MEGA JAWNS-TEN LETTERS FROM HOME.

MEGA JAWNS-TEN LETTERS FROM HOME.

From the day Bernie Lowe and Karl Mann founded Cameo Records in 1956, Philadelphia was on its way to becoming one of America’s musical capitals. Throughout the sixties, Philly’s reputation as a musical centre of excellence grew. This was in part down to a trio of songwriters and producers, known as The Mighty Three, Thom Bell, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. 

They were three of the architects of Philly Soul. Thom Bell’s started career began when he produced The Delfonics. He then transformed the careers of The Spinners and The Stylistics. They become some of Philly’s most successful musical exports. So did some of the artists signed to Philadelphia International Records,

In 1971, Gamble and Huff founded Philadelphia International Records. They transformed the fortunes of groups like The O’Jays, Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes and The Three Degrees. They were backed by M.F.S.B. Philadelphia International Records’ legendary house band. M.F.S.B. featured musical legends like the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, Vincent Montana Jr, Larry Washington and Bobby “Electronic” Eli. After playing an important part in the Philly Soul sound, many members of M.F.S.B. would play an important part in disco’s rise and rise.

After a dispute with Gamble and Huff over money, many members of M.F.S.B. left and signed to Salsoul Records. The former members of M.F.S.B. became The Salsoul Orchestra. They released a string of successful albums and backed Loleatta Holloway, First Choice, Double Exposure and Love Committee. For the next few years, The Salsoul Orchestra played an important part in disco’s rise and rise. Then when disco died Philly’s moment in the musical sun looked like it was over.

That wasn’t the case. Since 1979, a number of successful artists have come out of Philly. Hall and Oates, Jill Scott, Kurt Vile and most recently, A War On Drugs have joined Philly’s musical role of honour. Each year, new artists vie for a place on Philly’s prestigious Walk Of Fame. One of Philly’s newest groups is the Mega Jawns. 

Mega Jawns were founded on 10th March 2014. That’s when two veteran producers met in a basement in West Philly. That’s where Philly keyboard player, vocalist and producer Will Brock met UK producer and DJ Will Sumsuch. Having shaken hands on the 10th March 2014, seven days later Mega Jawns’ debut album Ten Letters From Home was completed. Six months later, Ten Letters From Home will be released by BBE Records on 22nd September 2014. It’s been a roller coaster ride for the Mega Jawns in their quest to join Philly’s Walk Of Fame.

Sometimes, artists or producers can struggle for years before they make a breakthrough. Then when they meet a new collaborator, their fortunes change. That wasn’t quite the way it was for the two Wills, Will Brock and Will Sumsuch. They were both enjoying relatively successful careers. However, they were approaching the stage in their musical careers when they were referred to as veterans. This was the case with the two Wills.

Philly keyboardist, vocalist and producer Will Brock has been a stalwart of the international jazz and soul scene for more years than he can care to remember. He’s spent what seems like a lifetime touring and performing. Will hasn’t just criss-crossed America, but the world. In doing so, Will has toured and played with everyone from The Stylistics, Miles Jaye and Marion Meadows. However, it’s not just touring that Will Brock enjoys.

When he’s at home, Will enjoys working in the studio. He’s a pianist and producer. Previously, Will has released singles on King Street Records. He’s also recorded with Stephanie Cooke and King Britt. Will is also one  as one half of production duo Soul Dhamma. The other Will, Will number two, has an equally impressive CV.

Will Sumsuch is a UK based producer and DJ. He’s a mainstay of the European deep house scene. That’s been the case for over ten years. With his DJ case packed with the deepest house, Will has played all over Europe. One night it’ll be Barcelona, the next Helsinki. The life of a globe-trotting DJ is best described as have passport, will travel. When he’s not DJ-ing, Will’s a respected producer.

Just like most successful DJs, Will is also a producer. His music is popular among the DJ-ing community. Look into the DJ case of Ben Watt, Osunlade, Justin Martin and Jody Wisternoff, and they’ll have tracks by Will Sumsuch amongst their secret weapons. Will’s cerebral style of electronic music is winning over DJs and dancers. It was whist Will  Sumsuchwas making one of his singles Simpatico, that he first met Will Brock.

