Guitarist Julian Harris and vocalist Julia Camayd form the heart and soul of the South Florida modern R&B group Soulpax.
Harris’ and Camayd’s musical connection began in high school during a music master class at the University of Miami. They were both students who were interested in attending Berklee College of Music in Boston to be taught by Livingston Taylor. Harris says he was looking for “opportunities to play and make music” and he found Camayd, “an amazing lyricist.”
Soulpax draws from rhythm and blues influences including Otis Rush, Amy Winehouse, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Wilson Pickett. Camayd says, “We are playing music to bring peace to our souls and the souls to others who are listening to it;” pax means is peace in Latin. Harris and Camayd joined Sundial for the Live from the 305 music series for an in-studio performance and to talk about what makes their creative process so indicative of a new R&B movement.
WLRN: Julia, did you know right away that there was this musical connection?
CAMAYD: The first thing was we connected as friends who were both interested in music. We met at this event and pretty much hung out the whole day and from there I thought if Julian's going to Berkelee, it would be really nice to go up there and actually know someone. The minute that I actually heard him play guitar I knew that he was for real. You really have to hear someone play and then play with them and experience it to really know. The first time we hung out after that was definitely when I knew. We wrote one song in like a whole just sitting together, and most of it sounded like it came from one person instead of two separate people. I had never had that experience before.
You guys have been working together for about eight years. I want to get a sense of the creative process between the two of you. How does that work when you're writing and coming up with music?
HARRIS: It differs from song to song. For the most part we don't really have a set formula. Julia is an absolutely amazing lyricist. Maybe sometimes I'll have a first verse written and I'll give it to her and I'm like, 'Hey, maybe we could do something with this.' Sometimes she'll come to me with all this poetry and she's like, 'Hey, what about this?' I personally take on the role of writing and composing most of the music and then it goes back and forth.
Tell me about a specific song and how that process worked?
CAMAYD: "Inside Outside" is actually the title track of our album. We both have a part in all of that, but Julian sent me this excellent track that was just banger. He came up with the initial arrangement and then I came up with like some horn parts...
You both grew up down here. It's Miami and I heard that [Latin music], you can't escape it, right?
CAMAYD: It's a subconscious thing that happens in our music because we both grew up here. It's pretty magical that can happen. But one thing that I would say that is similar -- there are actually quite a lot of jazzers down here in Miami. Jazz is what brings us to open it [our music] up. We want to do that because we grew up doing that.
Watch Soulpax's in studio performance.