Meet A-P Connection: An autoproduced French Funk music duo founded in 2012 in Reims. Growing up, Antoine Perez and Pierre Bonnet were mostly influenced by the funk and disco music of the 70’s and 80’s. It was obvious that playing music would become part of their lives. At the early beginning they played only guitar and bass, yet this quickly evolved into a wider variety of instruments allowing them to create their own compositions.
In early 2014 the first album “Stellar Groove” was launched, using mainly talk box vocals. Soon collaboration with different singers was started up, which resulted into a couple of new songs being issued on the main digital platforms. This experience inspired them to work on their first big project: bringing out an LP featuring a variety of talented artists both for vocals as well as additional instrumental sections as strings, horns. Their unique blended sound was born. Source: About A-P Connection, Spotify.
My Kind of Music, with A-P Connection (2)
The A-P GROOVE Makes Me POSITIVELY HAPPY.
Isn’t it just amazing that my second ever Spotlight is also today’s second Spotlight 2?! I think it is! We’re almost back at where I began the Spotlight section with my guests of the day, A-P Connection. I will be forever grateful, they were so willing to do a little interview with me in Spotlight on A-P Connection, published 7/16/2020. It was all so very new to me, still developing this wild idea, I could try and go interview independent artists for my blog. Sorry, what’s your name again? 😂 Fortunately for me, the guys were so friendly and enthusiastic, it all went down pretty smooth. What can I say, since I started following them, I figured it’s just who they are: Friendly, Approachable and Smiling. They totally represent the Groove, which makes for a strong opening on their new album, showing off their instrumental skills.
Antoine Perez and Pierre Bonnet – Yes Indeed A-P! – were in fact so collaborative, I basically could ask any question, however, when I just started it was quite a feat to come up with even only the 5 questions. Having only just celebrated the 1st anniversary of the blog, I can say I’ve learned a couple of things since then and I hope it shows in the article! For a fair comparison, you would of course have read their first Spotlight 😉 No big changes, because I stick to the idea the article should be easy to read after all and it’s often a Thin Line between a site looking nice, but being utterly inaccessible at the same time. Song number 2 features the great Howard Johnson, remember ‘So Fine?’ Yep, that’s him.
Anyways, back to A-P Connection and their music! I started following them around the time their previous album ‘Beyond’ was released, which turned me into a Big Fan. Just like diamonds, it can take effort and time – though luckily not a Lifetime – to Find something really good. Right before 2020 ended it was clear A-P Connection was already preparing for their next musical endeavor, their new album ‘Wide Vision’, released 7/6/2021, which brings us here. In the meantime I was so bold to ask them if there was any way I could still get my hands on that awesome A-P ‘Beyond’ sweater, wanting to gift one to my hubby. They were so cool, there weren’t any left, but they made sure to get me one, after which I decided I really wanted one for myself too. When the sweaters arrived there was a signed ‘Beyond’ CD added, because, I quote: ‘You’re a true fan’. Ain’t that right! I can honestly say we – my hubby and I – have been really looking forward to the release date and when it finally came, I just couldn’t wait to have a first listen somewhere in the middle of the night. Track number 3 is featured by Nate Williams, who I only discovered a couple of months ago – coincidence or not? – and has some funky stuff under his belt.
A-P Connection provided us with a full album: 16 new songs!! When they posted about the album also being available on vinyl (Double) or CD, it was Love at First Sight. I recently started a new collection of vinyl’s – still very humble at the moment – and this double album is just beautiful. So of course I ordered ‘Wide Vision’ and I was happy to receive it this week and YES the pics spread over this page are from Moi. Song number 4 is featured by Denise L. Wilkinson, (from Ladies of Skyy) who is adding Soul to this pretty jazzy tune. Pierre is having fun with some juicy basslines – how I love that – and Antoine is strong as ever, letting those funky guitar riffs fly, the backbone of any good groove and every one of their songs!
The album has some fleeting reminders of ‘Beyond’ and other previously released stuff. There is this distinct A-P sound for sure and among the really amazing vocalists collaborating here, there are a couple who had been starring on previous albums too. Think about Ryan Konline, Matthew Clanton and Chuck New, for example. You’ll recognize their voices immediately, not only because of previous collabs with A-P, but with a lot of other artists too. I think it’s pretty cool that the songs they’re singing on, seem to perfectly fit the ‘A-P Groove’ if I may be so bold. But it doesn’t stop there, if you think ‘Beyond’ was stretching A-P’s limits, Nu-Uh, The Beat Goes On. Song number 5 has got some of said reminders, featured by Junior and don’t tell me you never heard at least ‘Mama Used To Say?!’ Adding in horns is always a bit risky in my opinion, they could lift a track to unbelievable heights or unfortunately sometimes, ruin a song for me. But No: the first is true here, giving me total EWF vibes, it’s Just Right!
