"You're almost guaranteed a nice big dose of soul in anything you might find here. That, and something you can bang to. You're going to be urbanised when you come to LA,"says Dâm-Funk, the City of Angel's purveyor of boogie, boogie-funk or modern funk, as Dâm prefers to call it. "I think the LA beat scene has been well documented but it's not the only thing that's popping. Talented brotha's such as Ras G are from my hometown and we're all family but what I'm trying to do is infuse the scene with the melodic stuff, as opposed to just beat heavy. That's why I'm so glad your speaking to me man, so I can show you another side to our city."
For the uninitiated, boogie owes its sound to the early '80s sophisticated funk trinity of Prince, Slave and P-Funk: "After that stopped, there was a void. There's a lot of people standing here asking what happened?" What did happen was a musical shift comparable to one that preceded it a decade earlier. Just as JB's raw funk waned with the emergence of Discothèques in the mid 70's, the development of early hip-hop and disco rap stole a lot of boogie's thunder."
What I'm trying to do is continue that lineage of people like Prince and record labels like Prelude and Salsoul and sound crafters Robbie M of Midnight Express and engineer François Kevorkian." Dâm is also quick to big up labels and peers from the UK: "Americans made it but it's really the UK that supported it. Labels like Challenge & Elite Records. I learned a lot from cats like Dez Parkes, Norman Jay and Soul24-7.com."
Dâm's own enthusiasm for boogie has kicked off somewhat of a renaissance in LA. He launched Funkmosphere, a club night for boogie enthusiasts and modern funk virgins alike, with co-conspirators Billy Goods, DJ Randy Watson aka RON, & Laroj: "Funkmosphere is a real fun place, we have all kinds of cool people partying there, young, old, girls, guys, blacks, latinos, asians, whites and native Americans. We all just chill and have a good time. It's not so serious as some other places in LA that are all testosteroned out, yet the funk is still respected – Funk, is NOT people running around with rainbow afros and platform shoes anymore."
One thing that encapsulates the LA scene is its seamless admixes of cultural flavours: "I've opened up for bands like Very Be Careful, a Cumbia band, because our stuff usually gets the party started. We can all connect and keep it bubbling," says Dâm. "There's also a heavy Orange County Latino funk scene. They come to our spot and spin their stuff because their sound is a little bit harder than the boogie sound. We welcome that too because I come from the hood too and so do they. They're into the early '80s Bar-Kays sound. They call it 'buzz funk' because the basslines sound like a buzz. I would compare it to 'Knee Deep' by Funkadelic, which was used by De La Soul for 'Me, myself & I.'"
Dâm's a man on a mission. Recently, he vented on one of his tracks: “Learn some chords muthafucka, learn the gad' damn keyboard!"To help illustrate his point, he grabs a Lonnie Liston Smith LP: "This is a great artist right here. I can't let this die man. Keys, beautiful chords, this guy recorded music from beginning to end and that's what I'm about. Concept records, concept album covers, an instrumental or two if you will but still structured. Instead of acting like it's a video game. Something you run through a machine and call yourself a genius because you made a beat. I don't just do beats. I consider myself a musician man."
Dâm's latest project, Vol. 4 of Stones Throw's Rhythm Trax series, based on the early '80s Jive/Zomba label releases, has him experimenting with drum machines and synthesizers. Dâm also reveals influences and future projects beyond the digi-funkmosphere: "I'm open to different styles. I'd love to do an electrified Metal project. Most people don't know that I'm into Metal and Prog rock. What you can expect from Dâm-Funk is Boogie and modern Funk, but a different alias is another ball game that I'm saving until later. Someone like Madlib [under different guises] is doing great things for music, me and him have a good amount of respect for each other, we can talk because we know at the end of the day we're not biting each others sound."
Boogie heads can look forward to Dâm-Funk's own debut Toeachizown in 2009.