Stephane Wrembel
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Stephane Wrembel

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
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"About the trio"

The French guitarist Stephane Wrembel, Brooklyn's master of Gypsy jazz, wanders the borough five nights a week, but it is at Barbes, the small bar and jazz club on 9th Street in Park Slope, where he is most at home.
The bar's back room is perhaps 400 square feet, stuffed with small tables and five or six rows of seats. Despite the dread of another Monday fast approaching, fans of Mr. Wrembel consistently squeeze, jostle, stand, and, depending on the mood of the club's air conditioner, shiver or sweat through two hours of uplifting music. Breaks between songs are brief, if there are any at all, and Mr. Wrembel never tires as he unleashes flurry after flurry of Django Reinhardt riffs. Jared Engel plays bass and David Langlois plays laptop washboard; oftentimes the drummer Julien Augier and the young saxophonist Christophe Panzani, a friend from France, swing along with them. One could not spend $8, the suggested contribution, more wisely in New York City. For another $5, fans can buy a recording of the performance they just witnessed from, which recently began recording Mr. Wrembel's visits to Barbes.
Mr. Wrembel does not look like a virtuoso. He is 32 but has a boyish face. His hands are not especially big, his fingers are thick, and he dresses casually, usually in jeans and a T-shirt. He used to shave his head and wear a goatee, but he now favors a mop of brown hair and not the slightest stubble. The grimaces and pained expressions that many guitarists make while soloing are rare for him � no matter how furiously Mr. Wrembel strums or how nimbly his fingers dance along the fretboard, he seems at ease, often looking at the ceiling or a member of the band. On a recent Sunday at Barb�s, the air conditioning was acting up and Mr. Engel was sweating profusely after an hour's playing. Meanwhile, Mr. Panzani had to squat for a few minutes between songs, catching his breath as the rest of the band ribbed him with calls of "allez, allez." But Mr. Wrembel was cold. At one point he put down his guitar, pulled on a hooded sweatshirt, and got back to business.
If not for his uncle and the music of Pink Floyd - "still my favorite band ever," he said - Mr. Wrembel might have become a concert pianist. He grew up in Chartrette, a small town outside Fountainebleau, and began playing classical piano at 4. His uncle, a blues player, inspired him to take up the guitar at 15. He practiced constantly and played in rock bands, but did not discover the music of Reinhardt until he began to study jazz at the American School in Paris. His instructor, Laurent Hestin, who performed with Reinhardt's son, Babik, taught Mr. Wrembel "Minor Swing,"and the young guitarist was smitten. He soon met his most influential teacher, Serge Krief, a French guitarist who performs sparingly in America ( George Benson brought him to Blue Note in 1999). From there he moved on to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied jazz and became fascinated with ragas. He continues to dabble, most recently in classical music. "In 10 years or something like that, I want to build a nice repertoire," he said. "And also I want to stop using the pick."
But he is not about to abandon the music that takes him from his home in Maplewood, N.J., where he lives with his wife and 2-year-old son, to the clubs of Brooklyn: Sundays at Barbes, Tuesdays at Bar Tabac in Carroll Gardens, Wednesdays at Chez Oskar in Fort Greene, Thursdays at Cornerstone in Ditmas Park, and Saturdays at Fada in Williamsburg. Rather, he wants to incorporate new techniques, and spend more time writing music. In November, he released his second self-produced compact disc, titled "Barbes- Brooklyn.

