With the release of his latest explosive project 'Colour', we get to grips with the triple-threat Juls about where he is at, what's to come and the importance of bringing Afrobeats to a new generation.
Having recently dropped his latest body of work ‘Colour’, the Ghana-born producer has worked to highlight an unseen combination of genres and artists in one tape. Juls stands behind some of Afrobeats’ biggest tracks including Eugy’s Skin Tight and Oshey alongside Nigeria-born Moelogo, Siza and DJ Tunez. Through his tape, he has worked to merge a growing variety of Afrobeat sounds with some UK’s growing artists. With his project featuring the likes of Ms Banks, Kida Kudz, Knucks, Tiggs Da Author and more, Juls evidently covers all genres creating a tape with a sound for all.
Breaking down some of the tape’s tracks, Slow Down’s Jazz and Spanish influence are topped with Agent Sasco’s vocals representing an element of Reggae – a never seen before combination. With Kida Kudz’s Afroswing sound covering the hook, Ms Banks adds a sultry touch with some vocals and light bars. Pa Salieu brings a different vibe from his usual, merging an Afrobeat-inspired element to the UK Rap sound. Each track represents something different and fresh as well as showing a unique side to each artist featured.
2019 has been a fairly busy year for Juls and apart from his tape, he has worked with the likes of GoldLink, featuring on his new album as well as launching his new line of live shows, ‘A Night with Juls’ in New York this summer. Juls speaks on his tape ‘Colour’ breaking down how it came together, how he first encountered the art of producing and his next few ventures below.
How does it feel to have your project out in the world?
Bro, you know what? I can’t complain you know. The tape has been out for about a week and a few days, the organic reception has been really really good. I feel like it’s been well received and people have told me that it’s a solid body of work which I’m happy about because obviously I wasn’t too sure at first. But I think the aim was to give people ten solid tracks within that body of work and whatever they gravitate towards in terms of how they feel about the song is entirely up to them. I didn’t have in mind ‘this is the type of whatever I’m trying to make’ or a theme. What I did want to do was show off different skills in terms of my production, that’s why I called it ‘Colours’ so it’s just giving people a different colour to what I can do in terms of sound. I’m popularly known as an Afrobeats producer, but being able to produce other records like Hip-hop, Reggae or Dancehall, or a little Soca vibe or something like that. I have the ability to do those things because those are my influences so I just wanted to show off that kind of skill and just give people a variety of songs to vibe to over the summer so I’m happy about how it’s gone so far.
What was your creative process like when it came to making this project?
Everything was done individually in terms of each song and I feel like each song that I was creating, I was sort of inviting the person or the artist featuring into my world and I was also coming into their world. In the sense of talking about our experiences, both individually. A typical example is a record with Sway Clarkes, Sweetie Odo, where he was trying to find out certain words in my local language which is where I’m originally from, Ghana. But also tapping into his vibe and he likes to dance but at the same time, he likes to have a bit of an R&B vibe to his thing so it was merging R&B, Afrobeat and soulful vibes together so that’s how that song came about. Then there are records like Radar with Sweetie Irie and Zeeks where I was trying to create more of a dancehall/reggae but we created more of a dancehall and reggae with an afro type of beat – its all different worlds all coming together and I feel like its something that I really want to showcase moving forward as well.
What was the process like when it came to collaborating with different artists?
I feel like most of the studio sessions with the artists that I had were just straight vibes. For me, when I’m having session, I just want everyone to be laid back, relax and have fun. Crack a few jokes here and there and then we can get into the groove. There’s no point working and not enjoying the work, otherwise the sessions feel forced. Going back to the session with Sweetie Irie, it was so much fun how they came about. Him freestyling and there were just so many takes that we recorded so it was fun just making this record in its own. Records like Tu Danz with Kida, Ms Banks and Pa Salieu – I already knew what kind of record I was trying to make so it just flowed quite quickly. With Kida setting the foundation of the record with the hook that I co-wrote with him as well so everybody’s process was different but at the same time, the energy was right. We can’t make a record without the energy being right.
