Electrifying funk-pop, Afro Cuban music, and global eclectic pop artist Jose Conde will release his new album, Souls Alive in the 305, on May 20 via PiPiKi Records, followed by an album release party and show at Joe’s Pub in NYC on May 24th.
Souls Alive in the 305 is Jose Conde’s second solo album and was recorded between Brooklyn and Miami over a period of five years. Co-produced by Jose Conde and DJ Spam, two singles from the album have already been released – “Dale Pa ‘Ya” and the title track.
Jose describes “Dale Pa ‘Ya” as an absurd mantra to empower those who need to exorcise demons or ex-lovers, gun freaks, dictators, or any other bad energy. The phrase means “get over there!”
“Dale Pa ‘Ya is just one of the album’s 10 songs that showcases a wide range of moods and continue Conde’s knack for blending rhythmic elements of genres seamlessly in memorable lyrical songs rooted in love and fascination of nature, and appreciation for the absurd, existential exploration, and his own Cuban American reality. The album features musicians and singers from Miami, New York, and San Diego.
The Young Folks caught up with Jose Conde to discover more about the person behind the music, the inspiration for the album, and how he got started in music.
What three things can’t you live without?
- Bananas 2. Ginger 3. Music.
You have two new singles out, “Dale Pa ‘Ya” and “Souls Alive In The 305.” What was the inspiration for each?
Miami (the 305), and my experience growing up there, figure in the funk and soul origin of both songs. ‘Souls Alive’ lyrically has direct inspiration. I grew up enjoying the natural fruits of South Florida and my culture as I watched sprawl stretch urban boundaries and encroach on nature to the edges of the Everglades. Even as a kid I worried about overdevelopment and the destruction of nature for cookie-cutter neighborhood developments. The sleepy tropical place I loved mostly because of the natural elements – the sun, the immense ever-changing sky, the swamps, the beaches – transformed from being a sleepy tropical town to the fashionable tropical party metropolis that it is. But the thing that I love most is still the same thing the natives before us loved, the thing that Marjorie Stoneman Douglass loved, and ironically the thing that is used to sell the real estate and work the image – the incredible South Florida nature. My song is the antithesis of Will Smith’s ‘Welcome to Miami.’ I wrote it because I want people to party, but I also want them to wake the F up and care about the nature they are using and impacting and unfortunately ruining in many cases.
‘Dale Pa ‘Ya’ I wrote because it was fun and an applicable phrase on my tongue…
I used to say it to my dog Tito (it means – get over there!). You can direct the phrase to almost any situation- COVID- DPY! Trump -DPY, Biden – DPY, WAR – DPY, GUNS – DPY, etc…
Also, I should add both songs are funk and soul explorations expressing and fusing different elements of these and other genres. Miami was, for many years, associated with funk and soul and despite the hijacking of the music scene by EDM and reggaeton, you still have some seriously funky musicians doing cool things down there. With this album, I have also begun to explore spoken word and rap which both of these songs reflect.
The 3rd release which you did not ask about, but I will mention is ‘Fallen from Eternity.’ This was the most recent song I wrote and a real breakthrough song. It is very beautiful melodically in a high register of my voice and I wrote a very classic soul style arrangement for horns and rhythm section. Lyrically, it is a true story about a breakup and how one moment a vision came to me that helped me to cherish the entire experience rather than languish in pain. I loved writing and recording this song and it represents a new sound and style for me. Gintas Janusonis did a beautiful job on the drums, and I recorded the horns in Brooklyn (the only track that has horns).
Your upcoming album is entitled Souls Alive In The 305, which drops May 20. What can you share about the album?
This record will surprise and excite. This is a very eclectic record that has a lot going on under the surface. The album sounds amazing (I really took my time producing it and worked with some super cats and made sure of that) and it is fun and funky, and I hope people will enjoy it for all its eclectic splendor – but also for the songs themselves and for the lyrics themselves which to me is the entire reason to write and share songs. From the fun and funky ‘Dale Pa ‘Ya’ to the neo-soul funk on ‘Poetry in Motion’ to the retro soul of ‘Fallen from Eternity’ … through the Brazilian funk of ‘Grito Ambiental’ to the disco rap of the title track or the pure nasty fun of ‘Las Bori Bori’… there is a lot of diverse original pop richness to dig into here!
Of the tracks on the forthcoming album, which means the most to you personally?
‘Poetry in Motion’ is the heart of the album. The lyrics of this song, which I wrote 30 years ago are an existential study of the moment Inspired by a brief relationship I had with an amazing purple-leathered poet woman and some of the issues we were going through as a country back then, which are still very applicable today. It is a song that has been with me for a long, long time that I have always loved, and I am now so happy to share it on record and live! It’s so funky and sweet I had to put two versions of it out on the album! It is the nucleus around which every other song orbits!
On May 24, you’re playing at Joe’s Pub in NYC. Will it be a solo performance or are you playing with a full band behind you?
I will have a super funky band at Joe’s Pub on 5/24. The core is a quartet with Gintas Janusonis on drums, Leo Traversa on bass, and Pablo Vergara on keys with me on electric guitar and loops and vocals. Special guests present will include Karen Joseph on flute, Steve Gluzband on trumpet, and Gabriel “chinchilita” Machado on percussion.
If you had to describe your sound to the uninitiated, what would you say?
Funky eclectic, contemporary world music songs are what I am rolling out for your listening, dancing, and thinking pleasure!
How did you first get into music?
I started singing publicly as a little boy and taught myself how to play guitar and keys in my teens and then later went to Berklee College of Music and studied jazz composition and arranging as well as singing. I have been on a long journey, studying and learning to play, compose, and arrange Cuban music since the early 2000s. I recorded three albums with Ola Fresca and I love Cuban music and salsa and Latin dance music from the very alternative psychedelic to pop. I have come full circle now, back to my funky pop roots.
Which artists/musicians had the most impact on your sound?
For this record, some Influences I can think of are Talking Heads, Daft Punk, Brazilian pop and funk, David Bowie, and Robert Glasper.
Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you push it deliberately in a certain direction?
My musical inclinations evolve and arise naturally. I have for many years gravitated towards everything rhythmic and funky and a certain way of writing lyrics and songs as well.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
Chicano Batman, Quantic, KokoKo, Tame Impala, Radiohead, Nick Cave.
Who or what inspires you?
Nature, a sunrise, a sunset, a good organic funk set.
What can your fans expect over the next six months? New material? Live gigs?
‘Souls Alive in the 305’ album is primed for summer! More videos are on the way. I will be planning tours for fall and winter worldwide.
Tickets and info for the May 24th album release party at Joe’s Pub in New York City.