Having released nine albums over the course of twenty years, Afro-dub specialists Soothsayers are something of a South London musical institution. Their most recent opus, entitled We Are Many, was released in late 2020 and was recorded in both London and Sao Paulo. The result was a fascinating blend of the band’s trademark dub and Afrobeat flavours mixed with some distinctly Brazilian inflections. Not only that, it represented a positive and uplifting statement in challenging times – the overriding power of the music leading the band to continue forward, ever pushing their musical boundaries and concepts. The album received much support from a host of DJs on BBC 6Music, as well as reggae legend David Rodigan, Jazz FM and Worldwide FM.
“It’s complex, also fun, tickling your ears in all the right spots… Let Soothsayers soundtrack your journey across the winter and bring melodic colour to steely days ahead.” Backseat Mafia
“An album that only feels like it could arrive in 2020. It is of the times and for the times.” Louder Than War
As we set forth in 2022, and with clubs reopening and dance floors refilling across the globe, we thought it was time to revisit the album and let a selection of our favourite producers interpret it in their own way. We’ve also taken the opportunity to unleash a number of previously unreleased dubs from the LP. The remixes and dubs come together in the form of We Are Many Versions, with re-interpretations coming not only from the reggae world, with acts like General Roots, Prince Fatty and Darren Jamtone adding their own dubby DNA to the mix, but also the forward thinking worldwide electronic scene, with rising stars like Dutchie, Lawn, K3:lu, Samuel Sharp and family members Ill Considered and Wu-Lu contributing with more eclectic offerings. In addition, well respected U.S. producer Victor Rice is also on board with a number of never heard before mixes and dubs that add a distinctly tropical touch to the Soothsayers sound.
Kicking the album off, London reggae dons General Roots re-work the always uplifting Love And Unity with band members James Mckone (Bass), Joe Price (Guitar) and Cyrus Richard (Keys) tracking new parts live in the studio. The result, mixed by band leader Ben Mckone, takes the tune into more rootsy territories and provides a sultry alternative to the inspiritive original.
The Truth & Lies mix of We Won’t Lose Hope by Brighton based reggae royalty Prince Fatty was released as a single early last year and caused something of a stir on BBC 6Music and beyond. With keys from none other than British soul legend Omar, those stunning vocals from Soothsayers’ very own Julia Biel, and a message that’s sadly just as relevant this year as it was in 2021, Fatty’s mix is a timeless and thought provoking beauty.
“A vibrant new dub treatment from Prince Fatty“ Steve Lamacq (BBC 6Music)
One Step Away is the first of several re-works on offer from legendary Nuyorican producer (now based in Brazil) Victor Rice. Having been instrumental in the recording of the We Are Many LP (much of which took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil) Rice had a number of alternate mixes and dubs tucked away which we’re now able to share with you on this album. As well as this raw and rugged mix, Victor lays down a very special, spaced out dub of not only this track, but of album favourites Rat Race, Rolling and Love And Unity too.
On that tip, Darren Jamtone – erstwhile producer for our other reggae and dub outfit Resonators – is also on hand to provide a pair of gorgeously deep dubs of We Won’t Lose Hope and No Sacrifice; the latter of which also receives a stunning remix from one of UK’s most exciting, burgeoning music-makers.
Young Bristol based producer and DJ Dutchie steps up to the plate, reinterpreting No Sacrifice for the more modern, discerning dance floor. Shades of jungle, dubstep and bruk echo throughout her production taking Robin Hopcraft’s pleaful vocals into new spaces and places.
Light The Way, featuring the amazing Senegalese singer Modou Toure, who performs the song in the Wolof language, was a big favourite from the We Are Many album. Modou’s lead vocals, combined with Soothsayers’ harmonies, layered trumpets and a flute improvisation, created a rich and evocative tapestry of sound. It’s a lament on the suffering in the world, and a call for love and light to show us the way out of the darkness.