That was back in 2013. The two Wills first collaborated on Will Sumsuch’s 2013 single Simpatico. Will released Simpatico on his own label Colour and Pitch. Quickly, Simpatico found a following within the DJ-ing fraternity. One of the first people to pick up on Simpatico was house vocalist Robert Owens. That was just the start. Soon, others got behind Simpatico. For the two Wills, this was the start of a fruitful collaboration.

Fast forward to 10th March 2014. That’s when the two Wills first met. Having shook hands, they started work. They joked about making an album within a week. However, they both thought that maybe, they’d manage to record a couple of tracks. After all, recording an album in a week was a step too far? Surely?

It wasn’t. Ten Letters From Home is proof of that. It’s a meeting of two musical minds. On Ten Letters From Home, Will Brock adds a Philly Soul influence. Meanwhile, Will Sumsuch adds an understated European electronica influence to Ten Letters From Home. The Mega Jawns debut album Ten Letters From Home, you’ll soon realise, is an intriguing fusion of ideas, influences and genres.

Just a thoughtful piano opens I Know. It opens Ten Letters From Home. Soon, thundering drums make their presence felt. They introduce the main event, Will Brock’s powerhouse of a soulful vocal. Soon though, the track is over. Accompanied by wistful keyboard chords and drenched in reverb, this poignant track is over. However, it’s a taste of what’s to come.

Straight away, Joy has Will Sumsuch’s influence writ large all over it. Drums pound while an understated, electronic arrangement unfolds. Keyboards and washes of synths shimmer combine. They seem to be leaving space for something. That something is Will’s heartfelt, joyous and soulful vocal. It soars above the arrangement, a reminder of Philly’s soulful heritage. Having said that, there’s a nod to soulful house, classic garage and gospel house. There’s a jazzy twist at a breakdown before this slice of joyous, soulful music rebuilds. At the heart of song’s sound and success is Will’s vocal.

As a storm breaks, thunderous drums and percussion combine on Close To The Storm. Then calm is restored. Stabs of keyboards and a shuffling minimalist arrangement combine. That’s before the arrangement rebuilds. Drums and a tender, hopeful vocal combine with the melancholy sound of keyboards. Midway through the track, the storm breaks as strings and harmonies sweep in. This results in the arrangement taking on a symphonic sound. Bubbling synths then emerge from the arrangement. It’s the finishing touch as the Mega Jawns are combine soul, jazz and electronica to create a symphony for the EDM generation.

Blink Of An Eye marks a change in direction from the Mega Jawns. Washes of synths, hypnotic drums and stabs of a bass synth are joined by the occasional handclap. They provide the backdrop for Will’s vocal. It’s a mixture of power, emotion and soulfulness. Sometimes, he vamps against the electronic backdrop. It’s augmented lush keyboards, as Will  embarks upon a vamp as he dawns the role of Philly’s 21st Century soul man.

Running Home features guest artist, Sachrias. From the get-go, the arrangement has a cinematic sound. That’s down to the keyboards and synths. They’re joined by strident drums, piano and Will’s thoughtful vocal. When his vocal drops out, the arrangement veers between haunting, eerie and ethereal. Then when the drums and bass synth kick loose, the pulsating arrangement becomes dance-floor friendly. Still the cinematic sound shines through, resulting in an intriguing track.

Shimmering synths and thunderous beats pound as Dirty Film unfolds. Hissing hi-hats join the fray, while synths beep and squeak. Soon, Will’s sassy, sultry vocal enters. It’s shrouded in effects and panned left to right.  All the time, drums pound and with synths, help drive the arrangement along. Atop the arrangement, constantly, synths shimmer and quiver. When this is combined, the result is a breezy, sleazy sounding dance-track that’s irresistible.

Cinematic and futuristic describes The Game. So does dance-floor friendly. It’s an arrangement of two parts. Above the arrangement thoughtful, hypnotic percussive sounds constantly repeat. Futuristic synths occasionally interrupt. All the time, drums thunder. They’re then joined by Will’s wistful, hurt-filled vocal. Shrill strings sweep in, while sound effects sit back in the arrangement. Instruments constantly drift in  and out, playing their part in this hypnotic, dance track where hope and hurt are omnipresent in Will’s vocal. 

