Celebrating the release of their second compilation, we caught up with members of Soul Food Music Collective on their newest accomplishment. We spoke with RamonPang, ASAHN, and CEEDs about the unique community they’ve created, and where they hope to take it next. Soul Food Compilation: Volume 2 is available now on your favorite platforms.
What was the process of making this compilation like, and how did it differ from creating Volume 1? Was the curation process difficult?
RamonPang: Making this compilation was very fun as usual—like the first one, we received over 100+ submissions from our community. Since Soul Food brings such a diverse range of people, we were able to judge each song based on its own merit, rather than how it fits into a box. We didn’t really go into curating this with an agenda, but I will say that there’s a surprising amount of drum & bass and wave on this one compared to the first one!
ASAHN: Making this compilation was super exciting! Volume 1 was executive produced by Seaniee, CEEDs, AWNG, and myself. For Volume 2, we entrusted Ramon with the initial curation and afterward, our A&Rs co-created the final tracklist. I would say the first compilation was a bit more challenging than this one as we had never released music together prior to that. This time around, we figured out a flow that works quite nicely for our artists and producers.
CEEDs: We pushed our taste and creativity to their limits. We listened to a range of genres, BPMs, and energies and proceeded to curate based on what we were vibing to. I think that’s what makes the process so unique, there’s no specific genre or sound Soul Food seeks. Soul Food is all about the vibes!
Are there any key takeaways you learned from either an artist or A&R standpoint?
ASAHN: One of the key takeaways CEEDs and I had regarding this year’s compilation was that we received zero submissions from women. I’m heavily inspired by artists like Nevve, Alison Wonderland, TSU NAMI, TOKiMONSTA, REZZ, JEANIE, Pam Sessions, Pauline Herr, ROSSY, Farrah, IX GEMINI, Chryxstal Sarah, GRLGANG, and my mama so I do my best to advocate for equal rights and treatment for all artists, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or play count. With Soul Food, we truly want to empower those that deserve to have their voices heard, especially in an industry where people can easily be taken advantage of. With that being said, I’m hopeful that we can continue to create opportunities for women and LGBTQIA+ creatives in our community. Everyone in this industry needs to be held accountable for creating a fair system for artists, especially those that are women, minorities, and underrepresented. We’re happy to play this role in creating a better world for all.
How would you define the collective’s overall sound or core musical philosophy?
RamonPang: It sounds cliche to say “literally every genre” but it really feels that way. Every day on the Discord server, I talk to people who make trap, bass music, tech house, drum & bass, hardwave, IDM, breakbeat, and hip-hop… I would say overall, there’s more of an emphasis on bringing forth smaller niches and people with more “broad” visions that still have a dance-focused aspect. People who are cool with Soul Food tend to have this shared appreciation of all the subgenres of electronic music.
ASAHN: Like Ramon said, we love everything! It’s so cool for us to interact with our community and geek out over the different nuances of each subgenre. A lot of us in Soul Food are history nerds when it comes to EDM and rave culture. We’re heavily inspired by how experimental and diverse the Los Angeles scene can be. Back in our “Deejays & Vinylphiles Club” days at the University of California, Riverside, we embraced individual uniqueness and taste, no matter how niche. I’d say this philosophy still rings true today as we’re extremely passionate about evolving sound however we can. It’s hard to put into words how wonderful it feels knowing that LA and the world support our collective’s creative approach to this awesome scene we’ve grown up in together.
CEEDs: I don’t believe I could define the collective’s overall sound. Soul Food interacts with so many artists every day, in real life and on Discord. Our inspirations change daily and drive us in different directions all the time. We sit in our Discord voice chat every day with the music bot constantly going and the community consistently brings such undefeated taste. So if I had to define our core musical philosophy, we just love bangers—no matter the shape and size.
Where do you hope to take the direction of Soul Food Music Collective in the next year?
ASAHN: This compilation is just one of many chapters we have planned for Soul Food in 2022. Earlier in January, our crew debuted a new hybrid live-Twitch experience in LA known as “Soul Spaces.” The name was inspired by our resident Soul Food mom & social media guru, “LOREN.” For our first Soul Spaces, we created a vibe that felt like an intimate art showcase/exhibition. We featured surprise DJ performances from stalesmcgales, SOJU, HMMY, Rourie, Pachuco, and a very special b-day set from the one and only VAVN. In addition to the amazing music, we had a Nintendo Switch set up in another room for our gamers to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with each other. We also had vendors from our community set up a thrift store and massage booth for guests that attended the experience in person.
