Innersoul Live has been one of Sydney’s most righteous cap-S Soul experiences for a good while now. Keeping the standard sharp and high – ensuring knockout performances by the crème of the is City’s soul artists (and peppered by international guests) – has made it an essential if you like your music deep, soulful and real.
Kristie Nicolas and Krystel Diola, the dynamic duo who have been guiding Innersoul Live have now created a new thing – #GenerationNuSoul. I was at the launch in May and was more than a little knocked out by what they were doing – the artists were astounding, the vibe was City stylish, the room was full. I was also excited about what they had in store for the future of #GenerationNuSoul.
On Thursday 24 July, Kristie and Krystel are taking #GenerationNuSoul to Ultimo’s jazz-hip Foundry 616. Artists will be Sarsha Simone (who dazzled at the launch), Melbourne’s Thando and Rosie Henshaw, back from reality TV land to where they belong, with us.
In the lead-up to the event, I asked Kristie Nicolas and Krystel Diola a half-dozen questions about #GenerationNuSoul. They were more than generous with their responses – truly passionate people always are. Enjoy!
1. The new project, #GenerationNuSoul has grown out of your Innersoul Live performances. Why have you felt the need to extend the concept?
Kristie: Innersoul Live is a concept that Krystel and I didn’t create, we were approached to get on board with the night, refine it and help it grow and that was our role in that night. Innersoul Live’s focus is on showcasing acoustic and intimate original soul influenced music.
Before we got on board with Innersoul Live, Krystel and I had spoken about putting on shows that were a bit out of the box and profiled artists in Australia and assisted the public with gaining insight into artists through a show. Essentially creating an Australian movement through that and that’s how Generation Nu Soul was born and that’s why even after and despite the success of Innersoul Live we felt the need to leave Innersoul Live and move forward with Generation Nu Soul.
Generation Nu Soul is a movement with a focus on artists that are defying genre boundaries, creating new rules and pushing the envelope. In terms of music, it encompasses genres that may be derived from soul but have moved into new territory, from broken beat to hip hop to nu-electro-soul to whatever comes along that is fresh and touches people.
Krystel: #Generation Nu Soul may seem like it has grown off the back of Innersoul Live, however, it was just timing that may have caused this mistaken notion.
Kristie: Myself, Kristie Nicolas (also known as Kitten Jam), I write for a music sites, primarily the acclaimed SoulBounce.com, and Krystel Diola the multi-talented dynamo behind BehindTheFront.com.au
3. At the launch, Kristel mentioned #GenerationNuSoul would be expanding to include art and fashion as well as music. What is the concept behind this?
Krystel: Generation Nu Soul is a special pop-up event that highlights unique creatives with a flair for individuality, substance, raw creativity or musicality, delivering a powerful message that can only be created by the energy that occurs in that one space. You never know where we’ll be and who we’ll showcase.
Our mission statement is simple: “GENERATION NU SOUL is a generation that defines new boundaries. A generation that knows the power of creativity is to move, to feel, to inspire”.
Generation Nu Soul is essentially a philosophy where by we believe in the power off collective consciousness/awawreness brought about through creative and artistic expression. It’s about tapping into your inner power – and as the events progress into arts and fashion, we’ll also be sitting down with creative entrepreneurs who have a powerful message to communicate to wider audience.
We want people to walk away from a show and learn something different. Something that one person can say, ‘Oh, if they did it, why can’t I”.
It’s also about tapping into that inner child and allowing the 5 senses to experience things we have forgotten was there.
Since music is our background, we focused initially on musicians who have a uniqueness about them, a certain type of distinct sound, a quality that is rare, and Sarsha Simone has that. The support act, The Septembers also possess a trip hop sound that doesn’t often get recognition unless put on the public radar. And that’s what we do too – provide a platform.
Their personal life stories are eventful in itself. And that is where the real power lies.
In addition to that, we are conducting our social media via the power of hashtags to create branding that way – without a proper social media page – yet. We’re experimenting with this idea on multiple platforms.
At the end of the day we just want to make noise!!
4. Sarsha Simone blew us away at the launch and set the bar pretty high for the future. Who else can we look forward to at future pop-up performances?
