Interview with PHATT al from God Made Me Funky

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phatt al, god made me funky
PHATT al from God Made Me Funky

Interview by Scott Preston

Toronto based God Made Me Funky (GMMF) is a funky live ensemble, comprised of a diverse array of musicians ranging from a classically trained Jazz artist to street schooled Hip-Hop and RnB vocalists. With a common bond of moving crowds with their infectious energy, the band consists of Vocalists – Kaybe (Snow, Just Cool) and Lynzie Kent, Rapper – PHATT al (Len, Raggadeath), Keys – Danny Argyle, Bass – Cam Dougall (Graph Nobel, King Latifah), Guitar – Rich Grossman (Jimmy`s Groove), Trumpet – Benji Perosin (Directions), Sax – Arthur Kerekes (Monkey), and Drums – Alan Witz (Funky Hi-Life, Directions), who all share the passion of bringing the “Nu-Funk” sound into the next millennium.

Cincy Groove: Did the band have a good time in Cincinnati when you played the Midpoint Music Festival?

PHATT al: We had a great time, it was our first time in Cincinnati. The city has so much life in it, the venue was amazing. We didn’t really know what to expect traveling so far from home.

Cincy Groove: Did you happen to see Bootsy Collins in the audience?

PHATT al: That was really mind blowing, I’m not going to lie (laughing). We looked out and hesitated for a second, “Is that Bootsy Collins?!?” Bootsy even came up to us after the show and said he had a really good time. It was crazy to walk into the room and see a living legend standing there. Bands like Parliament Funkadelic, James Brown, are larger than life icons to us and we hope we can get 1/10th as funky as them.

Cincy Groove: How did God Made Me Funky get started?

PHATT al: The band started as a instrumental/fusion project, in the beginning there were no vocal but over the years vocalists were added. The band has been around for 12 years and I joined the band 8 years ago. Up until 2005 we were doing a lot of covers, but doing them in our own style. Then in 2005 we decided to put out our own record and since then everything has taken off really quickly. We are already on our third album, we released God Made Me Funky the album in 2005, then I’ll Be Free came out in 2006, then this year (2008) Enter The Beat.

Cincy Groove: I saw the band was in American Pie Beta House, how did that come about?

PHATT al: We received a message on myspace saying that they were looking for music for an upcoming film. Normally we delete those because we figure its just spam. But this time we followed it up and turned out to be legitimate. They said they were looking for music for American Pie so we sent them our cd and they liked 2 tracks, “One More Time” and “Love Today”. They asked if they could license the songs and we said absolutely. The producer then contacted us and said he liked the look of our band and said they needed a band for the toga party scene. The really cool thing was while talking to the director he said he really liked some of the videos we had online. I said “if you like the videos so much why don’t you shoot a video of us?” He said “Ok I will.” He ended up shooting videos for both of the songs they used in the movie and put them on the dvd as extras.

After American Pie was over we had these togas and were like “What are we going to do with these things?” We weren’t going to wait for Halloween to wear them again, so last year we decided to go on a toga tour. We went on a college tour and at first we were like nobody is going to show up in togas. The exact opposite happened, we were thrilled to see so many people show up in togas. It was amazing, it was like Animal House every night. We are definitely going to bring back the toga tour again next year. Thats what its really about is getting out and having a party with the people. We call our style NuFunk and our fans NuFunktonians and we get together its a beautiful thing.

Cincy Groove: What was it like when you were nominated for a JUNO Award?

PHATT al: What happened with that was American Pie had come out in North America, Europe, and Asia. We had an explosion of people sending us messages, so we were riding this incredible high. Then we get a call saying we were nominated for a JUNO Award. We couldn’t believe anybody even paid any attention to us. When we get any kind of acknowledgment we are dumbfounded (laughing). We we awe struck because we got to go to the JUNO Awards and walk the red carpet and hang out with industry people. We were out in Calgary playing a JUNO reception gig and the mayor of Calgary was out at the show. There was a big thing in their paper the next day saying God Made Me Funky got the mayor of Calgary to dance.

Cincy Groove: Is the band working on any new projects?

PHATT al: You know with 8-12 members, we just can’t stop making music. For every album we put out we have 15 – 20 songs left over that didn’t make it on the cd. So we are working on a new cd right now and on a new track with Keith Harris the drummer from The Black Eyed Peas. We met him when he was up here in Canada working on another project and we just said to him that we would love to work with him. About a month later I got his number and gave him a call and reminded him how we would love to work with him. He is coming up here in November to produce the track for us.

Cincy Groove: Do you consider yourselves an independent band?

PHATT al: Oh yeah we are mad independent, we don’t even front. We have talked with a couple labels and to be honest every time we approached a label they tried to redefine us the way they see us. The way we operate is really organic. When we write a song, we don’t commit to it until we play it in front of the NuFunktonians. We’ll play it in front of audience after audience and if you see people dancing then you know its a viable track for a cd. If the crowd doesn’t like it, then its gone and we move on. In the record industry it kind of the opposite. Some producer will come in and say I like this song, this song and this song and we will push it out until people like it. Then you have to look at the energy and money spent on trying to make people like something, its doesn’t make any sense. All that we have to do is show up and play and let the people decide whats going to work and whats not going to work. The business model thats in place now is what has gotten the music industry into trouble in the first place. Break the mold, I mean people aren’t stupid. People now are probably more musically educated than ever before.

God Made Me Funky:
PHATT al – Rhymes
Alan Witz – Drums
Cam Dougall – Bass
Kaybe – Vocals
Lynzie Kent – Vocals
Richard Grossman – Guitar
Danny Argyle – Keys
Arthur Kerekes – Sax & Flute
Benji Perosin – Trumpet

Upcoming God Made Me Funky tour dates:
for complete show details visit http://www.godmademefunky.com
Oct 10 2008 Barrymore’s Music Hall OTTAWA, Ontario w/ DIGABLE PLANETS
Oct 16 2008 The Mansion House St. CATHERINES, Ontario Bringin’ It Back Video Release Tour
Oct 18 2008 Revival Toronto, Ontario Bringin’ It Back Video Release Tour