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Little Big Things

It seems that in a trendy age where everyone spins and throws 45 parties it’s still extremely difficult to find a proper all 7″ Funk & Soul night in any city.  But it’s definitely a sad state of affairs when your city is known for not only Soul music but some of the most creative and diverse DJ’s in the world only to find one, maybe too nights dedicated to these genres.  But there seems to be a new generation of young DJ’s that appreciate the sound and art of spinning these “Little Big Things” that sound so heavenly while oozing out of the speakers.  Let us introduce to you DJ’s Case Bloom, Froz1 and Personify, 3 soul survivors that choose to carry heavy crates filled with Funk, Soul, Latin, Disco and Reggae tunes to their monthly party held at Philly’s The Tressle Inn.

1.  How did you guys come together as a collective and are you all from Philly?

James – Josh is from right outside of Philly, and started coming to the city around 15 then moved to Philly for college. Case and I are both from the South – he’s from Nashville, and I’m from the New Orleans area. I met Case through a mutual grafitti/skateboarding friend in Nashville from back in the day. Case and I never crossed paths when we were younger, but when I moved to Philly from San Francisco in 2011 our mutual friend got us connected. Case introduced me to Josh almost immediately, and since we met, we’ve been chilling, digging, and working on music together.

2.  How long have you guys been DJing, specifically in the Funk & Soul realm?

Case – I started a funk and soul night in Nashville in 2005 called Funky Good Time that ran consecutively for a few years. Prior to that I was mostly digging for hip hop and records that were sample source.

Josh – I started DJing in the early 2000′s. My introduction to funk & soul music was mostly through the bboy scene before I started DJing, and funk & soul quickly became my focus after I started DJing.

James – I’ve been DJing funk & soul music for about 10 years now. I started off as a battle DJ back in the day, but as I got more into digging and rocking parties, funk & soul was one of the genres I naturally gravitated towards given that it was a big part of the music I grew up around in New Orleans.

3.  What was your initial attraction to spinning the 7″ format?

Josh - The heat is on 7″! Everyone knows that most popular singles were cut to 45. On the other hand, bands that weren’t signed to a major label usually funded their own releases, so they only had the money to put out a single, and they put all of their energy & creativity into that ONE release as opposed to an entire record.  It doesn’t take long to find out that the low budget, short run releases from middle-of-nowhere USA are the real bangers.  Plus, theres that whole nostalgic feel of sitting indian-style as a kid with the Fisher Price!

James – When I was coming up, 45s always held a certain mystique. Even before Serato and digital DJing, not that many DJs I knew played 45s. The first time I tired it, I thought it would be just like playing 12″ records. But man, I so wrong – it’s was a whole different game! I remember thinking, “Damn, playing 45s is hard!” I took it as a challenge to learn, and as I got more used to playing 45s, I just had so much fun playing them. Plus, you could find all sorts of crazy music on 7″ that you couldn’t on 12″. So then I got really into digging for 45s too, which fueled my desire to play them even more.

Case – To me as a collector its the boiling down of my musical taste. If you can get the 45 why waste the space on the one cut LP? They are compact, bang hard, and get right to the point. Also there is tons of music on 7″ that you won’t find anywhere else.

4.  You do a monthly party called Little Big Things, who’s idea was it to do this night and were you trying to fill a needed void in the city with the music?

Josh – Other than Hot Peas & Butta, there really hasn’t been an event celebrating 45s and funk & soul music in Philly for quite a while. So, after we all went by the Trestle Inn a couple months after they re-opened and saw what they were trying to do with the place, we instantly thought it would be the perfect place to do something like Little Big Things. In Philly, getting the right venue is more than half the battle, cause people don’t always come out just on the strength of the music, for better or for worse. Immediately, we all agreed it would be a really fun thing to do there and something that was indeed lacking in the city.

5.  One of the things that attracted me to your party was the fact that it is a true Funk & Soul dance party which is actually lacking right now in the trend of everyone playing 45′s.  People come to drink, dance and socialize almost as if they understand what this night is all about yet most of them have probably never heard most of the music that your playing.  Do you think it’s important to introduce and expose people to good unheard music versus playing what they already know?

James – For me, I always try to do a bit of both. Growing up, most people I knew (myself included) went to see a DJ because they wanted to be exposed to new music they either hadn’t heard or rarely heard, and hear it ways they couldn’t hear it on the radio or in their tape deck. With Serato and other digital DJing platforms, I think some of that has been lost and a lot of people now look at DJs like glorified juke boxes, expecting the DJ to play whatever they want to hear when they want to hear it. And digital DJing made that possible – back when it was all vinyl, you could only play what you had in the crates you brought to the gig. People knew you only had so many records and certain types of records – you didn’t have a laptop with thousands of songs covering all sorts of genres you could pull from. And I can understand it to a point…music people know makes them feel comfortable and it’s easier for them to vibe to when they’re out. Everyone has that song they consider “their song,” and when they hear it, they bug out or feel confident, excited, sexy, whatever. So I understand people wanting to hear music they’re familiar with that will make them feel exactly how they want to feel in the moment, and I definitely play to that at times. But, as a DJ, and someone that grew up looking to DJs to challenge my musical tastes and turn me on to new music, I kind of take it as a personal responsibility to also try to expose people to different and unheard music that might spark something new in them that they have yet to experience. Otherwise, why even have a live DJ there to create the vibe – just turn on the radio!