It is a leap forward from his first effort, 2002's "Introducing Stephane Wrembel," a collection of brief Reinhardt compositions and traditional Gypsy songs. The new disc includes renditions of Reinhardt's "Fleche d'Or," Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia," and Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue," but otherwise the songs are Mr. Wrembel's, and several of them sparkle. The title track brims with energy, "Big Brothers" soothes and features the violin of Olivier Manchon, and the melody of "Buster Swing" will rattle around your head for days. The recording also gives Mr. Langlois and Mr. Engel room to show off their talents.
"They need to have more space," Mr. Wrembel said. "I am trying to do something very important, which is not to play with my first impression anymore. Anytime I have an idea, I'm not going to play it. I'm just going to play a phrase. I want to play the next one, but I'm not. I'm just going to keep my impression, and keep my focus on the other guys."
Mr. Langlois, also from France, has rigged his washboard with a Teflon pie pan, a clay pot, and a hollowed-out wooden block; he taps out intricate rhythms with thimbles, or swirls his fingers to mimic the sound a drummer creates with brushes. Mr. Wrembel credits him with bringing reggae influences to the band. Mr. Wrembel knew of Mr. Engel at Berklee, but they did not connect until Mr. Wrembel, suddenly without a bassist, was "blown away" by a chance encounter with Mr. Engel, who was playing banjo in the Boston subway.
Practicing for hours a day, composing, and playing five nights a week makes life hectic, and Mr. Wrembel's chosen style is not about to bring him riches. He teaches on the side. One of his regular students, Michael Zakarin, is on the cusp of mega-stardom as the guitarist for the popular band the Bravery; another one-time student, Mariah Carey, is a multi-millionaire. This doesn't bother Mr. Wrembel a bit.
"I don't mind playing for 10 people or 20 or a 100 or 5,000," he said. "I'm able to feed my family. I play the music I want, I don't compromise, I don't bend for anybody. The purpose is to build a solid audience that really loves the music, and that I really love."

"Featured Book: Getting Into Gypsy Jazz Guitar"

Author: Stephane Wrembel

Publisher: Mel Bay Publications

Year Published: 2004

Type: Musical Instruction

Format / Pages: / 112 pages

Review: Stephane Wrembel has a winner with GETTING INTO GYPSY JAZZ GUITAR. The book comes with a play-along CD.

Written in English, French, and German, the scales and studies will educate as well as entertain.

This book will have a wide appeal to those wishing to master Gypsy guitar techniques. Well-constructed and well-written. A nice guide to the world of Gypsy guitar music! -

"Stephane Wrembel's Terre Des Hommes: Eternal Cycle 2: A Child's Dream"

by Bill Barnes

Growing up near the final resting place of Django Reinhardt could be both a blessing and a curse for any aspiring young guitarist attempting to walk in his celebrated footsteps; few have been up to the challenge. But Stephane Wrembel has proven to be one artist who could not only tread in Django's footsteps with remarkable fidelity, but cut a fresh new path for Gypsy jazz guitar as well. Born in Paris and raised in Fountainbleu, Wrembel studied with Sinti guitar master Angelo DeBarre, among others, and mastered the Django technique fairly early. While few contemporary guitar players sound stronger or more convincing in the jazz Manouche style, Stephane Wrembel has taken this legacy in a new direction with his Brooklyn- based trio. While remaining faithful to the dynamics of the Selmer-style acoustic guitar favored by the Romani guitar legend, he has revamped the format to include drums and other percussion instruments -- even a washboard, on occasion.

"A Child's Dream" could almost be pigeonholed as a traditional-style Gypsy jazz valse; but Wrembel's improvisation reflects influences from Eastern Europe, Latin America, India and the Middle East, resulting in a fresh, world beat sound. Without words the gifted 34-year-old guitarist draws from his Buddhist-Taoist philosophy to convey his concern for the stewardship of this planet. Part of a common theme throughout the album, the subliminal message of peace and global unity speaks gently through this music with the clarity of still water -- and, as they say, still waters run deep. -

"About Stephane Wrembel"

"Stephane Wrembel is visiting us from some other universe, the realm where spirit meets the physical world...No one's fingers move that fast without divine intervention."
-Rabbi David Zaslow - Rabbi David Zaslow

"Grisman goes gypsy on Stephane Wrembel CD"

Published November 21, 2008

This one's for ears that extend a bit beyond bluegrass, especially to bluegrass fans who have a touch of gypsy soul.

It's a new CD, Gypsy Rumble, featuring the Stephane Wrembel Trio with special guest, mandolin guru David Grisman.

According to publicity from the label, Amoeba Records, the CD "is a culturally diverse musical performance fusing jazz, world, bluegrass, folk, and Latino and rock traditions."

