Sole Dxb headliner Dam-Funk is out for respect

Dam-Funk talks about the importance and continuing evolution of funk music.

Funk artist Dam-Funk. Courtesy Sole DxB
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Dam-Funk is damn serious about what he does. The 45-year-old Californian ­producer and DJ – real name ­Damon ­Garrett ­Riddick – will perform ­tomorrow as part of Sole DxB, a festival at d3 that celebrates the best in urban ­culture. He told us about the ­importance and continuing evolution of funk music.

Your latest album, Invite the Light is brilliant and extremely dense. It took me a long time to get around some of the concepts you introduce. Was this a typical reaction?

It went over people’s heads, to be honest. But it was just a record that I needed to get off my chest. It helped in my own personal and creative journey, and it helped set me up for things I am working on lately.

There is an overarching message on Invite the Light urging us to be strong and positive. Do you consider it a ­concept album?

All my music shares that message, but you are right, that particular album is a concept record. It is about going through tough things in your life and being strong enough to get through to the end of the tunnel.

Is it fair to say one of your hallmarks is that you use vintage instruments to create futuristic sounds?

I would say so. I don’t want to sound like I am doing a retro-type of ­mocking of funk, if that makes sense. The thing is I am not doing this for a joke. I take it seriously. I am not ­messing around, and I think that’s what’s wrong with other artists who do that boogie and funk stuff right now. There is too much joking and a tongue-in-cheek vibe to it.

I sense that zeal at your gigs. You often introduce each song during live shows.

Sometimes I do that, depending on what kind of crowd it is. I mean, I don’t want to torture people with it and ruin their partying but I do that to show that there is some respect to the whole funk thing. I am trying to open up people’s ears to the early sounds, to show how funk has continued to evolve. I don’t know why funk doesn’t get the same ­respect as drum and bass. Just like other genres, such as rock and metal, there is no reason why funk can’t move forward from the platform shoes and rainbow hair.

Do you think funk will ever get the ­respect it deserves as an art form ­rather than simply party music?

I think I am doing my part to put a brick in the wall. I think we will get there but it will probably be more modern. I think what we have to be careful about is that it doesn’t get watered down, because this is what happens when a black art form gets to a level where it really gets noticed and people start to put their own spin on it. Just like how neighbourhoods gets gentrified, we have to be careful of that. People should get acknowledged for what they ­contributed to the genre, and not all of a sudden plaster people on the ­magazine covers who really don’t know what they are doing, and call them ­posterboys for funk.

• Sole DxB runs at d3 in Dubai on Friday and Saturday. Doors open at 12pm each day. Dam-Funk will perform on Friday at the main stage at 9pm. Unless you preregistered, tickets cost Dh100 at the door. For more details, visit www.soledxb.com

sasaeed@thenational.ae