Case – I think like anything its a balancing act. While some folks only want to hear what they know when they go out, we are constantly looking for new music to play. At the event we try to please the masses with the few and just ride the groove. Just like a lot of us I go out to hear a DJ surprise me and so try to think of that when I’m up to bat.

Josh – Theres nothing better than playing music for a room full of open ears.  Like most other DJ’s / collectors, my journey in music has primarily been about hearing something I’ve never heard before, so you kind of have to tone that down when playing out.  I’ve heard “I Know You’ve Got Soul” ten million times, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has!

6.  Let’s talk about digging for a sec, we all know records are everywhere but are you still finding records in your own back yard?  Especially since people say Philly is dried up.

Case – Here its about consistency. The stores get good records and move them pretty quickly so you need to keep tabs on them if you want the goods. Knowing where to look is also a big part.

Josh – I’ve always found great stuff in Philly, although its usually LPs.

James – To me it seems like there are definitely still records to be found in Philly. I’ve only lived in Philly for about a year, but I’ve come up on a lot of stuff here in that time. It can certainly be hit or miss, and for 45s often the records are pretty beat up when you do find them. But, it seems like there’s still plenty of gems out there. You just got to be patient and know where to look.

7.  What are some of your favorite local Philly labels to hunt for when on the search for 45s?

Josh – The major label stuff is usually a sure bet i.e. Philadelphia International / Gamble.  Phil-L.A. Of Soul has a ton of classic material as well.  I still need to fill in some wants on Arctic, CRS, Virtue, Marmaduke… they hardly ever turn up, even in Philly!

8.  I know you guys are heavy on the hunt so what cities have you struck gold in when searching to records?

 

Case – I try and look for records wherever I go. I’m in Nashville once a month and I’ve certainly come up there over the years, Memphis is about 3 hours away and pretty much tops when it comes to 45s in my book. I’ve come up pretty strong in Mexico City and in the markets in Guadalajara. NYC and Chicago have both been good. Found some decent stuff in Seattle and in the Bay Area. I’ve found good records in the middle of no where too.

James – I’d say the heaviest cities for me have been Memphis, New Orleans and Cleveland. Philly and Nashville have been pretty good too. But for funk & soul, it’s kinda hard to touch Memphis and New Orleans. There’s just so music and music history in those cities.

Josh – Memphis is crazy for 45s. We all took a trip there earlier this year and everyone walked away with heat.  I’ve come up in Nashville, Virginia, and like I said before, I’m still finding gems in my hometown!

9.  What are 5 burners from you crates that always move the floor? (email me a couple pics of labels)

Little Big Things Crew Records, in no particular order:

Professor Longhair – Big Chief

Frankie Valli – Beggin

Honey & The Bees – Love Addict

Maze ft. Frankie Beverly – Before I Let Go

Lyn Collins – Think

10.  I don’t usually discuss prices when collecting because my theory is that if I want it I buy it.  Do you guys have a limit that you won’t go beyond when out in the field or will you wait to find a record for a better price down the road?

Josh – I’m constantly trying to refine the collection, so I’ll work out trades when I can, or a combination of cash / trades.  But if it’s something special and I want it, I’ll get it.

Case – For me a big part of hunting for records is finding gems in the field. I’m not opposed to the boutique style of digging or internet cherry picking, but I feel that if I am supposed to have a record I’ll find it eventually. If I find something that I need thats too high, I’ll pass if I think I can find it again.

 

James – It depends on how bad I want the record, and how likely I think it is that I’ll come across it again. Of course, with the internet nowadays, you can find just about anything if you’re willing to pay the price. But it’s just not the same as coming across a record while digging. I’ve definitely overpaid for records when I’ve been out digging…sometimes it’s because I wanted the record bad and didn’t want to wait…sometimes I just have a lot of respect for the person’s collection I’m digging through and I want to support them…sometimes I do it just for karma…hahaha…like I over pay now, but next time I’m gonna get a deal!

11.  Most DJ’s are into more than just DJing, what else are you guys into or collect?

Case – I’ve had various collections over the years. When I was in high school I was heavy into the vintage sneaker game and was at one point making decent money flipping dead stock and rare footwear. I’ve still got a collection of rare runners and some other choice pieces but Nike kind of killed the game for me. I also have a good sized collection of vintage spray cans, and some odd ball markers from the 60′s and 70′s. At one point I was collecting camo from the various countries I visited and various soviet era goods. I’ve got a small collection of vintage marathon t-shirts. If its dope and I relate to it I might scoop it up.

James – Music of all types really is my big thing. I’m also a big cocktail and whiskey fan, and I collect all kinds of bitters, whiskeys, and other unique and rare liquors. I’ve got a pretty extensive bar at the crib. Other than music, that’s probably the biggest thing for me.

Josh – I was on a mission to find the best eggs benedict in the city, but I had to call it quits after a year of eating a benny once or twice a week (see: weight gain).  Now I’m all about taking photos of terrible vanity license plates.  Virginia takes the cake in that field.

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