K3:lu is the alter ego of established guitarist, remixer and producer, Patrick Hatchett. His remix manages to subtly and respectfully take the original to the dance floor. A process best explained by Hatchett himself:
“Whilst in the depths of a strict and isolating West Cork lockdown, I escaped my 2km restrictions, crossed borders, met with old friends and transported myself to a place of positive, connected and uplifting vibes, adding my own little nod to disco, 70’s Afro-funk, free parties of the 90s and dancing at dawn in this remix.”
Elsewhere, Move In Silence is remixed by up-and-coming South London duo Lawn. Formed in 2019, Lawn is a collaboration between multi-instrumentalists and friends, Joe Nicklin and Joe Martin. Combining live, acoustic drums with electronic and synthesised elements, their music fuses their love for jazz, disco, psyche and hip hop. The pair released their debut single Tina on our sister label Allison Recordings in 2021, and they were very keen to get their teeth into this remix ahead of more releases this year. “Move In Silence is our favourite track on the record. We love how the vocals grow in intensity but then soften and refrain in all the right places. It was amazing to work with a part that offered so much range in feel that in the end it almost became a guide for how we should shape our arrangement. Our music is usually a mixture of electronic sounds and live drums. With lots of organic instrumentation and vocals to work with from the original, we felt we had to go heavy on the synths to make our remix really sound like a Lawn tune.”
Another producer, this time from the other side of London, who’s making waves with his productions is woodwind player Samuel Sharp. His full blown rework of the album’s title track We Are Many is already something of an underground hit on the
dance floors of the capital. After rejigging the pitch and speeding up the tempo Sharp reuses many elements of the original. These include the horn section’s melodies and rhythmic patterns, a newly warped melting pot of the original synth parts and some select chops of the drums. He then crafts a fresh groove around a pulsating sax bass line with live percussion, beats and analogue synths as the track builds towards the vibrant climax, leaving us with a haunting piano bed and woodwind quartet to finish things off. Here you’ll find a contemporary yet club-friendly piece that sits well within the recent UK jazz scene, encapsulating the raw energy of the original while taking things in a whole new direction.
And talking of the UK jazz scene, highly regarded ensemble Ill Considered come through with something very special via their reworking of the anthemic Slave. The core trio of bassist Liran Donin, drummer Emre Ramazanoglu and Soothsayers saxophonist and frontman Idris Rahman mix the track with one of their more recent songs, entitled Dervish. As Idris explains: “Combining the two sets of stems together resulted in a surprisingly coherent blend of raw energy that adds depth to both tracks. Dervish was improvised over a pre-written bassline in 7/4, whilst Slave was written collaboratively by Soothsayers’ three vocalists, Idris, Robin and Julia, about rising inequality, unpaid corporate tax, the injustices of low-pay zero hours contract jobs versus the rising wealth of the billionaires who profit. Dervish was created after six months of covid lockdowns and expresses some of the anger and frustrations of this time in a raw, unbridled burst of energy. Both tunes share a similar uncompromising attitude, and putting them together was something that just seemed to work. Emre Ramazanoglu’s mix (and subtle addition of some Middle Eastern percussion) is raw and deep, and the combined firepower of drums from Kwake Bass and Ramazanoglu give this a brutal punch.”
And rounding things off, family member and rapidly rising star Wu-Lu is something of a silent partner in the Soothsayers band. Here, he joins the fray to add some bottom end to the band’s very own refit of Move In SIlence. With a more urgent and percussive feel, this short but beautifully formed version provides yet another hue and level of intensity to this wonderfully diverse collection.
