time ago. At first I said no but after some time it felt right… I and Oli wanted to do something different than a standard Stevie tune… and this made sense. Really glad i did it.

Oli: Our version is musically based around the Jose Feliciano cover, which I have always really loved. Complementing that Brazilian flavour with Tony’s breathtaking vocal performance has really made it something special for us.

I’m curious how you describe the membership of Reel People – I’ve thought it was sort of analogous to Incognito, with a membership of “friends and family”.

Oli: Reel People has always had that collective feel to it with many people over the years making very important contributions. This time round we managed to again work with some very talented musicians such as Chris Franck, Simon Grey, Tony Remy, Julian Crampton, Thomas Dyani, Oli Savill and Toni Economides along with beautiful vocal performances from Tony, Darien and Shezar.

This is the first I heard of a new Phil Asher project – his “restless soul Fun Band” (I hope I got the capitalization right) is featured on here with the 2nd track, “It’s Hard”. Is this a real live band and what made you decide to include it on Golden Lady?

Oli: Well the album is a collection of new Reel People songs but also material from artists we are working with on our label Reel People Music. Phil sent me the forthcoming “restless soul Fun Band” album sometime ago and I fell in love with “It’s Hard” instantly. I really felt that it complemented the rest of the music on Golden Lady and luckily Phil was more than happy to let us include it… It’s a killer cut!!

How do you feel about the harder and more techy edge that even “Soulful House” has been taking lately? Do you think it’s easier than writing with real instruments & vocalists (as opposed to ever-looping samples?)

Oli: I think it’s important that music develops and that you don’t leave a scene with no place to grow. Soul, Soulful House, Soulful Dance – whatever you call it – is very much associated with an older crowd and it’s vital that you get a younger generation interested in the music… The tech influence is just a part of that progression and I really enjoy some of the harder sounding productions that are mixed with the soulful sounds.

I think everything comes around to the beginning again in House Music, and the current emphasis on tracks will probably come full circle. So when the new jacks begin experimenting with vocal tracks again – what’s your secret to getting a solid vocal performance out of a real live human being in the studio?

Oli: Lol… I think this is the case with all music, it goes round in cycles and influences come back round… For us, all the songs we release, have to be from the soul and have a real heart felt performance and delivery, this philosophy will never change.

I notice that “Sure” is out as a single now with Frankie Feliciano & Layabouts remixes. Do you have a schedule of the singles to come out next or is it sorta touch and go?

Oli: We plan to release “Tell Me Why” featuring Tony as the next single which is less of a dance single but more of a straight up soul, neo-soul cut. The rest we will play by ear and see where the music takes us.

A lot of people know Reel People from live performances rather than recorded music, which is pretty unique in the world today. Is a tour planned and are there any surprises for that insane live show?

Tony: For sure we are planing to do some shows. We have some promo work to do on the album in Japan and will release singles throught the year with the plan to tour end of 2011… So keep watching as it’s going to be FIRE!


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