The album includes the track "Big Brother" from Woody Allen's new film "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

Raised in Fontainebleau France, just outside Paris, 30-year-old Wrembel began his guitar studies as a boy, using a cheap electric guitar given to him by his parents. He was first introduced to gypsy jazz while studying at the American School of Music in Paris. Wrembel said when he first heard Minor Swing by the legendary Django Reinhardt, "I fell in love with the music and dedicated my life to playing it."

Wrembel started his own music school, Musique Pour Tous, in 1994, where he gave lessons in guitar, harmony and composition. After attending the International Django Reinhardt Festival in Samois, France, he traveled with the gypsies, learning and playing the fine art of the gypsy jazz guitar. Stephane Wrembel brought the music away from the campfires to festivals in clubs around France, making a name for himself performing traditional and Django-inspired Gypsy Jazz.

In 2000, after finishing his studies at the American School of Modern Music in Paris, Wrembel moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music to contemporary jazz, Indian, African and Middle Eastern music. After graduating, he moved to New York City where he has published jazz guitar instruction books and CDs and continues to record and perform.

David Grisman is a noted bluegrass/newgrass mandolinist and composer of acoustic music. He started the Acoustic Disc record label in an effort to preserve and spread acoustic or instrumental music.
Gypsy Rumble Track Listing

1. Jimmy's Bar
2. Les Deux Guitares
3. China Boy
4. Swing Gitane
5. Swing De Bellevue
6. Buster Swing
7. Swing 48
8. Supplique
9. Mabel
10. Big Brother**
11. Blue Drag
12. Milko
13. David
14. Belleville Rendezvous***
15. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams**

*** Featuring Brandi Shearer on Vocals
** Featured on Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona Soundtrack - Dan Tackett

"NY Gypsy Jazz Workshop with Stephane Wrembel"

Published October 26, 2006

New York City area Django enthusiasts, look for Stephane Wrembel, native French and premiere Gypsy Jazz guitarist to present a Gypsy Jazz Guitar Workshop, Sunday, Dec. 3, 10 am to 3pm at Manny's Hat Mall, 28 West 38th Street NY, NY. Admission is $100, and well worth it to work with a legend. Wrembel has studied and played with many of Europe's finest, and is the real deal, as anybody who is involved in this genre of music will attest.

Though the workshop is guitar-oriented, mandolinists and other instrumentalists ought to be able to glean some valuable insight. About the workshop, Wrembel offers, “I will propose a workshop based on rhythm and improvisation. Improvising is not about the relationship between scales and chords, but about inventing melodies on the spot. So for that you need to understand the way melody works, the different structures, and how to use rhythm to build them. Because at the end, rhythm is the key, the right note at the right spot, for a harmonious effect. Also, we'll work on interpretation ideas, how to play melodies, and we'll work on unlocking the fingerboard, through my personal system, the MIB chart."

Don't miss out on an extremely fun learning experience. Contact Howard, daytime (212) 764-2218 (212) 840-2235/36 or email -

"Swinging Through Melodies, the Gypsy Guitarist Way"

Published: November 24, 2008

Musicians tailor their art to a room's dimensions, and Stephane Wrembel's is Barbes-size. For the last several years, almost since the opening of this Park Slope bar in 2002, Mr. Wrembel, a Django Reinhardt-inspired guitarist, has been playing weekly gigs in the back room. On Sunday night, with his quartet the Django Experiment, he tore it up as usual, exploiting his home-court advantage.

Mr. Wrembel uses a guitar like the master's, with a small, oval sound-hole and an almost metallic tone. The Reinhardt subculture is a curious phenomenon: it's extremely specialized -- and the French-born Mr. Wrembel has gained some fame within it -- but no specialized knowledge is required of the audience. (His slow, habanera-rhythm song "Big Brother," which he played in the second set, appears on the soundtrack of the recent Woody Allen film "Vicky Cristina Barcelona.") Gypsy swing, gallant and charging, always leaning on a strong melody, doesn't need any explanation.

The group brings some rock aggression and some Middle Eastern tonality to Gypsy swing. It's a basic small-group setup: an acoustic bassist, Ari Folman-Cohen; a drummer, Richard Lee, playing an international kit with a dumbek, a conga, a cajon for a bass drum and small cymbals; and two guitarists. The leader improvised against the locomotive rhythmic chording of Koran Hasanagic, who sometimes soloed himself, with fast fingers but a quiet sound.

