Inside the group’s mystique, the acid jazz is reminiscent of Jamiroquai funk, while deeply saturated in the contemporary freshness of house purveyors like Joey Negro, Masters at Work, Soul Clap and Jamie Jones. Even the legendary tastemaker Gilles Peterson, dubbed them the future of house music
Pic: Carsten Wäßerling | Soulpixx.de
John-Christian Urich | Los Angeles, USA
Artist, Singer, Songwriter, Producer
John-Christian, Jordan Scanella and Isamu McGregor are Tortured Soul
Tortured Soul’s origins date back to 2001 while Urich was steering Cooly’s Hot Box, an acid jazz outfit also featuring under-the-radar indie soul vocalist Angela Johnson. After putting Cooly’s Hot Box on hiatus, Urich composed Might Do Something Wrong which was quickly picked up by New York-based deep house label Central Park Recordings, and Tortured Soul was born. Thanks to the cool laidback mix provided by Osunlade, the song quickly became an underground staple at the iconic Club Shelter and helped jumpstart the development of a full-length disc generating more soulful house.
Urich began playing his compositions “Might Do Something Wrong,” “Don’t Hold Me Down,” “Fall In Love” and “Enjoy It Now” with his bandmates from the rhythm section of NYC’s acid-jazz band Topaz: bassist Jason “JKriv” Kriveloff and keyboardist Ethan White. Eventually they broke away to form the trio Tortured Soul. They began touring in 2003, and have become one of the premier live dance acts of this generation.
While touring nearly every continent, they have played venues as diverse as the Montreal Jazz Festival, Zouk Singapore, Bonnaroo in Tennessee, Fabric in London, and The Capetown International Jazz Festival in South Africa. They have shared the stage with world-renowned DJ’s like Carl Cox, Miguel Migs, Jazzanova, and Louie Vega. They have also performed with many legendary live acts such as Chaka Kahn, The Wailers, The Brand New Heavies, and Pharcyde.
A succession of 12-inch singles followed Might Do Something Wrong, including Alix Alvarez’s mix of How’s Your Life and the romantic dance-pop of Fall in Love. Billboard dance critic Michael Paoletta lauded the latter track by calling it a sterling, soul-slammed house jam. Each of the singles impressed the bevy of the world’s dance halls, allowing the band to tour heavily with appearances at clubs and festivals across the US. With 2006’s Introducing Tortured Soul, the band was able to piece together their first debut album using all their earlier singles while also incorporating a few new studio additions. The follow-up album, 2009’s Did You Miss Me, released on the band’s own label, TSTC Records, ushered in a new wave of critical acclaim, climactically winning accolades from various music publications like Blues and Soul, SoulTracks and SoulBounce. Home to You, In My Fantasy and Your Dream Is My Dream were all given the 12″ and 7″ singles’ treatment. Continuing their regimen for clubland rituals, Tortured Soul employed an attractive A-list of DJs and remixers to carefully handle the mixes for their latest batch of uptempo dancefloor fillers, including Mark de Clive-Lowe, Quentin Harris, Jon Cutler, DJ Spinna, Dimitri From Paris and remix pioneer Tom Moulton. In 2015 the band released a third album, Hot For Your Love Tonight, with a music video for the single “Don’t Lead Me On.” Most recently two new singles, “Makin’ Me Better” and “U Live 2 Far Away,” along with remixes of both by JKriv, Lounge Lizards, Ron Trent and more.
In 2010, Kriveloff departed the group to focus on his new record label.
On March 3, 2015, Keyboard player, co producer and founding band member Ethan White passed away.
Urich continues to compose and tour as Tortured Soul with the help of bassists Jordan Scanella and Ernie McKone (in Europe) and keyboardist Isamu McGregor. Ernie is well known on the UK music scene and worldwide for his classic projects such as Galliano and Push and as a bassist for Paul Weller, Omar and Leon Ware to name a few.
Tortured Soul has still got the dance floor groovin’ and its popularity continues to spread across intercontinental boundaries as its touring schedules broaden with every single measure. They continue to wow audiences at some of the world’s biggest music festivals like the Cape Town Jazz Festival, (South Africa), Java Jazz Festival (Indonesia), Detroit Electronic Music Festival (USA), Pukkelpop (Belgium), Big Chill Festival (UK) and Montreal International Jazz Festival (Canada).
Touring abroad has not hindered them from making their bicoastal US rounds at Bonnaroo, Milwaukee’s Summerfest and at popular live venues like Hollywood’s Vanguard, Chicago’s Double Door, Atlanta’s Center Stage and Washington D.C.’s 930 Club. Their prowess has even won the praises of Barry Manilow and Lenny Kravitz.
AllMusicGuide wrote that Tortured Soul’s songs are unapologetically poppy, explaining why their music has appeared on All My Children, A&E’s The Glades, Showtime’s Huff and Canada’s version of So You Think You Can Dance. Their music has become the soundtrack of retail shopping in stores like Gap, American Eagle Outfitters and Hollister, while even landing in a popular demo trial for Bose headphones. Over the years Tortured Soul’s music has been documented on a wide range of dance compilations and has been licensed to Universal Japan, Defected, BMG Ariola, Dome and a host of other labels.
The band is living Gilles Peterson’s prophecy and staying at the forefront of House. Topping things off, their commitment to hard work and travel has been left unfazed. They are focused to reach as many converts as possible – one tortured soul at a time.
Rocker Lenny Kravitz once described them as “something I’d wake up to on a Saturday morning when the sun is coming through the window . There aren’t enough people [like this] singing about love and honesty”.
Influenced by the classic songcraft of Prince, Heatwave and Kool & The Gang, the members of Tortured Soul are three distinctive guys with three different backgrounds, united under a groove-centered rhythm. The band’s frontman and principal songwriter, John-Christian Urich, can be seen simultaneously drumming and singing with effortless mastery, while the rest of the collective virtuosically generate the pulsating accompaniment. Inside the group’s mystique, the acid jazz is reminiscent of Jamiroquai funk, while deeply saturated in the contemporary freshness of house purveyors like Joey Negro, Masters at Work, Soul Clap and Jamie Jones. Even the legendary tastemaker Gilles Peterson, dubbed them the future of house music.