Interview: Mark Goodvibes Taylor of the Americana Rock Your Soul Series

Back in 2011, London record collectors and DJs Mark Goodvibes Taylor and Zaf Zafsmusic Chowdhry released what quickly became one of the top compilations of the year: Americana – Rock Your Soul. The compilation featured rare and obscure AOR soul music from the States.

What caught my attention with Americana? Five of the 16 tracks were Hawaiian. Americana – Rock Your Soul Vol. 1 came just a year after I started blogging here, and both Mark and Zaf deserve much respect for digging Hawaiian records up at the turn of millennium before a lot of others got turned on to the sound (I started collecting vinyl around 2004, but didn’t tune in to local records until 2010).

(For your reference, Mark and I met online in 2010 through a post on Soulstrut.com, where we found ourselves simultaneously searching for the song titles from DJ Muro’s Hawaiian Breaks mix.)

Now that Mark and Zaf are two volumes deep, I decided to ask Mark a few question about his interest in Hawaiian soul music.

Americana: rock your soul 2

I have to say, your and Zaf’s enthusiasm for Hawaiian rare groove is great to see—starting with five (!) Hawaiian tracks on the first volume, and now two more tunes on Americana – Rock Your Soul 2. What attracts you to the soul music of Hawaii?

I have always had an attraction to those tunes with a soulful vibe, yet at the same time a breezy sun soaked kinda care free feeling running through them also! Stuff like West Coast California sounding cuts, Brazilian & Latin music, especially those jazzy/soulful numbers from the 70’s & 80’s. Naturally the Hawaiian sound falls into this category as well, exudes a feeling of happiness and living a sunshine lifestyle!

When did you first discover Hawaiian soul/jazz records?

My first introduction to Hawaiian music, that drew my attention to the Islands music would be Lemuria & Macky Feary Band around the early 2000’s.

Has there ever been a question of the ‘authenticity’ of Hawaiian blue-eyed soul, seeing as the Hawaiian Islands are so far distanced from mainland America and the black music hotspots of the States?

To my mind and ears, no.

Soundwise it has the authentic AOR sound of a lot of stuff that came out of the West Coast in the golden period for this sound of the early 70’s through to early 80’s. Hawaii always had a healthy melting pot of local homegrown guys, alongside mainland musicians who had made the islands their adopted home, or who were hanging out their for a few years along their travels.

Top Hawaiian record and why?

Probably would have to go for Mike Lundy The Rhythm Of Life. Though Lemuria and Babadu run this album close!

How has the Internet age changed the way people dig for records and connect over music? I admit, I doubt I would’ve “met” you if it weren’t for Soulstrut and Facebook. What are your thoughts on this new age of finding and sharing music?

Well the internet is good and bad, regarding records!!!

In terms of gaining access to some of the more obscure titles from the far off reaches of the world (such as Hawaii) it has helped a lot. I remember in the early 90’s desperately wanting a copy of Bong Penera A Samba Song. This was a rare Philippines bossa nova jazz album, that at that time to my knowledge only three people had copies of in the music circles I moved in. It was virtually impossible to get a copy in a place like London, unless you might be going to the Philippines yourself (or a friend) to dig up a copy! I did eventually manage to get a copy actually after almost 5 years of searching, but at a price…LOL!

Nowadays with internet and eBay, you could find a copy of Bong Penera without too much of a struggle, still not cheap, but a lot cheaper than back in the days… The element of sharing information with people around the world is good, plus you get to make more musical nerd friends as you go along… hahaha

Zafsmusic (left) and Mark Goodvibes Taylor.

Labelmates and music nerds Zaf Zafsmusic Chowdhry (left) and Mark Goodvibes Taylor.

The downside is that the mystique about records has kinda gone! All these mythical records were supposed to exist that we had heard of, but hardly anyone had ever seen them in the flesh to confirm they really were genuine releases in the first place. Plus, you had to really dig deep into your pockets back then to grab those rare pieces like the Bong Penera album. Nowadays folks can download music for free off blogs, so less dedication is required to my mind!

The other aspect is you had to be out digging through boxes of vinyl, or going across town to hook up with a guy who had a bag over his shoulder to make trades, or a cash transfer to get those elusive pieces of wax. Not knowing what you might turn up when going out to dig for vinyl was always an exciting feeling.

Can we expect another installment in the Americana series? And if so, more Hawaiian tracks?

The Americana – Rock Your Soul Vol. 2 appears to be doing well (review and sales wise) so far after coming out in early November, so a Vol. 3 might well be a possibility, naturally we’d try to include some Hawaiian stuff on it (though at the end of the day it depends on licensing issues), so let’s see what happens!

Last words/anything else you’d like to add to our interview?

At the end of each year I always look back and reflect on all the music I’ve learnt about, discovered, and added to my collection throughout the year, always happy that I’ve learnt and acquired more music.

We are always discovering and learning new stuff, and that is exciting and stimulating to me musically. Hooking up with fellow minded collectors from around the world is great as well, as we (mostly) can often be helpful to each other with information, and even access to vinyl in many cases! Case in point, ourselves hooking up with each other to track down the artists who appeared on the Muro ‘Hawaiian Breaks’ mix from a few years back.

You can order your copy of Americana – Rock Your Soul Vol. 2 online at bbemusic.com and plenty of other reputable retailers.

Dear BBE: Can get a photo of Waikiki on the cover of volume 3? 😉

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