Those returning to the newly revived house and garage scene are late to the party, a party Mikki Funk never left. Staying true to his Garage and Soulful House influences from the mid 90’s Mikki Funk is now ready for the spotlight and will surely be an artist to keep your eye on in 2013.
Late 2012 saw the release of his vinyl EP ‘The Vibe Coalition’ and since then he has moved from strength to strength with a string of exciting new releases set for later in the year. With a saturation of bad, copy-cat house in the market at the moment Mikki’s productions will bring a touch of class.
2012 was a good year for the young producer but we at Get Darker are sure that this is only the beginning.
So Mikki, who or what are your music influences? Do you have any music heroes you are trying to emulate, or is it more a case of wanting to do your own thing?
If I had to pick just one or two, then it’d be the uplifting and soulful sounds being made through the late 90s and millennium – tunes like ‘Backfired’ by Masters at Work. Then the early-mid 90s Garage sound, that was one I remember being really inspired by. In particular people like Grant Nelson, Eddie Perez, Sly, Tuff Jam. Those were the first styles that I remember REALLY wanting to emulate.
From the start I was always producing stuff from both the soulful house, and garage styles, at the same time. It was a nice contrast. I feel the soulful house style inspired me to be a little more musical in my productions.
For the last 2 or 3 years I’d say I’ve moved on a little from those initial influences and started doing my own thing more, that’s something we all do I guess.
Do you have a process you go through when you are producing? Any rituals? Or is it all very relaxed?
Very relaxed! If it’s an original track, I’ll just put stuff down when I’ve got an idea and go from there. I don’t ‘set out’ to make anything in particular, I don’t think that’s very constructive or inspiring; if you’re forcing something then that’s when it becomes ‘work’ in my opinion.
I think some people’s tracks sound like they start from the same template or ‘ritual’ everytime. You can hear it when each of their tracks has the same drums or synths. I can’t understand that personally, it’s so formulaic and predictable. There’s ‘sticking with what works’, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
As far as remixes go, I’ll just listen to the vocal and see what pops into my head. I’m a bit forgetful with ideas so I’ll need to get on my computer and hammer away at it until I’m happy. It can be a bit inconvenient getting out of bed in the middle of the night to put an idea down – but it would wind me up more to forget it!
Have you always been a House and Garage producer? Have you ever tried making any different types of music?
I’ve messed around making stuff like Jungle and Hip Hop. I actually did a jungle style remix of a Jeremy Sylvester track back in summer. That was pretty random but I heard that the Stanton Warriors liked it, which was cool. It was fun to change it up from the usual thing.
I’m inspired by too much other stuff for me to do just ‘do’ House, even if it’s just sitting down with my bass and playing along to funk for a couple of hours.
What is your favorite remix you have ever produced? Have you ever heard a remix and thought…why didn’t I think of that?
That’s a hard question. There are a few but probably the one of ‘If I Was’ that I did for Oli Furness. That was a great vocal to work with.
I’ve never heard something and thought why ‘didn’t I think of that?’, but the Grant Nelson mix of Golf Clap’s ‘Another Way’ is my favourite remix in ages. The bassline is so good. The way he composed the conga percussion to follow the melody is wicked too – nice and imaginative!
Do you ever test-drive any unreleased tracks on your audiences first?
Whenever I can get the chance I do, as long as the track is up to a good standard. That’s pretty much the ultimate test for any track, seeing the reaction it has on a crowd, and hearing how well it will work on a club system. I still haven’t tried the Oli Furness remix out, but I’d love to hear the bassline on big speakers! I’m also excited to see what the crowd thinks of the vocal breakdown in the middle!
Is there any one you dream of doing a collaboration with, or is there someone you would love to have featuring on one of your tracks? Why them?
I’d love to work with Brian Chambers or Joi Cardwell. They are two of my favourite vocalists. I really like Maxwell’s stuff too; when I first heard his track from the Lovebox VA I was blown away. It was really good to hear proper tasteful and deep 2-Step again. Maybe I’ll get Maxwell and Brian Chambers together for a few days… Where did Brian Chambers even go anyway?? Anyone?
As someone who is tipped for big things in 2013 what are your ambitions for this year and beyond?
