So, I dropped a line to the Aloha Got Soul label, a kick ass vinyl oriented label that's reissuing some amazing, amazing music from Hawaii. I got in touch with them thru a friend we share, but it was mainly because I'm a huge fan of some of the stuff they've reissued: Nohelani Cypriano's Nohelani, Mike Lundy's The Rhythm of Life, and last but not least, their newest baby, the ÆOLUS retrospective that chronicles what's most likely the only new age artist from the islands.
Here's what they had to say about the label and the work they do:
From what I've read, both the Aloha Got Soul label and this specific release are blog related: the label started after Muro's Hawaiian Breaks mix, and you found ÆOLUS thru the Sounds of the Dawn cassette blog. Just how important or relevant was blogging about this music for the label? Is it still relevant now?
Aloha Got Soul was a blog before it was a label. I started AGS as blog after hearing Muro’s mix. The label came 5 years later.
There is so much music in the world, created in the past and created today, that blogging is a crucial part of documenting and sharing music. There’s only so much that a mainstream or major media outlet can cover, so blogs like Aloha Got Soul, Sounds of the Dawn, and Awesome Tapes From Africa provide an outlet for music that would otherwise be lost if individuals didn’t have the ability to write about relatively unknown or obscure music.
Nohelani is disco/soul, Mike Lundy's The Rhythm Of Life could be called blue eyed soul, so... For all of us that have never been to Hawaii, can you break down some of the most popular music scenes? Was Nohelani's record big in Hawaii?
Talking about “popular music” in Hawai, In the 50s and 60s, garage rock and surf rock music was big. This was really influenced by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and The Young Rascals. There was a radio DJ and concert promoter named Tom Moffatt who played a critical role in bringing rock and “popular” music to the islands. Before Tom Moffatt there was mostly Hawaiian music and "hapa haole" music.
Then, in the 1970s and 1980s, R&B, jazz, disco, and acoustic rock was popular. Actually, jazz was always popular in Hawaii since the 1920s. In the 80s and 90s, rock, new wave, punk, and hip hop became really popular — but the most popular style to emerge from that time is Jawaiian music, which is a reggae-style island pop sound that is still heard everywhere and every day in Hawaii today.
Nohe’s record was a big hit, especially locally. “Lihue” of course but also her ballad “Livin WIthout You”. Hawaii loves ballads! They still play that song on the radio (Lihue, not so much).
For people who have never been to Hawaii, they will probably find out that the R&B / funk scene that Aloha Got Soul showcases is actually pretty small today. But the jazz scene is strong, with venues like Blue Note, Jazz Minds, Dragon Upstairs, and Gordon Biersch holding it down for jazz.
You worked for two years with Robert Myers, the man behind the ÆOLUS moniker, for this release. What was his first reaction when he got your first call? Why did it take so long?
When I first spoke with ÆOLUS about the idea to do an anthology release, it was like I had read his mind — he was thinking of doing the same thing when I first reached out to him. Good timing. It took a couple of years because we live so far apart, but mostly because I work a full-time job so it’s difficult for me to devote as much time as I’d like to Aloha Got Soul projects.
We have a common friend, and he says the Aloha Got Soul showcases are pretty kick ass and emotional as fame might have sidestepped some of these amazing musicians. What's your take on this?
There are a lot of DJs in every city, and I don’t really consider myself a DJ in the sense of rocking a party, beat matching, scratching or anything like that — instead I play music I enjoy listening to and want to share with others, and to be able to share music from Hawaii that few people would be able to hear on their own (because copies are so hard to find!) is something I’m grateful to be able to do.
You've re-issued some of Hawaii's holy grails of long forgotten records, is there a dream record you've yet to issue?
I did some quick research, here's Babadu!