Reactions / Radio Play
Radio play from David Rodigan (BBC Radio 1Xtra), Jaguar (BBC Radio 1), Huey Morgan (BBC 6Music), Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy (Worldwide FM), Andrew Jervis (Bandcamp Weekly), FIP National Radio (France), DJ Ritu (Resonance FM), Worldwide FM, Soho Radio, Mark GV Taylor (Totally Wired Radio), Douglas Noble (Radio Highlife), Music Is My Sanctuary (Jazz ’22 Future Classics Playlist), Mucho Soul (Totally Wired Radio), Sven Thomschke (Radio Z, Germany), DJ Aja (Ketch A Vibe, UK), Markus Milz (Radio Corax, Germany), Global Riddims (Groovalizacion Radio, Germany), Robert Lochmann (Radio X, Germany)
“This is lovely – will get it on Balearic Breakfast! Great album!” Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy (Worldwide FM)
“Amazing” Andrew Jervis (Bandcamp Weekly)
“Vibes! For miles…” Rob Da Bank (BBC Radio 1 / Worldwide FM)
“Fab!” DJ Ritu (Resonance FM)
“Cool!” Ahu (Istanbul)
“A really nice selection of remixes here” Kev Beadle (Totally Wired Radio)
“Loving this!! Will be supporting.” Village Cuts (Soho Radio)
“All-star remix line-up!!” DJ Center (USA)
“Nice remix” Anders Sicre (Worldwide FM)
“”This is so bloody good!” Junior (Record Breakin’, USA)
“Great remix!” Renegades Of Jazz (Germany)
“Brilliant.” Quinton Scott (Strut Records)
“Soothsayers every time.” Russ Jones (Hackney GT)
“This is bloody brilliant” Bob Hill (Totally Wired Radio)
“What an album. Not bad track on here. Playlisted ad will be getting MANY replays in my car, on my phone, at home, on my radio station. Outstanding, thank you!” DJ Osric (RTRFM, Australia)
“Perfect music for the upcoming warm weather! Love the vibe! Will definitely get some airplay!” Jason Palma (Footprints, Toronto)
“Soothsayers always come up special – this is fabulous – airplay in a heartbeat. Love the layers and the references. Wonderful. I am going to play them all over again when I have listened!” Debbie G (Resonance FM / Threads Radio)
“Nice abstract Afrobeat, will play it asap” Stéphane Galland (Worldwide FM)
“Beautiful album remix with many versions and different version what it makes the difference, wicked work.” Amar Kabouche (Fauve Radio, Hong Kong)
“Whoa! Really feeling this – thank you for sending it over. Will definitely play it on the next show and at this Friday’s gig here in Bucha.” Delia T (Soho Radio / Bucharest)
“Great to have news from Soothsayers!” Olivier Cavallier (De La Bonne Musique, France)
“Great array of remixes. Some potent mixes ready for summer terrace vibes” DJ Expression (Whatshot Radio)
“I really like the We Are Many album and think this is a killer remix, definatley one for the dancefloor, sublime and infectious absolutely love it!” Tim Stirrup (Tropical Pressure festival, UK)
“Lovely sunshine vibes !! Will be playing on this weeks show.” Michael Shea (Kane FM)
“Incredible tune, lovely remix. I love this!! Thanks for this inspired cut; I look forward to playing this on my KEXP radio shows and in the clubs.” Kid Hops (KEXP, Seattle, USA)
“Love the pace of this.. proper cross over stuff.” Steve KIW (1BTN, Brighton)
“For a remix album, this is so consistent and coherent over the 15 tracks it speaks volumes (or should that read ‘versions’) for the quality of the original album (thedir 9th at the time of release in 2020) and the choice of remixers. This album is just as much fun/relevant/danceable as the original album with the benefit that some tracks are repeated; which makes you love ’em even more. And as world events make them even more reflective now, ‘We Won’t Lose Hope’ and ‘One Step Anyway’ in particular). Whilst tracks like ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Love And Unity’ really suit a dub version whilst at the same time, Ill Considered’s (he of Liminal Space) remix of ‘Slave’ is very strong as a d’n’b take as is the downtempo of two versons of ‘Move In Silence’. Once more, ‘We Are Many’ and ‘We Are Many Versions’ are a perfect reggae jazzy horney Afro-dub out and the 2022 pick me up that we all need.” Gerry Hectic (Futuristica Music)
“Fabulous – great to profile and highlight Soothsayers in a different way. How to choose a favourite- all so good and immensely playable on air and out and about. If I can get a vinyl I can play out and in my guest slots on Brixton Radio – the Digital I will definitely play in both my Resonance FM and Threads Radio shows. Went for Wu-Lu remix as he’s family to Robin!!” Debbie Golt (Resonance FM)