I'm really happy Josh took some time out to answer a few questions for us. I guess most of you are already familiar with this amazing collector, deejay and purveyor of Philly soul. His Youtube channel and Instagram accounts, both his personal and @virtuerecordingstudios - showcasing records mastered/recorded at the famous Virtue Recording Studios - are marvelous and a must follow if rare soul is your thing. Acetate with rough mixes of Barbara Mason's "Are You Ready", "It's All In The Game" and "Trouble Child" anyone? Let's chat...
Hello, my name and claim to fame is...
Josh Kwedar aka Froz1. I'm a DJ, collector and writer representing the sounds of Philadelphia. When I’m not seeking out local area wants, I’m researching and writing about musicians from the Philadelphia area and contributing to reissue projects by way of liner notes or audio rips. Among mixes I’ve released, I’m most proud of “We Got Love: Philadelphia Soul”, a sweet soul ballad mix highlighting lesser known cuts from southeastern Pennsylvania. It took me several years to get to the point where I was happy with the track selection. I’m going through the same process with Vol. 2 now.
Tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was a Hip Hop kid growing up. My neighbors older brother was a DJ and was a huge influence in terms of exposure to different genres of music at a young age, including soul. I have vivid memories of sitting on his bedroom floor listening to UK Jungle records at around 8 years old. I started collecting Jazz, Soul, Funk and HipHop records as a young teen, got my first pair of turntables (one of those Numark starter kits with purple turntables) and never really stopped DJing/collecting since then. I had always passively collected Philadelphia area music just by virtue of it popping up at local record stores, fleas, etc, but started to really focus on it in earnest in the mid/late 2000s.
What's the first record you ever bought?
I feel like everyone remembers the first record they bought, but I honestly can’t recall what it was! I can say that finding a copy of Snoop Dogg’s "Doggystyle" in a Toys R Us parking lot as a kid was a pivotal moment in my life. Shout to my Mom for letting me keep it.
Your mom rocks! If you could pick one song out of the soul catalog that really moves you deeply which one would that be?
It’s hard to pick just one! One that brings me close to breaking out in tears no matter how many times I’ve heard it is Brothers Of Soul "The Love I Found In You".
Extra kudos for that one, that's a crusher! What also crushes is your record collection. Do you know how many you own and do you have a special system to keep the collection organized?
It’s been awhile since I bothered to count everything. I’d estimate 3000 LPs and 3000 45s. Loosely organized by genre, but I still find myself in situations where I’m tearing every box a part in search of one record.
Is there a record you are done with and can never put on again? Played to death?
I’ve found that once I get to the point where I’m “done” with a record, it really means that I just need to give it a break. Years later the song might hit you differently or take on an entirely different meaning.
What's on your wants list Josh?
If I name names, it will end up on everyone's wants list! There are quite a few big Philly area records that I am still after, but I’ll leave it at that.
Smart man :) Where do you source your records from nowadays? Do you still go out diggin' in the field or mainly online?
The state of the game in 2020 requires that you do it all. If you don’t, you’re going to miss something. Personally, I find myself searching and buying more online nowadays as I don’t have time to get out and dig like I used to.
Deep and sweet soul sounds have become hugely popular over the last years while before it was limited to certain regions or subcultures. How do you feel about that?
I love seeing folks getting excited about and championing deep and sweet soul records. The US west coast scene is clearly at the forefront and is something that us east coast guys marvel at. I don’t need to tell your readers that this music is timeless, passionate, and real. When it’s all said and done, that's all I want out of a song of any genre, something relatable or sincere. The genre will only continue to gain fans, not lose them.
Can you share a story related to your record collecting? A special moment?
This story is from 2006, but it remains one of my favorites over the years. The summer in between Sophomore/Junior year of undergrad at Temple University, me and three friends rented a house about 4 blocks off of campus in North Philly. We decided to throw a party to ring in the new semester which resulted in your usual drunken shenanigans, loud music, cops arriving to bust up the party, etc. I'm the first person up the next day, and I get right to picking up the beer cans littering our backyard/parking area. I'm running on about 2 hours of sleep and am definitely feeling the effects of last nights debauchery. As I reach down to pick up a half empty beer can, likely of the off brand, light variety, I hear a voice yell "hey you! you wanna buy some reckids!?". I write it off as my brain misfiring, and continue to pick up cans. Again, "Hey you! Interested in these reckids!?". At the end of the drive way, a man is standing next to a shopping cart filled with 45s. I respond with a light, "Yeah..?? Yeah, I'm interested???". He introduces himself as "Oz Picasso", one of the better fake monikers I've encountered, and I invite him in. I start going through the stacks. Some of the 45s are sleeveless, and in pretty rough shape, but most of them are in makeshift paper sleeves (no hole in the middle) and are in great shape. The words "THE DEMON OF SOUL" are written on every single one of them. Oz tells me that he, in fact, is THE DEMON OF SOUL, and these are his records. It's an instant collection of classics, nothing too rare or mind blowing. "It's My thing", "Razor Blade", " I Know You Got Soul" all in great shape. I ended up snagging about 100 or so 45s, gave the dude $20 and the last 6 beers in the fridge.
Bless him. To wrap up our Q&A. What are your top 10 plays at the moment?
TNJs "She’s Not Ready"
Leroy Smith "I’m So Lonely"
Los Magneticos "Lovin’ You"
Aswads "I’m So Proud"
Mike James Kirkland "Together"
New Xperience "Chance With You"
The Inclinations "Cross My Heart"
The Crusaders "You Pay For Love"
Toni & The Harts "Never Change Our Love"
Mitzi Ross "I’ll Do More For You Baby"
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