Soul Clap pay their respects to a true genius...

Larry Levan remains a much-mythologised figure within dance culture for one main reason: he was exceptionally good at what he did.

Closely tied to New York's seminal Paradise Garage club, the selector practically pioneered the art of the DJ, seeking out unheard cuts and developing new techniques to enhance their impact on the dancefloor.

Capable of sweeping up hundreds, if not thousands, of clubbers in a fervour, his ability to impact a certain mood, a certain flavour onto a crowd remains awe-inspring.

New release 'Larry Levan: Genius Of Time' collects some of the best known edits from the DJ's career, the weaponry he used to ignite clubs across the globe.

Ahead of this, Clash invited Boston funkateers Soul Clap to pay their respects.

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We should begin by establishing that the influence that Larry Levan has over us, Soul Clap, is largely fantastical. We’re too young to have experienced a night at the Paradise Garage and too young to have met Larry in person. Therefore everything we have read, studied and obsessed over lives in this imaginary place in our minds where dance music and the art of DJing seems close to a state of perfection.

Our passion for Levan's ground breaking music really begins in a long gone record store in Boston, Massachusetts that was called Vinyl Connection. We talk about this place a lot in interviews because in many ways this was one of the places that Soul Clap was born. By the early 2000’s the owners there (Caril Mitro and Tom) were already in their 50’s. They had been very involved in the disco and early house music scene in New England and NYC. They had close ties to Frankie Knuckles and had tremendous knowledge about the music from the Paradise Garage and the Warehouse. In fact Tom was selling his personal collection, which was rumoured to live in a second apartment he rented entirely for records.

Carl and Tom believed in us and we spent hours and hours at their store learning dance music history. They taught us one of the most valuable lessons that we’ve picked up along the way, which is that “house wears many hats”. What that means is that the music that we learned to call House is strongly eclectic. That lesson deeply shaped our DJ sets and our record label, because we love so many different styles. Maybe we’re playing disco, funk, afro, R&B, drum grooves and on and on, but when you add it all together it becomes HOUSE. That’s what Frankie Knuckles was doing at the Warehouse, that's what Larry Levan was doing at the Paradise Garage and on our journey we try to carry the torch of this tradition and do the same as Soul Clap.

There has always been a connection between Boston and NYC because geographically we’re so close, and the sounds of NYC disco and house have made their way into our ears and hearts. This influence began when we started going to Boston club night’s like DJ Bruno’s Utopia Sundays and a monthly Saturday called Soul Revival. These nights were strong sources of musical inspiration and education.

The DJs that performed, like DJ Bruno, KC Hallet, Bob Diesel, Maurice Wilkey, Adam Gibbons and others were a few generations older than us. They spent their weekends making the journey to NYC to dance at the Shelter and other clubs that were routed in the tradition Paradise Garage and therefore carried the legacy of Larry Levan. They would talk A LOT about Frankie Knuckles and Larry, telling us stories, teaching us about different records and generally keeping us in a suspended state of awe. We used to eat it all up and in many ways we still do!

As we’ve grown into producers what has struck us more literally are Larry Levan’s production techniques, which have really left their mark on us stylistically. His approach to extending edits, dubbing out records, the power of his drum grooves the way he incorporated sound effects, all of these factors are concepts that we try to incorporate in the music we make. These ideas aren’t always clearly discernible when you hear our music, but we like to think that the spirit of Larry is in there!

One last titbit, to throw in because it’s ironic and funny. Charlie’s father’s last name is Levine, his mothers last name is Levin and Eli’s mothers last name is also Levin. When we used to have our business registered in Boston we used the name Levin & Levin LLC for tax purposes. Now that we’ve moved our business to NYC, Levin & Levin LLC was taken (obviously!). So, in honour of Larry Levan we changed the name of our business to Levin, Levine, Levan! If anything it appears we’re all from the same tribe, maybe that's what this obsession is really all about!

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'Larry Levan: Genius Of Time' will be released on March 25th. Catch Soul Clap on Facebook + Twitter.

Image: photograph copyright - Bill Bernstein

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