I am following the tracklist on ‘Wide Vision’, which I normally wouldn’t do. I like to go back and forth in time, trying to not only look for similarities, but even more so, to get a feel about how an artist/band, has grown. In my opinion A-P’s sound has definitely matured: still recognizable but the songs definitely feel more layered to me, with interesting transitions and key changes in most songs. They’re not all ‘straight forward’ A-P beats, each song has their own identity, with great lyrics and as mentioned, more great vocalists. They make each song a real Pleasure to listen to. Arriving at song number 6, which is featured by an ‘old A-P’ friend, Chuck New. I love his voice and referring to what I mentioned earlier, it’s amazing to hear how he is owning the song with his own sound. The 21 might be nailing it, because this song is filled with so much good stuff: very cool percussion, neat claps and drums, overall a very smooth performance.
Ending 2020 with my Spotify Wrapped, it was hardly a surprise for me to find A-P Connection as my number 2 Top Artist, with a number 4 Top Song. I thought it funny to also go for the ‘Spotify Roast’, to see ‘how bad’ my Spotify actually was. They had me laughing because it was stated, I quote: ‘You stan these artist to an uncomfortable extent’. Of course A-P was included in that short list. My response was: ‘Yeah, it’s uncomfortable for me too’. I mean, I did/do feel like a stalker sometimes, must have been something missing when I was a kid, just catching up on fangirling over artists 🙄. But let’s be honest, a band like A-P deserves so much more recognition! They can compete with any big name in the scene, their skills and professionality are certainly speaking for them. Track number 7, featured by Heather Haywood, is showing it all, talking about being Positively Happy! I simply cannot imagine A-P couldn’t brighten your day with their music. Great transitions, amazing synth solo and again, those horns!
Now I am just a little bit biased – read: A Lot – but track number 8 is definitely one of my favs. Apart from the really smooth beat – great synths! – I really love Matthew Clanton’s voice. I have A-P Connection to thank for discovering him and he just might be the main reason why A-P did not end up number one in my Spotify Wrapped – oopsies – since he is also singing on the track that made first place in the end…I think this song is So Him and at the same time So A-P. It’s just a match made in heaven if you’d ask me. This IS one of the songs that reminds me of previous released A-P music. Not a bad thing at all, because I love their older songs! Actually, my number 4 Top Song of last year was ‘Want U’. I couldn’t help but be totally in love with that groove. In short: if you’re only now discovering A-P Connection, dig a little deeper into their discography, I would recommend SoundCloud, and give it all a listen. Their early instrumentals are fire and All for You.
Another vocalist we’ve heard before on A-P albums, is featuring song number 9: Ryan Konline. Bringing me straight back to Beyond’s ‘All To Myself’ and ‘All Your Love’, a couple of other favs. I don’t even know why I am talking about favs, since there’s not really one song I dislike, but ok. This one starts off with great horns immediately – and going strong the whole way – followed by a tight drum beat, a great bassline and exploding into the chorus, where that funky guitar is added. Well, what you want me to say…it’s not as if A-P is predictable anywhere, they’re obviously aiming for more complex compositions, trying to keep their audience attention. I can say it’s working for me. I may not mentioned it before, but every lyric on this album is neatly put together, as is this one. If you need to convince your sweet, Girl Of My Dreams has it all: ‘I wish the stars would align…’ The Drip.
The more I listen to the album, the more I am wondering how it’s possible that although it’s A-P Connection we’re talking about here, the added vocalists are such an important part of every song. I mean, everybody knows by now, I love groovy/jazzy/funky, instrumental music, it’s what I grew up with after all. My point: as much as this is all about A-P, the whole album breathes their humble attitude towards the singers. I hope I’m making sense here and you’re getting what I’m trying to say. A-P is so obviously out to share their music not only with an audience, but also with fellow artists. It’s the joy of making great music together, that radiates from the album and it seems they keep reinventing themselves, Today, Tomorrow, Forever, to avoid becoming a ‘formula’. Track number 10, featured by Joyce Sims – and yes, I still love ‘Come Into My Life’ – was my first choice to share in my Some Groovy Medicine Spotify playlist. Was it a conscious choice? Maybe not, but I had to start somewhere and man it just ROCKS!
