SoulandFunkandJazz.comn - Optimistic Review

The wonderful 'Optimistic' from the fabulous SOUNDS OF BLACKNESS is one of soul's true anthems. Released back in 1991, it's still a mainstay in every proper soul jocks' set while even a quick listen will always cheer you up... keep you optimistic even!

Fast forward now to the present and to top UK dance label TRIBE RECORDS. The label – headed by ZEPHERIN SAINT – is all set to issue its 100th release and Zeph wanted something very, very special for the anniversary.

Zeph says; "'Optimistic' is one of my all time faves. It helped me through a difficult time in my own life, as I am sure it has for many when it was originally released. It's always been on my mind to make a house cover as I would sometimes play the original in my DJ sets to close the night, but I did not feel I was ready until now. The words and sentiment of the song create a lot of emotion on the dance floor, so when thinking of how we were going to commemorate Tribe's 100th release, this just made perfect sense on many levels."

And lo and behold...'Optimistic' IS Tribe's 100th release and guess what.... they've managed to get the song's original singer, ANN NESBY, to do the vocal! Ann's in tremendous from and her energized attack perfectly matches the sharp, tight beats that the Tribe crew cook up. It's as if time's stood still and listen hard and you can just hear a little repetitive sample from the original.

Something very magical has just got even more magical! - Ann Nesby & Zepherin Saint get ‘Optimistic’

Gospel singing legend Ann Nesby has joined forces with Tribe Records boss, Zepherin Saint for their 100th release, who along with 3G have delivered a stunning reinterpretation of one of dance music’s all time classics ‘Optimistic’. Originally recorded by Soulful greats The Sounds Of Blackness in 1991, Saint and 3G along with original SOB’s band member Ann have delivered a contemporary Soulful House smash, fresh for 2015’s dance floors and beyond.

“Optimistic is one of my all time faves. It helped me through a difficult time in my own life, as I am sure it has for many when it was originally released. It’s always been on my mind to make a house cover as I would sometimes play the original in my DJ sets to close the night, but I did not feel I was ready until now. The words and sentiment of the song create a lot of emotion on the dance floor, so when thinking of how we were going to commemorate Tribe’s 100th release, this just made perfect sense on many levels.” – Zepherin Saint

UK producer / DJ Zepherin Saint has toured extensively, discovering an infinite appreciation of his music and the genre in general, in the most unexpected of places; Beirut, Syria, Egypt. Feeding into an obsessive love of Soul music, Saint has devoted himself to discovering and nurturing new strains from around the globe. Producing a unique blend of afro house, referencing primary roots into a myriad of hypnotic layers, the sound is deep and intoxicating. Since it’s inception by Saint in 2008 Tribe’s motto of “One Sound, One People” has captured their very essence, breathing new life into dance music with their worldly approach to their sound. With releases stretching as far as from South Africa to North America and back to Europe, Tribe’s catalogue includes Soulful musical heavyweights such as Manoo, Bucie, Zepherin Saint, Nathan Adams, Mr V, Souldynamic, Timmy Regisford, Liquideep, Peven Everett, through to emerging artists such as Sai & Ribatone, Adeola Ranson, Black Motion and Miranda Nicole, among many. With residences based in Japan, Dubai, Australia and London amongst featured performances around the world, Tribe have managed to build a loyal following of people around the world with music and art lovers.

“It has not been smooth sailing so I feel truly blessed that we have survived through a difficult period in the music industry with consistency and focus over the past 6 years. To get through the difficult periods we have found that you have to be consistent and OPTIMISTIC. ” – Zepherin Saint

DMC World Magazine - Zepherin Saint ft. Ann Nesby & 3G - 'Optimistic' - (Tribe Records)

Pioneers of the contemporary world dance movement, Tribe Records, get set to celebrate their 100th release with a giant remake of one of Soulful music's all time classics 'Optimistic'. Originally recorded by Soulful greats The Sounds Of Blackness in 1991, label boss Zepherin Saint joins forces with original SOB's vocalist Ann Nesby and 3G, who together deliver a delightful new version, respectful to the original which should keep the purist's happy too! Happy 100 Tribe and here's to the next 100!

