Soulection has come a long way since it’s beginnings on California State University’s radio station KBeach in January 2011. As its sixth anniversary and 300th episode approaches, the platform has evolved into a global collective of forward-thinking selectors and producers. Soulection is a record label, a clothing brand, a club experience and even it’s own sub-genre of “Future beats, eclectic soul, forgotten gems and timeless sounds.”
As the brand reaches more listeners worldwide than ever before, 2016 saw head A&R and co-founder Joe Kay refocussed on its origins, doubling his efforts on the weekly radio show - which now broadcasts to over 100 countries via Apple’s Beats 1. Inspired by Los Angeles’ Low End Theory nights, and radio DJs in the vein of Gilles Peterson and Benji B, the 26-year-old takes to the station to inject a weekly fix of soul-cleansing, meditative hip-hop beats into listeners lives. Listeners tuning in can expect to hear anything from bootleg remixes to baile funk, throwback R&B to new releases from the label’s ever growing roster of affiliated producers including Sango, Monte Booker, ESTA and DPAT.
“I revolve my whole life around the radio show,” he admits, talking to Clash from Soulection’s headquarters, which is undoubtedly familiar to anyone that follows the collective’s Instagram - a beautifully minimal space, with exposed brickwork, dark wood beams, a basketball net and ping pong table. “I was doing a podcast before I even started this, so I really care about it. I think it stands out to people because it’s very well curated. The route I’ve always taken is playing the stuff that isn't readily available. It's like buying a limited piece of clothing that you really love. That's the way I feel when I find music that no one knows about. Everyone's a DJ nowadays. Everyone's a curator. So what separates myself or the radio show from everybody else? I feel that we have to dig harder than everybody to keep people listening.”
It’s this attention to detail that makes the show resonate deeply with its listeners. His interviews - refreshing insights into guest’s musical ventures, eschewing any unnecessary gossip and clickbait - are carefully chosen based on a combination of gut feeling and how their sound and story sit within the Soulection ethos. In this way, the show has been a great community platform for connecting dots between listeners, fans and musicians alike. “I think the radio show has always been the attraction for artists,” Joe considers. “We’ve had people like Mac Miller, Anderson .Paak, Jhené Aiko, Isaiah Rashad and Ginuwine. The artists are connected though the radio show. Then if we ever want to work with them on the record side or book them for a show, the relationship has been established.”