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Perempay & Dee feat Shola Ama interview

26th October sees the release of UK Funky producers Perempay and Dee club-banger 'DJ Play' which features the distinct vocals of multi-platinum selling, two-time Brit Award winning R&B songstress Shola Ama. Marvin Sparks caught up with all 3 to discuss moving from grime to UK funky, their split opinion on MC's making UK funky, whilst Shola tells us where she has been and describes the change in the music industry.

Marvin Sparks: Who are Perempay and Dee and how did you unite?

Perempay: Perempay and Dee are a duo of producers. I met DaVinche [Dee] a long time ago being friends and been around the studio, and we came together to make some tunes.

Marvin Sparks: You were both in the grime scene but under different names; Bossman [Perempay] and DaVinche [Dee]. Why did you both change your names?

Perempay: Different music, different time.

Dee: We’re doing something new in a new genre with new people, without having the old stigma/things attached to it.

Perempay: It’s about not confusing them as well. If you put Bossman on a flyer, people are expecting grime but Perempay you know is house. No confusion

Marvin Sparks: What roles would you say you both play individually within the duo?

Perempay: There aren’t any roles. One day he’ll jump on the beats first, one day I will. Just depends on who gets the vibe first.

Dee: Definitely a 50/50. We just work together.

Marvin Sparks: Was there a particular reason why you both moved from grime to funky?

Dee: I haven’t actually moved from grime, I’m still very much DaVinche and doing grime stuff, a lot of R&B and hip hop stuff. Perempay?

Perempay: I just wanted to do something different. Found a new love. Started listening to house, then wanted to make it. That’s the reason why.

Dee: I remember jumping in his car certain times and he’d be playing a house tune, really early before everyone started listening to it. I would say ‘Fam, we could make this you know. [Laughs] Listen to that melody, we could do our own,’ so it was pretty natural. When you love something and hear what you can bring to it... it’s not always about being able to just do it, you have to know what you can bring to it and we felt we can bring to it from what we do.

Marvin Sparks: And what do you feel you bring to it?

Dee: Songs and UK stuff. People hadn’t started putting UK songs to it and putting actual bass lines and stuff on the music when we started doing it. Now everyone’s doing it, and it’s doing well, but we started doing it early on.

Marvin Sparks: Your new single features Shola Ama. How and why did you get involved on this song?

Shola Ama: These two [Perempay and Dee] were making tracks, they had done Something In The Air [featuring Katie Pearl] and some other songs featuring other singers. They were throwing names of names about of who they‘d like to get involved and my name came up. Me and Dee had mentioned we were going to work together from before when he was doing stuff with Sadie [Ama]. I got the call to go and vibe in the studio and jammed.

For those who have been wondering where Shola Ama has been since we last heard from you, what have you been up to?

Shola: A lot, I’ve been up to a lot. After my second album which didn’t do so well here, I had a lot of success in France, so I spent a lot of time touring in France. I did a two-and-a-half month stadium tour across France. I signed a deal with a Japanese label which was to make an album; I also made an agreement with a French label and was putting out music over there. I was still working heavily in France and working with French artists ‘cos it’s a big market for me over there.

After that, my 3rd album over there, I just took a break from music really. Just living, motherhood and all of that kind of stuff really. I was still making music but I didn’t actually sit down and focus on an album project as such. I was writing with my sister Sadie - I’m always writing stuff - done a couple tracks with Terror Danjah and bits and bobs. Only really in the last year and a half that I’ve said ‘Right, time for an album’.

Is there a particular reason why you have chosen now to come back?

Shola: ‘Cos I love it and it’s what I do. After doing it from the age of whatever, then professionally from 15, for me to turn around 15 years later after doing something and saying ’Ok, I’m going to do something else now, that’s not my job anymore’ is just crazy. This is what I love doing.

I think something changed in me. After all the madness of the success of the first album, it got to the point where the love for it kinda died and it just became really, really, really hard work and a bit of a strain. A lot went on for me, but then I found that love again through working with young people - that love, passion and hunger kind of reignited. I started to love it again. Being on stage and everything that goes with it, I just started to enjoy.

Working with my sister introduced me to a different side of it; different world, different people and a younger scene. My experience’s are of value here. I started doing mentoring, teaching and working with young people and helping them to song write and it reminded me that I do this for a reason, and I should get back into music.

Marvin Sparks: How would you say the scene’s changed now?