This was music mostly meted out in strict eight-bar chunks, as Reinhardt and his groups would have done; though this is jazz for sure, the band wasn't conjuring radical changes to any song's structure. But Mr. Wrembel's solos were radical enough: long, fast, intense and full of charisma.

"A Child's Dream," a minor-key, slightly Arabic-sounding waltz from his recent album "Terre des Hommes," put the emphasis on the "experiment" in the band's name: the music became a cloud of drones and frenetic strumming. By contrast, "All of Me," taken nearly at a run, was Reinhardt up and down. If anything, it was faster and noisier, reveling in well-chosen, dissonant harmonies and the knifelike force of the guitar's sound.

The Django Experiment performs every Sunday at Barbes, 376 Ninth Street, at Sixth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn; (347) 422-0248, or - New York Times

"Un, Deux, Trois"

Guitarist Stephane Wrembel takes Gypsy jazz on a wild and wonderful ride at the third annual New Mexico Django Fest
By Mel Minter
October 23-29, 2008

French guitarist Stephane Wrembel can almost play faster than ears can listen. Before the brain can really register every precisely filigreed ornamentation, every breathtaking swoop and swerve into unexpected territory, before it has time to involuntarily voice amazement, Wrembel is laying down another beautifully formed and emotionally ripe idea at light speed.

Meanwhile, he's breathing new life into the rakish repertoire of "jazz manouche," or traveler jazz. He's taking well-loved and well-worn staples such as
"Nuages," "Douce Ambiance" and "Minor Swing" on short trips to North Africa, Nashville, India and Spain; turning the bebop standard "Night in Tunisia" into a Djangoesque delight, and spicing his acoustic performances with riffs inspired by rock giants Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix.

This weekend, Stephane Wrembel's The Django Experiment, featuring Simon Planting on bass (with rhythm guitarist Teddy G and percussionist Richard Lee), headlines the 2008 New Mexico Django Fest. Produced by Albuquerque guitarist John Sandlin of Le Chat Lunatique, the festival takes place at various venues (see box) and offers everything from sit-down concertizing to dance workshops (the latter in conjunction with the Albuquerque Lindy Exchange). Featured performers include Le Chat Lunatique, Mango fan Django, Hot Club of Phoenix, Hot Club of Santa Fe, Zoltan Orkestar, Swing from Paris (United Kingdom) and more.

From a Sedate Beginning ...

Born in Paris and raised in Fontainebleau, Wrembel began his musical training in a classical manner on piano at the age of 4, and his decidedly unrakish accomplishments -- prize-winning performances in the Lucien Wurmser competition and at the National Conservatory of Aubervillier -- held little hint of what was to come.

Wrembel picked up the guitar at age 15 because "I wanted to play 'Is There Anybody Out There' -- Pink Floyd," he says. "Anyway, I wanted to play everything by Pink Floyd. It's my favorite band of all time."

Wrembel attended the American School of Modern Music in Paris, where jazz entered the picture for him. "I didn’t know jazz at all, really. ... I really wanted to study jazz because I knew if I wanted to go further in music, I had to have an understanding of improvisation and jazz. When I went to school, I had to buy some jazz, so I wanted to buy a guitar player playing jazz. So it was -- oh, Django Reinhardt, because it was big and he was French.

"I listened to that 1949 version of 'Minor Swing,' and they're like magical notes. I don't know how to explain," he says. "It's like notes that I never heard before, like a way of playing that I never -- that was the first time that I really sit down and listen to Django specifically, and I was blown away."

Campfires to Conservatory

Inspired by the CD and by the Roma playing at the Django festival in Fontainebleau, Wrembel began teaching himself to play jazz manouche. His studies with Moreno, Angelo Debarre and Serge Krief led to an introduction to Romani musicians, and Wrembel was soon visiting Romani campsites "a few times a week, and spending the day playing," he says.

A scholarship to Berklee College of Music brought Wrembel to the States, where he studied modern jazz, Indian, African and Middle Eastern music. In his playing and compositions, he's imported all of these into the jazz manouche style, maintaining contact with the music's roots while allowing it to branch into new territories.

Into the Jungle

From Berklee, he headed to New York City, where he still lives, fed by the city's "jungle lifestyle." "You gotta survive, man. Somebody’s gonna eat you alive," he says, laughing.

Wrembel released his first CD -- Introducing Stephane Wrembel, featuring classic jazz manouche tunes -- shortly after his arrival in the city. Two more have followed since: Barbes-Brooklyn, which presents a number of Wrembel originals, and 2008's Terre des Hommes, an original suite he describes as "a soundtrack for your imagination."

"Music is always dressing up the moment," he says. "Terre des Hommes is not too much focused on the notes, but focused on emotions and imagination, visions behind the songs."

Wrembel sees the musician as "a trigger to emotions and imagination," and he'll drop the hammer on you if you're listening. -

"Fricke’s Picks: A Gypsy Guitar Experience"

Fricke’s Picks: A Gypsy Guitar Experience
1/30/09, 1:54 pm EST
I knew little about guitarist Stephane Wrembel when I caught his acoustic quartet, the Django Experiment — named after the Belgian Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt — opening for Patti Smith at New York’s Bowery Ballroom in December. The set was a revelation. The Parisian-born Wrembel studied Reinhardt’s fleet precision and soulful swing the hard way — playing in actual Gypsy camps — and Wrembel played his long, racing breaks at the Bowery with passionate concentration. Woody Allen knew all this long before I did: Wrembel’s “Big Brother,” from a self-released 2006 record, Barbes-Brooklyn, is featured in the director’s 2008 romp, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. That album wasn’t at the merch table at the Bowery, so I bought two others instead, including a fantastic concert document, Live in Canada (also self-released), which includes Wrembel’s generously extended versions of Reinhardt’s “Nuages” and “Minor Swing.” Something else I discovered that night: Wrembel lives in New York (he moved here after a spell at the Berklee College of Music in Boston), and the Django Experiment play around town almost nightly._I will be back for more.
David Fricke

- Rolling Stone magazine

"Terre des Hommes review"

Ce n’est pas au hasard que Stéphane Wrembel a intitulé son troisième album Terre des Hommes... La référence à l’écrivain voyageur, aviateur au long cours de l’Aéropostale et grand reporter fait sans doute écho à l’inspiration vagabonde du guitariste, qui puise de plus en plus dans l’exotisme des musiques andalouses, moyen-orientales, indiennes et africaines. Certes, le style manouche originel est toujours là, en filigrane, par sa technique, par le son des guitares aux cordes aciers et au travers de certaines harmonies incontournables pour qui a écouté Django. Mais pour le reste, on innove ! La pompe tend à s’effacer au profit d’une batterie aux rythmes plus élaborés, l’emploi de certains instruments (guitare 12 cordes, classique ou bouzouki) amène une couleur nouvelle, tout comme l’utilisation de certaines gammes et de modes insolites vont nous plonger dans des ambiances différentes, lointaines, et parfois mystérieuses. Car on ne peut dénier à cette musique envoutante un certain côté "new-age" : l’inspiration qui on l’a vu tend à l’universel, la spiritualité affichée des titres (tous préfacés "eternal cycle"...), jusqu’au logo "water is life" de la jacquette !
Aussi, quand on compare ce troisième opus au premier album "Introducing", on sent bien que la musique de Stéphane, désormais débarrassée de tout effet de virtuosité gratuite tend vers l’épure et la sérénité ; elle s’est du coup considérablement densifiée. Que de chemin parcouru... !
En exergue de son album, il convoque Saint-Ex par une citation : "Voici mon secret. Il est très simple : on ne voit le bien qu’avec son cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux". On se permettra de lui en avancer une autre qui lui va comme un gant : "Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n’y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n’y a plus rien à retrancher".
Stéphane Wrembel confirme avec Terre des Hommes s’engager sur un chemin singulier, passionnant et profondément humain ; on suivra à l’avenir sa musique à la trace, avec beaucoup d’intérêt et de curiosité...



4 Critically Acclaimed Albums:

"Terre des hommes" (2008)
Featuring Julien Augier and Ari Folman Cohen.

