Funk and soul all-stars Smoove and Turrell have been at the front of future funk for the past ten years. Known as much for their energetic live shows as their dance floor belters, Damian Robinson caught up with Smoove to find out more about their past, present and future.
It looks like you’ve been busy lately…
We’ve just come back from an interview for Mod Radio across in Shildon actually – we’re in full promotional mode at the minute.
You’re on Mod Radio with the Northern Soul link presumably?
That’s right, yes. Someone once said that we’re the nearest thing to a live Northern Soul band that exists today, which we loved. We love being part of the Northern Soul genre, though we consider our influences to be everything from electro to jazz to soul to funk to disco. John’s voice may be the thing which people connect to for soul but I think if you play the tracks instrumentally you’ll hear much more than just soul.
You were formed from the disco and funk scene if I remember…
That’s right. I was a DJ first and got into making music by sampling and cutting up records which I later did with John. I still enjoy making music that way but the band’s sound began to form when we started to use live players and incorporated new ways of recording and producing. Then Mike Porter got on board, which was when we started to go out and play live. By the third album, we were all contributing to the writing of the music and our influences grew further.
So would you say there’s a distinct difference between your live sound and your recorded sound?
Absolutely. We try to have the cut up and sample sound when we produce our studio work, then when we play live there’s more space available for us to improvise. Playing with a live band allowed us to find nice surprises that we may not have found if we’d just replicated the album. Mike, for example, became a stand-out star in his approach to keyboard playing and clambering all over his instruments.
I’ve seen you a few times and the live experience is pretty wild and similar to Parliament/Funkadelic in the sense that there’s so much happening and it all ends up with people dancing…
(Laughing) Obviously, we’d like the spaceships like the Parliament Mothership, but I’d agree that there are a lot of musicians playing and visually there are many things which capture your attention.
And with recent press coverings from Craig Charles and the national press, it seems like things are taking off for the band…
It does, yes, but we’ve been a band for over ten years so for us things have been progressing very gradually. We don’t really feel like there’s been a huge change; it’s more like we’ve just naturally evolved.
In terms of the new material, how’s that sounding?
We’ve just finished some DJ shows where we played some of the material live. ‘Mr Hyde’, in particular, is like a mash of punk and funk and that went down really well. We’re really happy with the album and it’s sounding like there are two or three really strong singles. John says it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. We’re already looking into our future sound and getting excited about new ideas which is always a good sign of things going well. I’m really proud to get this album out and then tour it extensively. The future is exciting but we’re really happy with the present.
Smoove and Turrell play Willowman Festival this month. For further information head to willowmanfestival.co.uk. And for details about their new album and tour head to facebook.com/smooveandturrell.