Our second Soul Spaces was held a few weeks ago on March 12th. Unlike the first, we went back to our Raverside routes and threw a super intimate warehouse party in LA that featured DJ performances from our good friends over at SYNERGY OC (TRYPBOX, Marakkas, & LARA). Supporting them was our in-house talent of DJ WINDOW (one of RamonPang’s side projects), CEEDs, ZHOUNA, MANAWARI, Seaniee B2B ANANSI, and Falldren B2B myself. We love that we can subvert our fans’ expectations with this concept and we’re hyped to develop the project further as the year progresses. We’re also playing around with the idea of expanding our sound through additional compilations. Other than that, we have super exciting shows planned for the summer. I wish I could share more right now but y’all will just have to stay tuned to see what we’re cooking next.
Do you have any advice about developing your creative process? How have you shaped yours over the past two years, and how has the community played into that?
RamonPang: Creativity is a lot like a muscle, and I think waiting around for inspiration is a surefire way to get stuck in your head. It’s like the gym, you will never regret putting the time in because you never really “lose” those hours of experience. It’s so much better to spend time doing things and make mistakes to gain personal knowledge (whether it’s producing, hosting an event, putting together a brand, designing, etc.). The Soul Food community on Discord is really helpful all around, we have people of all different popularities just trying to observe and learn from each other and I think it gives people a lot of encouragement to try new things. It’s awesome.
ASAHN: Exercising creativity is the best practice, as Ramon said. 2 years ago, I began my Ableton journey thanks to the inspiration I received from Soul Food’s community. Since we were locked up in quarantine, our creatives encouraged each other to put in time every day into our respective crafts. Back in March/April of 2020, RamonPang, Seaniee, WildType, Rourie, CEEDs, & Zhouna co-created one of Soul Food’s signature events known as Producer Hour. Since then, this daily event has attracted producers and artists from around the world and we’re truly humbled by how influential it’s been in helping our artists level up. It’s mind-blowing to witness honestly. Without Producer Hour, I don’t think I’d be making the kind of music I am today and that’s because my friends are always pushing me to become the best version of myself. Collaboration is also key to fostering creativity as you’ll learn so much from creatives that are doing the same thing as you. Sharing insight and wisdom with one another goes such a long way!
CEEDs: Practice, practice, practice, and then after that practice some more! Creativity comes in any means you want it to. Personally, I did a lot of analysis on artists, labels, promoters, and surrounding collectives to best figure out what would work for Soul Food as well as myself, taking elements from them all, and making it my own. Experimenting is super important, so chasing what feels right, evaluating what worked and what didn’t, and adapting are absolutely key. The community has played into that by supporting Soul Food through thick and thin. There are peaks and valleys, and Soul Food is extremely fortunate to have a community that provides instant feedback and love.
Who do you admire most, and why?
RamonPang: Anyone who’s been doing electronic music or music, in general, this long. It’s a long game with tons of moving parts that are affected by everything. So the people still doing it are just the most passionate, which is inspiring. And Four Tet.
ASAHN: Other than my parents, brother, and best friends in Soul Food, there are so many that I can name at this point to be honest. But if I had to narrow it down, I’d say I admire most the incredible impacts made by Daft Punk, Insomniac, Brownies & Lemonade, OWSLA, Fool’s Gold, Foreign Family Collective, Sable Valley, & Alter/Ego. As Ramon said, the electronic scene is always changing at a rapid pace and I’ve found that my favorite memories are made because of the creatives that paved the way by being different, or by taking intentional risks. It may sound cliche but these people walked so that Soul Food could run haha- I’m immensely grateful for the creative passions and legacies offered to us by Pasquale Rotella, GOJ!RA, Kush, Skrillex, Porter Robinson, A-Trak, ODESZA, RL Grime, Baauer, SD WATER, and Hex Cougar. These artists have always had an affinity for supporting the next generations of electronic music and Soul Food wouldn’t be here without them for sure. Special shoutouts to all of our lovely Soul Mates as well: y’all’s admiration for Soul Food keeps us moving forward every day!!
CEEDs: Lee Foss, LP Giobbi, John Summit, and Sofi Tukker. Each of these artists really pushes the state of music forward between their personalities, talents, tastes, and energies. Repopulate Mars is without a doubt one of my favorite labels and lifestyle brands and I’d love to curate my own brand like this one day. Sofi Tukker… don’t even get me started. Their styles, performances, and stage presences are undefeated and keep me wanting to push my crazy artistic visions to reality.
When can we see you perform?
ASAHN: No bookings for me at this moment but definitely excited to see that change in time! I’m currently working on my debut album and I’m absolutely stoked to eventually share it with the entire world. It’s the best music I’ve made in my life so far and I have Soul Food to thank for that (and many of my DJ performances for that matter). I can’t wait to party with the talented creatives at Saint Audio again soon! Thanks so much for having us!
CEEDs: Manifesting and working hard to bring some shows to life right now! Can’t say much currently but there are a few concepts and shows in the pipeline. Other than that I stream every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:30 PM PST on Twitch, producing music, rambling about my hot dance music takes, and vibing. Definitely stop by twitch.tv/ceedsmusic if you want to vibe!