One of the greatest things in life is when you can interview one of your on-line friends as they live out their dreams. Shout out to my man Denny “DJ Soulchild” Sutton who blessed my platform with an interview.
Reviews & Dunn – First and foremost, congrats on starting your label. While I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you in person, our online kinship feels like I’ve known twenty-plus years. What was the inspiration behind starting your label?
DJ SOULCHILD: Thank you so much! Yes, you’ve been an awesome supporter for quite some years now and I truly value your friendship! I’ve actually always wanted to start my own label, but timing is everything and it just never made sense until now. But now that I’ve released my debut single “#WWGD”, put myself in the forefront and plan on releasing a lot more of my own music in the near future, I felt it was finally time. Because when you release music independently via a digital distributor and aren’t signed or connected to a label, it’ll automatically read the name of the distribution company beneath the release. And I didn’t want that, it seemed to amateur-ish. I wanted this single to be entirely by me, released through my own imprint and mark the beginning of an exciting new chapter.
Reviews & Dunn – Was it hard to come up with a label name?
DJ SOULCHILD: – Not at all, it actually came to me out of nowhere during lockdown. All the clubs and bars had shut down and I suddenly had all this extra time on my hands. So I decided to make the most of it and focus on what I truly love and didn’t have enough time for prior. I was producing so many official and unofficial remixes, whilst at the same time plotting and designing my own clothing line, which I still would like to launch this year. The name of my label “Humble Savage” was originally intended for my clothing line. I just wanted something that described me perfectly as a person and also sounded dope. I’m a very down-to-earth and humble guy, but when it comes to my music and art, I want to kill and go for the jugular. And within seconds, “Humble Savage” sprung to mind! And as soon as I uttered the words, I could instantly see the logo in front of my eyes – a majestic lion with a halo. It fell into place so quickly and naturally! I love the fact that the name contains two polar opposite words, yet still makes perfect sense. I’ll probably end up using the name for both my label and clothing line now. It just feels really good.
Reviews & Dunn – What can you tell us about your new single #WWGD featuring Sydir and Barry Antoine?
DJ SOULCHILD: – Well, I thought it was really important for my first release to represent me to the fullest and embody everything that I am and currently love in music. As you already know, I’m an R&B junkie and I’ve faithfully catered to that audience for over 13 years. But I don’t just listen to R&B all day, I also love quality Rap music, Future Funk, Disco and Afro beat. Anything that’s up-tempo, funky, vibrant, positive and has soul, emotion and relatability. I love feel-good music and there’s not much of that out there anymore these days. Everything is so downtempo, midtempo, dark, slurry and damn-near depressing. So I decided to be the remedy and put something together that fuses all of these elements that I personally love and look for in music. As for the artists on the track – I randomly met Sydir in a Facebook comment section, I was having a petty moment and corrected his spelling of Teyana Taylor’s name, haha! Thankfully, he took it with humor, which turned into friendly banter, private messages and finding out he’s actually a really dope artist, an amazing human being and that we also had a lot in common on a personal level. Right there and then I knew I wanted to work with this guy. So I sent him the instrumental, he loved it and had the song written and recorded within just a few weeks. He and I were going through a similar relationship situation at the time and that’s what the song is about and what made it all come together so perfectly. But I wanted a real R&B vocalist on the hook for extra color in the song, so he brought in Barry Antoine, who is absolutely amazing. Et voilà – here you have it, a groovy, soulful, relatable, eclectic gumbo of a track! I think quite a few of my core R&B fans are slightly confused, because you can’t box it into one genre…hahaha! But those who are open-minded, really seem to love it. And before my mother passed last September, she said it was the best thing I had done to date. And that’s all the validation I need!
Reviews & Dunn – In addition to working with Sydir and Barry Antoine, you have collaborated with underrated MC Nutta Butta and DJ’ed numerous after-parties for celebs such as Chris Brown. Which celebrity meeting would you say was the one where you FELT “I made it”
DJ SOULCHILD: – To be honest, meeting a celebrity has never equated to me feeling like “I’ve made it”, because that’s not an achievement to me, per se. But I do feel like I’ve been put in these situations for a reason, because it’s my calling and birds of a feather flock together. And I feel like I deserve to be there, because I work hard for these opportunities. And even though I’ve done some cool stuff that I’m proud of and have received recognition for by some of the biggest platforms and most legendary artists, I definitely don’t feel like I’ve made it. Until I have a record or remix that becomes a certified hit with hundreds of thousands of streams and a gold or platinum plaque hanging on my studio wall, I know I still have work to do and that keeps me grounded and focused. I feel like I’m improving my production skills with every release and spreading my wings more and more creatively. So I’m enjoying this new journey of self-discovery and seeing where it takes me. But I’ll never neglect my R&B following, that’s for sure. A certain memory of meeting a celebrity does come to mind though – I went to B.B.Kings in New York back in 2015 with Keith Murray and DJ Gumba, it was an epic Def Squad concert. Backstage, Gumba introduces me to Erick Sermon, who was surrounded by people trying to get his attention. Erick turns around, looks at me and says: “Soulchild? Yeah, I know who you are.” I thought to myself: “What? How?!” That was pretty surreal to me, due to the fact that we had never met or spoken before. But somehow he must’ve come across my work. And since then, Erick and I link up whenever he’s in Switzerland. Imagine telling teenage me that this was gonna happen one day, I would’ve called you crazy!
