4 To The Floor Collective an eclectic group of DJs/producers and music aficionados.
- DJ Soul Provyder
- Jay Carder
- Rocardo aka Ricky Boom
We will be doing them a disservice to pigeon hole the collective. Each individual brings something different to the table and that is what makes them one of the more fascinating acts we've had here on R+R.
R+R - What a treat to have you guys with us today. It has been well overdue. So let's start with the basics, how did you guys come up with the name. Truth be told there is some confusion. as there are quite a few collectives of musical acts with the same name.
4tothefloor (Kengo) - LOL!! To be honest, we should have thought about it a little bit more. Because, obviously, it was one of those things that was a whim - that just became too big for us to then change later on.
Essentially, 4 to the Floor is a very generic term for the kind of music where it's got that four beat for every every bar. So you know that can be disco, techno, house. Well disco is where it started and that was basically our influences because we're house dancers. And that was the music that I felt that-- I didn't want to listen to, for example, a whole night of house. That, for me, would be boring. I wanted it to be diverse, but still all make sense in that kind of general flow of the history of dance music of that kind of upbeat energy.
And the name also fitted not just the music we were playing, but the fact that we were coming from a dance background - all of us. So it was all about the dance floor as well - at the dances.
4tothefloor (DJ Soul Provyder) - There's been times, since, where we've felt that the name then became a bit too restrictive, or too defining, or too pigeonholing - obviously, because it's the kind of music we're talking about. Whereas our music is actually so much about what we play on the night. But I think we just said, "Alright, let's just run with it" [laughter]. But, to be honest, when you start something - especially when it's for fun - you don't think about that 'maybe in six years that we're still doing it'. Unless you've got that, "This is what we've set out to do". It was literally like three mates who just said, "Let's just try to deejay more. Let's just try and bring dancers down and it'll be fun."
Where you're wanting to share in playing out. But playing out in a way that we didn't think was being catered, or that was.
So we wanted to be able to just shift between different genres of dance music, but still keep that energy up. So that's why, for me, you could join the dots between 'house music comes from disco'. So you could play the original, and then you could play the [sample] whatever it was. It was that joining of the dots. And then, for me, it was then you could mix in Afrobeat - tempo. And then you could also put in [Gqum] beat. And then you could also, put in the up-tempo Dancehall stuff even.
R+R - So it was like a melange of different sounds that just work well together.
4tothefloor (Kengo)- Yeah and there's Hip-Hop tracks that I like. House, up-tempo, and down-tempo as well. So that was the initial take on that.
4tothefloor (DJ Soul Provyder) - And for me, as well, people - when they say, "House music" - they just think of one kind of style. Whereas the name, 'House' came from 'warehouse'.
Kengo - Pretty much, yeah.
DJ Soul Provyder - And it wasn't the genre of music. It was representing all genres of dance music. It was the music that Funky Knuckles played at the warehouse in Chicago. And this is, I've been told from the horse's mouth - speaking to him. They would play everything across the board, musically. It's later on when people started to market it, categorize it, [and records started being sold], you then had all the different categories that have come out since. But he said they would play everything, originally.
R+R - So how do you go about your selections? Do you guys sit down and have these conversations, on what you are going to play
Kengo - We all kind of love similar music.
DJ Soul Provyder - It's not preconceived.
Kengo - It's not that there is a type of niche of house music that we love. It's basically producers like Osunlade. Something that isn't just about heavy baselines or what you would hear in a big club in Ibiza. But one thing that is unique, is that it's not drunk/drug music. It could be, obviously. But it's much more about what we're about as the connection with the music that doesn't involve alcohol - or drugs - necessarily. It's about the dance experience. How it makes you feel.
DJ Soul Provyder - Being in the [pub] playing music. And people getting lost in the music, and getting down on the dance floor. Rather than, standing around checking out the DJ, or just getting high on the baseline. That natural high, when it hits your cerebellum you can't but help yourself move to the beat.
