SUIT YOURSELF INTERVIEWS SINGING SOUL SENSATION & DJ LUCINDA SLIM.
Photo credits - Top right photo - Holger Menzel - Bottom 3 - Pascal Garnier
LUCINDA SLIM is certainly a force to be reckoned with, this singing soul sensation and DJ whose debut album 'Lucinda Slim' sold out pretty much instantly on vinyl has worked with some incredible international artists including Zap Mama and the Stone Foundation amongst others, she has sang in global venues and continues to wow crowds where ever she sings and DJ's - From a humble beginning bumping into DJ Keb Darge, through madcap days of London's Madam Jo Jo's nightclub to international singing star Lucinda unique fresh soulful sound is sure to make the music business sit up and listen, with her album still spinning away on our turntable we would urge you to purchase her debut musical masterpiece, Believe us, you won't regret it.
In this interview, we chat with Lucinda about her influences, her DJ career and what it's like to be an international singing sensation.......
Hi Lucinda, can you tell us a little about yourself, where you are from and who were your early musical influences.
Hi Cris, Lucinda Slim is my artist name, my real name is Tanja Daese and I am a singer/songwriter and DJ. Lucinda comes from my middle name Lucy and Slim comes from Slim Harpo, one of my favourite Blues artists. I grew up in Belgium but moved to the UK in the early nineties, because I was attracted to the music scene in London. I loved collecting vinyl, discovering great tunes and met Keb Darge when he sold mix tapes in Camden Market, before his legendary Deep Funk night in Madame Jojo’s and was instantly hooked into the Deep Funk/Northern Soul music culture.
My early musical influences as a child were my parent’s vinyl collection: James Brown, Ike and Tina, Jazz, Disco and Boogie, Motown Soul and African music. These sounds definitely influenced me and as a teen, I fine-tuned the music I listened too and crafted singing skills with my music collection as a teacher.
At what age did you realise that you had such a powerful soulful voice? Who gave you your first break as a singer, what was it like and where was it? Did you begin your career as a solo artist or work as part of a band?
I never really realised I had a strong singing voice, I just always enjoyed singing and recording myself, to the eternal annoyance of my stepdad who just wanted peace in the house. It was only in my late teens when I ventured into singing backing vocals for a band called Soapstone (funk/rock/blues), that people told me they liked my voice and that my ‘sound’ suited the music they made. This band was based in Ghent where I was a student and they did pretty well in the Belgian Music Scene. I adored Tom Derie’s voice, the lead singer. He had a bluesy sound and great stage presence. These guys were all older than me and introduced me to other styles of music (Psychedelic funk and rock, Dr John, New Orleans Funk, Captain Beefheart, Rare Groove etc) and they also had a Leslie Organ with Flanger, a Rhodes, Hammond and other Vintage instruments and Sound System. It was incredible and I loved gigging with them. I joined another band after that, a funk band, and then made the decision to move to London indefinitely. There, I joined yet another Funk/Jazz Band called JUJU as a lead singer, which later morphed into The Soul Destroyers (one ½ of the Heliocentrics) and The Rootsource. With those bands I learned about Jazz Fusion, Deep Funk etc. I also recorded several tracks with Jimbo Robins (Raw Deal). Soon after that, I was head hunted by Zap Mama (Grammy Winner for World Music) and spent the next decade touring the world with her multi-vocal harmony and multi-style band.
Since becoming a solo artist, can you tell us about some of the other artists you’ve worked with?
I still work with Zap Mama, which has been a fantastic adventure and learning school for me, especially when it comes to vocal technique, musical scales, live shows, global vocal techniques, diverse influences, A Cappella, dance and theatre. This has given me the privilege to meet amazing musicians, travel the world and perform at amazing venues like Carnegie Hall, Essence Music Festival, Hollywood Bowl, New Orleans Jazz Festival, WOMAD festivals, Fillmore East San Francisco, Glastonbury Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz, Blue Note Tokyo, US and European TV shows, etc… Youssou N’Dour is also a huge African artist I toured the world with for over 2 years and from that experience I learnt a lot about West-African music, which is my paternal heritage and live shows. Experiences I will never forget.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, goes without saying, she was a firecracker, beautiful soul, incredible and it has been an honour to have sung backing vocals for her on the European tour. Further, I had great experiences touring and working with the fun-tastic Haggis Horns, recording with the band and they also joined in on my album. I recently recorded backing vocals for the new Stone Foundation Album, with the support of Paul Weller and sang back up on their UK tour.
I have sung with many other bands and recorded and co-wrote on other albums, amongst others, Sergio Mendez, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Antibalas, Bassida (3 rd eye Girl, Prince) and others. The great advantage about working with diverse bands/styles is that it makes you very versatile. I can create different ‘sounds’ with my voice and fit in almost anywhere.
Where did your love of soul music come from? your voice fits the sound perfectly….
Love for soul music was just logical for me. I connected with it instantly and could get lost in records for hours, as a child and teen. I guess that influenced my sound but also, my voice has a husky feel to it and that seems to fit Soul Music quite well. Another thing I love about Soul Music is that it never has to be too perfect. It can be raw, rough around the edges and I prefer a sound that isn’t too clean. It just feels real and it really expresses what is in the
heart. You can shout your pain out, testify and share the experience you sing about.
We know you love to DJ, does Soul music feature a lot in your sets and what other genres do you play.
