As any respectable DJ will tell you, you’re always learning. And despite the Body & Soul trio of Danny Krivit, Joe Claussell and François K, three of the forefathers of house music, hitting the twenty one year anniversary of their founding, they attribute their longevity to an eagerness to draw inspiration from each other. As Danny asserts: “it’s an education between us all.”
It’s a schooling that started in New York City, more specifically within the hallowed confides of Club Vinyl, and has taken them around the world, forging a particularly close bond with Need2Soul when visiting our shores, as both Body & Soul and individuals. With the promoters winding up in 2018, the trio have been drafted in to deliver one hell of a send off.
But at odds with the colossal spaces they now occupy, Body & Soul was formed from far more humble beginnings, simply vowing to “play songs that we love, that we like, that we feel”, whether it be rare disco, jazz edits or thrashing techno.
There’s a distinct sense while chatting to them that all three have never lost sight of that vow. “We were friends and we knew each other from before. We had this opportunity to put a party together sometime in early ’96 and I called Danny and Joe and asked them to play,” François recalls. “We did it very simply, no challenges, there was no promotion, no heavy Facebook mailing list, none of that. It was just like people, instead of being in their living room, would decide to go to a club and call a few of their friends and that’s where it all started.”
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If there appears to be an emphasis on having a good time, it’s all the trio cared about. “This thing was just for fun. It was on a Sunday and we didn’t even care if there were people there,” Danny insists. “Maybe there would be some friends, but this was for us just to have fun and play things we’d like to play. It wasn’t like a job.” They’re all in agreement. “We didn’t have any plan, just to have fun.”
Despite an initial lack of foresight, there’s little doubt they’ve achieved it in the intervening years, plotting an annual tour schedule of joyous celebrations that regularly take in much of Asia and an array of European countries. “We’ve started getting a contingent of people that will come to our show from other countries and they’re very supportive and it makes a huge difference to have them on the dancefloor.”
“Even in Europe, I’ve recently noticed there’s been a bit of an evolution and the crowd has become far more sophisticated and clued in as to what we might be playing or understanding a little bit more where we’re coming from, which, to some extent, is very different to the usual run-of-the-mill techno, tech-house, predictable programmes that a lot of people are putting on these days.”
“It was already like that twenty one years ago when we started, but it’s now even more so where a lot of the stuff we play is not necessarily what would go into these homogenous sets that most DJs tend to play. And consequently, we’re finding, as people get used to Body & Soul and we provide it, they’re appreciating it and, especially in Europe, we’re finding that people are more and more enthusiastic about this.”
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The DJs return to our capital feels fitting for a number of reasons. Firstly, Need2Soul’s grand finale seeks to honour their roots and there are few more iconic than Danny, Joe and François when it comes to New York City’s underground dance movement of the 90s. Perhaps most significantly, however, is the fact Body & Soul will be spinning records in fabric’s world famous Room One, a space that fell ominously silent during a well-documented period of closure earlier this year with the club besieged by all too familiar problems to the trio.
Reflecting on the closure of Club Vinyl and the “relentless assault on our lives” that has been the war waged on their hometown’s nightlife, François is brutally forthright: “we were eviscerated, emasculated, castrated, whatever you want to call it.”
“We’re obviously very, very sympathetic to the situation that fabric found itself in and we’re just happy we’re able to connect with the London people. This will be the first time we play there, so we’re very much looking forward to it. Some of us have played there individually a long time ago but it’s one of the great rooms in London, so it’s obviously going to be a very special one for Need2Soul and us. We’re just very happy to be able to make that happen.”
The reason it’s happening, you suspect, is not only for the relationships Body & Soul have formed with figures such as Need2Soul and devoted audience members, but also each other. “The thing that stands out for me, that I find unique and rare, even to this day, are three individuals that love each other, that over twenty years continue to love each other and also continue to find a huge amount of joy in doing so. That’s to me the most obvious and powerful thing that I get from what we’ve been doing for twenty years plus.”
“And if you look at what’s out there: I think it’s very rare for a group of people to stay together for that long. Twenty one years so far. I think it says volumes about how we’ve enjoyed doing this all this time and we’re still looking forward to very, very many more.” Not bad going for three friends with a focus purely on having fun.
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Need2Soul and fabric present Body & Soul on December 3rd - tickets.
Words: Lee Wakefield
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