Kristie: Yes, Sarsha Simone was phenomenal at our launch event! So much so that we had to have her back for our second show at Foundry 616 on July 24th! She’ll be joined on the night by the future soul sounds of Thando and the world and jazz infused music of Rosie + The Bees. People will recognise all these ladies from their recent appearance on a certain TV show – but this special one-off show will explore their original music. They are so much more than what Australian audiences were shown on TV.
5. What do you feel it is about Soul music – from Sam Cooke and Donny Hathaway right through to the artists of today – that helps it retain its enduring popularity?
Kristie: Soul music is all about just what it is called – the soul. It touches people, makes them feel and it has guts and that’s why it’s endured through the decades. You can’t beat something that makes people feel while still having integrity sonically.
Krystel: Agree with Kristie! Soul music is the soul. It moves you to act and feel a certain way. Traditional Soul music in the sense of the originals such as Sam Cooke and Donny Hathaway created a type of sound that most musicians springboard off for inspiration. You can’t go through life without paying respect to your elders, right? At least that’s how I was brought up.
Soul music is timeless and people respect the originals. In saying that, I think all musical genres from the past in particular the Todd Rundgrens, Led Zeppelins, Frank Sinatras, the Pat Boone‘s of yesterday created classic timeless sounds that resonate today. Weird mix of artists there, I know, but I’m a fan of them.
Listen to Alice Clark or jazz composer Ahmad Jamal and tell me that their sound is not timeless. Amazing! They broke barriers – they created standards, and they just created that space where nothing mattered when you listened to them.
6. What are your thoughts on Soul music in particular today? And what are your thoughts on music in general today?
Kristie: Soul music today is an interesting thing because, to me, it encompasses so much more than one narrow genre. It’s covers everything from the complex rhythms of nu soul like Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote to the revivial soul movement of a few years back that Amy Winehouse/Mark Ronson spearheaded to rhythm & blues. I’m not going to sugar coat it, there’s a lot of crap music out there. There’s music that’s obviously been made purely with the thought to make a quick buck. Soulless, monotonous, repetitive crap – we all know what it is and why it exists. But that’s why Generation Nu Soul exists to balance it out and to remind people that if you switch off from what you are being fed on commercial radio and on TV there’s all these amazing artists creating beautiful, interesting music that actually makes you feel and makes you think. It’s engaging. Why wait til our artists are nominated for a Grammy before we notice them? Let’s get to them known now.
Krystel: Ha! Funny you mention this… I was on the phone today discussing this very same issue with a musician friend of ours. I’m not sold on labels to be honest. There was an article I read where a promoter of a festival believed that there was a new movement of neo soul here in Australia. I disagree. Neo soul happened in the 90’s even here in Australia. It’s just that the mainstream industry failed to pick up on the wave and the culture around it. But Australia has moved on. If you weren’t living it, you wouldn’t know.
Music today from within the ‘Soul’ market is exciting as there are more people not afraid to make this sound. What I find even more exciting is that a lot of musicians we know or are epic fans of, they’ve created their own twist to ‘soul’. It’s not just ‘Soul’ – it’s experimental sounds fusing a bit of jazz, rock, classical music, and pop sensibilities.
That’s exciting! Artists like Ngaiire, Hiatus Kaiyote, heard of Billie McCarthy? Get her on your radar! Even up-coming artists Sex on Toast need that mainstream love which I don’t understand why the industry – the machine that churns out artists for mass consumption – don’t at least give them the time of day. I have my own theories on that. Hiatus are huge overseas with Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Taylor McFerrin, Giles Peterson, Prince and others publicly announcing they are fans and have pushed their success internationally – Europe loves them too!
Here, no-one knows about them.
There will always be music you love and music you hate. It just depends on your taste. And there’s nothing wrong with that. What is interesting is that we know so many amazing local and national musicians of the ‘soul’ genre who are of international standards, yet are still pushing hard to get original music out there for the industry to pay attention. I know you know the calibre I’m talking about. Things need to change, and this year I’m finding a lot of shifts happening where artists, musicians, promoters, fashion designers, photographers are just doing their thing. They aren’t relying on the machine. They are doing it, and we’re doing it, and collectively we’re helping each other out. THAT is what will make noise!