Just one state over from our own Appalachian home, funk music is not only alive and well but thriving. In the years since his initial childhood fascination with the genre, Cincinnati-born artist Freekbass has released six full length albums, collaborated with the likes of Buckethead and Phish bassist Mike Gordon, and has been one of the most notable global teachers of the art. The funk musician, recently signed to Ropeadope Records, will be heading out on tour, coming through Charleston on June 11 at the Boulevard Tavern. He recently took the time to answer a few of our questions.
Graffiti: Your style of music is distinctly unique. What served as some inspirations for your work?
Photo by B.Hockensmith Photography
Freekbass: Growing up in Cincinnati, which has always been a hotbed of funk, was and is a huge inspiration. I am sure I would still be playing music if I grew up in a different part of the country, but not sure if I would be playing this style of music. With James Brown recording a big chunk of his hit records here, to Bootsy Collins, Zapp, and Ohio Players (right up the road in Dayton), to bands like Midnight Star, funk has always been a big part of the music culture here, and it has always been a huge inspiration to me ever since I was a little kid.
Graffiti: What's your favorite thing about touring?
Freekbass: I love touring. It's a crazy lifestyle, and you have to have a bit of that trucker's gene in you, but playing in new and fresh markets and cities all the time is very inspiring. Besides the playing part, I love meeting and hanging out with new people. From an artistic perspective, it's great playing new songs in new cities to see how folks will react.
Graffiti: You've already worked with several great artists, but who would be your dream collaboration?
Freekbass: Definitely Dr. Dre. I grew up listening, and playing bass along with so many of his projects he has worked on. I must have listened and played along with "Doggystyle" by Snoop a thousand times. I love his production, groove, and sonic sensibilities, and it would be a huge honor to be able to do a project with him.
Graffiti: What's next for you?
Freekbass: Lots of touring for starters. I am excited because I just added keyboard legend Razor Sharp Johnson, who recorded and toured with Bootsy Collins and George Clinton for over 25 years, to my live band (The Bump Assembly) and drummer Rico Johnson who toured with George Clinton & P-Funk for the last 15 years. Since signing with Ropeadope Records last year our touring schedule has picked up quite a bit, so we are going to be hitting lots of new spots.
Also, a bass company, Stonefield Musical Instrument Company, I met when I was performing at The London Bass Guitar Show in the UK last month got in touch and are making a Freekbass Signature Model bass which gets released in the early fall. They are doing multiple copies of the bass for the public, too, and I fly out to New Zealand in mid-June (day after our Charleston show) which is where they are located, to film a commercial for the bass. It is going to be almost a mini-movie so should be a fun one.