For UK dance trio Black Orange Juice’s debut EP, 3 Started Alone (out now on True Panther Sounds), rising producer Ossie (Hyperdub, 20/20 Vision) called on two of his East London friends – singers Paul Black and Tilz – to help create music which pays homage to Chicago house and classic disco rhythms, while also shaping the group’s own vision of twisted contemporary R&B and soul aesthetics. Building tracks from propulsive beats and wobbly synths, they mesh brain-etching hooks and brash, though occasionally minimal, instrumentation with a surprising emotional honesty and manage to come away with music that knows exactly where its roots lay but is also very aware of where it wants to go. It also helps that the guys have a bond that extends into their East Ham childhood; so their understanding of each other tints the music to a large degree. This is music that breathes with the familiarity of friends and a communal collection of like-minded influences.
Black Orange Juice mines the no man’s land between the ecstaticism of club ready hip-movers and the cerebral tendencies of headphone junkies. You may well end up dancing, but 3 Started Alone isn’t simply a collection of murky dance tracks (well, it is and it isn’t). The trio know that sometimes it isn’t enough just to get people dancing – though that is a noble enough goal at times – but they want that connection between thought and action, between stimulation and response, to become permanently part of our collective musical consciousness. It’s rational dance music, and it never tries to blind us with sentimental rhythms or bombastic percussion. Ossie, Paul Black, and Tilz are looking back to a time when the thought behind music was enough to get your hips moving. Nothing else was needed.
Recently, we sat down with Paul Black to talk about a few of the artists and songs which helped to shape his own approach to Black Orange Juice’s music. From DJ Jazzy Jeff to D’Angelo, and on to Frank Ocean, Black lays out a wide net of influences and inspirations. It’s becomes obvious after reading what he has to say about these particular artists that the constantly shifting cadences and genre hopping inherent to their work was a big factor in the development of BOJ’s own sound. Check out his full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck Series
Hi it’s Paul Black of Black Orange Juice, and this is a little rundown of 5 snippets of huge musical importance to us as a music collective….
1. DJ Jazzy Jeff ft. Erro – “Roc Wit U”
What a place to start, this is one of my all time favorite NEO soul songs! Eric Robertson has a voice that we have long admired, his smooth tone filled with emotion that he aptly utilizes to convey that most intimate of moments. Production, theme, lyrics, vocals added to a priceless delivery. This is one of my all time favourite songs and will always have a huge place in my heart.
2. Biggie Smalls – “Kick In The Door”
In terms of rappers I think what sets Biggie apart is his whit and swagger personified by his word play. He conveyed an image of the Western world that was much less glamorous, rather it was the concrete jungle that gave birth to desperate killers…The way he paints images is one that resonates with me still today.
3. Frank Ocean – “Pink Matter”
Off of one of the most compelling R&B artists to come out for years. The very talented Mr. Ocean delivers his poetry with such intent that whatever he speaks about sounds so epic yet believable at the same time. The cameo from Sir Benjamin 3000 rounds off the artistic ambience, his delivery plucking at ones mind further setting the mode with deep sorrow.
4. D’Angelo – Voodoo: The Whole Album !!!
What an album…… D’angelo – Untitled is filled with warm harmonies that flow in and out of the track with an effortless calm that simply amount to an eargasm. The album as a whole just hits a chord with us all the whole group.
5. Donnie – “Cloud 9” (Quentin Harris Remix)…
That smoothly brings me on to this classic house masterpiece. This song with its continuous rhythmic drums, warm synths, string samples and piano solos is a lesson in how block build a track to perfection bringing the listener on a journey whilst the music takes control of their movements……
6. The Brand New Heavies – “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” (Kenny Dope Remix)….
This beat has had all of us dancing well into the wee hours gesticulating and cut shapes as if we were doing a sun-dance… anything that can make you feel so over joyed and happy can’t be bad its an anthem for true lovers of good music..
In short these songs all share in having a purity of emotion conveyed in them that is emotive and captivating, this is professionally something that in our opinion is vital to making good music….. this has been just a slice of our Orange.
Black Orange Juice’s new EP, 3 Started Alone, is out now via True Panther Sounds.