4 out of 5

Reviewed by Ratha Gud

Traxsource News - Zepherin Saint - How I DJ


Zepherin Saint is a enigmatic London producer, DJ, talent scout and co-founder of Tribe Records. His latest production ‘Canima EP’ is out now Exclusively on Traxsource, and with being a well travelled DJ, he shares some insight on how he rolls when he hits the clubs with his personal preferences. This is how Zepherin Saint DJs.

Get the ‘Canima EP’ on Traxsource: HERE

Are you more of a DJ or Producer — or one in the same?

I started out Djing, learning to play instruments and using studio equipment around the same time and developed a love for both art forms over the years.

For me, they continue to inspire each other, as I will get ideas on how I want my sets to sound from making music and ideas to create from my sets. I am as comfortable behind the decks as I am in the studio and cannot see one without the other. For me, it’s a blessing, as I have never had to go out later on in my career and learn the other to support the other art form.

Describe what makes a good DJ in three or four words.

Selection, Risk taker, Open mind, Spontaneous.

Who or what inspired you to become a DJ?

I come from the sound system culture that was brought to the UK from the Caribbean in the 1950’s. The West Indian community in the UK continued this on, and we made it our own by setting up clubs in private houses, what we would call blues houses in the 70’s and 80’s.

Every weekend there would be a blues to attend in London in the mid-eighties, and that was where I would experience DJs mixing and creating effects with the EQ. This was on loud sound systems in intimate spaces, participating atmospheres of crowds responding to the brand new release dropped for the first time and the crew of members that made a sound system. Technician, Selector, MC, DJ’s and the box boys (labour).

It was my elder brothers Stan Zeff ( Tambor) and Wes Zepherin that introduced me to this culture as they had built their sound systems. I started off by working as a box boy for their sound system (loading up the gear on the van). I grew up in a bedroom filled with large bass bins, tweeter boxes, wires and records from the floor to ceiling. That could be jazz-funk, soul, fusion, Disco, 80’s, Boogie and reggae. I had access to all those sounds as a child and learnt how to switch on the gear when they were not around Lol. I would then spend my spare time making mix tapes on my brothers DJ Setup that consisted of two homemade Garrad decks and a Phonic mixer.

When did you know you wanted to DJ?

When I attended Notting Hill carnival in 1982, and I witnessed the crowds responding to Mastermind Soundsystem under a flyover. The DJ was mixing acapella’s and beats and doing spin backs with the same record. I knew then I wanted to be able to create that energy.

Who to you is/was “The DJs DJ”.

A DJ’s – DJ to me is an individual who is not afraid to play what they believe in. Regardless of the audience their intention is to win over the crowd to their style of playing and are prepared to take risks in doing so. In addition, they relish in breaking new music or re-discovering old music. I am sure there are many, but I can only talk about those that I have moved me personally. Three DJ’s who I have witnessed achieve this and continues to push those boundaries are Timmy Regisford, Joe Clausell and Gilles Peterson.


Describe your main and preferred DJ set-up.

Bozak Mixer, Bozak EQ6, 4 band Bozak Isolator, 4 Nexus CDJ’s, D&B monitor system.

Do you use a laptop? If so, what platform/program?

I have used my laptop to play in the past, but nowadays I prefer USB. However, Traktor was my go to program as the effects in this software are the best.

Why do you choose this way of playing?

When I used to use laptops, it was for the purpose of not having to burn so many CD’s each weekend and it allowed me to carry a lot more music to select from.

I like to have an element of surprise in my sets, and sometimes that action to reach for a particular song only comes to you as an idea while in mid-set. So the laptop enabled me to have a huge library on hand.

Any special, unique, crazy things on your rider?

I am not popular enough to demand such things :)

Beverage of choice while playing?

Glenfiddich single malt Scotch on the rocks.

Favourite country/club/city to play?

  • Country – Touring North America
  • Club –  Katavothres in Kefelonia Greece.
  • City  - Naples with Neuhm

Do you Sync? What’s your view on this? Has it leveled the playing field for the better or worse?

No. Djing is not just about how well you mix two records. It helps but it’s not the most important element to get a floor jumping. Sound systems started with 1 turntable in the UK, and it was all about the choice of records and the order in which you selected them which connected the DJ with the crowd. The choice of music played, and its journey from start to end will always be paramount in a DJ’s set. As long as a sync setters understand this, then let them use technology. But I will say there is a great gratification to challenging yourself with a mix and it coming off and all DJs should seek that.

