Skeme Richards is known within a large circle of Funk & Soul 45 aficionado’s, DJ’s, vinyl purists, record labels and promoters as a heavyweight collector in this genre. The self-proclaimed “Nostalgia King” is known not only for nightlife but also for involvement in the creative arts.
From Philly to Los Angeles, Seoul Korea to Tokyo, London to Switzerland, Skeme Richards is known for blessing the people with his eclectic mix of musical goodness, where no ear or dance floor goes unsatisfied.
YRB: Who is Skeme Richards?
Skeme Richards: I am product of all the things that have inspired me throughout the years, everything from art, music and film to stamps in a passport. Globally I’m known as a DJ, collector, burger and ramen connoisseur but ultimately I’m just a preserver of culture and trying to connect the dots as well as people from all walks of life who enjoy those same things.
YRB: Why do you think music is the universal language?
Skeme Richards: There are three things that connect people in this world more than anything else, good food, good drink and good music. Music has a pulse and that pulse connects to our heartbeat that drives us to have emotions in what we’re hearing and feeling. Regardless of the origin where the music was created from, it has a language all of it’s own that transcends race or religion and is rarely exclusive to one demographic. We all feel love, pain, sadness, joy, excitement and other emotions and it’s the music that helps us to move through those emotions without personally judging us.
YRB: Tell us about Tough Guys & Coffy Gals. We really love the sample that you sent.
Skeme Richards: Tough Guys & Coffy Gals is inspired by my love of Blaxploitation films and many of our heroes of the 1970’s including Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, Jim Brown and Jim Kelly to name a few. It was during a time where “Black Hollywood” was rising and many of the actors and actresses started to become household names within the industry, which was in fact, saving Hollywood along with other types of exploitation films during a time where movie viewership was down. During that time, there was also a lot of social awareness going on and political statements being made by the Black communities across America and two of the major ways of sending those messages or “sticking it to the man” was via these films and soundtracks that were composed by artists including James Brown, Isaac Hayes, Willie Hutch and others. Many of the same issues that were happening in the 1960’s and 70’s are still happening in 2019, yet the music and the message isn’t reflective of the present times and struggle so I thought that it was time to go back and revisit some of these timeless songs that were created out of their struggles.
YRB: How long is the full-length project?
Skeme Richards: The total run time is just about 1 hour but I honestly could make several volumes because there were so many films and soundtracks that were made during that time. But as an initial outing, I wanted to go with a strong track list without going with the cliché songs that you would find on other compilations or mixes.
YRB: How long did it take you to produce it?
Skeme Richards: From start to finish, I’d say it took about a 1 week. Whenever I have an idea, the first thing to do is to research and think about what I want to convey to the viewer or listener then get into character. In this case, I sat down for a weekend and watched probably 20 films of favorites, classics and ones that I might not have really loved years ago but gave another view to see if there’s something that aged differently or if my tastes matured. From there I pulled all of the soundtracks in my collection and listened to each one in full then marked off songs that I felt fit with the idea and would also go along with others in the mix. Since I’m doing all vinyl, it’s more of process than digital so I had to do multiple test runs recording the mix then listening to it back over a couple of days to see if I would get bored with it. Then once I had the correct lineup, I went in and recorded the mix.
YRB: Why is it only being released on cassette?
Skeme Richards: As a DJ and collector, I’m a stickler for physical product especially in a digital age where things devalue within the first 24hrs once the page turns or the next new thing comes out. What we do as DJs, photographers, comic book artists, record labels etc. do is art, and art is to be looked at, held and touched. Music on CD’s is almost non-existent at this point and coming from the Hip Hop / Sony Walkman era up until I bought my first car, the cassette was the medium that we loved most. I’m a very nostalgic person as are many people who collect things so I always want to present them with things that they can hold and display. It’s easy to do something and release it digitally but those things are easily forgotten. The value is in the physical product and the artistry that went into creating it. For example, the cover design that was created by my good friend and brother, The Elroy Jenkins who recently had a solo gallery exhibition in New York titled “Saturday Warnings”. That imagery is from a series of canvases that he painted. If we would have just used a low-res photo to promote the project, it would look good because he’s a great artist but it would look blah at the same time because its just a stock photo. It’s like would you want to show people vacation photos on a phone or a nice color 8×10 photo? This is the 5th cassette release that I’ve done with Record Breakin’ Music and the first thing people usually comment on is the design aspect and the fact that we went the extra mile to release physical product in the digital age which surprisingly is still very analog.
YRB: Are there any plans to release it on vinyl or digital?
Skeme Richards: Definitely not vinyl because there would too much red tape, lawyers, licensing fees and issues to deal with that would make it not financially beneficial for anyone to invest that type of time or money in. Honestly at some point I would like to do a bulk digital release of all my cassettes done on Record Breakin’, maybe after the 10th release. It’s one of those things that’s similar to fans wanting the original Star Wars trilogy released the exact way we saw them in theaters and on VHS, yet only these “special edition” versions with enhanced digital effects have gotten a digital release.
YRB: Tell us about how this project came together and the release on Record Breakin’ Music.
Skeme Richards: Record Breakin’ has been the biggest supporter when it comes to releasing projects and ideas that I have running through my head. Over the years we’ve released 2 vinyl 45’s, 5 cassettes and 1 digital mix and there’s never any stress what so ever. I’ll call Junior who owns the label and say hey, I want to do this or that and he’ll respond with don’t tell me about it, just send it to me. Then I’ll get lazy and send it months later but when it arrives on his front steps he’ll shoot me the thumbs up message and I know it’s ago. We work well together because I know his tastes and he knows that if he invests in it, that I’m going to do everything in power to make sure that we sell every copy pressed. If everything in life could be that simple and easy, the world would be a better place.
YRB: What inspires your music?
Skeme Richards: What inspires my music are the people on the dance floor that I’m playing for and the energy that floats throughout the room. I can pack a bag of 300 records and play that same bag 5 different nights and each experience will be different because the people are different which means the set and order of records that I play will be different. Each audience will have a unique experience, which is how it should be in my opinion because every day of the week is different. While packing records I already have a vision of how the night should work and what the space looks like in my head, which then pushes me to play in a certain way.
YRB: What’s next?
Skeme Richards: There’s a lot on my plate so far in 2020 that I’m extremely excited about. In January I’ll be flying to Ethiopia as an ambassador of Hip Hop and teaching DJ’ing and working with the locals on a showcase.
I’ll also be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my Magma Taishi Returns Japan tour as well as the 10th anniversary of my Butta 45’s Germany tour. In terms of musical releases, I have a vinyl 45 coming out via Record Breakin’ hopefully in the first quarter of the year and I have about 3 more cassette mixes already in the can (plus 1 with the label Strictly Cassette) ready to go so hopefully we’ll reach that 10th release by 2021. I also want to get back into doing gallery exhibitions showcasing some of the pieces from collection but that’s definitely an overwhelming task that will take time to focus on. More touring across the globe and of course continuing to write music reviews and sharing culture on my Nostalgia King site which has become a go to source for DJ’s and music lovers globally to find out what the best new Funk, Soul, Jazz and Hip Hop vinyl release from independent labels and artists are.
Tough Guys & Coffy Gals by Skeme Richards is available now.
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