One of this year’s most intriguing albums has been the recent ‘Not Strictly Soul’ from the KEVIN FINGIER COLLECTIVE. The title is, of course, ironic. The LP is stuffed with great sounds – Classic Soul, Northern Soul, Mod Jazz, R&B, Boogaloo and Funk all mixed into one splendid musical cocktail. We’ve known about Kevin and his passion for soul for some time. We learned that he’s from Argentina – a self-confessed mod and serious soul and jazz collector and a fan! But with the album taking off we needed to know more. We jetted out to Buenos Aires to speak with Mr F (no we didn’t, just more irony!) but we did hook up with him and first asked about his background…
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and I’ve been a music addict since I was nine years old when I discovered the band Kiss. That got me into the “alternative music” (alternative for nine years old!) and I’ve been discovering and listening to all kinds of music ever since. What influences me most now at Fingier Records is obviously 60s Soul, 50s/60s R&B, Raw Funk, Mod Jazz and Boogaloo, but I try to create it in a way that it has its own personality. I’d say that the influence is every record I’ve ever listened since I was a kid. My musical heroes might be from different genres, but they influence me in the million decisions that I usually make as a producer in my tracks, so Dave Hamilton, Lloyd Charmers, Nicolas Godin, Sonic Youth, Derrick Harriott, Paul Weller and The Velvet Underground are some of my all-time favourite bands/artists/producers that I still listen every time that I need some inspiration.
What’s the music scene like in Argentina – is soul and mod culture popular?
Not at all, the mainstream music scene in Argentina is all around Trap music, (rap sub-genre) then the underground scene is around punk and alternative music, and in that context a Mod or Soul scene doesn’t exist. My wife and I run the Buenos Aires Soul Club and there are some people that like Soul or Mod culture but not enough to call ourselves a scene. Having said that, I’m happy that in the last couple of years we have some new bands and more people involved so hopefully we’ll have a bigger scene in the future!
What made you make a career in music?
It’s what I’ve always wanted since I was a kid, but doing music for living is almost impossible in Argentina. The industry is really different than in the UK or USA – from when you are young, people tell you that if you’re into music or any other art form, you should do it only as a hobby. I tried to fight that many times, but always got frustrated and going back to it as a hobby thing. Until, ironically, when I stopped following that dream, Eddie Piller (Acid Jazz) told me that he wanted to release a 7” of my first band called “Los Aggrotones”, an instrumental Early Reggae quartet and I thought of that possibility as my last chance to actually have a career in music, so I’ve put everything into it. I worked the hardest I’ve ever worked before to make it happen and even though I’d been producing the last Aggrotones records, I started to study music production and the audio engineer career to become a professional music producer and I’ve been producing lots of records ever since!
How difficult was it for you to set up your career and label in Argentina?
It wasn’t difficult at all to be honest, although I have to say that going to the UK a few times made things easier. I pitched Acid Jazz my label idea during my honeymoon in London. Luckily they were into it and we worked remotely the first year preparing the launch for January 2020. After we scheduled the launch, I came back and of course by March the pandemic started here. So working remotely became the normal thing which meant that it didn’t matter if I was in London or in Buenos Aires, so nowadays we’re in touch almost everyday by email, and have regular zoom calls which make things really easy to work.
And where do you get the musicians from to make your music – In Argentina do you go elsewhere?
All of the musicians are from Argentina, and most of them are musicians that I’ve met in the last 10 years in the Jamaican music scene here. They are some of my favourite Argentinian musicians and I’m happy to work with them. Then we have the singers who are from USA, Brasil and Senegal, but luckily they all live in Buenos Aires so I feel really thankful that these amazing artists appeared into my path.
OK now tell us a bit more about your link with Acid Jazz Records …
I used to listen to Eddie Piller’s show on Soho Radio every Thursday, so when I went to London in 2017 I wanted to go and say hi to him at the radio station. I took some 60s Argentinian rare records to give him as a gift and a couple of Aggrotones LPs as well. He received me and interviewed me in the show and asked me to introduce these 60s records, which I did, but one of them was discovered by Ron, Los Aggrotones bass player, so I mentioned my band in my little review of that record which made Eddie interested in listening to it, so he said, “Let’s put a track from your band in the end of the show”. I picked our version of ‘It’ll Never Be Over’ from the LP we recorded with the singer Mimi Maura and he loved it so much that he started to shout in the studio that he’d release it as a 7” on Acid Jazz, and as they say, the rest is history!
KEVIN PICTURED WITH EDDIE PILLER (left) AND DEAN RUDLAND (centre) BELOW…
You’ve released several singles and one album, I think, on Acid Jazz – tell us about them.
With Los Aggrotones we released that first 7” with Mimi Maura and an LP called ‘Right Now’, and then we launched the subsidiary called Fingier Records (named by Eddie) as a sub label to release my Soul productions. The first seven records worked as a way to show what the label is about, our artistic vision, our sound, our singers and our genres. The first 12 songs were released in a compilation called ‘El Sonido De Fingier Records’ and now we’ve released the first full length album by The Kevin Fingier Collective, ‘Not Strictly Soul’, which is the studio band that backed every singer we’ve released on the label.
Now the new album… tell us about it…
I’ve tried to make it as a conceptual album, I wanted all songs to coexist nicely, and so the listener can have a whole experience listening to it all together. To be honest I’m really happy with it and I believe this is my best work so far, can’t wait for everybody to listen to it!
What tracks are you particularly proud of?
All of them because they’re not composed as separated tracks, the whole album is composed together. I’ve never seen it as separate things because I wanted it to be just one piece. Having said that, the intro by Derrick Harriott is a highlight because the fact that he said those things about me is incredible for me, especially coming from one of my favourite producers from all time. Then I love every track, but objectively I think ‘My Heart Is Burning’ with Jo Ann Hamilton, Diane Ward and Josi Dias together is probably the best track I’ve done so far.
How will you be promoting the album and how can we learn more?
I’ll be telling some stories behind the creation of the record in my socials and I know there are some reviews coming up as well!
You also have links with UK boutique label MD Records and Fred Perry Clothing – tell us about that?
With Fred Perry, they interviewed me as soon as we launched the record label and of course it meant a lot to me that 60% of my wardrobe is made by them! And with MD Records .. I’m really happy and proud to say that I’m part of the team. These guys have got lots of unreleased tapes of Soul recordings from the 60s and the fact that they’ve picked me to restore them, mixed them and work with them is a huge honour. For me, considering that I produce 60s sounds in the 2020s, having the chance of listening to multitracks of actual recordings from the 60s is really incredible! And having the possibility of mixing, restoring or producing those tracks in a way that they we can contribute some unreleased 60s soul for the Northern Soul/Rare Soul fans it’s amazing!
Finally to put you on the spot -what are your three favourite records?
Impossible to pick them even in just one genre, mainly because they change all the time! But I’ll pick three of my favourite records from all time and all music genres: