An L.A. musical history lesson with the don of modern funk ahead of Deviation’s 5th Birthday
“Thank god there’s not too much fakeness out there right now,” says Dam-Funk, the veteran Los Angeles don of that real modern funk and space age electric boogie. “Although there are a few busters who I’ve had to identify but you just got to watch until they blow their wad and move on to post dubstep or something.”
Playing tomorrow at Deviation’s epic fifth birthday celebrations with Benji B, Moodymann, Hudson Mohawke, Kode 9, Alexander Nut and MC Judah in east London, Dam-Funk brings over that LA realness, the same 100% funk and boogie passion that he’s been throwing down for the past six years at his own legendary LA Monday night, weekly jam, Funkmosphere. We jumped on Skype with the ambassador of funk, to hear about the history of the stalwart night and the next level Los Angeles music movement.
Dazed Digital: How did it all start with Funkmosphere?
Dam-Funk: It was in 2006 and started as an offshoot of a night I was already doing called 1983. What happened was that the club wanted to go jiggy with it, get more hip hop, P Diddy type stuff so they offered me a Monday to do what I wanted. I was like, ‘Damn, a Monday?’ But went on and did it, and it’s been a success since, we kept true to the sound without any catering to anyone else.
DD: And there wasn’t anything else around playing modern funk and boogie?
Dam-Funk: There’s wasn’t. Some LA places might drop something casually and then go right back to The Choice is Yours by Black Sheep or something to get the fucking crowd going crazy. DJs were scared to let people hear something that they might not have heard before, everyone was just playing anthems. I was one of those cats that knew the audience was more intelligent than that.
DD: What was the vibe of the music scene in LA back then?
Dam-Funk: I thought it was something that the music scene was needing, especially in LA. It was really a slap in the face to the funk 45 collectors that became so elitist. These electric sounds weren’t to be put down. The real sound of the hood, cats who really lived it, weren’t being respected. There was this whole era of people who felt the real funk like Zapp, P-Funk and those groups. I had to step in, humbly speaking and step up for all the people I grew up with in LA, there was a stranglehold that funk had to be breakbeats from the 60s and 70s. They didn't think it included Prince or synthesizers. And I wanted to change that.
DD: What do you think of the LA scene now?
Dam-Funk: LA became defined as the beat scene but the city goes beyond the beat scene, beyond bass movements and that’s Funkmosphere. But we all cool, my thing is that I wanted to show the world that there is more to my city than just one pin point of LA, don’t neglect what else is here.
DD: And what’s next?
Dam-Funk: I think the next level is going to be not so tongue-in-cheek. The next level is the musicality of LA. We got to go further. And also more urban. With my new record coming out next year, Invite The Light, I think people will see that I’m serious about this. I’m not playing. It’s time to showcase the whole soundscape of modern funk. Progression funk is the future.
Photo by Jimmy Mould
Funkmosphere West is held every Monday at Carbon Bar in Culver City, LA. Funkmosphere East is held every Thursday at The Virgil in Silverlake, LA. Dam-Funk’s Invite The Light is forthcoming on Stones Throw in early 2013