"Barbes-Brooklyn" (2006)
Featuring Olivier Manchon and Julien Augier.

"The disc shows off Wrembel's limber chops in a variety of settings, including ebullient French-Gypsy swing, moody ballads, sultry raga-influenced numbers and a lithe cover of Mongo Santamaria's 'Afro Blue'. "
-Time out NY

"The Gypsy Rumble" (2005)
Featuring guests David Grisman, Robin Nolan, Brandi Shearer.
"Big Brother" used on Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina
Barcelona" (2008). Released by Amoeba Music.

"Introducing Stephane Wrembel" (2002)

"The french born is pure dazzle and dash, a stunning storm of notes that blankets the melody in a rain of arpeggiated notes."
-Vintage guitar magazine

"Wrembel is hot and swinging and full of emotion. He plays his heart out and has his own flare. His lines are among the sharpest of the gypsy players."
-Just Jazz Guitar

This album is regularly played on the Hot Club de Pott radio station (24 hours of gypsy music), and a few jazz radio stations of Paris, New Jersey and New York.


"Getting Into Gypsy Jazz" (2004)
Method book published and distributed internationally by Mel Bay.

"Stephane Wrembel has a winner with GETTING INTO GYPSY JAZZ GUITAR. The book comes with a play-along CD. Written in English, French, and German, the scales and studies will educate as well as entertain. This book will have a wide appeal to those wishing to master Gypsy guitar techniques. Well-constructed and well-written. A nice guide to the world of Gypsy guitar music!"



“A REVELATION” -David Fricke, Rolling Stone Magazine

"One the greatest guitar players I've ever seen ...and I don't say that lightly."
-Josh Baron, Relix Magazine

"A John Coltrane-ish search for a moment of musical nirvana..."
-Phil Gallo, Variety

"Don't miss this opportunity to see a truly astonishing talent in action."
-All About Jazz

One could call Stephane Wrembel a nomad, a gypsy, a world Traveler, for the music he plays and his lifestyle are expressions of the gypsy way of life.

Born in Paris and raised in Fontainebleau, home of impressionism and Django Reinhardt's music. Wrembel was classically trained in a music conservatory starting at age four.
Stephane's life took a decisive turn in his late teens when he first discovered the music of Django Reinhardt and the Gypsies. He spent the next ten years of his life learning,
playing, and expanding on this musical tradition. This hard work gave Wrembel the technique, but the time spent playing around the campfires and trailers of the Gypsies gave
him the soul - both necessary ingredients for him to master his art form. Stephane's education continued at the Berklee School of Music where after studying contemporary jazz
and world music he graduated summa cum-laude. Soon after he moved to New York City to live and continue his career.

Like New York, Stephane is always in motion, always searching and never stopping in his quest for a new sound...


-Scored the theme to Woody Allen's 2011 Smash Hit
"Midnight In Paris".

-Composed soundtrack music for Woody Allen's 2008
Golden Globe winner "Vicky Cristina Barcelona".

-Recorded his third album with the legendary David Grisman.

-Toured the USA with international master violinist Mark

-Headlined to a capacity crowd at Lincoln Center.

-Gitane Guitar Company producing the "Stephane Wrembel"
model guitar.

-Opened for Rock and Roll Hall of famer Patty Smith.

-Coached Mariah Carey for her role as a singer/guitar player
for her movie, "Tenessee".

-Wrote the full soundtrack for "Goodbye Baby", winner of
director's award at the 2008 Santa Cruz Film Festival.

-Wrote several scores for national TV and radio
commercials, including Arby's, JP Morgan Chase, Cheerio's,
and Frito Lay's.

-Featured in "Gigs Composite" by director Cree Fertita,
winner of 2007 Emmy Award for Advanced Media: Arts and

Stephane has performed at many major music festivals:

-The Rochester International Jazz Festival
-High Sierra Music Festival
-The Berkshire Mountain Festival
-Djangofest San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New
-Northbeach Jazz Festival
-Jalopi Django Festival
-Whistler international Music Festival

...where he opened and/or performed with Elvis Costello, The Roots, Medeski Martin and Wood, John Scofield, Ryan Montbleau Band, Me'shell Ndegeocello, and Soulive.