Soul Clap is on a mission to transform the planet. Their latest album WTF, or World Transformation Force, represents this passion for action and their dedication to the music as an important avenue for making a difference.
As “a wake up call to action, a time for all of us to join together on the path to positive change,” WTF is “a reminder that compassion, empathy and human connection from the heart are essential to our energy and have the power to heal.” Covering topics from climate to community, World Transformation Force invites listeners to work together, inspire others, and enjoy the dance along the way.
With Eli studying for his Master’s Degree in Climate Science and Policy at Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy, Soul Clap has been developing ways to use their unique position to help lead the industry in a positive direction moving forward. One of the main aspects of that future is figuring out how tour more efficiently and seeking alternatives to sustaining an artistic career that involve less global travel. As touring opportunities are beginning to ramp up again this is now the time to set new paradigms, and Soul Clap is determined to be conscientious about what that will look like for them: “It’s an opportunity to be really intentional about how we’re going to tour and how we’re going to look at our career. We’re going to have to be building new ecosystems and new business models for how we can survive as artists and how we can all survive as artists. So it’s a huge undertaking because of the way the system is built now. The system is really broken. Covid gave it a chance take a step back and start exploring other models or force us to explore other models. Things like live streaming and subscriptions and Bandcamp — these are all beginnings of The Next Step but there’s gonna have to be a completely new way of rethinking the whole ecosystem. But then that also gives us the opportunity to do this in a way that’s actually cooperative and communal and inclusive.”
Soul Clap has been exploring these new models with their Twitch channel where they each have solo shows as well as a ground-breaking virtual Back 2 Back every week. Charlie even hosts a Unicorn Disco for Tots show on Sundays where the kids get their chance to dance. With their Schmoozing with Soul Clap podcast surpassing 50 episodes and successful House of Virtual Efunk event which spanned two days and featured 30 plus DJs, live acts, and entertainment (including puppets and dogs!) they are working hard to help push the industry into fresh directions and explore alternatives to traditional models. Ultimately they are hoping to inspire other artists to help lead the culture moving forward, seeking “like-minded thinkers who may have ideas of how to do things more efficiently in a way that is constructive and adds to growth,” while at the same time returning “back to the idea of community and the communal scene that dance music came from and that we grew up in with raves.”
From the initial concept to the choice of label, each step of the WTF journey has been addressed with their greater purpose in focus. As they share, “We’ve always wanted to have message in our music but this album feels really planetary and humanity based”. From the beginning it was important for WTF to call attention to current issues while offering change through love, compassion, connection and empathy. They especially wanted WTF to respect the history of house and disco music, as “an acknowledgment that electronic dance music came from marginalized people” and a feeling that they have a responsibility as “part of this lineage to celebrate and bring attention to that, and to lift up that part of the culture.”
With the initial direction of World Transformation Force in mind, the recording process began at Lee Curtiss’ Los Angeles based hand-built studio with “one shitty wicker chair” and a space heater that they all had to huddle around on cold nights. It was the perfect setting for this project, something special, where the energy of the location and support of talented artists like Desmond DSP Powell, XL Middleton and Lee himself would help develop WTF into well-polished package that “embodies that modern funk kind of sound” and showcases what sets Soul Clap apart. Featuring 15 tracks that mix elements of hip-hop, RnB, downtempo, and soul, the album has the Soul Clap blend of funky melodies, meaningful vocals, and groovy beats that manage to be both classic and futuristic. With special guests including Tra’zae Clinton, Nona Hendryx, Harry Dennis and Sha-Lor completing the picture through their diverse experience and talents, WTF became just what Soul Clap had intended: an inspiration for community and consciousness through music.
Additional relationships that developed with like-minded creatives through the WTF process kept their concept moving forward, one of the most important of these being the connection with Fool’s Gold Records. When getting ready to release WTF independently last year, COVID allowed Soul Clap to take a step back and take the time to re-evalutate their options. It was around this time that shared conversations with Fool’s Gold on the importance of activism in music led Eli to mention this album they had which would fit in perfectly with their discussion. It would prove to be a fitting and exciting next move, now opening the doors to a different kind of audience through the label’s diverse catalog, something which Soul Clap feels has “really been an important part of this for us.”
Another connection which spawned to support their mission is the coinciding Earth Day Release of a special Soul Clap / Finback Brewery sour beer called “Back to Love” (“named after one of the great tracks off our album”) which captures the essence of WTF in an energy-efficient and environmentally conscious beer. As Finback Brewery shared, this collaboration “was born out of our shared beliefs about the environment, as well as our work to use our platforms to push for positive societal change.” Charlie tells us, “I feel like this creating of the beer is just the beginning of something that we want to do; informing people about environmental activism, informing the beer drinking and the beer brewing communities about how to be thinking about this stuff.”
As Soul Clap makes plans to continue staying active in creating change through music, there is still much more to come. Setting the stage for the next steps in our Earthly evolution, they invite everyone to come with them into the future as they share, “This body of music has arrived during a time when we find ourselves with our hands in the air exclaiming WTF?! Well, the answer is exactly that: WTF! Together our Force is stronger, and can Transform the World as the magnitude of our Universal Love grows. Now is the time, we are all a WORLD TRANSFORMATION FORCE.”
Photos by Bill Kennedy.