Favourite or “go-to” EFXs while playing?

Pioneer Rmx 1000 and a Bozak isolator.

Read the crowd or just pound it out?

Read the crowd all day long. It’s the art of Djing. Understanding where to take a crowd when they are at peak or how to get them to a peak is what makes playing a rewarding. For me, it’s also feeling a crowd as you have to connect with everyone’s energy on the dance floor. Focusing on different souls in the room becomes markers for me as to where the dance floor is at and where I need to go to raise the energy. I prefer to be set up in amongst the people rather than in an area where you can not communicate or touch. Pounding it out offers no thought process or feeling.

Big festivals or intimate clubs? Why?

Each arena has an advantage for me. The intimate setting tends to bring a different set out of me naturally and allows me to include different tempos and genres in my sets with ease. It also creates a party atmosphere that allows enables you to be more experimental or nostalgic depending on the room’s mood. However with festivals the feeling of having thousands of people behaving as if it’s an intimate room, singing, dancing, jumping together is magical.


Ever miss the CDs or Vinyl days?

Don’t miss CDs. No Need to miss Vinyl as I still purchase and play it.

How do you maintain your music library?

Record box.

Any Tips for Aspiring Young DJs?

Keep an open mind to find out what sound and genre resonates with you. Don’t be a follower in music, stand for the music you love regardless of what others may think. Be spontaneous when playing and always challenge yourself to take a risk when playing be it a mix or song selection to push yourself and discover your own creativity.

Do you do any of the obligatory DJ poses?

I just move how I feel in that moment.

How do you combat the “Everyone is a DJ” mentality?

The world would be a better place if everyone took sometime out to DJ each week for themselves.

If someone wants to try their hand at DJ’ing, who am I to say they should not give it a go. Of course, there are those that want it for the fame and status but they will only be around as longs as its fashionable. You will get this type of personality in all areas of life that has potential fame attached to it. Everyone wants to be a footballer, model, actor, singer and so on. There is nothing we can do about that. What’s important is that new talent is discovered

The irony is that the ethos will allow the DJ art form to grow and reach parts of the world that will in turn create new talents.

Tracxsource News - Tribe goes into the Vaults

Tribe Records is proud to announce the first release In the Tribe Vaults series, ‘Tribe Vaults Volume One: Afro House’, a collection of unreleased songs and fresh remixes of tracks produced throughout Tribe’s history from 2008 to date.

As the Tribe Vaults series grows it will show how Tribe has developed, but this won’t be a Greatest Hits package as the Vaults series will present hidden gems, the unreleased material that has been saved, put by and hoarded until there were enough precious tunes and specially-commissioned mixes for each Volume.

Tribe is known best for its wicked deep and soulful house releases, and the Vaults series will feature plenty more of those, but these genre-specific collections should have a distinct appeal to DJs and club crowds.

Label boss and producer Zepherin Saint explains that he always wanted Tribe to be diverse, embracing different music from around the world at the forefront of breaking new styles of music and dance, wherever they are being made. Thats why this album brings together releases and remixes from right across Africa as well as from the UK, USA and France. ‘When I coined the motto “One Sound One People” says Saint, ‘it was for that reason, so that the label could operate as a kind of musical exchange regardless of the usual notions of world music and western dance, or distinctions based on an artist’s musical background.’

Zepherin Saint

‘Tribe Vaults Volume 1: Afro House’ presents brand new remixes which have been produced in 2012 alongside alternate mixes which were made over the past four years, together with original tracks such as ‘Tokyo Sky’ and ‘Native King’ which have never been heard before. The Vaults series has been planned since Tribe Recordswas launched, so that fresh songs and remixed tracks by the great producers who work with the label could shine in a new album context.

Here’s what some of the Dj’s have to say…

Dj Spinna – Hotness. Tokyo Sky… YES!
Ian Friday – Very Nice Package
Boddhi Satva – This complete package is right up my way. Full Support
Jihad Muhammad – Great Release from Tribe crew
Josh Milan – Tribe is always good for a slamming record. All of the songs are good for any floor.
Mr V – Dope EP, Feelin It!
DJ Pope – Love the Tribe Vaults full support,can’t wait until the next Vault is open
Marques Wyatt – Tight package!

