“Hi, my name’s Rob and I like collecting records…”
In any other instance that could be the start to a disastrous date (it was…) but in this case, it’s the start of my bio.
My passion for music started early and was completely separate from any rave scene. It began with Kylie and Jason, Neneh Cherry and Bobby Brown (and maybe a few Deep Heat comps lent to me by my cousin). I swiftly moved onto 90s Hip Hop and Soul, channeled through a work colleague at my Saturday job selling shoes, the radio shows of Westwood and Trevor Nelson, and Lisa I’Anson presenting MTV’s after-school video show Base (or whatever it was called back then). ‘Rumpshaker’ and SWV’s ‘Right Here’ were firm favourites in my bedroom, I just didn’t haven’t ended up sharing the same career trajectory as that bloke Pharrell.
I relocated to London on 11th September 2001 after a few years playing spots in Nottingham and my native Leicester, and the few hundred hip-hop, house and garage records that I had acquired in that time followed a few months later. But this was London, and the heyday of the big Soho record shops, where even bigger DJs played records on a Monday and Wednesday night and the heralded arrival of that mystical thing – the Goya white label promo. My collection soon began to blossom in every conceivable direction possible for someone self-educated on the music of black origin, and soon Soul-Identity was born, ensuring that any impending house move was not just a bi-annual necessity, it became a removal man’s nightmare.
In the time I’ve lived in the capital and since its low-key inception sometime in 2002, Soul-Identity has become an extension of who I am – not in the way the author of a book that shares the same name would have you think, more like a fluid outlet for my various musical tastes and endeavours. I’ve hosted radio shows before, fairly successfully on South London community stations and somewhat ill-fatedly in a meat restaurant. In between these stints I’ve also run club nights, the odd boat party and a 24 hour online radio station before things like Spotify and Apple Music were cool. In the decade and a half that followed, I’ve been one of the resident selectors and promoters of a long-standing (but now defunct) Jazz gig where I booked the great and good of the London Jazz fraternity, got married, had kids and in my current family time, help organise a string of social-centric record fairs under the moniker Dig A Little. This little journey has been enlightening, expensive and in some cases harmful to my progression in life. Unless I actually consider this my life – in which case for someone doing it part time I’ve done alright…
I love new music (when it’s great) and discovering old music I’ve never heard before. I don’t collect everything, the music you’ll hear on my show will predominantly resonate with me first. I don’t always seek out the rarest or the hippest tracks. Life is indeed too short. What I hope to deliver here is a collection of music with a pseudo soulful lean that I’ve grown to love or just discovered. In this case, I hope you’ll love it too!