OKP: How did “Never Knew Love Before” come together?
Jack Splash: As soon as we recorded the song, I knew I wanted to do a visual to it. The song has such a feel-good ’80s soul/funk vibe, that I knew the people would want to see Bobby do “his thing” to it live. I wanted the video to be very vibrant and colorful, so I hooked up with the director Kris Merc (from NY) and we put the whole idea together with the dancers, the choreography, the animation, etc. A few weeks later, we were all at a warehouse in Brooklyn laying it down. Big shout out to all of the NYC dancers & models who really gave us their 100% (Elena, Lauren, Mary-Angela, Karin, Elayna & RADZ). With all that energy & multi-culturalism, it felt like a Mary Jane Girls video shoot!!! Also, the art direction & animation (done by Jenni & Helen) were super crucial. It really was a labor of love from the NY art scene.
Bobby Caldwell: Jack actually chose the song to be made for a music video. I always trust Jack’s instincts and found the making of this video a whole lot of fun. To be surrounded by beautiful dancing girls was certainly my pleasure and I’d love to make another video just like it. I love what Kris Merc did in the production of the video. He is quite talented. What can I say, it was a great day in Brooklyn!
OKP: What was the writing process like for you guys in the studio?
JS: I think the music sounds exactly like what the vibe was in the studio. We had a LOT of fun, but we’re also both extremely serious about our art. For me, working with Bobby was really something special because I have truly admired him as one of America’s best kept secrets of soul. I can honestly say that it was people like Bobby, Maurice White, Prince, Rick James, Sly Stone & James Brown who taught me, through their music, how to make timeless vibrations. That being said, there was no way that I wanted to just make some “regular” music with Bobby. It was very important to me for it to be special. I wanted to honor his legacy. So we cracked open some Jack Daniels in each session, put a little smoke in the air and just went for it. I think we were both happy and kind of surprised with the outcome on this first Cool Uncle album.
BC : This whole Cool Uncle thing kind of started off as a songwriting effort. We really didn’t have a specific agenda. As time went on we realized we had something and decided to give it a name, cool uncle. I have to say the time Jack and I spent in the studio was about as productive as it could ever be. I’ve spent most of my adult life in studios and the sessions with Jack and me proved to be beyond productive.
OKP: How did you select the collaborations for the album?
JS: At first we weren’t even really thinking about having collaborators (it was just going to be Bobby & I in our own strange world). As the songs started coming together though, some of them DEFINITELY felt perfect for some of our musical friends. We did this entire project independently, with no major labels or A&R’s, so it was really just a matter of Bobby & I thinking about which one’s of our friends would sound amazing on certain songs. I remember as soon as we finished writing & recording “Mercy,” both Bobby & I knew that CeeLo would sound amazing on it. It just so happened that I was working with CeeLo a few weeks later in the Bahamas, so we made it happen. Same thing with Jessie Ware and Mayer Hawthorne. For Deniece Williams, Bobby mentioned he was friends with her and I almost passed out because she is another one of my all-time favorites. I know I mentioned Maurice White earlier, but honestly, the work Maurice did with Deniece set the precedent for so many amazing artists who came later (like Janet, Aaliyah, etc.). I told Bobby that if he could get Deniece on our song “Breaking Up” I could die a happy man. Of course he made it happen and then she sounded so great that I wanted to have Eric Biddines come through and lay the perfect outro verse. It really came naturally & I think you can kind of feel that open-ness in the music.
BC: Initially, Jack and I thought maybe some of the songs we were writing would be for other people. As it turned out we decided to bring other people into the project and have them recorded on the songs. I’m flattered to have the likes of my dear friend. Deniece Williams, Mayer Hawthorne, Cee Lo Green, Jessie Ware and Eric Biddines on this album. Jack and I are looking forward to the next cool Uncle album and we’ll see what other artist will bring into that project.
OKP: Are there any plans to take Cool Uncle on the road?
JS: Yes, absolutely. People have really been hitting us up to come out and play live. I don’t think we were ready for all of this amazing support we’ve been getting and I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to things like that, so I think we’ll do the “official” Cool Uncle tour after we drop the next album (which we’re about to start working on) and in the meantime Bobby is mixing a bunch of the Cool Uncle songs into his classic Bobby Caldwell live set (that includes all of his classics as well)!!! When we take the whole show on the road I want it to be a crazy experience. Like what I did with Plantlife a few years ago, but with both Bobby and I together. A full-on funk and soul powerhouse. It’ll be a real fun show.
BC: We have some interest in Cool Uncle shows and at the moment we’re trying to put that together. I would love nothing more than to bring this show to the stage. I think each and every Cool Uncle event will bring something different to audiences all around the country and the globe.
OKP: When’s the next one coming?!
JS: Well I bought 12 bottles of Jack and just set them aside specifically for the recording process, so I guess as soon as we run out of ideas or whiskey (whichever comes first). Probably by the end of this year though! Now we know the people are open to the group so we want to take them on a very special ride on this next album. Thanks again for showing us so much love with this first one!
BC: I can’t wait to get started on the next Cool Uncle album. Making the first one was a whole lot of fun and really opened up a whole new way of songwriting for me. Jack Splash and I, along with Mr. Jack Daniels, are already gearing up for the next one.