Yes definitely, Soul features heavily in my set, mainly Northern Soul. At Keb Darge’s Deep Funk Night, where I shared warm-up duties with Guy Hennigan, I played Deep Funk and Doo Wop, which I occasionally still play. I also collect and play Rhythm and Blues, Jump Blues, Sixties Garage, Rockabilly and Surf
Can you give us 10 of your favourite tunes you would play.
1. Slim Harpo: Shake your hips
2. The Admirals: Sawmill (Pulse)
3. Gee Cees: Buzz Saw
4. Darrow Fletcher: What Good Am I Without You
5. Prince and Princess: Stick Together
6. Sam & Kitty: I’ve got something good
7. G “Davy” Crockett: Look Out Mable
8. The Hangmen: Faces
9. Syndicate of Sound: Little Girl
10. The New Order: Why Can’t I
Where did the inspiration come from to produce your album?
Northern Soul and the tunes I play, would like to play or songs I heard at Soul Nights. Also some of the Soul Music I heard on the Dap Kings tour bus (Little Ann etc). It strikes a chord with me, the songs are so classic, heartfelt and my album is a little love letter to the fantastic artists who’ s music was amazing but obscure and thanks to the Northern Soul scene, gets a chance to shine and stay alive.
Your debut vocal album is a slice of beautifully produced sixties style soul music and includes incredible covers of the stomping “You Don’t Mean It” by Towanda Barnes, and “Two winters long” by Irma Thomas, it also sees you working on new material with legendary DJ Keb Darge, the fantastic Law Men and the Haggis Horns, can you tell us about their input, where you met and working with the guys.
Thank you so much. I met Keb Darge years before his famous Deep Funk Night at Madame Jojo’s and we stayed close friends ever since. A lot of people don’t know but he writes great stories and we co-wrote lyrics for the album. It was great fun and no, his swear words didn’t make it on the album unfortunately haha. I met Gabe Roth, band leader of the Dap Kings, when they performed in London and over the years, developed a close friendship as well. Gabe invited me to record demo’s for Love Thief and Whirlpool at the famous Dap King Studio in Williamsburg, New York. Suffice to say: a pinch-yourself experience. Not only was the experience of hearing the tunes being brought alive by Gabe and the Dap Kings but I also love great microphones, studio set-ups, Sound Systems, Vintage speakers, mix tables, etc, I am a little tech geek and enjoyed every second in that incredible home-made studio.
The Law Men are great accomplished and open-minded Jazz, Funk and Soul musicians from Belgium who were connected to Pascal Garnier, who produced the album. Pascal and me met years ago when he asked me to sing on the tracks and beats he created. Again, a long friendship has evolved and Pascal and another good friend, Gus, encouraged me to finally record my own album. Their support and the Law Men Band pulled it all together. We rehearsed a short time and recorded the whole album in 2 days. We recorded live takes and that is only achievable with musicians who have such high-level skills that the sound is tight straight away. I was so blessed with the whole team.
I met the Haggis Horns via Keb Darge, who had worked with them on a few New Mastersounds tracks he produced and I joined when they were ready to give a female vocal a try. ‘Pass It On’, was the first song we co-wrote and it was a hard funk tune. It laid the foundation for many more songs we wrote together. I toured many years with the guys and
it is always great fun. Again, super talented musicians who can play any style.
Can you tell us about a favourite gig you have done as part of a band and as a solo artist.
There are many memories and favourite gigs but if I have to choose one, it would have to be a gig I did with Zap Mama on New Year's Eve in San Franciso. I don’t know what the theme of the night was but the audience was one of the best we ever had and incredibly wild, thousands of people, painted, costumed, like something out of a fantastic film, it seemed they were almost performing for us, it was psychedelic, everyone was so enthusiastic, we had the time of our lives on and off stage. I will never forget that gig.
How have you found working as a solo artist in the music industry and what advice would you give a young singer?
Love that question.
Working as a solo artist is very different from supporting someone else who you admire. It’s about finding the strength within yourself and your own music and creating a camaraderie within the band you create. I have been lucky enough to have experienced true connection with people I tour with. You become so close on the road, weeks on end with very little private space and it is a blessing when the atmosphere in the band is good and it feels like you are a real team, supporting each other. I do miss that when I do my own thing but at the same time, you have to go out there and share your music and find the right people on your team who you click with and are on the same wavelength with.
My advice to a young singer would be to explore as many different styles as possible, study your craft, never stop aiming to get better and discover your own voice, words and sound. Find the right people to surround yourself with, people with positive attitudes and be very wary of people who say they will make you a star and want to control you and your sound!
The original vinyl eight track mini album was released and sold out very quickly, where can our readers buy your music today?
Yes amazingly, the vinyl sold out very quickly. It is hard to believe it is listed on Discogs for over £80, funnily enough, it has become a rare piece and that is quite ironic when I am a record collector of rare vinyl myself.
The digital album is available on Itunes, Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp/Haggisrecords.
What are the future plans for Lucinda Slim, more releases, live shows…..
We are working on a new album, I am also collaborating on other music projects so hope to have more music out later on this year. No live shows planned as yet as focusing on new songs but hopefully later this year or early next year.
Where can our readers find more information about you?
You can also find more info on
Lastly, if you bumped into a young Lucinda in the street, know what you know now what good advice would you give yourself?
To have stepped out of the shadows a lot earlier with her music!
Thank you for this interview, I really enjoyed the questions and appreciate the love and support xxx