- Words Solly Warner
Joel Culpepper is the artist’s artist and songwriter, with unforgettable stage presence. We asked him to pick 10Trax that inspired his upcoming debut album ‘Sgt Culpepper’.
South-East London artist, Joel Culpepper, has been gaining attention over the last few years thanks to his soulful music and spell-binding performances. His stand-out COLORS rendition of “Woman” has received a staggering 12 million views on YouTube, whilst his previous EP ‘Tortoise’ showcases his stunning vocal ability.
It wasn’t until recently that Joel decided to give up his full-time job as a Learning Mentor in Catford helping vulnerable children with behavioural difficulties to focus solely on his music. Admirably, he followed his dream in the hopes of inspiring the children he had once worked with.
Joel’s long-awaited forthcoming debut album ‘Sgt Culpepper’ has been confirmed for release on the 5th March this year. It’s on this debut where Joel seeks to make his mark, pouring his heart and soul into a conceptual record that was two years in the making. The album promises to be an electrifying record, executively produced by Swindle with production from Tom Misch, Guy Chambers, Raf Rundell and Redinho to name a few.
His first offering, “Return”/ “W.A.R” has been 6 music’s ‘Record of the Week’ and gained support from Annie Mac who premiered it on her Radio 1 show. Further support has come from his contemporaries on the underground jazz scene and respect of those he has been inspired by, including fellow South Londoner, Tom Misch.
Speaking on the track Joel said: “I got to write this one with Tom Misch after a session for his album project with Yussef Dayes. Tom reached out after hearing “Afraid to be King” produced by Roy Davis Jr. Pleased he did cause I’ve been a fan of his work for a while. I feel like justice is poetry but it’s also complex. Part of justice is forgiveness, no longer enslaved by the pain of what someone’s done to you but the ability to move on from it”.
To celebrate the imminent release of his debut album, we asked Joel Culpepper to pick 10Trax that inspired it. Get ready to feel all types of emotions.
“Walk On By” by Isaac Hayes
"The grandiose entrance, we were so inspired by the immediate statement and wanted to mimic that on the record. I don’t smoke but if I did I’d light a cuban cigar to this. Shh, the film's started!"
“i" by Kendrick Lamar
"He wears his heart bare. It’s the energy we need, the self love that motivated me to write an overtly positive album."
“Aht Uh Mi Hed” by Shuggie Otis
"Funk and soul has never been so cool. While writing the album I got introduced to this heavyweight wondering why he was never played in my house. Creeps on you but sticks."
“Mean It In The Morning” by Loyle Carner
"Truth teller, whenever I needed to hear something grounding and feel rooted I put Ben on."
“Take Me” by Teedra Moses
"It’s my favourite Teedra song and I love “Be Your girl” but Raphael Saadiq absolutely killed this one man. The string arrangement really inspired me on several songs."
“That’s the Way Love Goes” by Janet Jackson
"I named one of the album title tracks after a Janet Jackson & Tupac film. I’m not the first but the film was a real cultural impression on me another great film by John Singleton."
“Cool Cat” by Queen
"It’s the pocket. The snap is killer. My barber put me on to this a few years ago and I never forgot I kept asking “Who is this?" Freddie glides over the the funky base which was a great reference for us."
“The makings of you” by Curtis Mayfield
"Don’t look at me in the eye while listening, I may cry. Curtis made something that hits over and over again. That’s the ultimate goal as a musician, to write something that resonates repeatedly."
“Takin It To The Streets” by The Doobie Brothers
"Michael McDonald is one of my favourite voices growing up. He and Patti Labelle we’re played often by my mum. 'Takin It To The Streets' really feels like Michael’s influence on The Doobies and the church on him. We need those historical nods in someone’s album."
“You Brought The Sunshine” by The Clark Sisters
"This is church and a real foundation for me. I trickled it where I could. The joy expressed and the words that uplift, keep us going to do it again. Like water for chocolate."