Soul Clap on Working with George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic: Exclusive Mix and Q&A
The quirky creative partnership between the Boston house duo and the seminal funk outfit has yielded creative fruit in the form of two tracks on Funkadelic's 2014 album First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate and a four-track EP featuring Sly Stone released in April.
Listen to their funk-infused mixtape exclusively on Billboard:
Billboard caught up with Soul Clap's Charlie Levine to get the inside scoop behind the cross-generational collaboration.
How did you originally get into George Clinton and P Funk’s music?
I first was turned on to P Funk when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I was attending a summer camp called Killooleet in Hancock, VT and two camp counselor brothers named who were obsessed with funk and soul music showed me the ropes. They formed a P Funk cover band and I got to be George Clinton!
How did the collaboration come together?
The collaboration happened quickly and mysteriously. We were in NYC at the former Marcy Hotel doing an interview for The Village Voice. The interviewer named Chris Tarantino is a friend of Chuck Fishman who’s been working with George Clinton for years and had known about our music and our debut album called EFUNK. Chris asked us if we’d ever like to fly to Tallahassee Florida to see the vault where they keep all the master tapes and meet George Clinton... of course we said yes! So, one thing led to another -- Chris passed us on to Chuck who introduced us to Sa’D “The Hourchild” Ali, who’s George's nephew and the studio manager down in Tallahassee. Within a few months we were on our way to What? Studios in Tally, and that is where we finally met Dr. Funkenstein.
What was working with them like?
Working with George Clinton, Sly Stone, George's producer G-Koop, his grand daughter Tonysha, Chuck Fishman and Sa’D Ali and the many, many other characters associated was a real magical experience. There is so much musical talent and vision that we witnessed and absorbed. It inspired us and our sound going forward. The greatest real challenge was just orchestrating so many moving pieces. But all the hard work paid off and we have such a special moment in our discography that we will forever carry going forward.
Any cool stories from the sessions?
The moment that they surprised us with a visit from Sly Stone was pretty next level. Charlie had gone out to get Mexican food to feed the gang and when he returned Eli was standing outside the studio white in the face like he’d scene a ghost. In the studio was Sly Stone dressed in all red velvet and a black hat with a feather coming out. It was so surreal. No one really knew what to do. But we could tell Sly and George were old friends and they were loose with each other, so we got loose too and bam next thing you know we were all jamming!
What’s the story behind this mixtape specifically?
The story here is pretty straightforward. I’ve been a big fan of all things P Funk since I was a kid and have been collecting the music for years. I wanted to make a mix of some of my favorite songs that people probably hadn’t heard before while simultaneously showcasing the awesome power of P Funk’s interludes and album intros. I made the mix with Ableton, but instead of warping the tempos, I just pieced things together and connected the dots with reverb and delay. I also took audio from various interviews with George Clinton to further spread the funky message!