Reviews & Dunn – As a former DJ, I know how annoying it is when folks make requests. Throughout the years, what’s the oddest song request someone has ever made?
DJ SOULCHILD: – Hmmm. Good question. There have been quite a few ridiculous requests, as you can imagine. Especially when I’ve DJ’d at weddings. But there’s this one incident that always sticks with me – back in 2009 I held this really successful monthly R&B party called “Urban Lounge” at a swanky club in Basel called Bar Rouge, which was on the top floor of a 30-story hotel and overlooked the whole city. Whilst playing classic Neo Soul and 90’s R&B, this middle-aged, hippy-looking woman tip-toes up to me and says: “Uhm, excuse me. Can you perhaps play…I don’t know…something more pleasant?” With a scrunched up look on my face, I asked: “Like what?” She responds with: “You know…something I can Foxtrot to” and starts gyrating her hips in a stanky leg type position. Not only did the heinous request itself make me break out in laughter, but the fact that she did a Rock-n-Roll twist to a Foxtrot request, made it even funnier!
Reviews & Dunn – I’m a big fan of your remixes, so I must ask, will we ever get to hear your remix of New Edition’s “Hit Me Off”?
DJ SOULCHILD: – You’re not gonna let that one rest, are you? Hahaha! I never actually produced a remix of “Hit Me Off”, I only had an idea in mind. And I never pursued the idea, because to me, that’s a perfect 90’s R&B record, one of my absolute favorites. It’s already a huge classic and I honestly don’t think I could ever bring anything to the table to make it better than it already is. Even the official remixes on the CD single didn’t really get much love, even though the Trackmasters did an awesome job with their version. Some songs are better left untouched and “Hit Me Off” is definitely one of them. The original is just too legendary, in my opinion.
Reviews & Dunn – Speaking on NE, you have a time machine and travel back to Switzerland in 1989 with all of the knowledge and skills you have now. Bobby Brown is a fan of your work and wants you to do a posse-style remix cut of “I’ll Be Good To You.” Bob gives you an unlimited budget, so which five MCs are you contacting?
DJ SOULCHILD: – Oh, wow! That’s quite a dope scenario! I guess it’d have to be all of the charismatic, smooth Casanova, funky, New Jack-friendly rappers. So I’d most likely go with Heavy D, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Chubb Rock and Rob Base. Bobby, if you’re reading this, what’s good? Call me! Haha!
Reviews & Dunn – What advice can you offer to aspiring remixers?
DJ SOULCHILD: – Stop trying to sound like everyone else to fit in and just produce what YOU personally love and what feels good to your soul. When music comes directly from the heart, it just hits way different. Your favorite producer already exists, so don’t aspire to be a cheap carbon copy. Gather all your inspirations, mix it up, add your own signature flavor, make it your own and become someone else’s favorite producer. And always remain a student of what came long before you, because that level of musicianship is seldom seen these days anymore. But you can learn a hell of a lot by studying the OG’s. You don’t have to be able to read sheet music to be a great producer/remixer, but you definitely should develop an ear for chords and harmonies in order to understand music as a whole. It’s a very underrated, yet important skill set. Otherwise your remixes are quite frankly going to sound like crap. And as a last piece of advice, I always say “remix with a purpose”. What’s the goal? What are you trying to improve about the song? If you’re not adding any value to a track in terms of its dance ability or customizing it for a different target audience, you’re wasting your time.
Reviews & Dunn – In addition to being a remixer, label CEO, former singing group member, and Transformers superfan, you also curate R&B playlists. How hard is it to narrow your choices for “Real R&B Ain’t Dead”?
DJ SOULCHILD: – Well, the selection process isn’t the hard part. If I truly like a song, it goes on the playlist. Simple. But four key elements of a song really have to move me – the groove, the chords, the vocal performance and the melody. I usually know within 20 seconds whether or not I like a song. If it doesn’t catch me by then, it’s a wrap. The more tedious part is going through all the new music gets released every week. I follow over 1’500 artists on Spotify, so the output can be quite overwhelming and fatiguing sometimes. It usually takes me a few hours to get through it all. No-one pays me to do this, I do it strictly for the love of exposing dope new music to my followers. And when people tell me that they’ve fallen in love with a new artist through my playlists, then my job is done.
Reviews & Dunn – Is there anything you want to add, and where can fans find you on social media?
DJ SOULCHILD: – Yes! Just know that I’m at my absolute busiest right now, I have a whole bunch of official remixes dropping this Spring and I’m also producing on a few albums. And I’m already preparing my next single, but I’m afraid you’re just going to have to wait and see who’s on that one. I also want to empty my archives and put together a compilation of previously unreleased remixes by the end of the year, so definitely look out for that. I plan to tour the UK later this year too, as I have multiple offers on the table. But I have to carve out the necessary time and right now I need to buckle down and focus on studio work. In the meantime, don’t forget to go and stream my debut single #WWGD and let me know what you think!
You can connect with me on Facebook at @therealdjsoulchild, on Instagram at @djsoulchild and TikTok at @therealdjsoulchild. I’m quite new to TikTok, I resisted for years until my best friend recently convinced me to hop on there, so my follower count is still pretty low. But let’s change that! And for everything else, please visit my official website www.therealdjsoulchild.com.