Soulwax (be)In times where moms
give their sons and daughters DJ-courses for their birthdays and
bootlegging has become an Olympic sport, it is nice to see a record that
sets a new standard in the genre of mix-albums: ‘2 Many DJ’s’ from
Belgian groove-gurus Soulwax.
Fans of quality left-of-centre rock music will know Soulwax from their
highly acclaimed album ‘Much Against Everyone’s Advice’, which made it
into the British Top 40 and got rave responses in Japan and Australia.
But there’s much more to the two brothers than meets the eye. Apart from
being chairman of the Belgian Carpenters Association (Stephen) and
having a black belt in tae kwon do (David), they are also masters in
blending the finest products of music history together into a catchy,
hilarious and -above all- intriguing groove exploration. From
politically incorrect prog-rock to funky r&b, from trendy hiptrop to
banging German techno, ja: if it gets a booty going, the Dewaele
brothers have it in their record collection.
Blending beautiful tunes is far from new for the Soulwax brothers. Back
in the dark days of 1999, David and Stephen started a DJ-show on Belgian
national radio, called ‘Hang The DJ’, where they did exactly that.
Years before bootlegging reached the trendy pages of The Face, they were
already making their own mixes for inclusion on the show. Inspired by
the philosophy of one Grandmaster Flash, they cut together the best bits
of funky tracks into an even funkier mix. It was then that classic
mixes of Blackstreet with Grandmaster Flash, Beck with Prodigy and
Beastie Boys vs Herbie Hancock with INXS vs AC/DC saw the light of day.
Praise the Lord.
After having wooed Belgian and Dutch crowds for a few years with these
eclectic sets, they went on to impress the most cynical part of the
world, the London scene, a loud yet harmless species. The British
capital, where approximately 67% of the population (including 17% of
women over 65) owns two decks and a mixer, is used to a thing or two,
but Stephen and David immediately raised quite a few eyebrows with
sparkling sets for London’s independent radio station Xfm, national
institution BBC Radio 1 and appearances at the renowned Trash nights in
London and Arthur Baker’s Sunday Sessions in The Elbow Room.
Impact on the trendometer: a fat 9.5. “When we played our first set for
Xfm”, says David, “several club owners phoned up during the transmission
to ask us to come and play their venues.” And when an (unnamed) DJ
played Soulwax’s classic bootleg mix of Skee-Lo’s ‘I Wish’, Survivor’s
‘Eye Of The Tiger’ and The Breeders’ ‘Cannonball’ at a London club night
and pretended he was mixing it himself, it became official: Soulwax was
hot property. Even Jarvis Cocker showed his appreciation for their
skills and none other than über-producer Felix Da Housecat invited the
brothers to collaborate on his new project: a girlband called Glamarama.
You gotta believe it…
No surprise then that ‘2 Many DJ’s’ has been in the pipeline for yonks,
but because getting tracks cleared is a legal war zone, it has taken
quite a bit longer. “Mick Jones from The Clash was very impressed with
our bootleg version of their ‘The Magnificent Seven’ mixed with Basement
Jaxx’s ‘Romeo’”, explains Stephen, “but still we didn’t manage to
secure the rights to include it on the album”. Rumours that two lawyers
have been decapitated since are unconfirmed.
Too bad, but there’s more than enough magic material to keep you
intrigued, smiling and shaking. The record includes already renowned
mixes like Destiny’s Child’s ‘Independent Women’ with 10CC’s ‘Dreadlock
Holiday’ and Stooges’ ‘No Fun’ with Salt ‘N’ Pepa’s ‘Push It’, but it
also features new beautiful blends like Röyksopp’s ‘Eple’ with Dolly
Parton’s ‘Nine To Five’ and Basement Jaxx’s ‘Where’s Your Head At’ with
Emerson Lake & Palmer’s ‘Theme From Peter Gun’.
Tongue-in-cheek is the first thing that springs to mind when reading
these names, but if you peel off the first, obvious layer, you have to
admit that these ‘cheesy’ mixes actually do work. Mixing 45 songs
together in one hour of music is one thing. But making that hour a
consistent exploration of the history of pop music is quite another. ‘2
Many DJ’s’ makes you laugh, yes indeed, but it also covers left, right,
top and bottom of groovy pop. Some of the tracks on this album are
obvious classics, some are simply unknown and some will very soon become
hot sought-after gems. From Japanese geisha Hanayo covering ‘Joe le
Taxi’, 21st century proof electro from Adult., Finnish disco from Ural
13 Diktators or sleazy Peaches to classics from The Velvet Underground,
The Breeders, The Residents, Sly And The Family Stone and Nena. They’re
all there for a reason.
‘2 Many DJ’s’ proves that ‘genre’ has never been such a naff word.