Choosing a song per week is not easy, which I was talking about with the guys. This is how it went: A-P: ‘Are you enjoying the new album ?!’ Me: ‘Ooow Yess! It’s different from Beyond and that’s surprisingly amazing! It’s funky and happy music!! Very well done! A-P: ‘Awesome ! I’m glad you like it! Which track is your favorite ?’ Me: ‘Aaw that’s a trick question 😂😂 there are several that really jumped to the foreground for me and I will share them one by one in my weekly playlist but I started with ‘Today, Tomorrow, Forever’. A-P: ‘Hahaha yeah there are a lot of tracks 😂’. Me: ‘I also love Millionaire and All for You well basically all 😂😂. Yess 16!! 👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼’. A-P: ‘Nice ones 😍’. AGREED. Track 11 is again featured by Nate Williams and funky as heck. I totally love that heavy funky slap bass, accompanied by the ever present steady guitar – but even more elaborated riffs! – that very subtle triangle – allover great percussion carrying the song – aah well, you get my point. If I was a Millionaire, I would buy all A-P’s stock and handed it out. How can you even live without this. Also sorry-not-sorry, I love emojis.
Our little conversation ended with the next track, number 12, featured by Ava Baya. Me: ‘The French track Idylle is beautiful!’ A-P: ‘Oh yes, I love this one too ! Ava Baya voice’s is so cool’. So TRUE. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of Ava Baya before, but it is sure a name to remember. The song is sung in French – Naturellement! – and it’s a very moving, jazzy, ballad showing A-P can do anything they put their creative minds to. We had been talking about this Spotlight 2 ever since it was announced they were working on the new album. I loved the idea of a follow-up and fortunately, so did they. One of the first things they said to me, was that they had a lot to tell about their new album and so it was decided, a Spotlight 2 had To Be made. This whole Spotlight section has been like a dream I never knew I had, but it’s pretty idyllic, to expand it to sequels. Where I thought A-P would be the first in this new series, I simply had to be patient and wait for ‘Wide Vision’ to be released. But hey, being the second again has a special ring to it, right?
Already at track number 13, again featured by Junior and what a JAM. The short intro keeps us from falling head first in an old school boogie vibe bringing us straight back to the 80’s. Following them on social media, I was able to catch their updates about the album. The posts where they are recording Antoine playing his guitar, were really pushing my Funk Buttons. It all sounded so good and though I said A-P is not predictable – because they aren’t – I wouldn’t have expected anything less from their sound. In truth, I will keep expecting more, because they will go on growing beyond their limits. I am positive their drive has to do with the fact, they’re convinced there is Nothing We Can’t Do Together. You won’t hear any complaint from me, I wouldn’t even have known how they could top ‘Beyond’, but they did. So I’m sure they will pull it off again after this.
Just 3 songs left and number 14 is featured by Adam Chini, another new name to me. Don’t worry about it, I love to discover ‘new’ artists, it’s what’s keeping my blog up and running lol. The track is carried by very tantalizing synths evolving to a great solo and thus dipping a bit more into a funky EDM side. Fine by me and Adam’s voice is perfectly tuned to it. I also love the fact that a lot of the lyrics on ‘Wide Vision’ are not mere lovesongs, but have a real message and meaning. Who said funky music is only about falling in love and dancing 🤐. One of the best parts is that uplifting/happy music, can balance out any serious/sensitive lyrics: bring a serious message, but make people remember it too. With ‘What Kind’, A-P is going strong till the end.
With second-last number 15, we’re back to listening to Howard Johnson. Really, I am afraid I am starting to repeat myself, but this whole album is one massive A-P experience. The more I listen, the better it gets, which for me has everything to do with getting to know the songs. It’s been so nice I was able to freely talk to the guys, they are truly ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ kind of people – no Masquerade here – and that is only adding to said A-P experience. Because I can tell you, it doesn’t go for every artist, even if they haven’t conquered the globe yet. There is nothing more appealing, then finding out I’m dealing with ‘real’ people. A-P Connection are for sure REAL. If I haven’t convinced you by now to listen to their music, I am truly sorry for you, you’ll have to start ‘Hiding your Heartache…’ This is your chance to up your quality of life, by simply adding A-P to your playlist 😉
Well, here we are, the last track, number 16. DID THEY OR DID THEY NOT take us for a ride?! Ending with again a very strong instrumental, in true A-P tradition, with leads for the horns, the guitar and the bass. Man, what can I add…’Wide Vision’ is filled with musical treasures, which I implore you to discover. Below you can find all links to their social media, but even more important, the streaming platforms on which you can find A-P Connection. It’s time for the guys to have their say and I just want to end with a BIG THANK YOU Again, A-P Connection! It’s such a pleasure to have met you and let your music enrich my life! You will – again – be added to the 2021 Spotlight page, where I will do my best to update every new release in the future. And I’m not sure about the title of this last track – I mean I get the A-P pun – but Phony?? Not you guys 💖
A lot has happened since your first Spotlight 7/16/2020, how are you doing?