‘TRIBE Vaults Vol 1 Afro House Edition’ is out now on Tribe Records.

Traxsource News - Zepherin Saint - Inside The Track 'Dance Release'

This is a special release, and not just because of the music. Four years and five months after the labels launch, Tribe Records is proud to announce it’s fiftieth release with it’s the label founder, Zepherin Saint at the controls, inviting Mr V to bring his inimitable vocal delivery to ‘Dance Release’. 

With ‘Dance Release’ featuring Mr V via Tribe Records doing well on Traxsource. We sat down with Zepherin Saint to get an indepth look ‘Inside The Track’ and more with this Exclusive interview.

The Interview

1) Congrates on Tribe Records 50th release, Obviously you and the team are elated to reach the half century mark w/ a strong cut ‘Dance Release’ How is it being received in your sets this summer? & how are other club DJs responding to the release?

We are over the moon about getting to 50 in a short space of time. It’s not an easy industry to keep being consistent in as musical tastes change quickly these days. ‘Dance release’ has been rocking my dance floors and in fact it developed in my sets through various versions being tweaked from pin pointing crowd reactions. The DJ support has been amazing and I have been getting lots of good feedback from peers on how well its been received over the summer. Next up we will be releasing the video that has been shot on various streets in Paris with dancers from different styles, locking, popping, whacking, house dance, afro, you name it we got it in there.

2) Tell us more about ‘Dance Release’. What was the main inspiration behind its overall musical direction? why Mr V for the vocals & David Morales for the remix?

I am inspired by musical cultures around the globe and I like to see how people react to music in their native environments. Through out my travelling I have been lucky enough to visit the Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on a number of occasions and fell in love with an instrument called the Zeer. It’s a number of drums that are heated up to get the right tuning and played with sticks. They make a pulsating sound in a frequency that resonates with people to make them dance in its musical origin of Khalegi. Once I heard it being played and witnessed the reactions it manifested in people, I knew I had to record a dance track with this sound and proceeded to record it whilst I was there that formed the basis of this ‘Dance Release’.

Mr V has a great tone and rhythm for dance music that gives you energy when you hear it, I have always used his acapella’s in my sets to help tell the story and take the crowds to the next level. V and I had been talking for a long time about collaborating and once I had this rhythm track I knew this was the one for us. We discussed making a track that was dedicated to dancers, a sequel to his classic ‘Just Dance’ released on Vega records. As expected V delivered the perfect hook and verses over the raw beat that then continued my inspiration to then build around it.

Once finished I felt that there was still a lot of people who could connect with V’s lyrics and delivery and further expand its audience. So I was thinking hard about who this could be and while I was on my way home from a gig in Italy I bumped into David Morales in the airport lounge and that light bulb went on! For me David was the perfect choice to take this record to new arena’s that the original would not reach as his wealth of musical knowledge would have known what to do with this vocal to make it a peak time record in the big rooms, not forgetting as a bonus being able to have an icon mark our 50th release felt like it was all meant to be.

3) Production wise, what is it about ‘Dance Release’ that makes it work?

Creating a track to me is the same as seeing a landscape and its different layers. It’s a very visual process and on this occasion I kept visualizing the dancers changing their moves and looking for something new to catch on, to showcase their best move. V gave me a loop of him breathing tracked up 4 times and it made me think of the dancers when they cannot stop and are putting their all into the dance floor. So in this spirit I wanted the production to be fast paced always moving to a different sound and keeping the attention of the dance floor, leaving no room to take a breath. I had fun with putting some stop starts in the track and sfx sounds which I normally don’t do and drum programming in a way to create crowd participation with claps and snare rolls that responded to lyrics in the song.
The bass line is in fact a TAR a Middle eastern percussion that I sampled and pitched down spreading it across the keyboard to create notes. I added a sine wave with it for some warmth.

By adding the marimba and staccato flutes it allowed me to keep a percussive feel across all frequencies thus giving me a musical direction that was driven by the drum to give it an energy that will propel the track into peak time sets.

Placing together sounds that normally do not belong together is something I enjoy doing i.e. on this production, Middle eastern drums with African Balafon melodies next to techno synth stabs, all driven by afro house snare rhythm’s. This gave me the result I needed to have the track accepted on different dance floors where I have played as there are relations to various dance genres in there.