R+R - So how would you describe it (the music)?
Kengo - So if there is a very general description of the music that we love to play, it's usually quite percussive - the different percussion instruments. Usually, it's got the Afro-Latin inlfuence. Right from the start, one of our philosophies was to represent this idea of music that being made all around the world, to the dance floor in London. Because it just isn't about Eurocentric idea of what House music is. And people in the club are just fist pumping and stuff. Music is so universal, through the Internet, we have access to all this amazing music - which also reflects their locality as well. And I think that's really important. There might be people making Angolan House music. So that's heavily influenced by, for example, the music that has been traditionally there. And things like that.
R+R - Ethnic influences then ..?
Kengo - Yeah. And I think that's really significant. Or all the music that came before that. Things like Kudora music, that's now influencing House music. And if you go to Ivory Coast those ethnic sounds will then have their take on Electronic music as well. And that, for me, is what is really interesting. There are people doing that in India, in Asia, in the Americas. So with Latin maybe sampling traditional instruments and stuff like that.
R+R - So is it fair to say whilst living your passion - you get to listen to stuff that you're interested in and love. share that love. More importantly, you essentially educate people that turn up to these events?
DJ Soul Provyder - Well, not necessarily educate. We just really wanted to create something and a place where we would want to go ourselves and hear the music we would like to hear. And if other people like it, then good. But it's not about educating anyone. Because, I think, they're already educated in terms of, the type of music they're into already. And they're coming to our events because they know that they're going to get a certain vibe.
Kengo - First and foremost, that I'm not the biggest [digger] - looking for crazy, obscure music or playing the most exclusive records, there is. I know what I like, and the music that I like, I just come across them wherever it is. If I'm on a night out, if I'm just in the car listening to the radio, or I go to a record shop and I just happen to hear something.
R+R - Right, so inspiration comes from all over the place.
Kengo - Yeah, anywhere. When I use that gym membership, they'll play, sometimes, really interesting music at the gym and stuff [laughter]. So it's all sorts. Wherever it is, my ears will just pick up--
R+R - Individually, how did it all kick off? I mean, for you (Kengo) personally? How did you get that musical bug?
Kengo - So, for me, I live just outside of London. I grew up in Middlesex. Near Harrow - like Wembley, Harrow. That sort of direction of we. Affordable housing. [laughter].
At school, when we started doing our GCSE, I started making mixtapes, back then, of things I just wanted to hear while we were painting or sculpting. Because it was quite free. So we had the place. We just [whack] some music on. And I'd always bring in-- I'd make mixtapes - like every month or every two weeks - of just all the stuff that I just heard on radio. And I think that was my initial foray-- When I look back on it, that was me, curating music at a very early age. Because I wanted to share-- It was selfish to an extent. But I also wanted to say, "Check this tune out. Like this is heavy." So that then led me to travel into London on the weekends. Going to record shops in Soho, Kensington, and just looking for things that I could pick up.
R+R - What about you... where did the bug come from?
DJ Soul Provyder - It came from a club that I used to go to on Friday afternoon called 'Crackers' in Wardour Street. I was 14. And we used to [bunk off] every afternoon from school. And the first time I went there it was just another world.The kind of music, the Jazz Funk, Fusion, Soul music, that we were listening to, you had to go to the clubs to hear it. Per week on the radio, you only had two radio shows which was Greg Edwards on Capital Radio & Robbie Vincent on Radio London that played soul music at that time and that was it. So I remember going and the dancers were so amazing that I wouldn't even dare step on the dance floor. But then I would go home, and practice the moves in the mirror [laughter], and then go to my local youth club at the time, and then drop the moves there. So that developed into me wanting to be a dancer. And then with a couple of friends, we formed a dance group called Silk Kut. Then we used to workout our routines at Pineapple and Dance works. So the music caught me then. The whole Soul, Jazz, Funk fusion. And from them on it was a Jazz scene that developed by a guy called [Paul Murphy]. And all the Jazz dancers would come down and just do incredible stuff. So I got into that as well. And then skipping on a few years, I got into collecting records myself. And, really, I wanted to be a DJ for a long time, but didn't have the confidence or the guts to do it [laughter].
