Not much is known about 99 Souls
. A duo consisting of joyful chaps named Sol and Joe, they exploded onto the scene with “The Girl Is Mine,” a mashup of Destiny’s Child's “Girl” and Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy is Mine.” An instant Shazam
hit after massive club play as a white label, the record took a while to clear, but their persistent efforts made it happen. A stream of qualty remixes followed (Sigma
, Martin Solveig
), but it was their complete reworking of Snakehips’ “All My Friends” that drew massive critical acclaim. Walking around the W Lounge during Miami Music Week, I bumped into the duo by chance and lucked into this exclusive interview.
RS: How is it going guys?
Sol: It’s going great, thanks for having us.
RS: So glad you are here. How did you guys get the clearance to do “The Girl Is Mine”?
Sol: Oh boy, that was a long process! The thing that really slowed it down was a Miami rapper that wanted the track and his label owned the Brandy master and they wouldn’t clear the Brandy master unless the rapper could have the track. Avicii and Infinity Ink did it but we weren’t going to, we wouldn’t take the money. We went and got Brandy in the studio ourselves and rerecorded the track. It was quite a long process because she was doing Chicago in New York so we had to wait for Chicago to finish and then get her in the studio. Destiny’s Child wasn’t as hard but Matthew Knowles was a road block. He represents Destiny’s Child and we only really used Beyoncé’s voice, so he originally said no. It was a long process of trying to twist his arm. We went out to Houston twice, spoke to him on the phone and bought him some very nice gifts like cohibas and crazy whiskey. It was a long process but eventually we did it. I think that when you meet people and they see the passion and determination that you put into it, I don’t think that people want to stand in the way of that. They said no to the label but when they saw what we went through to get there, they eventually said yes.
RS: Did you have any idea that it would become so big and become such a big pop hit?
Joe: I can honestly say no. We thought that we had something special for the radio in the UK and we really loved the track but when it was played on the radio and the record labels came to try and sign it, it was extraordinary.
RS: I loved the way that you guys restructured the Snakehips record. You made a whole new song, Was that a challenge to do?
Joe: We both loved the original. I have never worked on a remix where there was so much of the original music that I wanted to use. Usually we grab the vocal and get working on it but for that track there was so much of the original music that sounded good. Sometimes we feel that a song can be even better so we do it in a way that we like it, which is how we did that one. We are really happy with how it came out, it’s actually one of my favorite bits of music that we have done.
RS: I am trying to figure out how you appeared out of know where and now you are 99 Souls, were you something before 99 Souls?
Sol: We weren’t artists but we were producers and doing stuff behind the scenes like playing on club nights when I was at University doing radio. This was the first record that we released, we put it out ourselves. We found a label and a radio promo and we were all over the UK radio. We were top 3 on Shazam before Sony/ATV cease and desisted us and we had to stop but I reckon it would have gone to top 5 on Shazam on our own. Everyone in the UK was playing it, particularly the clubs and it skyrocketed. All of the labels would say we could spend 100k and have the whole label working on it and we couldn’t do it. Somehow. we did it on our own.
RS: Something a little strange. You guys are both very good looking, why do you cover your face in photos?
Sol: At the moment we are a new act, we just have one single so we are not famous at all and we can walk around anywhere and that is kind of how we want to keep it. A lot of house acts just do one hit and then go away but we want to have hit after hit. We want to make an album that changes the world like our favorite people, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, Tupac and Kanye West. We want to make amazing stuff, lift people up and inspire them and change their perspective on life. We want to really change the world. If you get to that level there is a lot of fame that comes with it and it gets to the point where you can’t even really go out into public. I don’t ever want to have a life like that. We are low key guys and we aren’t egomaniacs or after the fame. We just want to make amazing music that impacts the world and also have a normal life as well.
RS: Why 99 souls and not 98 souls or 100 souls?
Joe: The 99 comes from the idea that 99% of the world are the regular people and there are 1% of people who own everything and Souls because it sounds cool.
RS: Now that no one knows what you look like when they make the movie of your life what actors will play you?
Sol: Well, obviously like you said, we are very handsome people so it is clearly going to be Leonardo DiCaprio. You will struggle to find someone with this much charisma. Just kidding, I don’t have any idea!
RS: Why do all DJs wear black?
Joe: That is a really good question, I don’t have a good answer for you.
Sol: I can tell you why I do, there are a few reasons. I like to have well-coordinated outfits but when you are on the road if you try and coordinate different colored t-shirts, you need different colored trainers and different colored hats. If you wear all black it is easier to coordinate other stuff. You have your one pair of black jeans, maybe two pairs of black trainers, and you don’t have to have 20 suitcases so you can travel light. Also, I am not going to lie, I am kind of fly but at the same time 99 Souls is not about being too flashy. We want to have a social message in our music so I think that when you put too much effort into dressing it just gets a bit too materialistic. With how it is now it’s just some black Nikes, black tees and black jeans. Good.
RS: What is coming next for you all?
Sol: We are deep into working on our album and are making loads of instrumental music. It is a little bit different from “The Girl Is Mine,” it’s more soulful and has a lot of live instruments. It still has the four to the floor kick drums and it is firmly house music and we have been working on our next single which has been coming together and we are really excited about it. We have been playing it to our friends and some people who have gone crazy for it, lots of new music to come.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Joe: Thank you for all of the support and to anyone that loves our music we are glad you like it. That is who we do it for at the end of the day, hopefully people hear it and it makes their day a bit better. If you are supporting us in any way thank you so much, we love you for all the support and hopefully the record is going to take off in the US the way that it did in the UK. Keep supporting us and hopefully we will get bigger and we can come out and do some more shows.
Interview conducted during Winter Music Conference 2016.