In 2006, St. Plomb and his buddy Crowdpleaser put out their album «2006». A Swiss dancefloor classic, arguably the most refined house album ever released in this country that sadly never got the recognition it deserved. A Neo-Chicago masterpiece that prompted techno scribe Philip Sherburne to conclude: «A nose for the long groove and an eye on the mirror-bending horizon. Jawdropping stuff, really.». But five years is a long time, and St. Plomb has re-invented himself again and again, shaping his tracks extraordinaire for labels such as Perspectiv, Contentismissing, Nice Try and Third Ear. For Roof.fm, Mr. Vincent Kolb has mixed up a funky disco-techno hybrid. Sophisticated stuff. We didn’t expect less, of course. As the Germans say: Heiligs Blechle! Pun fully intended.
ROOF.FM: Last time we tried to do an interview, it didn’t come together.
ST. PLOMB: Really? I don’t remember.
It was five years ago, when you were about to release «2006». I wanted to record an interview for my radio show via Skype. But technology left me high and dry. Well, I fucked up.
I don’t recall. I suppose my brain just automatically sorts out bad memories…
Good. That was too embarassing, being such a drooling admirer of the album…
So, let’s make up for it today! (laughs)
Sure. Did I ever tell you that you have one of the best monikers out there?
You think so? I’m not so sure about that. In the beginning it was a posse Soul II Soul kinda concept, a collective thing. I was spinning Drum’n’Bass at the time and was collaborating with Dynamike, a guy working for Swiss national radio Couleur 3. But somehow it ended up being just me, and people started calling me St. Plomb. I got used to it, but it was never intended to be my artist name in the first place. It’s a bit strange when I’m overseas because English-speaking people never seem to know what to do with the St. and the Plomb (Phonetical instruction: St. Plomb is roughly pronounced as «San Plum»).
The punning is lost, too.
People outside of Switzerland don’t get the double entendre, the double meaning, the nod to the Simplon Pass. But I’m perfectly alright with that, because that was just a side-effect. Plomb, which means lead, was meant to allude to the massiveness of the drum’n’bass sound we did back then. Also, I was into alchemy at the time. St. Plomb, that’s holy lead. The idea that lead ist the earthiest stuff you can find and when you transform it into gold it becomes holy intrigued me. But in the end, it’s just a name. And it’s okay to be a bit mysterious.
Listening through your work, one thing is clear. You never seem to repeat yourself…
I try not to, yeah.
That’s a creative principle?
Yes. And a burden at the same time. When I was an art student, it was kind of an obsession. My teacher walked up to me and asked: What are you really trying to achieve? I was just doing new things all the time, trying out virtually everything. I felt that this inclincation was a handicap because people failed to see where my artistic path was taking me.
And as a musician it has sometimes felt a bit of the same?
Right. But more recently I feel that I have narrowed down my style. In future releases, you will get to hear more and more of this.
I have been making music closer to my roots: funk, jazz, psychedelic soul. I try to be more faithful to myself, to the music I have always really loved. Right now, I am recording an album that will feature a bunch of downtempo, psychedelic soul productions in the vein of Norman Whitfield. It’s something I always wanted to do and maybe now the time is right: I am less zigzagging than I’ve been ten years ago.
How far has the project progressed?
I’ve completed ten tracks by now. I’m working with a Berlin-based guitarist, a guy called Stickman. He’s infusing these tracks with an incredible funkyness. My latest releases have been tech-housey, very dancey recently, and that’s something I’m battling against right now. I try to be more soulful, while still making house music. It’s about finding a balance between the two, and it definitely shouldn’t be too much of a revival kind of thing.
St. Plomb means holy lead. lead ist the earthiest stuff and the alchemist idea that YOU can
transform it into gold intrigued me.
For someone with such a profound black music grounding, what are your sentiments about ex-minimal labels like Wolf & Lamb jumping on the Soul bandwagon?
It reminds me a bit of the way things went down with Acid Jazz in the Nineties. A lot of the stuff was just quoting jazz, instead of being jazz, which is firstly a way of making music. And nowadays it’s the same with soul: many producers just pluck bits and lay them over their deep house chords. The so-called soulful is just quoting soul, quoting black music. There are exceptions, of course.
I don’t mean to come across as judgemental, because it’s much easier to quote than to create an actual song. And don’t even mention that we’re these white boys! But I might add that I’ve really educated myself into this kind of music, I’ve been listening to Negro spirituals since I was a little kid.
Soul is the very essence of the smart mix you did for Roof.fm…
I recorded it in May, a while ago. I put Genius of Time in there, because I thought you would like that. Yeah, it’s just the kind of music I like to play in the club, even though I wouldn’t call it a straight dancefloor mix, my intention of course was to take you on a journey. I really prepared this set, so I was not improvising at all. It was the third attempt which ended up being this mix.
What new St. Plomb releases will be out soon?
I finished a remix for Crowdpleaser, for this track Jonx, with which I’m very happy with and that’s coming out now on Turbo. But apart from that I’m holding back, I focus working on my album.