Earlier this year, Scottish artists Susy K and McIntyre formed an electronic soul duo – Velas7, and have shared a few groovy dance singles since. Their latest release ‘Skin’ takes you back to the disco days with funky bass-driven rhythms and soaring vocal melodies. The lockdown proved to be a blessing in disguise for the duo, as they began to work on their collective sound that features an excellent blend of dance-pop and soulful singing.
Susy kicks off the track with her powerful vocals over piano stabs and percussive loops. Right from the start, the melodies evoke a feeling of excitement, as if a magnet is drawing the crowd towards the dancefloor – very lively and upbeat. Reminiscent of dance music from the neon-lit clubs of the 70s, ‘Skin’ has an addictive four-on-the-floor beat infused with modern house influences. Additionally, the intricate production and masterful mix of the track further enhance the listening experience – a perfect track for your club playlists!
In conversation with Velas7 (Susy K & McIntyre)
Q – ‘Skin’ sounds like a track that is about being strong and loving your true self no matter what. What inspired you to write this track?
McIntyre: A number of things…first of all, we always believe in integrity and authentic self-expression. Although social media is a great tool to connect with people, share things you care about and celebrate each other, social media also puts a lot of pressure on people to look or be a certain way…massive pressure, even if you’re not aware of it when scrolling through, which can create a lot of self-doubt and unhappiness. It often seems these companies want people to be pigeon-holed just so they fit into a particular category for a hashtag rather than allowing people to truly express their authentic selves. Also, being part of the LGBTQI community, our lyrics were heavily influenced by that, but this song is universal in that anyone who is struggling with being their real self can relate to what we’ve written.
Q – It’s great how your tracks are emotive, motivating, and at the same time a banger of a dance number! What could you tell us our readers about your music-making process?
McIntyre: That has been a very interesting journey! These songs were written and produced during lockdown, for the most part. We tried writing at the same time, jamming over the internet using music production software, but it was a nightmare due to connection speed issues…Susy was also nearly deafened because of feedback! In the end, one of us will get an idea, producing a well-formed demo. We have zoom meetings and have also discovered the power of voice messages! After agreeing on the next stages, we flesh stuff out in our own respective studios.
Susy K:I obviously create and arrange the lead vocal and all the vocal harmonies and handle most of the vocal production. Then I send it over to McIntyre who produces and adds the final polish, which both of us are highly involved in – you could write a novel with the amount of voice notes and musical sketches we’ve shared perfecting our music haha! For Skin, I came up with most of the song structure, chords, melody and lyrics, McIntyre added the groove, percussion, beats and we played and explored from there until the track sounded brilliant.
Q – If you had the chance to perform a remixed version of ‘Skin’ withany artist in the world, who would it be and why?
Susy K + McIntyre: Kaytranada!
Susy K:We both love his work. He has a modern take on house, funk and soul…seriously funky, but can also be really emotive and beautiful. That’s something we aspire to in our music.
McIntyre:We’re also big fans of Hercules and Love Affair – they’ve made some great records and we’ve always loved that whole NYC attitude, which they have in spades. I would also love to hear Todd Terje’s take on it – his stuff is so brilliantly quirky the guy is a genius.
Q – How did the name Velas7 come about? What does it mean?
Susy K:Our name was one of the trickiest things for us to come up with – took us ages haha! One key factor was a nod to our love for Quincy Jones – such an unbelievably influential producer, arranger and musician. His album ‘The Dude’ is a masterpiece and we picked one of the songs from it called ‘Velas’ in tribute.
McIntyre: It’s also the name of a star constellation, and we’re always looking at the stars darling! Seriously we wanted an element that was far-reaching and universal…I’ve always found the stars really romantic as well, so we thought the name was very fitting.
Susy K: The simplest part was the number 7 – it’s McIntyre’s lucky number!
Q – With ‘Skin’ being your third release since your debut earlier thisyear, how has the journey been making music during and after thelockdown?
McIntyre: The journey at the beginning was initially really difficult getting going and working out how we would collaborate effectively. After that it was pretty easy – there was so much uninterrupted time to get things done. Now, we’ve had enough of the isolation, to be honest and are really looking forward to producing more music in the same room for a change! Making music has an added spark when you’re feeding off each other’s energy in the flesh. For me, the lockdown was amazing for also learning new production techniques and studio gadgets.
Susy K: My biggest challenge during lockdown was upgrading my home recording studio set up so I could collaborate and create music more effectively as I wasn’t able to be in the room with other people…I’d usually relied on being able to use colleagues’ and friends’ equipment. I’d talked about sorting it for ages, but life kept getting in the way…when the lockdowns first hit, there were simply no more excuses haha! I’m really glad I did though, cos I had time to work it out and hone the skills that I’m now taking into the world outside of lockdown. Like McIntyre, I am also REALLY looking forward to more in-person collaborations too!
Q – Susy and McIntyre, you both come from different musicalbackgrounds and have a good amount of experience as solo musicians aswell. How did you get into the electronic-soul genre?
McIntyre: I have generally made electronic music as a rule, apart from playing bass in an indie band a while back. I was obsessed with Kraftwerk as a kid and got my first synth at 14. This led to being in various bands, then getting immersed in DJ culture in the 90s. During that time I met DJ Jon Pleased Wimmin and we made music and some remixes together over the years. It was through him that Susy and me met. I’ve always been a massive soul fan, especially Chaka Khan, Philly, Motown, Prince…Susy has an amazing soulful voice, so it was obvious that the two genres had to be fused together.
Susy K: Our electronic-soul sound happened pretty organically to be honest – although we have different musical backgrounds on paper, our fundamental views towards music are on totally the same wavelength…we are definitely musically kindred spirits. If music’s got soul in it, I’ll be into it! Soul music has always been my passion – the greats like Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin, to 90-00s r&b/neo soul like Erykah Badu, D’Angelo and Jill Scott. However, I also grew up loving 90s electronic music from artists like Bjork, Daft Punk and The Prodigy and acid jazz from Jamiroquai and The Brand New Heavies, so electronic soul was already in my veins, and clearly, it was in McIntyre’s too.