I choose not to mix my own productions as I like a fresh set of ears on the sonics and then I tweak after. My mix engineer of choice is Toni Economides of Garden Studios in London who I have been working with for the past 6 years and knows how I prefer my productions to sound. On this occasion it was important to have the zeer drum explode out of the mix when it entered to give the quick pace feel of the production so the dancer can capture the rhythm and have the snare drive the middle frequencies of the mix giving you this feeling of this is no time to stop dancing.

4) What is the one machine, program, sound, drum machine, technique that characterizes the signature the Zepherin Saint sound?

I work a lot with Logic and sometimes Ableton as I think this has a creative brain that allows you to create in a different way, Live instrumentation plays a big part in my productions, as I am a fan of percussion where ever it may come from. I have been told this is a signature to what I do whether it is a vocal track or something deeper. I always start with some sort of percussion to set my mood.

I enjoy working with Flextime on logic as it allows me to manipulate live drums I have recorded in an accurate way. I record whenever I see the opportunity; the downside is I do not always get the best result because of the environment. I may be in so it takes time to maybe get something edited to the sound or beat you need and flex time makes this process so much easier.

The Aturia collection of plug ins always get used as I like the vintage synths like prophet 5, Moog and Jupiter for bass lines and pads.

Dune is a good synth I have started using a lot of recently and this played a major part in ‘Dance Release’. You cannot go wrong with Rob Papans Subsonic bass plug in.

Applied Accoustic systems chromophone is perfect for getting marimbas, vibes and balafon sounds and gives you the ability to edit their positions and types of tubes to resonate the sound.

My sound generally has a worldly feel to it so even if it’s a synth sound I will still add a traditional feeling from around the world to the way I play it.

5) What is the one piece of kit that Zepherin Saint simply cannot do without?

It has to be 3 things my Laptop, Bose mobile speaker and Akai LPK 25 keyboard. Being on the road so much means I have to be ready to create and complete work wherever I am and this setup allows me to do just that. It also allows me to be in a remote place with a great backdrop and create. This was my setup whilst on vacation in St lucia producing tracks for Nathan Adams Album

6) Any advice for your fans on how to make it in today’s fast paced game?

The first thing is to believe in yourself and your talent. Doubt can play havoc with your creativity so keeping yourself focussed on what you want to achieve is very important to succeed in this time. Find your niche and stick to it so you can work towards mastering it. Be consistent in your output as you are only as good as your last record so its important to always keep your creativity in the market place be it remixing or originals. Use social media constructively to get your material noticed, as you never know who may find you. I personally have signed at least 5 records from unknowns via social media outlets. Lastly when you have your belief and truly know you have something to offer the world musically. Don’t give up!


Big Shout



Since co-founding Tribe Records in 2008, London-based DJ/producer Zepherin Saint (pictured above) has been sketching the label’s soulful, globally informed blueprint. He’s done so by meticulously developing new and established talent as well as promoting events for like-minded party people. While musical trends have come and gone since Tribe’s birth, he’s stayed true to his initial vision at every twist and turn.

Boasting a catalogue overflowing with releases by Manoo, Bucie, Nathan Adams, Mr. V, Souldynamic, Timmy Regisford, Liquideep and Peven Everett, Saint chose to celebrate Tribe’s 100th release in a big way by issuing a brilliant cover of Sounds of Blackness’ 1991 gospel-dance classic “Optimistic,”featuring none other than original vocalist Ann Nesby. With so many experiences and lots of irons in the fire, we asked Saint to share his favorite moments from the label’s first seven years.

Zepherin Saint feat. Ann Nesby & G3’s “Optimistic” is out now on Tribe Records.

1. Releasing our first-ever release, “Circles” by Nathan Adams and Zepherin Saint, and it reaching number one on Traxsource
I needed to release this great track that I had created after a hiatus from the industry with my young neighbor, then 17-year-old Nathan Adams, and this formed part of the inspiration to start Tribe Records. I never thought Tribe was going to turn into such a respected label as I just wanted to put out music that I love and respect. Nathan is still an integral part of the label, and we are currently working on his second album.

