When it comes to musical collaborations, Steve Spacek has led something of a charmed life. From his highly regarded partnership with the band Spacek to vocals for GB and Platinum Pied Pipers, the London-born singer and producer has become synonymous with effortlessly hot future soul. So it's no surprise that when he hooked up with beat baron Jay Dee (a.k.a. J. Dilla) for a track on Spacek's first solo album, cutting a classic was kid's stuff.
"We've always respected Jay Dee and loved what he's done," says Spacek. "He went through some tracks he'd been working on, and when he landed on ["Dollar"], he knew that was it–he just looked up at me and stopped."
The resulting track sets the tone for Space Shift. When Spacek sings "Ya gotta let your dollar circulate," he's talking actual blood, letting that American optimism run through his veins and percolate out like a 21st century Curtis Mayfield, ready to "move on up." It's a change in the weather from the minimal London rain of Spacek's critically acclaimed 2003 album Vintage Hi-Tech to the sunny LA sci-fi soul of Space Shift.
"In London it's overcast," says Spacek, now transient between London, LA and Australia, where his new baby lives. "And it's underground–literally, you lock yourself away in a studio with no windows. Here, the door's open, people are coming in and out all the time, the breeze is coming through."
That cooling, unifying breeze floats through Space Shift, from the West Coast bounce of "Thursday" to the hotted-up futuristic Afrobeat of "Three Hours of Fun" (produced by bandmate Morgan Spacek). But besides the American influence–Mayfield, Donny Hathaway–on Spacek's vocals and MPC soul sounds, the singer brings a UK flavor to Space Shift with his decidedly open-minded approach.
"In America, people tend to say, 'Oh, I'm into this [genre] now,'" says Spacek. "The way I would listen to music in the UK, I think it's more liberated. People who've pushed boundaries [in America], like Timbaland, [are those who] go down different routes–music is perceived [that openmindedly] in the UK on a daily basis."
With tracks already under way for a new record from Spacek (the band) and Steve continually meeting new potential collaborators, expect to hear more and different sounds from the Spacek soul massive in the near future.
"We used to think that there was this niche we had, but in that niche was a whole universe," he says. "But there are places I haven't even gone to on this record that I wanna explore. And music is infinite."