Soul and hip-hop feature prominently in this trawl through the record collection of one of France's most prolific house artists
Phil Weeks has been a central figure on the French house scene for almost 20 years. Emerging onto the international stage around the turn of the millennium - just as the French touch/filter disco craze of the mid/late 90s was dying down - his distinctive, sample-heavy style of jacking house soon found favour with like-minded musical souls on the other side of the Atlantic, resulting in numerous collaborations with the likes of DJ Sneak, Derrick Carter and Hector Moralez.
He's not just well connected, either. He's also extremely prolific: as he points out below, he's put out over 300 tracks over the years. That's a lot of music to hawk around from one record label door to another, which is why he set up his own Robsoul Recordings label in 1999. Initially intended purely as a way of getting more of his music out there, Robsoul has since gone on to release material from the likes of Joss Moog, Mark Farina, JT Donaldson, Jordan Peak, Toka Project and Paul Woolford, not to mention fellow French house pioneer and Brique Rouge boss David Duriez. Phil also runs the P&D label with Didier Allyne.
Most recently, Hot Creations hit him up to remix Frank Storm & Matteo Spedicati's Gimme Tha Honey. So with that single in stores as we speak, we got Phil on the phone to talk us through some of his all-time favourite tunes...
SIX EARLY INFLUENCES
Public Enemy - Fight The Power (Motown, 1989)
"I bought this in Virgin Megastore in London, when I was there on a school trip. I'd have been 13 at the time and it was the first time I'd ever been to England. I actually bought it on tape, and it was my first introduction to music based on sampling. The idea that you could make a record out of bits of other records just blew my mind, and I knew right away I wanted to try doing that."
Daft Punk - Revolution 909 (Virgin, 1996)
"Homework came out about the time I was first starting in production, and it was a huge inspiration for me. I was 20 years old, and that's when I really knew that my life would be dedicated to house music."
J Dilla - Donuts (Stones Throw, 2005)
"One of my favourite records of all time. It came out just a month after J Dilla died, and the whole album is basically made up of samples of old soul records. If anyone doesn't know this album, I strongly recommend they check it out - it's one of the most soulful hip-hop records ever. J Dilla used to use an MPC 3000, and I was using a different sampler but after this record I was inspired to switch to the MPC 3000 too, so it was a very direct influence in that way."
Gang Starr - Take Two And Pass (Chrysalis, 1992)
"Another great hip-hop record, produced by DJ Premier. The way he put all these different samples together was very inventive, and he was using an MPC-60 and an Akai S-950 which were 12-bit machines, so you get that lo-fi kinda sound which made the drums sound really powerful."
David Ruffin - Can We Make Love One More Time (Warner Bros, 1980)
"Total soul music... music for lovers, with lots of melody and instrumentation. Those are the kind of records I like to sample - and in fact I did sample this record, on my second album, Love Affair, in 2011. That's basically what I do: sample old soul records in a way that's inspired by hip-hop, so that's what I was trying to show with these selections."
Michael Jackson - Get On The Floor (Epic, 1979)
"Michael Jackson was just hugely important when I was growing up.This is a great track from the Off The Wall album, that I sampled for a track called On The Floor a few years ago. "
SIX PERSONAL PRODUCTIONS
Phil Weeks - Live At Palladium (Robsoul, 2014)
"This was quite a cool track because it's based on a Marvin Gaye sample, but it's not from one of his well-known tracks, it's actually from one of his live albums - called Live At The Palladium, of course. I took some of the crowd noise and his voice when he's talking to the audience, and it's been one of my biggest-selling tracks."
Fries & Bridges - Forever This (Minority, 2010)
"This was a tune I did with my old partner Hector Moralez, from San Francisco. We made it in about two hours, and it was inspired by hip-hop. I'd heard this DJ Premier track that sampled Jerry Butler, a soul singer, so we made this house track using the same two-bar sample, and then we added a Cee-Lo Green acapella over the top."
Phil Weeks - It’s The Inside That Counts (Robsoul, 2014)
"This was a very simple track. I made a quick beat on the MPC and used a bassline from the 303 that I'd had for years, and then I took a bit of Loleatta Holloway vocal and chopped it up into about ten parts and played about with those over the top. It's gone on to be one of my biggest-selling tracks."
Phil Weeks - Jack To My Groove (Robsoul, 2011)
"This was another one of my biggest tracks: I've made about 300 or 400 tracks, so when I had to pick six for this article I just chose the ones I thought the most people would know. This one has a bass sound that was sampled from a 90s Murk record, then assigned across different pads on the MPC at different pitches so I could replay a different bassline but with the same sound. I think it took me about a day to make."
