AgapeSoul: Behind the Beats
Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Darryl Anders of AgapeSoul.
The new single by AgapeSoul featuring Maysa on vocals is making some waves on the smooth jazz charts and marks another successful single release featuring the Grammy-Nominated singer. This collaboration with Darryl Anders and AgapeSoul marks their debut on the smooth jazz charts. We grabbed a few moments with bassist, songwriter, producer and AgapeSoul’s creator Darryl Anders.
“Nobody But You” perfectly fits the smooth jazz format, which as you know is more instrumental based. Did you have ‘smooth jazz’ in mind for this release initially?
The truth is I just try to write music that speaks to me and hopefully it will resonate with whoever hears it. I did have Maysa in mind with this song, so I felt there was a good chance that smooth jazz radio would embrace it and they did. It’s a great feeling to see smooth jazz radio all over the country really loving this song.
How was it working with Maysa on this single?
Maysa was an absolute joy to work with. We recorded the song while in the middle of the pandemic so that created a unique set of challenges. Due to Covid restrictions we recorded from 2 different locations. She was in a studio in Baltimore and I was producing the track from my home studio in California via Zoom. I was a little intimidated at first because I’ve been a fan of all her work for so long and she’s “Maysa”. So producing her in the studio it took me a second to relax into it. But she was so gracious and accommodating that it put me at ease right away. She made it clear from the start that she really loved the song and wanted to put her all into it which made it feel great. As a songwriter I couldn’t have asked for more. Working with her was already mind blowing but the way she embraced the song and made it her own was just awesome.
AgapeSoul has had some great success in the UK, hitting #1 on the UK Soul chart... tell us about that.
The UK Soul music fans are great! They have a great understanding and appreciation for black music. Whether its soul, jazz, funk or r&b they just love it. I was inspired by some of the great bands coming from there like Incognito and Brand New Heavies. The UK embraced us from the very first AgapeSoul CD “Believe In Love”. It was the first place to ever play my music. So they will always have a special place in my heart. When we played our first show in the UK it was quite special. From the very first note the audience was right there with us singing along to every word. It was a magical feeling and I can’t wait to get back there.
Tell us about the creation of “AgapeSoul.”
For about five years I was involved in the music video game world, playing and producing music for the wildly popular music video games “KaraokeRevolution”, “GuitarHero” and “RockBand”. It was challenging and fun, but not especially creative, because the goal was to recreate the music to sound exactly like the original songs. However it did inspire me to finally record some of my own music, much of which had been sitting in a box of a old cassettes. The original idea was to make a demo tape and book some gigs to play my own music. That demo turned into the AgapeSoul CD “Believe In Love”. A friend sent a song from that record to a UK DJ Paul Goldsmith and within a few weeks it was all over UK radio and eventually went to #1.
From there I put together a band with some of the same people that recorded the record. We played all over Northern California and in 2018 we released the follow up cd “Conversations” which yielded 2 #1’s in the UK and also 2 #1’s and a Top Ten single on the Indie Soul Chart here in the US! We’ve all grown and changed and AgapeSoul is not really a band. I had to shift the focus and now it is more like my brand. A reflection of my musical vision. Singer- Zoe Ellis and guitarist/engineer, and co-producer- Cam Perridge are both still very much a part of the AgapeSoul family. But I also have the freedom to work with other amazing and talented people like Maysa and Tony Momrelle.
How about your time with Tower Of Power?
Being on stage with Tower of Power was a great experience. I got a call to audition for the late Rocco Prestia, who was having some health issues at the time. I was given a list of about 40 songs to learn. I locked myself in my apartment for a few weeks and shed those tunes like my life depended on it. It was challenging but I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. The audition was nerve wracking as Rocco was sitting right in front of me, but it went well. I ultimately did a weekend with them in Las Vegas and also the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival in Japan. It was one of the greatest experiences of my professional career and a huge honor to fill in for one of my bass heroes.
When did you begin playing bass? Tell us about how you got into becoming a musician.
I grew up in Florida. There was always lots of music in my house. My Dad had a great collection of jazz, r&b and pop records and he played piano and bass. He was also a jr. high school band and choir director. My first instrument was trumpet in 3rd grade. In high school, a friend who played guitar suggested I learn to play bass. We would jam at his house and his dad would always say “you got to know jazzzz man! You got to know the twelfths and the thirteenths”…lol. Being not much more than 13 myself at the time, I had no idea what he was talking about but it stayed in my head all theses years. Then I heard the Brothers Johnson on Quincy Jones’ Mellow Madness LP and that was it. I was consumed by anything Louis Johnson played on. So I eventually discovered Earl Klugh, Michael McDonald and all these other great musicians thru following Louis’ career. It opened my mind up to lots of different kinds of music and eventually it became the thing I wanted to do more than anything.
Tell us about your musical influences.
I suppose my dad was my first musical influence. Music always filled our house. Between the live jam sessions with my godfather, who was a great local trumpet player, or hearing everything from Miles and Cannonball Adderly to the Carpenters on the stereo! Music was a constant. The first person to make me notice the bass was Paul McCartney. The person who first made me wanna play bass was Louis Johnson. But there are so many people who have truly inspired me. Willie Weeks, Jaco Pastorius, Jimmy Haslip, Tommy Sims and Marcus Miller really caught my hear. Marcus’ writing and production skills showed me it was possible to be more than just the guy holding down the bottom. Tommy Sims’ CD “Peace and Love” is the secret blueprint for much of what I’ve tried to do with AgapeSoul. Bluey Maunuk- from Incognito is another huge influence on my music. He has been a great friend and supporter of the music and someday I hope we get to work together.
You have played with some great talents over the years. Anyone on your ‘wish list’?
I have been blessed to play with some amazing musicians in my life. Many of them are my musical heroes. My wish list is all over the map as I love so many kinds of music. But in no particular order… Bluey, Michael McDonald, Marcus Miller, and Lin Rountree.
What is next for Darryl Anders and AgapeSoul?
I will finally release the brand new EP titled “Nobody But You” in early 2022. I’m excited to share this music. I got to work with some really incredibly talented people like Maysa, Tommy Sims, and Tony Momrelle. We created some great music in the midst of the pandemic and it was quite healing. I’m really looking forward to getting out there on the smooth jazz festival circuit and playing for the people. That’s what it’s all about.
Learn moreat AgapeSoul.com.