El Michels Affair first appeared in 2002 for a 12″ single on Soul Fire records entitled Easy Access Parts 1 & 2. The release was a loose collaboration between Soul Fire session musicians that featured saxophonist and organist Leon Michels. However, the style and sound of El Michels Affair, which was later coined “cinematic soul”, came about when Leon Michels and Nick Movshon, fellow band mates from The Mighty Imperials, began recording music in Michels’s bedroom studio. Leon Michels had purchased a Tascam 388 (a home recording 8-track module from the early eighties), and began experimenting with music that purposely strayed from the cookie cutter funk that began to saturate the market at the time. Taking influence from all types of music, Michels and Movshon began to create new type of soul music that blended the cinematic quality of soundtrack records with the recording aesthetic of early reggae, and the rawness of 60’s rock. As the record took shape, Michels brought in fellow musicians and friends to help shape the style and sound of the record, which would be commercially released on Truth & Soul as Sounding Out The City. Some of the musicians included in the sessions were old band mates from the Mighty Imperials, Homer Steinweiss and Sean Solomon, as well as Todd Simon, Michael Leonhart, Thomas Brenneck, Aaron Johnson, Ben Solomon, and Toby Pazner.
In 2005, after the record had generated an industry buzz, Scion approached El Michels Affair with the prospect of performing with Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan. The epic grittiness of Rza’s production matched perfectly with the soulful, cinematic sound El Michels Affair was known for. In fact, it matched so well that El Michels Affair went on to play four more concerts with members of the Wu-Tang, including a national tour with Raekwon, which climaxed into a series of critically acclaimed 7″ releases from El Michels Affair which were instrumental re-interpolations of Rza’s original beats.
El Michels Affair has since been recording a full record of Wu-Tang instrumentals as well as material for an upcoming album of originals. Always pushing the boundaries, never trying to repeat themselves, expect the unexpected when it comes to the music of El Michels Affair.
El Michels Affair – Duel of the Iron Mics
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