Bubbling synths join percussion as Silver Lining begins to share its secrets and subtleties. Washes of synths and handclaps are joined by a bass synth and Will’s emotive vocal. It’s joined by harmonies as memories come flooding back. His vocal becomes soulful and heartfelt. This is very different to the electronic arrangement. There’s one difference. Drums have been reigned in. This allows other things to take centre-stage. Especially, Will’s heartfelt, soulful vocal.

If I seems reluctant to share its secrets. Expectantly, you wait to see the direction the track is heading. Cinematic describes the introductions. Washes of synths add a wistful, ethereal sound. Then drums pound, synths beep and squeak before Will delivers a Nu Soul vocal. He’s accompanied by harmonies and a poignant piano. It’s a case of Nu-Soul meets classic soul. All the time, bubbling synths and pounding drums give the arrangement an electronic heartbeat as the two Wills musical influences shine through.

Little Lady closes Ten Letters From Home. Straight away, the arrangement gets funky. Bass, guitar and keyboards join forces with drums as Will delivers another powerhouse of a vocal. He’s augmented by harmonies. They add the finishing touch to this joyous, uplifting slice of Nu Philly Soul.

Philadelphia’s music scene has changed since the days when The O’Jays, The Spinners, The Stylistics and Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes ruled the roost. Back then, DAWs, drum machines and synths were a thing of the future. Artists had to head to studios like Joe Tarsia’s legendary Sigma Sound Studios where songs were recorded onto tape. Things have changed now.

Nowadays, producers like Will Brock and Will Sumsuch can meet and collaborate over the internet. Using DAWs packed full of VSTs and samples, the Mega Jawns can collaborate across the Atlantic. All they need is a high speed broadband connection. Many producers collaborate like this. Not the Mega Jawns.

Will Sumsuch jumped on a plane and flew the redeye to Philly. That’s where he met Will Brock. They met on 10th March 2014 and joked about making an album in a week. That might have seemed like a pipe dream. It wasn’t. The Mega Jawns managed to record their debut album Ten Letters From Home in seven days.

 The Mega Jawns  wrote, recorded and mixed Ten Letters From Home within seven days. That’s good going nowadays. No longer do artists record quickly. Instead, they spend years trying to complete an album. That Ten Letters From Home was recorded within seven days, is testament to Philly’s musical past.

Thom Bell and Gamble and Huff didn’t take long to record an album. They entered a studio and within no time at all, had recorded an album. This included a string of million-selling, classic albums. There’s a reason they were able to do that. They were prepared, and realised that, studio time costs money. Modern producers don’t think like that.

Instead, they don’t attach a monitory value to the time they spent within their home studio. So when they dawdle, it’s costing them money. For every hour, day and week they spent auditioning claps and kick drums, it’s costing them money. So if an artist spends a year on an album, there’s no way they’re really making money. Their royalties won’t come close to covering costs. The Mega Jawns didn’t make this mistake.

They worked quickly and they worked well. Pooling their resources, the Mega Jawns wrote, recorded, produced  and mixed the ten tracks on Ten Letters From Home. The result is music that’s a fusion of electronica, funk, house, jazz, Nu-Soul and Philly Soul. There’s even a nod to soulful house, classic garage and gospel house. Essentially, Ten Letters From Home is a fusion of the Mega Jawns’ musical influences. 

This means European electronica meets Nu Soul, jazz and Philly Soul. It’s an intriguing, eclectic and potent fusion that’s soulful and dance-floor friendly. Remarkably, Ten Letters From Home was written, recorded, produced and mixed within seven days. You wouldn’t know this. The quality of music hasn’t suffered. Working to such a tight deadline concentrated the Mega Jawns’ minds. 

Six months after finishing Ten Letters From Home, the Mega Jawns debut album will be released on BBE Records on 22nd October 2014. Soulful and dance-floor friendly, let’s hope that Ten Letters From Home is the first of many transatlantic collaborations from the Mega Jawns.

MEGA JAWNS-TEN LETTERS FROM HOME.

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