R+R - So how did you develop up the courage to do it?
DJ Soul Provyder - We started running some nights - I was into live music. And we started putting it on at night - myself and a friend. Basically, we started playing at parties on a Saturday night. And even if we weren't due to play, we'd come down and go to a party that we were invited to. And if the music wasn't happening, we'd just like...
R+R - Takeover?
DJ Soul Provyder - Yeah, basically. If you can rock the party, then everyone will be on it. From then we formed a live band. My mate was a dancer and percussion player. And then I became the DJ for the band that used to play. So I played before and after the band. We'd run a live jam session as well. I think I started deejaying secretly. And then I used to watch some amazing musicians and I loved Jazz, and I would've loved to have been a Jazz musician I never learned an instrument. So, for me, being able to deejay, was my way
R+R - The next best thing.
DJ Soul Provyder - Not just the next best thing. It became my instrument. It became my creative channel. Because I didn't have the dedication or the focus to learn an instrument. I still approach deejaying from that standpoint of: (i) trying to play a really good set, and (ii) improvising - having something worked out but not just going with the flow on the night.
R+R - You get a feel for the crowd and see how they respond to you.
DJ Soul Provyder - Yeah.
R+R - Talk me through the event you guys did in Ghana - the festival you played at.
Kengo - So that's through [TRoy - from Broadside] who basically brought us in. Because-- Yeah why did he bring us in?
Ian - He is part of the promotion. And they've been playing out there. And he wanted to bring people over to the festival. And we went a couple years ago for the first time, and loved it. We were blown away. And we went again this year, and it's grown. It's got bigger and better and more organised. It's on the beach. They have a night where they go into the jungle, and they have the main night in the jungle until 6 o' clock in the morning. In a cut away space
R+R - In the jungle?
DJ Soul Provyder [laughter] Yeah man.
R+R - Sounds amazing ...
DJ Soul Provyder - It is incredible.
R+R - Do you find that you are on the cusp of breaking through into more bookings.
Kengo - I don't really believe in cusps, having done it for so long. I just think it's just a very gradual, two steps forward, one step back or whatever it is.We just have to keep on knocking it out until you achieve a place of comfort. Even last year I was looking back at the things we did, and I thought,shit we've worked with a lot of people.Boddhi Satva, Osunlade and the likes. In fact, I've already worked with all my heroes. which is great! I am ever so grateful for this.
R+R - That's amazing you can say that so early on - people spend years without being able to say this.
Kengo - The thing that I realize now, is that people really value and respect your passion for what you do.
And I think that when they can see that you're into the music that you play - whatever it is - and that you're really feeling it and you're passionate to share it with somebody, you can't help but respect that, and love it as well. Whereas when you start hearing people just playing - they're pandering to the crowd
where they're catering for their crowd. For me, I go, "Okay, you're doing your thing, but it's not going to interest me". I want to go to a night, and not know anything.
DJ Soul Provyder - And that was one of the reasons why we started putting on the nights. I've had enough of going to see big name DJs that I love their productions, I love their tracks, and then being disappointed at the show. Because it's like you haven't excited me, you haven't taken me anywhere, you haven't played anything I don't know. I want to be educated. I want to hear stuff that I've never heard.
Kengo - So going back to your question about, "Do you feel that you're educating the crowds?". First and foremost, I just want them to enjoy it. But if there's something they haven't heard, and they want to know it. I've seen people [shazaming] a lot of the stuff that I play.
R+R - Yeah people do that a lot (Shazaming) ...
Kengo - Also, asking me, but it's fair enough because it's also what I do as well. And I go up to a DJ and say, "Yo what is that track?" And a lot of the time it's unreleased stuff I've never heard. And I'm like - yes mate!
R+R - What do you want people to take away from your gigs?
