Author: Zoe Ettinger
What starts with the muffled sound of a record being spun on a player and angelic voices turns into a jazzy house track. With sampled vocals from Ms. Lauryn Hill, “Back on the Boulevard” displays Purple Velvet’s unique style of house music. Rather than overpowering vocals and instrumentals with samples and produced sounds, the two intertwine seamlessly.
The DJ duo Purple Velvet is comprised of Chris James and Lee Dearn. The pair operates under the record label Local Talk, which consists of well known artists such as HNNY and Crackazat. They are amongst many other incredible, albeit lesser known, DJs. Their stylistic mode sways from the popular styles played at large venues for even larger crowds. Their fusion of analog synths with jazzy and cyclically muted instrumentals creates a relaxed and undeniably cool vibe. Back on the Boulevard is the type of track you hear being played in a tiny basement club you’ve been brought to by your coolest friend. The one who can mysteriously get you into clubs you didn’t even know were clubs, and has the type of effortless grunge aesthetic many only dream of.
The song starts out with sounds that ease the listener in to the sampled chorus which becomes the highlight of the piece. The name, Back on the Boulevard, comes from a slight alteration to Lauryn Hill’s first lyric in “Doo Wop (That Thing)”. “Yo, remember back on the boogie when cats used to harmonize like”. The song uses successive samples of this lyric to create its own beat. Purple Velvet uses vocal samples in a way that we just don’t hear from other artists. They produce their vocal samples in a way that sounds instrumental. They equalize rhythm and harmony. Additionally, to add to their jazzy vibe is a saxophone that’s the icing on this electronic cake. Their sound becomes a demonstration of house music at its best.