Shola: It’s a different industry now. It’s a completely different industry now. Artists are more self-sufficient and people are a lot more people have got their stuff together now because they have to. Back when I was doing it, I was selling a whole load of records, because the whole downloading thing wasn’t about, video budgets were huge and it was just a completely different world. Whereas now, people do everything themselves, everything's online and it’s just a different industry so I’ve had to re-educate myself. The only way to learn in this business is action. You can read about stuff, hear about it, but until you actually do it, you don’t actually know.

Marvin Sparks: Aside from your sister Sadie Ama who you obviously rate, which other females are you feeling in the UK urban scene?

Shola: I love Miss Dynamite; always loved Naomi and what she does. Amy Winehouse is one of my favourite singers. Kele Le Roc is an amazing singer.

Marvin Sparks: Any up-and-coming ones?

Shola Ama: Do you know who I really rate at the moment? Princess Nyah. I really like, not just what she’s doing musically, but she’s got her whole business game down and very hard-working so I really respect that. She’s got a clothing line etc. There’s a few people, there’s a lot of talented young people out there. I like Egypt [who sings] In The Morning.

Marvin Sparks: Perempay and Dee, who would you most like to collaborate with?

Perempay: Don’t know. For us it’s not necessarily about artists [people] actually know, but the ones who aren’t you so-called household names. It’s about finding new singers. For example, our new tune Addictive features Cleo Soul. A few people may know her from DaVinche’s first single with Bashy [Riding For Love].

Marvin Sparks: She was on Tears by Tinie Tempah too.

Dee: Yeah she was on that too.

Marvin Sparks: You two produce more soulful sounding UK Funky, but that hasn’t really taken off mainstream chart-wise like the skanks have. Why do you think that is?

Dee: We aren’t the first people to make that genre and it’s never really been a mainstream genre. I don’t think that’s what it’s about. I think it’s a genre with songs made like, they’ve always been kind of soulful, deep... self-indulgent songs I call them. They are about how you feel emotionally and the world and that. It’s more like neo-soul music - Jill Scott and them kind of artists - so it wasn’t supposed to be mainstream.

Marvin Sparks: Would either of you consider working with any MC’s? What are your opinions on MC’s on UK funky?

Perempay: What‘s your opinion on them? [Looks at Dee and laughs]

Dee: Ok, we have different opinions on this. I’m cool with it, I don’t mind it, but I come from a background of so many different genres. I like mixing and matching things that aren’t supposed to fit. What’s your opinion on it? [Looks at Perempay]

Perempay: Whereas me, I’m happy for everyone doing their thing, but me personally, I don’t really play that sort of stuff.

Dee: He is a house DJ, and being a DJ you have to have passion for the music. DJ’s have a passion for a scene. As artists and producers we have passions for music, but DJ’s have a passion for the scene. He comes from keeping the music strong for what it has been known for and the house scene has never had that MC’ing stuff so it doesn’t really sit well with someone who wants to keep the music real. Did that make sense?

[Everyone in the room replies yes]

Dee: The soulful stuff is what got me into the music. I’ve been through the whole MC stuff back in the day and I used to love that, but I don’t know, I’ve kind of moved on a bit.

Marvin Sparks: Is this single from an album?

Perempay: No

Marvin Sparks: Are there any plans for an album with the same concept of you producing and featured vocalists?

Dee: We talk about it, but at the moment we are just making the singles and we’ll see if an album follows.

Marvin Sparks: What are the aims for your singles? Chart-wise the funky scene hasn’t really taken off like that so is it about compilation licensing, PA’s and radio airplay?

Dee: We just like making music. When we give it to people they like playing it, so we are just going to carry on doing that. If chart success happens then big up, great, thank you. If it doesn’t, I’ll still enjoy making music knowing people went out at night and enjoyed it.

Perempay: That’s the main thing about making people hear our music. We have a vibe in the studio, it’s about people hearing that vibes when the tune is on the radio, in a club or in their car on a CD.

Marvin Sparks: So what can we expect from you in 2010?

Perempay: More vibes.

Dee: More music.

Shola: [Laughs]And an album by the same title

Marvin Sparks: And how about you Shola?

I’m working on my fourth album at the moment. I’ve got a song called ‘Blow’ with Giggs and a song with Wretch 32. My albums going to be dropping in the New Year, and I’ve got a couple of other projects in the pipeline with my sister. I just want to do what I love again - more touring as well. For me it’s like, what goes on here is great as well but there are other territories I want to take it to and go and do tours and go back to the wonderful territories that have been good to me before and let them hear new stuff.

Words by Marvin Sparks [ @marvinsparks]

DJ Play is available to purchase from 26th October


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