Kengo - Yeah. Once of the things that I always tell myself - like a friend of mine said - I want to play a set that people might not have expected but still enjoy. I think that's one of the important things for me
DJ Soul Provyder - Yeah, I would say that. And also, I don't want to see any bums on the seats. I want to see people dancing. And, for me, if I've got the dance floor going, I'm doing my job, and people are relating to what I'm playing. Because it's a connection.
R+R - Yeah, absolutely [crosstalk]--
Ian - It's about connecting with who you're playing to. I want to try and read what's working, as well - and not working. I don't want to just go there, [hit it down], and just play my set that I love, and hope that I will connect with them. Then hopefully we're all on the same journey. And if I come out tired, hot, and sweaty.
R+R - That is quit interesting - having dancers at the event. There aren't that many places that have events catering to dancers. places that go to that are going to get that?
Kengo - It's funny you should say that because people who were in it in the late 80s, 90s say, "This reminds me of the parties that I used to go to back then". And [Arthur Miller] - from Detroit - who set up the music institute said, "This is as close as you get to the music institute". He called it The Original Black Dance Experience. Which you basically have a 24-hour music licence - no alcohol policy. And it was just about getting [down]. And that was like, "Wow". We didn't even think about it like that. It was just the vibe. Because it was just about the connection with the music that we wanted to create.
R+R - Listening to you guys and your concept of having a good time is so refreshing - because 99% of the events that you go to in London (at least), people don't necessarily go for the music specifically. Most people idea of having a good time out is getting highly intoxicated.
DJ Soul Provyder - No, not at all. I think you're very much on the point. What I see with the see with the younger generation now, it doesn't matter what's playing [laughter], they're just going out to go out. Doesn't matter who's playing, they'll get [crosstalk]. And that's their way of having a good time. Whereas what we're aiming to do is bring the music heads together - the dancers, the people who are into the sound, and if they want to do as well, that's great. But they're there, first and foremost, for the music.
R+R - I want to talk about the community - the DJ community in particular. What sort of obstacles have you guys faced in putting [Four to the Floor] together? Do you find that there's a sense of camaraderie?
Kengo - People from outside London have commented, "Wow, big props to you for surviving one of the most fiercely competitive cities in the world" - in terms of putting on events. There's so much choice. It's such hard work to convince people to come out to a night out - because they've got so many choices. Why would they come to yours? So there's that sense of competition-- In terms of other people in scene, we collaborate often, they introduce us to venues, they make suggestions. What are we wanting to hear, because "I can intro you to this guy..." So that's all amazing. And [[Ian], because he's been around for so long, he knows pretty much everyone in the London circuit for our kind of music. And me and Josie have also the younger promoters as well - network. Which is a slightly different generation, which works great because then we get to tap into the whole variety of what London has to offer.
DJ Soul Provyder - Well, I think we're into not just pushing our own nights, but collaborating with other people. So our ethos is very open anyways. So we're not coming from a competitive angle. So the people we're dealing with, also, are open. And also a lot of people in the music scene that we're dealing with - essentially Afro, Latin, Soul, Jazz, Disco, House and Electronica - are into pushing the whole scene together. For me, the flyer pack that I distribute, helps bring that scene together. So it gives people a choice. So rather than little niche nights going on, people have got a choice to go here or go there. Or they know this is happening or that. And they know all the DJs on the scene. And promoters know each other. And there's a lot of interaction and conversations going on between everyone. And it's nice. And I always refer to everyone on the scene as my music family. Because it feels like that.
R+R - If you had to play with anyone - Have anyone share your decks with you, dead or alive, who would it be?
Kengo - Okay [laughter].
Kengo - Gosh, I would love to book Jimmy Hendricks [laughter]. We book bands. Jimmy Hendricks, for me, and Prince.
R+R - Jimmy Hendricks and Prince [laughter].
DJ Soul Provyder - I want to go into creating more live events for me that is a direction I want to go in.