Hi Steve how are things? We hear you have been in Panama recently, business or pleasure?
Both actually. I’ve been on the road having a fantastic time on my mini tour of Central America and trying to learn to surf while I’m here. I’ve had the pleasure of dropping some seriously funky beats at Bamboo Bass and Envision Festivals in Costa Rica and Tribal Gathering in Panama.
So this week sees the release of your Funk N Beats album, you are following on from three pretty epic albums. What were your initial thoughts when Bomb Strikes asked you to do the fourth edition in what has quickly become a cult series?
To follow on the heels of Featurecast, Beatvandals and Pimpsoul is no small task. When Bomb Strikes reached out to me to do the fourth instalment of the series I was both flattered and excited. As a huge fan of the label and the previous compilations I wanted to put together a collection of tunes that have become synonymous with the “Fort Knox” sound and I had a concept to incorporate tracks that inspired us back in the day as well as the contemporary “bombs" I play in my sets today.
What was your approach in terms of themes and track selection for the album?
I wanted to have a nice selection of old and new tracks, and to really celebrate the evolution of the modern “funky beat” sound with tracks that go as far back as the ’80s. It was also important to have a wide assortment of music that illustrates what it means to be classified as “Funk.” That word carries so many different meanings and I wanted to reflect this in my track selection. From the old school James Brown retro feel of the Fundamentals “Thing" and the glitchy chewy sounds of "Get Down” by the Noisy Freaks and Wicked City, to the soulful vocals of Lack of Afro's “Touch my soul" and the swingy sounds of Kormac’s "Harry’s Record Shop." I also wanted to weave in how Fort Knox Five fits into the story by including our recent collaboration “Dont Go” featuring 70’s DC Funk legend Joe Quarterman as well as exclusive remixes that we did for other labels over the years.
Did you come across any hidden gems or rediscover tracks that you had forgotten about when compiling FnB vol 4?
Absolutely. As I was going through tunes, I kept thinking back to some of our earliest mixes and influences. I originally heard Flex the posse' by Rhythm Mode: D, an early collaboration between legends Mark Archer (of Altern 8 fame) alongside Dean Meredith (Bizarre Inc, Chicken Lips) on a DJ Dan mix back in the old school rave days. Black Machine’s How Gee has been in my sets forever and still sounds relevant. Malente’s Funk the Rich and Dynamo Productions Casbah were contemporary tracks to the early Fort Knox releases and were staples of our sets from the early 2000’s and just had to be included on this compilation.
The Funk music scene lost one of its nicest and most infectious characters not long back with the tragic passing of Jon H, you lost a best friend and band mate; did he offer any inspiration when deciding on tracks for the album and does he influence your own writing and productions to this day?
It’s important to celebrate the legacy of what Jon H and I pioneered over the years in our DJ sets and everything that I do with Fort Knox Five has Jon’s seal of approval just as it did when he was by my side. Putting this compilation together would have been something that he would have been totally stoked to do. He had an incredibly vast knowledge of music, especially underground classics, and keeping this in mind often got me digging deeper for tracks that he would have considered quintessential. A lot of these tracks bring back memories of us crate digging and playing shows together.
“Funk 4 Peace” is more than just a track title for you, can you tell us a little about that?
Our songs usually start with a title. The idea of funking for peace was something that appealed to us as a movement, an abstract movement as opposed to a political movement. Fort Knox Five has always been about music with a meaning and partying with a purpose. Funky music and things that make you dance, smile and connect with each other can bring about positive change in the world. Funk 4 Peace illustrates the notion that you can think and have fun at the same time.
You are a proud Washingtonian, how has the city influenced you, not just for this album for your music in general?
DC is a strange city. While most people think of it as the centre of the government, we have always seen it as a microcosm of independent music. Growing up on the DIY punk rock ethos of Dischord and the DC punk scene helped establish the ground work for groups like Fort Knox Five and Thievery Corporation to not only set up their own record labels but to release music that never compromises. On top of that, DC has an incredible legacy of talented and inspiring musicians from the last century that include the likes of Chuck Brown & Roberta Flack, Marvin Gaye & Duke Ellington to Minor Threat & Bad Brains.
If you could nominate any artist to do the next edition of Funk N Beats who would it be and why?
I would love to see what Z Trip would put together… or maybe Numark from Jurassic 5 to get a real “crate diggers” perspective on Funk Music.
Any final thoughts and shout outs?
I want to thank Bomb Strikes for getting me involved in such a cool project where we can look to the past by putting out some lost classics while we forge into the funky future. Shout out to the entire Fort Knox Family and the Danio crew for making the world a groovier place!