2. Getting our second number 1 with Manoo’s remix of Sister Pearl’s “Bang the Drum”
Sister Pearl had delivered me a vocal with a Jamaican slang, which I was in love with but felt there was a harder mix to be done. Manoo was the man for the job. Manoo is one of the humblest people I have met, and I remember him calling me to check if the direction was cool. I was like, “Manoo, are you serious?”” He had created such an original beat and vibe that rocked clubs all over the world. This was our fourth release and we had already scored second number one on Traxsource.


3. Signing Peven Everett for an album deal
Peven Everett was already a legend and genius so this was an ambitious move on our part as a young label. Spurred on by Timmy Regisford who was a fan of what I was doing and co-producer of the record, he encouraged me to go for it, stating if I really want to build a label that’s here to stay I have to release albums. Peven believed in what we were capable of and we got a home run as the album was a hit and went on to become a number one. We also launched the album with two London shows that were sold-out and still talked about today.

4. Launch of Tribe Records at the National Hotel in Miami at WMC
It was all about taking risks to reach the next level and this was another ambitious move. We hired the National Hotel in South Beach and proceeded to launch Tribe Records to North America. We were nervous about this event even after it had opened as we were unsure how many people would attend and had made a big investment to make it happen. Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere the venue was packed and the event was a success. It was then I realized how much support we had gained from the house community and DJs around the world. I remember DJing at the event and next to me stood Louie Vega, Timmy Regisford, Joe Clausell and Ian Friday. Not much pressure then!


5. Black Coffee and Bucie debut London performance at Tribe
“Superman” was a hit and we were supporting, releasing and playing a lot of music from South Africa at this time such as Black Motion, Black Coffee, Sai and Ribatone, Culoe De Song, Bucie, Zakes and Liquid Deep. So it made sense to celebrate our Tribe Anniversary by bringing over Black Coffee and Bucie together in London for the first time. We were not ready for what happened next. The venue was a 400-capacity space and we had a roadblock outside of over 1,000 people. I recall walking up with Black Coffee and Bucie and we looked at each other in amazement and laughed; they were in shock at the amount of fans that turned up from all over the UK.

7. Signing Timmy Regisford for a multi-album deal and all albums reaching number one
With hits like “At the Club,” “Sometimes,” “Shining” and Thank You,” these albums were landmarks for the label and we were able gain new fans for the label in places like Japan. We went on to release “At the Club” and many others as singles remixed to different genres and crossed Tribe and Timmy over to new audiences.

8. Starting our Can You Dance to My Beat festival in Kefalonia, Greece
Now in its third year, we started this festival to assist in taking the soulful and Afro music scene to the next level. It turned into a magical occasion and has featured DJs such as Gilles Peterson, Joe Clausell, Mr. Raoul, Boddhi Satva & Djeff, Afrozilla, Louie Vega, Anané and many more

9. Releasing Nathan Adams’ debut album, Audio Therapy, that reached number one
This was a major landmark for us. I set out to A&R an album that could include the top house producers, and we achieved just that with productions from Josh Milan, Louie Vega, DJ Spinna Quentin Harris, Black Coffee and Sean McCabe.

9.5 Release Djeff Afrozilla’s debut album
I had heard a few singles Djeff had released along with a single he had already released on Tribe, and I knew this young producer had an album in him. I called him up and offered him an album deal. He was hesitant at first because he was unsure if he was able to do it, but he set out to achieve it and it all came together in a short space of time with ease. Some things are just meant to be.

10. Reaching 100 releases with the legendary Ann Nasby and G3
I wanted to have a song represent our 100th release, one that epitomizes what it took to reach 100. There was only one song for this. We were blessed to have had the fortunate coincidence that put us in contact with the original vocalist Ann Nesby. I recorded the choir in Atlanta and it just so happened that a couple of the original members of Sounds of Blackness were hired to perform. They were like, Ann needs to hear this! The next day I talked with her management and the deal was done.


Zepherin Saint, enigmatic producer, DJ, talent scout and co-founder of Tribe records, sits opposite composed and alert. Unabashed he smoothes over my interrogation with an effervescent charm, that softens my line of questioning. Mastery acquired via two decades of flexing vinyl in the eighties London warehouse scene, and lighting up the dance floor for the likes of Michael Jackson et al. This tribe chief treads a tight rope between elusive party chameleon and all-around-nice-guy, nom de guerre.