“We’re from the days when a number 14 bus and a supermarket trolley got us around.” Jazzie B remembers the lengths he and a school friend used to go to play dances with their first sound system when they were just 13 years old. It sums up the determination, resourcefulness and a love for music, that got Soul II Soul where it is today.
Their first North London sound system, Jah Rico, played mainly reggae, but after three years changed the vibe to more soul and funk and Soul II Soul was born. “We came up with the name not just because of the music we played, it also stood for Daddae and myself – two souls moving together. We’ve always had that kind of relationship – there are not many words exchanged between us, but everything that’s happened has been very much in tandem.”
Soul II Soul quickly achieved a name in their community, but were in no position to give up the day jobs, and at age 18, Jazzie was working for cockney pop legend Tommy Steele, as a tape operator. He found himself one of the few black people working in London’s recording studio and recalls how this shaped his attitude: “It made me vexed in one way, but it made me see that there are parts of the industry that we’re not taking care of because we always want to be so upfront.” As Soul II Soul grew, Jazzie was determined to create a dancefloor environment that would appeal across the board.