"I definitely am a true believer that there are things
we're not privy to but are happening all around us,"
Dâmon Riddick, the one-man-band and DJ better
known as Dâm-Funk (pronounced DAME funk), tells
me over the phone from L.A. "And sometimes you can
just catch it in your peripheral vision:' In the context of
our conversation, Dâm is talking about a UFO sighting
that inspired "Brookside Park," a sprawling opus that's
central to his upcoming debut LP, Toeachizown.
But he could easily be referring to the way he's pulled
obscure aspects of the early 1980s – namely those fleeting,
forgotten moments when funk and R&B were boldly
reaching for the cosmos-into his orbit. "I'd compare it to
old UHF TV, stuff like Midnight Special that you'd catch late
at night when you weren't supposed to be up," Dâm says of
his aesthetic. "Or on Saturday morning before the cartoons
would start, you might catch a local independent music
show. That kinda vibe."
If you're old enough to remember seeking out music
and culture in the pre-cable era, his comment needs no
explanation. If not, Toeachizown tracks like "Brookside
Park" are capable of transporting you there. With its
vocoder-scrambled alien vocals and chugging analog
synths, the track is the audio equivalent of a faint, eerie
memory-be it of an inexplicably frightening low-budget
video or an unexplainable childhood dream.
"I'm fortunate to be a California kid," Dâm explains. "I
grew up riding around in the mountains, always looking up.
That's how I'd catch certain things that would happen out
of the ordinary. Brookside is a park by where I grew up in
Pasadena, where everything would go down on a Sunday.
When I was a teenager, I saw something go across the sky-
an orange type of orb. But it was quiet. Everybody there
mentioned it but nobody really talked about it again. I just
never forgot. ['Brookside Park'] has the vibe of the music
that was going on at the time. I wanted to make something
where you could imagine being there."
NIGHTS IN BLACK SATIN
Musically, Dâm-Funk is often associated with so-called
boogie – essentially mid-tempo, post-disco synth-funk
best exemplified by early '80s Prelude Records releases
like D-Train's "You're the One For Me." Thanks to
Funkmosphere, Dâm-Funk's weekly L.A. party, as well as
various internet-distributed DJ mixes, Dâm has been hailed
as the "ambassador" of the style.
"The sound of boogie is basically post-disco," Dâm says.
"It's not disco like the Bee Gees, not quite P-Funk, but right
in between, with synthesizers and thumping basslines and
melodic chords. The beat was mostly on the one and two,
which made it easier for skating. Boogie slows down a little,
to that tempo where you can, like, ride to it."
The term, which has spread as demand for the records
has grown on eBay, was actually coined by U.K. deejays
Norman Jay and Dez Parkes. "They were turning people on
to the sound in the late '80s and early '90s," Dâm informs.
"When Soul II Soul, Lisa Stansfield, and all the U.K. street
soul came out, they were listening to Prelude Records and
groups like Change?'
While Dâm says he embraces the "ambassador of
boogie" title, he points out that others bestowed it upon
him and prefers to identify his sound as "modern funk."
Indeed, Toeachizown's more complex tracks-like the
woozy "Brookside Park" or "Mobbin' Through Busters,"
with its Dilla-esque offbeat drum pattern-might not work
on the floor at Funkmosphere. "When I play selector, I'm
sharing my influences," Dâm says. "But I'm not trying to
duplicate D-Train on my records. I'm just staying true to the
Read the rest in XLR8R #126, which can be downloaded here: