Akalepse of Truth & Soul – »It’s all for love really«

Foto: Valentin Menedetter
Truth & Soul is home to artists like Lee Fields and The Expressions, El Michels Affair and Bronx River Parkway. Record collector and DJ Akalepse is as A&R a part of this creative circle. Valentin Menedetter met him for an interview.

Truth&Soul is your label of choice when it comes to Funk, Soul and everything related. Home to a whole roster of artists by the likes of Lee Fields and The Expressions, El Michels Affair, Bronx River Parkway and many more. The recording approach is straight vintage, the preferred output medium is Vinyl – 45s are their thing. The label has a long heritage with Funk and Soul Music – it originated from the Desco label, which was founded by Philippe Lehman, who founded Truth and Soul later. They gained worldwide recognition with their Lee Fields record †œMy World†. Valentin Menedetter met the label’s manager and A&R Dj Akalepse.

How did it all begin?
Akalepse: That’s a long story: There was Desco Records – Philippe (Lehman) was one of the guys behind it and then they split and Phil started Soul Fire; one day he didn’t want to do it anymore and he left it to Jeff and Leon and they started Truth and Soul out of it. So it’s actually a continuation of a label called Desco – two labels later.

You guys also do production for artist that are not signed to the label…
Akalepse: That’s the thing, Truth & Soul is two things – it’s a production team and a record label, so it’s two different entities. So as a production team there’s a manager and he brings jobs in. Leon and Jeff would do writing sessions or produce people’s album. They produced the whole Aloe Blacc album. They did Iggy Pop and a song for Adele for her first record; Amy Winehouse remixes and all kinds of stuff.

Audio: Lee Field’s Honey Dove

How did you start working together?
Akalepse: Jeff was heavy with the record collecting. I met him at a record fare. I was looking for the Lee Fields 45 called Honey Dove. I wanted to get a copy. So I asked him about it. He offered me to come to the studio and pick one up – the rest is history.

How long have you been working for Truth and Soul?
Akalepse: I’ve been with them for about four years.

What does your work at the label involve?
Akalepse: As a manager and A&R I deal with the daily business. A big part of my job is to find projects for Jeff & Leon to produce. If I come across a dope artist I bring him to the label.

»A lot of people don’t realize what Truth and Soul is. A lot of people confuse us with Daptone and think it’s the same thing.«

So one of your projects is Lee Fields and his band – the album did pretty well, has that changed anything for you guys?
Akalepse: Yes, every success story strengthens the name – and that record is a knock out. We got all kinds of positive feedback. A lot of people don’t realize what Truth and Soul is. A lot of people confuse us with Daptone and think it’s the same thing. But it’s also my job to change that in the future. We’ve got some stuff coming out – another Lee record and another record with a group that you’ve never heard of because we put them together.

Besides from working at Truth and Soul you’ve been a Dj for a long time already, doing parties with Rich Medina, many other people. How long have you actually been DJing for?
Akalepse: Fuck I’m getting old. I’ve probably been DJing for like 17 years…

What was it like when you started djing out there? All the changes with Serato… Akalepse:* I’m lucky that way, because I grew up at a time where it wasn’t like that at all. Not even Serato and stuff but you had to be dope or else it wasn’t going to work out. I don’t know if that makes sense. That’s a big question. (laughs)

Well to phrase it differently, how did you get started, what amazed you about it?
Akalepse: I was heavy into music, always listening to New York great radio and Hip Hop was just amazing, it was coming out really well.

So the Hip Hop got you stuck on DJing?
Akalepse: I mean as kids we were like 14 years old, rapping, djing – me and my homies we had a group. I didn’t have a Dj residency at a nightspot for nine years. I played for nine years until I even tried that so that’s how it was. Just DJing for love really, backyard parties and stuff, growing up – things here and there.

You’ve been working for Groove Attack as well…
Akalepse: Yeah that was forever ago…

So you knew the music business from both sides…
Akalepse: Yeah I mean you know Djing was also a big thing with making mixtapes, mix CDs when that came around. But you know cassettes first and that’s basically a small record label you know – you’re producing and distributing a record, so I just knew that hustle. And then I got that job at Groove Attack, it was like a paid internship. It was really part time but it was dope, cool people. I mean Groove Attack there was dope music coming out then. You know the J-88 is a Groove Attack record.

How did you get into Groove Attack?
Akalepse: I think it was one of those things, in that era you used to be able to go to labels and get promos. You had to state your case, you had to try to convince them that you were dope enough to give you promos, some shit like that. That’s how you would get them, so I was there getting promos. And Kareem and me were talking and I don’t even know what happened – one thing led to another.

Audio: El Michels Affair’s Shimmy Shimmy Ya

You are running this party with Rich Medina, called Props. But before that it was Little Ricky’s.
Akalepse: We were both djing at APT for a long time, Rich was there a long time before me. The first night I ever went to APT I went on a Wednesday, it happened to be Rich’s birthday and I remember it clear as that. I had sent him a mixtape, but the first time I was meeting him we didn’t know each other at all and I remember going into APT, just being blown away. That was a crazy night, that was an influential night of my life – going in there and watching Rich do it like that. At a certain point I started doing Wednesdays and that’s when Rich was there, and we didn’t really know each other, we talked, said what’s up through that we became real cool. And Rich was the one who thought of putting a high price tag on it – I didn’t really consider it being our party, but Rich did. He knew about the value of the whole thing.