By Dylan McCullough
VANCOUVER — Veterans of British Columbia’s thriving bass scene, the Funk Hunters have had the spotlight shining bright on them as of late. 2016 has been a door-opening year, playing massive festivals like Lightning in a Bottle, Mystery Land, and Coachella. Talking with one half of the duo, Nick Middleton, I asked what 2016 has meant to the Vancouver-based group.
“It’s been huge, having the opportunity to bring our music to these massive audiences at festivals all over North America and the world means the world to us.”
While audiences at massive festivals like Coachella may not immediately recognize the Funk Hunters, fans in the Canadian bass scene have been enjoying their headlining sets at festivals like Shambhala and BassCoast for years. “You really are a product of where you come from,” says Middleton. “Whether you‘re from the UK and do grime, or Chicago and do house, lots of people from the West Coast love that funky, soulful bass.” While the Funk Hunters can certainly rock a headlining slot at two am, they believe their sound lends it self well to late afternoon time slots under the setting sun, much like their brand of funk lends itself to the iconic baritone of Chali 2na from Jurassic 5 fame.
“Working with Chali has been a dream collaboration,” says Middleton. “It’s been neat for both of us to step outside of our comfort zone, we have a totally different musical history and fans, so it’s been very interesting to collaborate both in the studio and on the road.” Along with Chali 2na, Vancouver-based guitarist Steven Beddall joined the Funk Hunters in Indo, California for Coachella. Onstage collaboration like this has been a staple of the Funk Hunters live set for the last few years, often bringing out other artists to take their show to that next level by adding horn sections, back-up singers and live guitars. On top of that, Middleton runs the popular record label Westwood Recordings, out of East Vancouver. Westwood has put out tracks for BC-raised artists such as SkiiTour and Delhi 2 Dublin.
Electronic music in North America is enjoying a more diverse brand of sound than it ever has. Incorporating influences from all styles of music have always been a large part of a Funk Hunters live set. This diversity is what keeps bringing fans to their shows: “we try and take the audience on a journey and tell a story with all different styles and tempos of music.” Middleton explains. “Personally I’m less concerned with genres now than I ever have been.” This fusion of different flavors of tempo, genre and vibes makes the Funk Hunters a perfect fit for a festival lineup.
Australia, New Zealand, Europe and a full tour of America finally brings the Funk Hunters back home for Pemberton. In the midst of a world-class lineup, you’ll find the East Vancouver-based act bringing a decidedly homegrown funk- and soul-infused dance party.
The Funk Hunters perform at Pemberton Music Festival on July 17.BC, British Columbia, Pemberton, Pemberton 2016, The Funk Hunters