A tight, shoe box-shaped room in West Los Angeles
shakes with the sound of boogie funk every Monday night.
On the decks, Dam-Funk drops early '80s melodic funk and
boogie bangers while keeping the party live on the mic.
This oasis for funkateers and boogie heads is known as
Dam (short for Damon) grew up an only child in
Pasadena, just north of downtown L.A. He's been playing
trap drums since he was six and mastered keyboards a
while after. With those skills, he began making synthesized
one-man-band tapes in high school.
Dam-Funk now records for Stones Throw, thanks to his
friendship with fellow boogie collector PB Wolf. If you heard
last summer's remix of Baron Zen's "Burn Rubber," you
experienced the sound of "future funk," courtesy of D-F.
Stones Throw plans to release several 12-inches and an
album from Dam-Funk during '08.
Would you describe the difference between boogie and
As far as boogie, early Slave and Cameo are examples of
popular boogie. That was the second wave of funk music.
James Brown and Sly Stone created the first generation.
Boogie is the sound of slap bass, loud claps, melodic chords,
and synthesizers. Boogie followed the last gasp of disco.
Boogie includes releases on labels like Prelude, Sam
Records, late West End Records, late Brunswick, and U.K.
labels like Elite. Boogie-ologists will tell you it's mainly from
the early '80s, and it encompasses Italo disco as well.
I collect and spin boogie, but my original music is modern
or future funk. I keep it earthy and use analog machines and
special chords. I want my music to be warm and funky. So, it
feels like new funk, With my music, I want the chords to affect
you. Maybe there's a place you've never been to physically; it
only exists in your dreams. I want my music to unlock that.
When did you first start to play music?
I'm an only kid, and I started playing drums when I was six
years old. My dad bought me a set of gold-sparkle Slingerland
drums. Then he put on Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-
Vida," and I'd play the drum solo over and over again. Then I
got into the rock group Kiss and their Destroyer album. Also, I was listening to Rush's Hemispheres album and learned Neil
Peart's drum parts to every song. I was influenced by rock and
metal, but listening to Chic too. The first time I played with
other people was when I played drums in a jazz band in high
school. After that, I started playing organ and keyboards.
I got a couple of keyboards and synthesizers and decided
to make music with me playing all the parts. My first joints
were inspired by Prince, P-Funk, and Zapp. I used to cut class
in high school and sneak home and record. I'd bounce from
tape deck to tape deck to a mixer to create multiple tracks.
Later on, you linked with Leon Sylvers and played on G-funk
sessions in the '90s, right?
With Leon, I was on an album by a group called Double
Action Theater. People know about that album in the modern
soul community. I learned a lot from him. Then I went back
to Pasadena and met a cat called Binky, and he introduced
me to Mack 10, who owned a label called Hoo-Bangin', a
subsidiary of Priority.
During the mid-G-funk era, I got pulled into sessions to
play keys. The greatest thing about the West Coast G-funk era
was that it was all recorded by real musicians. So that's how it
was different from New York hip-hop. If they liked a groove
on a record, they replayed it. So, amongst the guns, weed, and
testosterone, there were some legit musicians who got work
from that scene.
I'm on the I Got the Hook Up soundtrack with Master P
I play a lot on an MC Eiht album called That's Gangsta. After
doing a lot of sessions, I moved on, 'cause I've always been
about the funk.
How did you start spinning?
I had a good collection of obscure funk and boogie wax. One
day, I met Billy Goods at Record Surplus. Billy was spinning
at a night called "Where the Soul Trees Grow" at a bar called
Carbon in Culver City.
So I started spinning with them. They were playing old
soul, cumbia, and salsa, and I played the System, D-Train,
Slave, One Way, and Ozone. Billy was feeling what I was
playing, so he and I started a new night and called it "1983."
But after a year, the owners canceled it so they could
have another hip-hop night. This was around '04 or '05.
When "1983" was over, I found out they had a Monday
night available at Carbon, and they offered it to me. People
warned me against a Monday night, but I believe God blesses
you in different ways, and I took it.
And that was the birth of "Funkmosphere"?
Yeah, "Funkmosphere" started in July of '06, and so far it
has been a great ride. The first night was phenomenal. There
have been times during our run where our lithe Monday
night thing brought in more money at the bar than any other
night that week.
"Funkmosphere" is for funk heads, and it's all about the
music. We thaw heads and music lovers. Musically, we're
boogie, modern funk, and soul based, from the late '70s to
the mid-'80s, on wax only.
Talk about your friendship with Peanut Butter Wolf.
He was one of the first cats who gave my music a real chance.
We became email buddies at first, and then I met him at a
party at Star Shoes in Hollywood. Wolf found out I liked
the Baron Zen album and approached me about doing
a remix of one of the tracks. He heard my music on my
MySpace page, and that's how I did the Baron Zen remix of
On the last track of the Baron Zen album, at the very
end, the dude was yelling over the actual track of "Burn
Rubber" by the Gap Band. He had done this into a Tascam
recorder, so his voice was on a separate track. Wolf sent me
just the voice, and I floated it over one of my instrumentals,
and it worked. I did a rough mix and gave it to Wolf, and he
really liked it, but he thought the vocals sounded rough. So
he suggested putting them through a vocoder, and that was
it. That's what was needed to make it sound like a complete
package. Leon Sylvers once told me this business is built
around relationships, but it didn't make sense to me until
I met Wolf.
I'm happy nowadays, 'cause I'm vibin' with a bunch
of cool people. My trek to L.A. from my lithe ol' hood in
Pasadena; I've made it out here, and, finally, I'm gettin'
down. I'm glad I'm finally able to share what I been into all
along, sittin' in my bedroom, lookin' out the window at the
mountains.. I'm grateful for that.
Pick up Wax Poetics No. 28 for the rest of this article, two pages of Dam-Funk's boogie-funk vinyl picks.