Fort Knox Five keeps the funk alive

Monday 11th, January 2016 / 13:08
By Paul Rodgers
Fort Knox Five soldier on after a tragic loss. Photo: John Shore

Fort Knox Five soldier on after a tragic loss.
Photo: John Shore

CALGARY — Washington, DC-based group Fort Knox Five (FK5) originally formed in 2003 with four founders: Steve Raskin, Jon Horvath, Rob Myers and Sid Barcelona. The fifth spot was left open and was filled by one of the many collaborators the group has worked with over the years. On August 21st of this year, founding member Jon Horvath passed away, leaving a hole in the electronic music community. BeatRoute caught up with Rob Myers and Steve Raskin from their home in DC.

“It’s been a crazy year to say the least,” understates Raskin at the beginning of the interview.

The founding members are all committed to preserving Horvath’s legacy by carrying on as they always have. Their latest album Pressurize the Cabin, was released this past April, and the group is continually out playing shows to promote it. The album is a collection of 10 rich, well-rounded funky tunes, all with the signature organic feel that FK5 create. The vast majority of songs all feature the talents of an added name including longtime collaborator Mustafa Akbar.

“We spent a couple years really doing remixes and stuff, but not really writing original material,” explains Raskin. “So when it came down to pressurize the cabin, we culled through dozens and dozens of sketches that we had started and once we picked those out then it’s really a matter of who we really want to collaborate with to complete the track.”

While their 2005 album Radio Free DC paid tribute to the talent of their hometown, the group utilized the writing process of Pressurize the Cabin to reach out to the many musicians they have crossed paths with in their travels around the world.

“There’s a fantastic group of people that all came out of this birth of future funk, or the modern take on funky music, and so to be able to have them remix and collaborate and stuff I think creates and populates this world of modern funk music and it’s really exciting to see. On top of it all, it’s amazing to be fans of your friends,” says Raskin.

FK5 has lent their music to a variety of different facets. They’ve produced for hip-hop icon Afrika Bambaataa, they performed opening duties for Gwen Stefani, and their music has been used in video games to name a few. Myers speculates that the group’s organic approach to electronic music production is partially responsible for the wide range of acceptance it’s received.

“Steve and I met in high school and we were in punk bands and we really started off music organically. The way we’ve been able to approach electronic music is by incorporating an organic element from the beginning, whereas for a lot of people it’s very easy to make electronic music just with the electronics, but we never approached it from that direction,” Myers explains.

When asked if there is anything else they would like to do with their music, Raskin responded with a good natured laugh: “Oh my God, there’s a million!”

“The thing is we’ve never really run dry on empty areas of the map. There’s lots of other things we want to explore,” adds Myers. “And we just always keep pushing those things, I think we sometimes feel like we need to have some references to our own past just so people know who we are.”

Fort Knox Five perform in Calgary at The Hifi Club on January 21st and in Edmonton at the Starlite Room on January 23rd.

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