Bristol-born and Brighton-based, J-Felix aka Joe Newman has cut his teeth into an eclectic range of bands and musical projects, including touring internationally as Alice Russell’s and Swindle’s guitarist – and having his worked licensed to various compilations alongside the likes of DJ Vadim, Ta Ku and Opolop (to name just a few).
The producer and multi-instrumentalists has absorbed a mind-boggling array of influence, from a Tribe Called Quest to The Clash and De La Soul; Jimi Hendrix to Snarky Puppy – which he continues to be inspired by as he curates his own sound. Releasing his P-funk, soul and boogie laced debut album ‘101 Reasons’ and followed by ‘The Runaway EP’ on Tru Thoughts – Newman’s album houses vibrant instrumental cuts of 80s funk and disco variety, interwoven with smooth vocal collaborations.
When J-Felix was just a kid, hearing the music of A Tribe Called Quest from the first time was his cue to become obsessed with pursuing a life as a producer, musician and singer. He spent all his time soaking up as much knowledge as possible; “shadowing sound engineers around Brighton, quizzing anyone who knew anything about production, and getting into every band I could”.
Newman’s approach to music was initially inspired by those he saw taking the DIY route in Bristol, where he grew up on a diet of drum n’ bass, hip-hop and dubwise music. After uncovering the original sources of the samples he discovered in early drum n’ bass, trip-hop and US hip-hop, he fell in love with all things funk, jazz and soul – later developing a penchant for P-funk and boogie sounds, which are heavily present in his tone.
Eager to create his own sonic stamp, J-Felix decided to steer away from samples in his work, instead of layering up recordings of his own vocal and instrumental performances. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist across drums guitar, bass, keys and synths – J-Felix has an impressive display of sounds to select at his fingertips.
Alongside tinkering away in his funk factory, Newman also teaches music production and holds youth workshops – which ensures he is always on his toes, pushing himself towards new skills and tricks – in his words; “keeping one step ahead of the young ‘uns is no easy task.”
Being a fan of Tru Thoughts from day one, Newman signing to the Brighton label felt like the stars finally aligning; “It feels amazing to sign to Tru Thoughts and to be acknowledged as an artist. To have my music supported by such a reputable (and friendly) label is brilliant. Considering my influences and my favourite music, both on TT and elsewhere, and especially after touring with Alice Russell, it feels like a natural home.”
Newman has also reworked fellow rising star Werkha’s single “The Invincible feat. Alex Rita”, releasing “Say The Word” EP on Midnight Riot, and “J Freq/Glide feat. Emeson” back on Tru Thoughts – expertly blending hip-hop and dubwise beats mixed with funk, jazz, soul grooves – classic p-funk and boogie sounds which have become intrinsic to J-Felix’s sonic identity.
With his full live band, J-Felix has supported sold-out shows with the likes of Roy Ayers, Chinese Man, George Clinton (Parliament – Funkadelic), Soul II Soul and Hot 8 Brass Band. And collaborated with fellow Tru Thoughts roster Abi Flynn, and Sophie Paul joining him on vocals alongside a tight rhythm section and Brighton jazz trumpeter, Jack Kendon, re-interpreting his music with a lively jazz/funk twist. J-Felix is also an in-demand killer DJ, having played Glastonbury, Love Supreme, Soundwave Festival – holding a residency at Patterns, Brighton, and hosting a radio show on 1BTN.
Gaining praise from tastemakers such as Julie Adenuga (Beats1), Huey Morgan, Don Letts, Mary Anne Hobbs and Lauren Laverne (BBC 6Music), and leading press support from the likes of NME, Clash, Mixmag, NME, FIP and Jazzanova – catch J-Felix’s excellent DJ and live sets, in a venue near you soon.Read more