Bringing it back to Europe with one of the well respected souldiers on the EU circuit. Jens' name is regularly seen on the DJ line-up's for some of the best European Soul Weekenders and events for good reason. His name was dropped several times when I asked other collectors who they would like to see featured on the site. By no means is this soulful Swede restricting himself to only the sweeter side of soul, although he can hold up with the best of us. His Mixcloud is a regular go-to for me and I always enjoy his selections whatever direction himself or his features decide to take it. Happy he took some time out to answer some questions and tell us a bit more about his passion for soul music, especially the slow 'n low kind, and record collecting. Hit the stream for some matching tunes and read on...
I am part of the Family Circle soul collective here in Stockholm and co-organizer of the Stockholm Soul Weekender that has been running since 2012. Sadly it’s cancelled this year for obvious reasons. Music policy is across the board, 60’s to 80’s. The daytime sessions are all about the sweet and deep soul. I have a few mixes up on Mixcloud. My first all sweet soul mix is Soulful Oldies from eight years ago.
Tell us how you got started with collecting soul records. Where did it all start?
Long story, from the beginning... Unlike many on the soul scene I have never been a Mod. My father had a good collection with lots of Blue Note jazz and soul. His biggest favorite though was Van Morrison and i still have all of his albums that i borrowed back then. In my early teens (mid 80s) I listened to “alternative” stuff like Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü, Jesus & Mary Chain etc. In that context I was introduced to Beastie Boys when they released "She’s On It" and later "Licensed to Ill". I loved it and went on to buy everything else on Def Jam, and then all in with hip hop for a decade.
Like many others, I followed the samples and started chasing soul and funk records too. Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly", Marvin Gsye's "What’s Going On", Al Green’s "Belle", Isaac Hayes' "Hot Buttered Soul" were among the first soul records I bought late 80’s.
In the mid 90’s I found Northern Soul magazine Manifesto in a record shop. I read a few issues, with the DJ playlists, label scans, top 10’s etc. and I was fascinated to find that there were thousands of artists and records I had never heard of. I started buying Northern Soul from Soul Bowl, Manship and Crazy Beat. Gary and Gareth at Crazy Beat introduced me to a lot of great (to me) unknown soul music when they played records for me over the phone. “If you like this [insert northern classic] you should like this. Not a stomper, but just as good!”.
My first DJ gig was at a bar in Stockholm together with a friend in 1998. I started going to events in the UK around that time. Lots more local soul nights and clubs followed. Started doing the Family Circle parties in 2011 with Carl Hedberg. First Stockholm Soul Weekender in 2012 as mentioned.
I always enjoyed the ballads and slow and mid-tempo sounds, but in the last 6-7 years I have been buying more and more group harmony and deep soul. The US collectors are a big inspiration. At the Stockholm Weekender the daytime sessions are very carefully programmed and dedicated exclusively to the slow stuff and we invite different dj’s for nighttime and daytime spots. The day sessions are just as important as the nights.
What the first record you ever bought?
It was a Depeche Mode record, their 3rd I think when I was 10-11. That one is long gone.
Haha! What’s that one soul track that hits you straight in the heart and moves you deeply?
I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one. There are so many candidates. Could be Impressions “I’m So Proud” and Originals “Baby I’m For Real” because they are beautiful and convey a strong emotion.
Tell us a bit about the collection. How many records do you own and any method in keeping it organised?
Not a massive collection, but it’s all meat, no fat! About 2000 7s and 2000 lp and 12s. Picture is of my “extended play box” about 1200 7’s. Not organized, total chaos!
Any records are you done with, and can never put on again? Played to death?
Some records need to be in the freezer for a few years, like "It's So Hard To Break A Habit" by The Webs. But i wouldn’t say never again.
Is there a record you have been trying to find for years that you still haven’t found? What’s your biggest want?
Districts "Like Clouds/One Lover" (I say this one because it’s already on everyone’s wants list!)
One of my all-time faves! Tell us something about how you source your records? Any feelings towards diggin' in the field or searching online?
Favorite place to buy records is a record bar at a soul do. Drinking beer, talking to friends and browsing through the boxes at the same time. I go to local record shops in Stockholm as often as I can find the time. There are quite a few good ones. Internet is always there of course, making it possible to look for records almost 24/7, and I do. I don’t have any feelings towards either. If I think a tune is a solid 10/10, I want to find it. In the wild or online doesn’t matter.
Collecting deep and sweet soul records has become quite popular globally over the last years while before it was limited to certain regions or subcultures. How do you feel about that? What do you think about the state of the scene?
In Sweden or Europe, I’m not sure there’s really a scene? At least not here. If we put on a sweet soul dayer in Stockholm at best some 15-20 of friends would show up, probably. Not like the sweet soul/oldies scene in the US West Coast. But it’s nice that this kind of records are now getting more appreciation.
Share a cool story about anything related to your record collecting. Something that happened while looking for records or deejay’ing. An artist you met. A special moment. Can be anything…
A few years ago I was invited to dj at the mighty Bilbao Soul Weekender by Alex Subinas and Aitor Alma. Big hero Prince Phillip Mitchell performed live at the event. The concert was one of the best I have ever attended. He was in great form and performed his best songs inc. "Little Things That Count", "One on One", "I’m So Happy" and many more. After the concert there was an allnighter and I was on last at 5-6 in the morning. As I was playing Phillip Mitchell himself suddenly showed up at the venue. He first went to the bar and stood there chatting for a while. Then he started walking towards me across the dance floor, looking very targeted. I got really nervous because I thought he would request something, maybe that I play one of his records and I didn’t have any in the box. But he came up to the decks, didn’t say anything, big smile, and held up his hand for a high five. Possibly best ever dj'ing experience!!
That's awesome! Before we call it a day. What are top 10 records you keep in high rotation nowadays?
City Lights "Hold My Hand" on Surrend
Paul Ortiz "Tender Love" on Ghetto
Price Exchange "Good Love Gone Bad" on Smash
Jackie Opel "Every Word I Say Is True" on WIRL
Billy & Hi-Liners "Lonely World" on AirPlay
Brad Lundy "I Want to Share" on Lundy
Ebony Expressions "Farewell My Love" on Owl
Appreciations "No No No" on Aware
Chocolate Sunday "Second Story Man" on Dynamic
Lyde, Fisher & Giles "I’ll Always Love You" on HAB
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