Hailing from South Central (Los Angeles, California), on the best coast, Dâm Funk (government name: Damon Riddick) meticulously arranges and records (track-by-track) some of the most physically heaving synthetic funk music we’ve heard since the boogie funk golden era of ‘83. When he isn’t writing funk, Damon is DJing funk (“sharing the record collection out,” as he puts it). If he isn’t DJing funk, he’s listening to funk, living funk, thinking about funk, being funk; and even composing it in his sleep (“Some of the best songs I’ve had are in my dreams,” he admits slyly, with an earnest undertone).
Speaking down the phone-line from LA, it’s easy to picture Damon in person, all wavy hair, blu-blocker shades; and a laidback G’d up attitude. In discussion, these qualities are only accentuated by a hypnotic vocal tone not too dissimilar to that of Snoop Dogg. Friendly, attentive and knowledgeable, Damon is pretty much the perfect interviewee. Just how knowledgeable he is doesn’t become clear though until Kiwi soul’n’beats collective Electric Wire Hustle come up in conversation. “They’re a really great group man,” he openly enthuses. “I played a gig with them in Paris; fantastic stuff. I like [their song] ‘Perception’.”
Learning his chops on a Slingerland drum kit, “my pops bought for me from a church up the road” from age six Damon could be found in his bedroom, drumming along to the progressive/psychedelic rock of Iron Butterfly, and the big guitars of Rush and Kiss. Then in his teens everything changed. Thanks to a neighbour, Damon discovered the sinewy grooves of Slave, Cameo, Earth Wind and Fire and Maze, which as he chuckles, “is what I was hearing coming out of the windows; with weed smoke coming out of the doors.” Concurrent with this, came a passion for synthesisers.
This epoch of music would become Damon’s backbone, the aesthetic incubator for his distinct modern funk sound. A sound best realised on his debut double-album Toeachizown, released last year on Stones Throw records. As he explains, “I’m respectfully trying to continue the lineage of those groups that came before me. I’m not trying to bite them. I’m not trying to duplicate. I’m not trying to do something that has been done before. All I’m trying to do is continue that which was, uninterrupted if you will.”
Aside from production, to this end Damon runs a weekly club-night in LA called Funkmosphere. “I consider my strength in the DJ world as maybe just choosing a particular song that I would like to connect with the audience and make it feel a certain way,” he explains. “At the clubs I was going to I would notice that when they dropped something that was a bit more funk, the crowd would eat it up. I just said, man, I got to start injecting this type of music within LA.” Resultantly, through his DJing, production and attitude, Damon now has the opportunity to deliver the funk to audiences around the globe, on a regular basis.
Having spent twenty years waiting in the wings (including spending a good portion of the 90s working as a session keyboard player on countless g-funk hip-hop records), Damon is definitely enjoying his newfound acclaim. At the same time, he remains uncompromising, eyes still focused on a bigger goal. “I don’t wanna be lumped into all this stuff going on now. Yeah we can be friends. We can be contemporaries. We can shake each others hands and like each others music; but let me do me.” He pauses briefly; before continuing, “The story is just being told; it ain’t done yet.”