California-based musician DāM-FunK has almost single-handedly reintroduced eighties funk, boogie and electro into the contemporary music landscape. Alongside such acts as Tuxedo and members of the PPU roster, he has shaped a modern variant on the styles first defined by Zapp, Prince and Egyptian Lover, favouring the trusted and characterful equipment of the day: such as Oberheim’s Matrix-6 subtractive synth and DMX/DX drum machines. Heaps and fun and fantasy flow through his music, which attracted interest from other artists. DāM-FunK featured on what was TIME Magazine’s #1 song of 2018 in Christine & the Queens’ Girlfriend, but has also hopped on records by Madlib, Mac Miller, Snoop, Fatima and many others. With over ten years experience as a solo artist, an alias or two and plenty of collaborations to uncover, here is a five track introduction to the eternally funky master, who comes to Band on the Wall on 12th July.
DāM-FunK arrived on the scene with a statement of intent. His debut album Toeachizown spanned ten sides of vinyl, 24 tracks totalling approximately 140 minutes. But there was much needed quality coupled with this quantity. Co-produced by Leon Sylvers III of famed outfit The Sylvers, the record set the blueprint for Garrett’s modern funk sound. Hood Pass Intact is one of numerous tracks we could’ve singled out, but we settled upon it for its delicate rhodes work, fizzy lead synths and subtly modulating pads in the back. Beautifully arranged and executed synth-funk!
With its instantly recognisable drum sample programming, Fatima’s Warm Eyes takes on a funky eighties vibe from the outset. Her organic vocal harmonies are the track’s centrepiece, which DāM-FunK cunningly recognises, serving the song with only the subtlest of keys work. A lowkey groove that lingers long in the memory.
DāM-FunK almost missed the opportunity to work with Snoop Dogg, not recognising that the G-Funk rapper and L.A. music mainstay had messaged his SoundCloud page for almost six months! But when the pair finally got it together, they produced a week’s worth of tasty funk jams that hark back to the music of their region in decades gone by. Faden Away hears Snoop singing the hook with subtle vocoder embellishment, while DāM-FunK programs a rigid backbeat, atmospheric pad and plays lyrical leads on the Roland keyboard. A match made in heaven!
DāM-FunK introduced Invite the Light by parting ways with some of his gear at a promotional swap meet in his neighbourhood, but thankfully, he kept hold of the Oberheim drum machine that produces the beat on this cut. A Tribe Called Quest MC Q-Tip hops on this track, spitting a wise eight bars about surviving and hustling in the city environment.
Brand new this week, compos mentis is a wonky synth-funk instrumental with expressive piano playing and mellow pads, lifted from DāM-FunK’s new STFU II project. Discussing the track with The Fader, he stated, “For me, Funk is not a fad… it’s a way of life & is timeless. Yet, sophistication is rare in Funk, which is still music connected to the streets (cities & suburbs).” With this cut, DāM-FunK has certainly injected an air of sophistication, while retaining the grooving fundamentals of the style.