Dâm-Funk is known as the foremost proponent of the modern funk movement, although I'd rather call him the latest in the true funk lineage, a descendent of Parliament, Cameo, Roger, Slave, Mtume, and countless other names that didn't quite achieve boldface status, but were soldiers on the ground keeping the sound alive.
Dām-Funk's "We Continue" (2015)
Like any true lifer, his musical appetite is much wider than the obvious classics, and wider still than one-track trends, be they of the funk variety or otherwise. We were recently talking about the time he worked in a record store as a kid, and how it helped broaden his musical horizons.
"I would take my allowance and ride my bike to the record store every Saturday, Poo-Bah's in Pasadena, and eventually the owner's son asked me if I'd be interested in working there. I learned a lot about different styles of music from the diverse staff members: one clerk would be into experimental noise music, the next clerk would be into Jimmy Webb. Another would be into Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, and Miles Davis. Through that, I was able to be more confident about liking other styles and not just confident about liking what the neighborhood was listening to."
"All I try to do is give people confidence." –Dâm-Funk
"People need to realize that the essence of the funk culture is being into a lot of different stuff. One of the things I'm trying to do is give a facelift to the funk. It's not like R&B and soul where it's more rigidly stylized."
"All I try to do is give people confidence. The kid from the neighborhood who rode his bike out of the 'hood to the record store–was probably supposed to be out on the corner doing something grimy–but just really loved music and actually did it. I'm just trying to remind people they can be themselves. They don't have to appropriate, or jack people who are doing this or that, or like a song just because it's been sampled. Just love music and be yourself."
And in that spirit, here are five favorites from Dâm to encourage you to find your own path and walk it with confidence:
Burt Bacharach's "The World Is A Circle"
Hilary's "The Wanderer"
Yuji Toriyama's "Something Going On Tonight"
Aphrodisiac's "Just Before The Dawn"
Alex Reece's "Candles"
Recorded live at the sadly defunct APT about 10 years ago,
Monk-One on the mix, Dām-Funk on the microphone with shoutouts and vocal improv. 100% original vinyl, guaranteed!
On Friday, May 19th, Le Bain presents Wax Poetics After Dark
featuring Dâm-Funk & Monk-One
The Standard, High Line | 10pm
All photos: @J3COLLECTION