Phil Weeks - By My Side (Robsoul, 2011)
"This was on my second album Love Affair, and it was another one inspired by hip-hop. There was a track by The Game that I really liked, and again I sourced the original sample and then made about 10 different versions of it, putting it in a house context."
Phil Weeks feat. Derrick L Carter - Where U At? (Robsoul, 2006)
"This was originally a track Derrick made in about 2003, and I had the acapella so I did my own remix. And Derrick liked it, so he gave me his blessing and we put it out on Robsoul."
SIX TUNES THAT NEVER LEAVE MY BOX
Romanthony - Let Me Show You Love [Quick Dub] (Azuli, 1994)
"I didn't actually hear this until the late 90s, and then when I did, of course I couldn't find it anywhere - it wasn't like now when you can just buy everything over the internet, you had to actually find it in a record shop! And it took me about three or four years, but I eventually found a sealed copy in DJ Linus's record shop in Munich. I still play it at least once every couple of months now."
Cajmere feat. Dajae - Brighter Days [Underground Goodies Mix] (Cajual, 1992)
"I don't think I've ever played the Original Mix - this is the one! The crowd always goes crazy for this one, even if they don't actually know the track - they usually will know it, but even if they don't they still go crazy because it's just like the definition of house. The looping voice, the tuff beats, the bassline, the little break... it's all there to make you dance."
Moodymann - Shades Of Jae (KDJ, 1999)
"Another classic. Like Let Me Show You Love, this is one that I'll still play several times a year at least. It's just a soul loop and a beat, and then the beat cuts out for a while and when it comes back in the dancefloor just goes crazy."
Todd Terry - Never Get Enough [Tee's Freeze Mix] (Henri Street, 1996)
"Henry Street was one of my favourite labels back in the day, and I've always played a lot of Todd Terry tracks. But this one in particular is always on my USB stick and I played it just last week. Todd's used a lot of different samples on this track."
Nail - Optimus (DiY Discs, 1995)
"Nail's been around for years: he's still making tracks from my label Robsoul now, but this was a track he did for DiY Discs, another of my favourite labels, back in the day. It's just beats and a bassline, with some FX on the drums, but I've played it countless times. I don't play it quite so much now, though, because it was reissued four or five years ago and became quite popular... before that, I was the only person playing it!"
BT - Remember [Mood II Swing Dub] (Perfecto, 1997)
"BT's not someone I really listen to normally, but this Mood II Swing dub is fantastic. If I had to pick an all-time house Top 10 this would definitely be in it, it's an incredible track. I don't normally like vocoders but the way they've used the vocoder on the vocal is amazing, and it still sounds fresh every time I play it."
SIX SEDUCTION RECORDS
Isaac Hayes - Feel Like Makin’ Love (Stax, 1978)
"I'm actually making a track that samples this one right now... in fact, I think I've sampled every record in this section! When I listen to music like this, I'm always listening out for samples: I mean, I love the music as well but that's always in the back of my mind. Isaac Hayes made so many crazy tracks - a very important artist."
Barry White - Never, Never Gonna Give You Up (20th Century, 1973)
"I love this track. A few years ago I did a podcast for Cadenza where you had to do a 'club' mix and what they called a 'source' mix of non-house tracks, and I used this on there. I was very sad when Barry White died, I loved his music and this one gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. And also, if you listen carefully to the hi-hat sound at the start - that's cropped up on quite a few of my own productions!"
Jerry Butler - Just Because I Really Love You (Mercury, 1969)
"This is the same guy that DJ Premier sampled, as I was saying before. This is a different track, though - this is one that J Dilla sampled on a very famous record. Production-wise, it's just perfect."
Ramp - I Just Love You (Blue Thumb, 1977)
"Ramp was a band that Roy Ayers put together, wrote songs for and produced - the name stands for the Roy Ayers Music Project. I Just Love You is another one I've sampled, on my Raw Instrumental album. Again, it's just a fantastic track, and very cool because it uses a loop, which wasn't something they did a lot of in 1977. Everything back then was fully arranged and constantly evolving, but this just loops and loops and loops."
Willie Hutch - Give Me Some Of That Good Old Love (Motown, 1974)
"This comes from the blaxploitation movie Foxy Brown, which Hutch did the soundtrack for. He did quite a lot of those soundtracks."
Minnie Riperton - Inside My Love (Epic, 1975)
"When you talk about seduction music, this is just perfect. I've sampled this one a couple of times - in fact, I used the Rhodes from this on my last single! And of course, tons of other people have sampled it as well. The production on those old 70s soul records, when everyone was using real instruments in a real studio... you just can't beat it."