‘We are doing well, thank you. As most of us during the last 15 months we had to go through multiple lock-downs and restrictions due to the sanitary situation. We have been lucky that our family and friends could stay healthy. On the artistic side this situation gave us a creativity boost and more time to create new songs. We had already been looking for the next step after the release of “Beyond” yet this extraordinary situation definitely accelerated the production of “Wide Vision “.
‘Beyond’ was released /1/13/2020 and has reached 200K plus streams on Spotify, after 1 year, while you were already working on the new album. How did that make you guys feel?
‘We are very grateful towards all the people who are appreciating our music and supporting us more and more every day .The positive vibes around “Beyond” gave us a lot of energy and a big motivation to work on a new project’.
The first announcement about your new album ‘Wide Vision’, was made 12/29/2020, on the verge of the new year. Amazing artwork! Plus the mention of 16(!!) new songs, including amazing collabs. Please tell us, how did you guys manage to get all these great names together? And, this is what I am imagining, but did you do a little happy dance every time another vocalist agreed on a collab?
‘Well, Wide Vision has truly been a unique experience. We had our preferred artist in mind to perform on each composition. Of course at that point we didn’t expect them all to sign up. After sharing the music tracks, we immediately received a lot of enthusiastic responses. Actually, all the artists were very approachable and really excited to work together with us on this project. It’s just amazing how everything came together. By the time the full line-up became clear, we went for our local type of celebration, by opening up a good bottle of champagne ;-)’
Also: can you tell us about how the new album came together in general, like how did your creative process work? Do you guys wrote the music together, or did you ‘divide’ tasks? Which were the fun parts and which was the hardest?
‘For quite a while, we couldn’t meet and compose together. So we each worked separately on different tracks for a couple of months. As soon as restrictions got released, we regrouped in our home studio and decided on our preferred selection, in alignment with our producer. Starting from that, we joined our creative minds to enhance the master tracks and invite a variety of talented artists both for vocals as well as additional instrumental sections such as strings and horns.
We enjoyed most playing and re-playing over and over again, spending a lot of time in our small studio, accompanied by some tasty pizzas and fresh beer. Those moments really are unforgettable. What turned out to be challenging is limiting the choice to “only” 16 tracks since in fact we already have many more. So that’s promising for the future ;-)’
Do you feel this album is in the line of ‘Beyond’, or did you go for a whole other approach? Do you feel the way you look at / make music, has changed since then?
‘Let’s say part of the album is definitely in the same line of “Beyond”. Yet in general, we feel we pushed each composition to a higher level by exploring a bigger variety of sounds. We used a mix of inspiration from the 80’ies, disco and funk, while adding a more contemporary touch. We like to call it the A-P Connection Groove. Of course the blend of featuring musicians and singers greatly contributed as well’.
What would be a dream come true for you, regarding ‘Wide Vision’? What makes this album a personal success, regardless of how people receive it? What would be the next big accomplishment for you?
‘In a certain way, our dream has already come true, by the fact we had this amazing opportunity to work with incredibly talented artists since the beginning. More in particular, we feel proud on realizing the dream and vision of our personal manager, whose passion for funk and soul music has influenced us since we were kids. Being recognized by other passionate music lovers and bringing joy in people’s lives is incredibly rewarding and our main drive’.
Hoping that covid will be history soon, is there any chance of you guys performing live at one point?
‘Good question. We haven’t figured out the logistics yet for this bunch of people ;-)’
I was blessed with a great A-P Connection ‘Beyond’, sweatshirt. Any chance there will be new merch for the new album, next to the CD’s and vinyls, with the amazing Wide Vision artwork?
‘Of course! The fantastic creative design of Camille V. invites to be embraced by our fans. New merchandise will be coming up soon’.
Is there anything else you would like to add / share, with your fans / the readers? Anything I did not ask about maybe?
‘A big big thank you to all our fans that inspire us to keep going!!’
Again, Big Thanks to A-P Connection! And to you, my readers, better broaden your musical vision fast and find A-P Connection! Leave a nice comment below and start your journey here:
Wishing y’all a very Funky Weekend indeed, have a dance, work up some sweat ❤