I’ve got two releases I’m really looking forward to getting out. Firstly a split EP with another producer, on Washerman & James Johnston’s label Deep Down Slam, which should be a July release. Secondly my Music Is Love Records EP, which is far from complete but I’ve got a great vision for it.
I’ve also got a nice groovy track out in a few months, on a friends label called Plastik People. It’s going to have Playin’ 4 The City and Mike Sharon on it, so it’s set to be a wicked release.
As far as DJ’ing goes, I want to get a lot more involved with the London scene, maybe try get into Corsica Studios or Dance Tunnel at some point (2 of my favourite venues in London).
As well as your own releases this year, what other producers have you got your eye on? Who is your one to watch for 2013?
Colman Buckley is definitely one. His debut release on Local Talk was a lovely one, and one of my favourite releases recently.
What do you make of this genre’s meteoric rise in popularity? Do you think it is a good thing or is too much fame a bad thing?
There are A LOT of people jumping on House (or ‘Deep House’) at the moment. In one sense I don’t really like that, it’s pretty irritating. On the other hand, there are positives. Disclosure being in the charts or the lineup at Glastonbury for example, that’s some of the best ‘dance music’ that the charts or big events have seen since the 90s and early millennium.
I think a lot of people hating on the whole boom of it are the purists that think their precious ‘underground scene’ is just going to disappear in a puff of smoke. That’s ludicrous of course; the underground scene will always be there.
Quick Fire Round…
Favourite Tracks. Can you please give me your:
Top 3 current House tracks
At the moment I’m really feeling ‘Oxymoron’ by Roberto Rodriguez, ‘Onto You’ by Golf Clap and ‘Over Me (Original Mix)’ by Zoo Look ft Amy Lyon.
1. Roberto Rodriguez – Oxymoron
2. Golf Clap – On To You – i! Records
3. Zoo Look Ft. Amy Lyon – Over Me (Original Mix)
Top 3 current Garage tracks
If I’m honest I don’t really ‘look’ for Garage at the moment. I just try and keep an ear out for everything, but I’m not hearing that much (really good) straight up Garage. Saying that, I’d say a lot of the tracks I like that get marketed as ‘Deep House’ are basically just mid 90s Garage.
Top 3 classic House tracks
Such a hard one. Going to have to say ‘Tears’ by Frankie Knuckles, ‘Mood II Swing’ by Closer (Booker T Kings of Soul Remix), and ‘Guitarra’ G by Banda Sonora would be in there somewhere for sure.
Frankie Knuckles – Tears
Banda Sonora – Guitarra G
Top 3 classic Garage tracks
Again, so hard. Lets say, ‘Feel My Love’ by The Jam Experience, ‘Who’s Gonna Love Me’ (Zach’s Hum Drum Mix) by K London Posse, and ‘Not Gonna Let Ya’ by 24 Hour Experience!
The Jam Experience – Feel My Love
24hr Experience – Not Gonna Let Ya
What is your dream booking? Where and when would you most like to perform?
Right now I really want to get a booking at The Garage in Leeds. I went there for the first time back in February for the Music Is Love Showcase, such a wicked venue!
Also, I was saying to someone the other day it would be wicked to play a venue where the booth is in the middle of the crowd. I think it would be cool to be able to interact and vibe along with them. It would be like Boiler Room but with no cameras, which means less posers and hipsters wanting to be ‘seen’ dancing at a good underground set.
Do you have any crazy requests on your rider? Have you seen any other DJs request something really weird?
I don’t even have a rider… If I ever do it’ll just be a 1 litre bottle of Jack Daniels and a bottle of coke. I’m easily pleased! I’ve never seen any DJs I know with crazy riders. Personally I reckon any DJ with some crazy diva-esque rider is probably a bit of muppet and needs a slap! When I think of a rider I just think of some awful EDM DJ (whatever that is).
And…can you tell us something you have never told anyone in an interview before…?
Damn. I’m trying to think of something really interesting here now. I’m a bit of a Batman/ Sci-Fi geek. I guess I just like those sorts of films. If I’m not doing music then I’m probably watching Batman or something. I’m joking. Kind of…
Interview by Ted Lane