SIX AFTERHOURS RECORDS
James Brown - The Payback (Polydor, 1973)
"Another classic that's been sampled hundreds on hundreds of hip-hop records. James Brown was just so important for everything he did for soul music, for dance music. So if we go back to mine after a club, gotta put some James Brown on!"
Alicia Myers - I Want To Thank You (MCA, 1981)
"I'm not sure when I first heard this… it's one of those records that was always around and you know the tune before you know what it actually is. But it's like I've known it forever."
The Three Degrees - Maybe (Roulette, 1970)
"This was another one I first discovered because J Dilla sampled it on his album Donuts. It's very cool because you've just got talking for the first few minutes and then The Three Degrees come in, and I was like, what's that? And thankfully these days with the internet, it didn't take me too long to find out."
Rick James - Mary Jane (Gordy, 1978)
"A classic from one of the true pioneers of funk and hip-hop. It's perfect for afterparties: get in from the club, smoke some weed and listen to Rick James! Snoop Dogg's done a version of this as well."
Aretha Franklin - One Step Ahead (Columbia, 1965)
"Another one I've sampled, but I never actually put the track out. For me it's one of Aretha's best, I don't really know what else to say about it."
Candido - Thousand Finger Man (Solid State, 1970)
"I've never sampled this... although we put out a Gene Hunt record on P&D that did! Again, it's just a classic tune that's perfect for afterparties."
SIX SECRET WEAPONS
DJ Q - Tracking (Filter, 1997)
"There's quite a few DJ Q's around these days, but this is the DJ Q from Glasgow, who was kind of the house generation before me and who was one of my biggest inspirations. He made all his beats on an eMu SP-1200, which was a 12-bit machine, so they all had that lo-fi sound. This is always in my bag, and it's fire on the dancefloor every time."
Martin Venetjoki feat. Derek Conyer - Really Don’t Stop [Lawnchair Generals Remix] (Dust Trax, 2005)
"Lawnchair Generals were a house duo out of Seattle who produced one hit underground house track after another in the 00s, though they don't seem to be doing much these days. This one in particular will rock the spot whenever you play it: when the beats and the bassline come back in after the breakdown, it goes off every time, even though it's not that well known."
CJ Bolland - Sugar Is Sweeter [Armand’s Drum And Bass Mix] (FFRR, 1996)
"I actually have to stop myself from playing this at every party, because it's one of my favourite records to mix with - it just goes with everything! I've played this to 2,000-3,000 people in South America and the whole place just went crazy. It's from 1996 but it still works today, and I've put it in the 'secret weapons' category even though it's not that secret, because it can still be a secret for today's crowds."
Djaimin - Open The Door [DJ Shorty's Zanzibar Stomper Mix] (Slip ’N Slide, 1998)
"A very cool record. You've got the main beat, then you hear a knocking at the door and you've got the vocal which is someone trying to blag their way in on the guestlist, and the music filters right down so it sounds like you're hearing the music from outside the club. Another one that might have been well known back in the day, but you can play it today and people think it's new."
Romanthony - Feel Like Dancing (Black Male, 1994)
"Again, a lot of the older heads will know this one, but you'd be surprised - I've played it and people who've been DJing 15, 20 years will still ask me what it is!"
Akufen - Deck The House (Force Inc, 2002)
"I first heard Joshua play this on a boat party in San Francisco, when it had just come out. I went out and bought it the next day, and I last played it at an afterparty in Paris just last weekend. I was playing from 6am to 10am and I dropped this at around 8am, just as the sun was coming up, and the whole place went crazy."
Words: Russell Deeks
Phil Weeks' remix of Frank Storm & Matteo Spedicati's Gimme Tha Honey is out now on Hot Creations. Buy it here.
Tags: Phil Weeks, Robsoul, Public Enemy, Daft Punk, J Dilla, Gang Starr, David Ruffin, Michael Jackson, Fries & Bridges, Derrick Carter, Romanthony, Dajae, Moodymann, Todd Terry, Nail, BT, Mood II Swing, Isaac Hayes, Barry White, Jerry Butler, Ramp, Roy Ayers, Willie Hutch, Minnie Riperton, James Brown, Alicia Myers, The Three Degrees, Rick James, Aretha Franklin, Candido, DJ Q, Martin Venetjoki, Lawnchair Generals, CJ Bolland, Armand Van Helden, Djaimin, Akufen, Cajmere