By Catalina Briceno
CALGARY – Although Shambhala Music Festival helped pave the way for Nick Middleton and Duncan Smith of The Funk Hunters, the Vancouver-based DJ duo, their love for music and entrepreneurial spirit is what helped land them on the map.
For Middleton and Smith, DJing started out as an avenue for entertainment and incentive to play at house parties. However, it wasn’t long before they became enamoured with the craft, and decided to turn it into a living.
In terms of their sound, according to Middleton, it was never about funk, but about finding funky music in all genres. Something which their music effortlessly emanates.
“We really try not to be pigeon-holed into a specific electronic genre,” says Middleton.
When funk-bass music scene was flourishing on the West coast, Middleton and Smith decided to capitalize on it. The two started promoting events and the door to new opportunities swung open. Before accomplishing their dreams however, they had to first step out of their comfort zone.
“I think that’s one of the scariest things that you can do is to take a step forward. I felt like if we were going to do it, we needed to do it,” said Middleton. “You have to approach it as something that you love, regardless of what you’re making or what the financial side of it looks like.”
Soon, after some tours through B.C. and Alberta and ski towns, they caught the attention of Shambhala. Having gone to and become involved with the festival since he was 15, getting booked was a major milestone for Middleton.
“It has had a huge impact on my life and Dunk’s life and our career,” reveals Middleton.
Adding to their list of accomplishments is getting to collaborate, sign, and become close friends with one of their longtime musical inspirations, Chali 2na, the legendary MC from Jurassic 5. Chali 2na is one many prolific acts signed onto Westwood Recordings. The label includes festival favourites: SkiiTour, Moontricks, Flavours, and K+Lab.
Diversity seems to be a common theme within The Funk Hunters music and label. Their sets are not only a breath of fresh air, but the label caters to different tastes and styles of music. Founded by Middleton in 2013, the label relies on the principle of friends, helping out friends.
“It’s neat to have another avenue to focus on, outside of just The Funk Hunters. It’s really cool to be involved in my friend’s careers as their record label now, I find it really rewarding and get to help work on plans with them and listen to their music and give feedback,” says Middleton.
Another goal they just got to cross off – getting played on the radio. Although, it was something that they didn’t think was in the cards. Their song “Say Something” a future-bass, pop song featuring Georgia Murray from Liinks is being played on numerous stations across Canada and will likely lure new fans.
“It’s been added every day, there’s a radio campaign running around that song right now. It’s on four or five radio stations at the moment,” says Middleton.
“Say Something” and “Hands Up” are the first songs released off Typecast, their album set to be released early next year. Both songs are a sharp contrast in comparison, but give fans a glimpse into what to expect. The name of the album came to Middleton in a moment of frustration after feeling boxed into genre.
“There’s 11 tracks on the album, nine of them have a featured vocalist. There’s an [array] of different genres. There’s some pop stuff, bass stuff, glitch hop, drum and bass, some disco. It was neat to be able to as a producer and as an artist just to kind of like step outside our comfort zone and work on some different genres. Some of the songs on the album, I started working on years and years ago. Some songs were written just in the last year.”
Middleton and Smith will kick off their Funk the Halls tour on Nov. 29 and it will run until Feb. 10, all across Canada and the United States.
Catch The Funk Hunters on December 15 in Calgary at the Palace Theatre, December 16 in Edmonton at Union Hall and December 17 in Banff at Wild Bill’s.Palace Theatre, The Funk Hunters, Union Hall, Wild Bills