This is an excerpt from a piece in Bonafide Mag, issue 3. Aside from Dam-Funk, this issue features a cover & interview with Stones Throw's Jeff Jank, and Malcolm Catto of Heliocentrics. www.bonafidezine.com
Latest member of the Stones Throw stable is veteran LA sophisticate and altogether cool individual, Dam Funk. Responsible for the recently released concept album Toeachizown, Dam Funk is something of a California funk legend, having been involved in both crafting funk fuelled missiles of his own, and running legendary LA club Funkmophere for the best part of the last decade. The man himself recently touched down in the UK to brighten up the English winter with his funky fl avours, and we were lucky enough to catch up to fi nd out a little about what makes the man.
Dam Funk’s music has a smooth polished electronic edge that recalls the best of the early eighties boogie scene, tightened to perfection with a slick future-g-funk sheen. Lazily pigeonholing his style as retro however brings short shrift.
“My shit isn’t exactly what you call old-fashioned you know? I like to think of my style as a continuation. Back to the times before hip-hop became what it is, where different
‘urban’ – if you want to call it that- styles existed side by side.”
Pushed on the point, Dam becomes animated as his smooth Californian drawl takes an almost urgent edge. “The way I explain it is this, I want you to think about a different world, parallel universe if you like. A place where those cats that were listening to these funky joints didn’t hide those records and claim they was B-Boys or something all of a sudden. Imagine if the record companies hadn’t just decided they wanted badass rappers on every record. Imagine that the funk, and I mean the REAL funk, was allowed to grow and do what it wanted to do? That’s where I come in. Shit I love those old boogie joints and so forth as much as anybody, but what I’m doing is carrying on that tradition, so all those funky people don’t have to just listen to these records in private, driving about in their cars or whatever. This is music for now and it’s music that means something in this day and age, you know what I mean?”
Listen to the Dam Funk’s productions and this idea of a parallel funkosphere starts to make sense. Tunes such as the title cut of his latest release echo the electronic funk masterpieces of Roger Troutman’s Zapp, or George Clinton’s more contemporary work, but it’s the modern sensibility of production and innovation that stop them being mere pastiche pieces.
Never shy of experimenting himself, he recently remixed art rockers, and fellow Californians Animal Collective, in a move that may seem to some outside of the realms of the typical urban music scene. “The thing is the scene round here is so fertile at the moment. There are a lot of good people doing a lot of good things and that’s something I really dig you know? I don’t care about labels or whatever. If I like it then I want to get involved. Simple as that.”
So, are there any more collaborations in the pipeline? “Hell yes, I want to get in the position where, say, Talking Heads were in the early eighties. They used a lot of funk and disco producers on what was essentially a rock band, and if you listen to that you know that it worked. In fact my next record is going to be a cover of a Human League track, but fi ltered through how I see things. It’s going to be the business man.”