Did you have any specific messages or themes you wanted to get across in your latest body of work?
Nah not really, I think it was literally just trying to make some records that were pretty dope for people to vibe to. I wasn’t really trying to think too deep. I feel like if I was to really think deeply about concepts and stuff, that would probably be for the album. I’ve already started working on the album and I already know where I’m gonna go. That is going to be done in a different way and the process for that is going to completely different. I’ve already targeted the people that I’m trying to work with, I have relationships with all of these people as well, create some music and just make a bunch of records and when I feel like I’ve recorded enough, just drop the album. I’ll just take it from there and push accordingly.
Tell us about how ‘A Night With Juls’ got started?
‘A Night With Juls’ is literally a brand that I’m trying to start which is live DJ sets with some performing arts so people that play the percussion or different instruments and maybe one or two performances. But the main focus is the music, live sets and DJs. The first show was in New York on the 23rd of August. Hopefully I can take the brand around the world so there will be ‘A Night with Juls’ in Kenya, South Africa, Amsterdam, wherever. Just continue to build the name and then from there, we’ll just see what happens. At the moment, it’s just strategic branding and putting my stuff out there. You can’t always be waiting for people to book you so you might as well do your own thing. You never know what might happen.
How did you begin you journey into music?
When I was a child, I used to make a lot of sound effects and beatboxing as well, sound and music was really a part of me. My parents played so much music when we were growing up so I’m very aware of all the old school stuff. Production-wise, I just started making beats when I was at uni messing around with FL studio – just perfecting my craft. Then I started doing my own style which was tapping into Afrobeats and sampling it. I continued to practise and practise, and in 2012 when I got my first break after when I produced a record for a Nigerian group called Show Dem Camp called ‘Feel Alright’ – that record did very well. But more of the commercial success happened when I linked up with Mr Eazi and we made all of those records together and everyone came calling. Everyone wanted that sauce. Phone calls from everyone you can imagine in the Afrobeats and urban industry were just hitting me up because of the sound so that’s really how it came about.
What’re you thoughts on the meteoric rise of Afrobeats in today’s culture?
I feel like it’s been long overdue but at the same time, we also need to protect our culture and not let everybody infiltrate in it. But it’s a good time for us, we should just make use of the opportunities that come our way. There’s no time for egos, greed and stuff like that. When we want to make it happen we make it happen. That’s the space that I’m in at the moment.
How did you begin DJing?
I started DJing probably 6 years ago when I was doing my Masters in Surrey. I just started doing little parties here and there for the ACS and doing that became fun and more of a hobby. Then I had my first booking coming out so I did all of those bookings as well and just continued to perfect my skill and craft with DJing. We’re still not there yet but I definitely know how to handle a massive crowd. DJing is a lot go fun, looking at people’s reactions and the energy in the room. It’s cold.
What’s next for Juls?
I’m hoping to drop the album next summer. When you think about it, the Colour tape, I started working on it last year around this time. I’m already in album mode just creating so hopefully it will be dropping around next summertime August, maybe before that actually.
How do you take some time off to recharge your batteries?
I travel a lot, a lot of gigs here and there and I’m out in the states a lot and different parts of Europe as well. I travel a lot but it’s not really holidays. But you get to explore different types of cultures so it’s a good learning experience for me.
What’s been the highlight of your year so far?
If I said my project, it would be a bit selfish. I want to say the highlight was being able to produce a record for GoldLink for his new album, Diaspora. I flew out to LA to be a part of the video for the song that I produced which is ‘U Say’ featuring Tyler the Creator and Jay Prince. The video was directed by Santi who I’ve worked with on my project as well. It was good seeing all these energies connect. That’s definitely been my highlight so far.
What do you tell yourself when things are getting tough and you’re feeling tired?
I’m forever just on the move just working because I know I’m not where I want to be. I feel like I’m very under-appreciated and people don’t pay the respects that I deserve in regards to the sound that I’ve created. But in life, you can’t take things too personally and you just need to keep on working and if you believe in God anyways, it’s going to happen and staying patient. I know it’s going to happen.